Bill Fleming stops by to chat with Adam about branding, marketing and design. Bill is a Boston-based Independent Brand & Marketing Strategist, and Business Consultant for Designers.
On this episode we talk about what brands are, how the cultural work of branding has changed in recent decades with the advent of new and easier to use technologies, and how we can think about brands as conversations - not just between businesses and customers but also between businesses.
Ideas and Articles we reference
This episode is brought to you in part by Experience By Design, a new sister podcast Adam makes with sociologist of work Dr. Gary David. ExD explores all things at the intersections of experience and work, from employee experience at Amazon to escapee experience with Escape the Room adventures to making people love Jet Blue despite hating airports. It's a fascinating world, come explore it with us.
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rands and the Business of Relationships
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Hey everybody. Welcome to This Anthro Life as always, this is Adam Gamwell. Today I've got a very special episode for you. That's working as a crossover between This Anthro Life and a sister podcast we're working on called Experience by Design. IExperienced by Design, as the name seems to imply digs into questions of how do we design experiences for ourselves, for others? You know, whether it's something like a puzzle escape or a stadium bathroom, or even questions about whether humans can have shared experiences. I definitely recommend you check out that podcast. You can see it at experiencexdesign.com as well as I'll have a link for it in the show notes below. But today I've got a very special guest.
I'm talking with a good colleague and friend, Bill Fleming. He's a Boston based independent brand and marketing strategist and business consultant for designers. I met Bill a few years ago, we both teach courses at Lesley University here in Boston, in the art and design program. And he teaches a really interesting class on professional practices for designers.
It's something that I have been becoming increasingly interested in both as a burgeoning practicing designer, but also with just having more business and design centric conversations, as well as bringing anthropology into more direct conversation with business and design practice. So what's cool about talking with Bill is that he's been in this space for decades now and so he is a master, guru ,marketer in brand strategists. Helping companies, especially design savvy companies, think through what it means to have conversation ongoing relationships with both customers and businesses. One of the spaces Bill has an expertise in is B2B, otherwise known as business to business.
And you may have also heard of B2C, which is business to consumer or business to customer. So in this episode, we talk about what brands are and how the cultural work of branding has changed in recent decades with the advent of new and easier to use technologies. You can think about things like most people can make a podcast now because you have easier access to software. Or if you want to make a professionally edited video, you can do that using Adobe software pretty easily, or you can make a website using Squarespace or Wix, any different kinds of platforms that have really lowered the barrier to entry for people trying to make creative and or branded work. And then the third, we talked about how we can think about brands as conversations and not just between businesses and consumers, right, but also between businesses, themselves and how these practices might differ. It's a fascinating and wide ranging conversation. And I can't wait to share it with you. So let's get to it.
Bill Fleming: [00:04:39] I'm going to tell you some brands and ask you if you know what the brands are. Okay. Got a quiz. And then if you know what their marks are. So the first question is, do you know Squarespace?
Adam Gamwell: I do know Squarespace
Bill Fleming: What does Squarespace do?
Adam Gamwell: [00:04:50] They make, they’re a website content builder?
Bill Fleming: [00:04:53] Yes. Who also does e-commerce and email blast now, too, which is relatively new, but anyways, you get the general gist of Squarespace's. Do you know what their logo is?
Adam Gamwell: A square?
Bill Fleming: It's an abstract skewed two SS. Okay. Bully Boy Distillers Boston-based brand.
Adam Gamwell: [00:05:11] I have heard of, yes, I've had their libations.
Bill Fleming: [00:05:14] And what do you think of, what's your memory of the libations?
Adam Gamwell: [00:05:17] It's funny. I think I remember the label being orange.
Bill Fleming: [00:05:19] Okay.
Adam Gamwell: [00:05:20] And I think I enjoyed the beverage. Yeah. Again, like, it's funny. I just remember that the name is in the head.
Bill Fleming: [00:05:27] Do you remember the logo?
Adam Gamwell: [00:05:28] Is it like a little boy? No. Okay. Then not, it's a horse. It's a horse see.
Bill Fleming: [00:05:32] And do you know Boll and Branch? No, you don't know boll and branch, Boll and Branch sells organic linens. I actually often hear them advertise on podcasts. So if you did know Boll and Branch, you probably, you would know. So, my question was what is their logo. It’s this round symmetrical sort of abstract floral thing. So my point in bringing these up is that these are brands that for the most part, you're familiar with what they are, what they do, what they represent.
And in some of them you have an affinity to, but yet you don't know the mark. And I think that to me is an indication of how branding has changed and that, that visual aspect isn't as, it's necessary, but not vital the way that it once was. It's the experience of what you have with those products and services that build the brand in its entirety. And that's what you remember. And that's what, we'll want you to go back or to recommend it to somebody else.
Adam Gamwell: [00:06:23] So, tell me a little bit about your favorite type of coffee, so you only get a dark roast, light roast, medium roast.
Bill Fleming: [00:06:29] I'm a medium roast guy. I'm a little bit of a coffee snob. I basically look at the labels of like George Howell and see like, okay, if it's a medium roast and like read the fruity descriptions and whatnot. Yeah. But medium roast, if it's hot coffee with cream, if it's iced coffee, black.
Adam Gamwell: [00:06:49] So, oh, interesting. Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny. Like I'm from Texas and so ice coffee is not a thing which it should be because it's so hot, right?
Bill Fleming: [00:06:54] Yeah.
Adam Gamwell: [00:06:55] I came here and everybody's getting their ice Duncan, which is not quality coffee but it was interesting to see this, and that everybody gets ice cream in the winter time. I now do that. I've been converted to ice cream in the winter time.
Bill Fleming: [00:07:06] It's a very new England thing.
Adam Gamwell: [00:07:10] And I wonder about that too. Cause it's like, I guess kind of the bigger question, is there branding around that? Like, is there something about the new England brand? I don't know. It's like, is there, is there a thing that New Englanders are like, this is my thing I want Iced coffee.
Bill Fleming: [00:07:23] I think, well, what's interesting is that Boston had a reputation of being very insular. And part of it I think stemmed from being a large immigrant destination. And so you had Jewish enclaves, you had Irish enclaves, you had Italian enclaves. And I think the people just stuck to their own groups, their own tribes.
And then I think that that sort of stuck, like put them all together and then people just stuck within Boston. And so things that were familiar to them or things that they gravitated to. And so Dunkin Donuts being based in Boston just became this ubiquitous donut shop.
Adam Gamwell: [00:07:57] I guess, as the name points out right
Bill Fleming: [00:07:59] Now, it's dunks or whatever. But, so I think what's interesting is that I think that its popularity had to do with the fact that it was familiar and plentiful. Like there were so many locations not because it was good. And then, and I think Boston at the time liked it, that anything that was familiar that was familiar to them in their neighborhood. That's what they want it to be a part of.
Adam Gamwell: [00:08:26] Cause you're from Somerville. You're from here in the Boston hood, right? Yeah. And I mean, Dunkin Donuts has been around for a while. This is something you remember going to as a kid or did it come later? Like I'm curious, was it always this kind of institution?
Bill Fleming: [00:08:39] I remember when Dunkin donuts didn't suck. I remember. Yeah, I do remember when they were around, I was fairly neutral about it. There was a donut shop that was at the end of the street in Ball Square Somerville that sold donuts and coffee but if Dunkin Donuts was nearby, that was sort of a good fallback. Yeah. Now, if given the choice, I would definitely go for the local donut shop. Just the quality is just so much better, but yeah, I think back in the day it was like dunkin munchkins and they had, they were selling blueberry muffins at one point. And so I was all about the baked goods at one point. And then at some point they realized they were making much more money with coffee. And so. They did away with that. And coffee was their thing.
Adam Gamwell: [00:09:19] That's interesting. You know, it's funny, like coffee is one of the things that as an anthropologist, I studied for a little while because I did my research on food, stuff like quinoa and also sheep and mutton things. Coffee was all part of that because you got to look at coffee. Yeah. And it's interesting because the story of coffee, coffee is a very global crop. It's a very human integrated food source. And up until the 1950s coffee wasn't really, it wasn't kind of known like the idea is like, coffee shops are so ubiquitous today, right? We’ve got Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts we know True Grounds here in the neighborhood 60, 70 years ago there was Folgers.
Bill Fleming: [00:09:55] Yeah.
Adam Gamwell: [00:09:56] And, maybe Maxwell House. Yeah. You know that's what you'd have. And it was like, coffee was kind of known culturally in the U.S as the thing that your grandma served after dinner and then slowly over time partially with the introduction of Starbucks in Seattle it built what, and Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks talks about this idea of the third space that made the coffee shop. It’s not quite work, it's not quite home. And that gave, then people, obviously people are always on a laptop at a coffee shop.
They're always studying. And it's crazy because if you think about that, you're kind of renting the space for like five bucks, four bucks for coffee that you buy for a couple hours. And it's like the ROI’s pretty good. That costs $3, $4 and I can sit here and work for awhile. Yeah. But it's interesting cause it's totally changed our relationship with coffee, right. And Dunkin Donuts as a restaurant, if listeners who’ve never been there, basically it's a coffee shop, donut shop, but like, they're not really, if you think of a Starbucks or some coffee shop that you might go sit and study and you don't see that very often in Dunkin donuts, right? The actual interior design is not made for sitting for a long time.
Bill Fleming: [00:10:56] It's orange and purple.
Adam Gamwell: [00:11:01] Hard surfaces. Yeah. And that's interesting. There's no bookshelves with random things or like the dark wood of Starbucks kind of pointing out some sort of rich looking heritage, it's very interesting.
And that really kind of again speaks to the idea of like coffee is again, it's a little plant and then it's a bean that you can then roast. And then this kind of really helps us think about this idea of brand differentiation or brand segmentation too. Right? Yeah. So I would kinda wanna dig in that with you as a brand expert, as a brand consultant to help us think about, kind of what is a brand, right.
And coffee is one way of thinking about that. We see these differences cause it has to be like, again, if you did a blind taste, as many people probably couldn't tell if they're having Dunkin Donuts or a Starbucks. Sure. Or even more so like a terrazú from Costa Rica or Ethiopian harrar right.
Bill Fleming: [00:11:46] Yeah.
Adam Gamwell: [00:11:46] But the fact that those also exist is quite interesting, right? Because those themselves are kind of brands, so let's dig in a bit, tell us your ideas, what is a brand, what is that?
Bill Fleming: [00:11:56] So it's interesting. My work is primarily in the business to business space, where one business is selling your product or service to another business branding in general, whether it's consumer or business focused, there was a point to where it was about a series of memories. So you remember the iconology or the logo mark and the color choices and the certain tastes of things. So things like a taste of coffee and whatnot. So there were these memories, but my observation now is it's really more of a series of conversations, their experiences.
And I think I see that differently because of my experience with B2B, a lot of business to business, the sales cycle is not binary. It's not yes or no. Like, yes, I want to buy that technology. No, I don't want to buy the technology. It's a bunch of conversations that happen. You might compare different types of technologies.
So say if an event tech company was looking for something to improve their email marketing system. So looking at other email marketing systems, they have to evaluate different types of software companies that make that. There's a lot of conversations that have to happen with it in order for them to say yes.
And so my take is that. At one point branding was a series of memories, but now I see it as branding is more of a series of conversations and experiences. So that's my take.
Adam Gamwell: [00:13:13] Does that make it feel like, I guess in one level that then brands are now less discrete in terms of like discreet, meaning that there was like a starting and a stop point. I get that there's, we'll just say the Nike swoosh logo. That's something that we all recognize Right. But now it's not so much that by itself, but how does a consumer feel about the product or how does the business feel about, do they want to do business with Nike and supplying rubber or cloth for the shoes or whatever, right.
Bill Fleming: [00:13:37] Yep. So on the supplier side of things, I think what's interesting is that I don't know what it was like at the beginning for Nike in terms of sourcing the rubber and sourcing the canvas and sourcing the loads that they need. And I would imagine when they were just starting off. I think two things are probably happening at once.
One was that the demand for those types of materials probably wasn't particularly high, or maybe it was high because of world war II. And so maybe there was more surplus of those type of materials. So vendors could supply easier than I would know about, but also I think that Nike wasn't known at the time.
And so the vendors may have, it would have been. I don't think they would have been as incentivized to try and sell to them those materials as they are now, because now that Nike is known as the international brand and the billions of dollars that it makes, their suppliers know the more they can sell to Nike.
The more that Nike sells, the more that they can sell to Nike. And so I think that the evolution and the rise of Nike has changed the dynamic of what the supplier relationship is. And I do think that the brand of Nike influences the suppliers likelihood of wanting to either cut deals or expand deals. So I think that that's become part of the process.
Adam Gamwell: [00:14:49] That's it? That's super interesting. And so I think what's cool about this too, is that in the broad sense the B2B or the business to business space can be often contrasted kind of to the B2C, the business to consumer customer space.
And I think what's great about this. There's a lot of people, unless you work in the B2B space, don't think about it. How do businesses buy and sell or brand themselves to each other? And so again, when we think about Nike, we are talking about the swoosh and Air Jordans back in the day, and like, you know, do I have the new dope shoes?
How are my kicks? And like that also is definitely a part of this conversation. But then I think what you're saying too, what's interesting is even that conversation at the B2C filters over into the B2B where suppliers of rubber or canvas may feel a new kind of incentive as the brand grows for consumers, for them to there's actually a prestige in being the canvas supplier for Nike, right?
Bill Fleming: [00:15:39] Yes. So I can take this conversation to the two places that we can go in. Both one and two. The one of them is on the B2B side of things. So I teach at Lesley Art and Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and I teach professional practices of design for undergraduates who are graphic designers and interactive designers and the courses are meant to help students with their career development also to learn about marketing business practices, legal issues, all sort of the nuts and bolts, things of design. All the non-design aspects of design. Let's put it that way. And so there's a class exercise that I do because all the student throughout their entire school career are all being given these projects that are very consumer centric, whether it's a nonprofit that's trying to push an anti cigarette campaign or anti smoking campaign, or a product such as a Starbucks or fake coffee company or whatever. So they're very consumer centric project that they're working on. So there's an exercise that I do where I have them look at different types of businesses.
So say like a ski resort versus a bank headquarters versus a university. And then I have students put up a post it notes to say, okay, what services do these organizations need in order to thrive and survive? So things like landscaping or plumbing or parking, and so all these different types of things.
And then what I do is I show the students that those businesses are selling to the big businesses. And so a landscaping company would be selling to the bank and would be selling to the university and we'll be selling to the ski resort. It's kind of this aha moment when the students see this, like, Oh, there's this whole other transactional world that's going out there. And then I follow it up with an exercise. I give them a list of about a hundred non B2C industries. So like aerospace broadcast infrastructure, shipbuilding, plastics, things that are industries that stand on their own, but they're not geared towards consumers.
They're geared towards business selling to another business. So suppliers selling to Nike, for example. And what's fascinating is that when I get feedback at the end of the semester, one of the questions asked is what assignments did you like? And more often than not, I get this B2B assignment because it opens up their perspective that what they thought the stuff that they'd be working on is one thing. And for many of them, it's true. But what I say is for about 70% of them, 70% of the designers, they're going to be working with B2B projects because it's a business client. And they're not exposed to that at school. And so I feel lucky that I get to introduce them to that. And I'll be curious to see if anybody starts working for NASA or anything beyond that because of it but it's good to be able to enlighten them with that.
So I think part of that starts with schooling. And then the second part of the question, which was, what I see is the technology is enabled do it yourself websites, do it yourself. E-commerce shops, do it yourself videos that are professional quality, do it yourself email marketing campaigns, do it yourself advertising online, PaperClick advertising and whatnot.
And so the ability to roll out a product after you have the ability to manufacture it is really simple compared to where it was 20 years ago. And I think what that's done is that enables these micro brands is what I call them to get traction and become viable. So when a company that they'll never be as big as Nike, but Allbirds for example is getting to be some prominence and hopefully they're profitable and hopefully they're sustainable but there are lesser known brands that have a lot of brand loyalty. And what I find interesting about that is that, so you've heard of the brand and
Adam Gamwell: [00:19:28] so I like the shoes too.
Bill Fleming: [00:19:29] Yeah. And what do you like about them? Uh,
Adam Gamwell: [00:19:31] I mean, they seem. Well, they seem like softer versions of Tom's to be a comparison. Yeah.
Bill Fleming: [00:19:38] So it's interesting is that the symbolism of Nike that was so like yeah, like that's the important driver for Allbirds. You don't need to know what the logo mark is. You need to know that as you see friends or somebody walking down the street, you see those shoes and you're like, Oh, those are cool shoes. And then you got an ad that pops up on Facebook and it's like, Oh, those are the shoes that I saw with that person on the street.
And then you look into it and you see some good reviews. And so I'm going to check it out. I'm going to try them on and their logo mark, by the way, it’s the word Allbird with a script font. Pretty simple. But what's interesting is that the symbolism, you don't need to know the symbolism in order to appreciate the blood with the brand. And that's where back to the whole, my thinking of branding as a series of conversations.
Adam Gamwell: [00:20:19] Yeah. That's a great point too, in terms of helping us just raise our awareness about a logo market itself, right. Again, if you're coming to this just saying, okay, I hear the word logo or a brand, then you might begin by saying, I think of the Nike swoosh, but you're right the logo mark of Allbirds in this case is script. And so to even have ourselves in Dunkin Donuts is similar too, right? It's like, it's got a very recognizable type faceI don't know what it's called Dunkin
Bill Fleming: [00:20:42] Dunks, I think So yeah.
Adam Gamwell: [00:20:44] Now that we're thinking about that too, what are the kind of pieces that you recognize, but also realizing that part of that of course, is things like typography and color, right. It's not just going to be an abstract image. That's part of it of course too. But then that piece shows us how deep of a conversation, a cultural conversation that requires us to understand how much we actually already know is cultural citizens living in the places that we live, of how to both interpret and understand the brand.
We may not get the nuances of it. And I think that that's what I think is so important about this kind of work too, is, is that we recognize a logo and image, maybe a typeface, but we, or even some color scheme, perhaps,like the Olympic rings, if you see those colors together, you might say, okay, I understand this. That's the Olympic colors, especially if they're in the ring form if they're in blocks, maybe not.
The funny thing is there's a lot of intellectual work that goes into that we are both given a lot and fed a lot as consumers, but then I love the idea of thinking about this as a conversation, right? And it's a cultural conversation that we have with each other, with ourselves, with our peers, with advertising still, there is this world of B2B that not everybody always sees right. To me, it's almost like talking about this deeper form of conversation, right?
Then it goes in two directions. I think that that's super cool to think about it because it is how does a business have to differentiate, but also how does, how does the business have to differently articulate a brand, its brand to another business? If they're trying to do B2B, I love the example of the exercise you do at Lesley, because it is getting students, I think because you're totally right. It's that a lot of students then kind of approach it as interactive designers, graphic designers thinking that I want to be a designer. I want to make a new UI user interface for Kayak, or I want to make whatever, some nice just in type work for the BBC
Bill Fleming: [00:22:28] Consumer packaging or posters for a rock concert.
Adam Gamwell: [00:22:32] Right. But then it's like, how about making posters for landscape business? That's I think what's interesting about that idea in this exercise I think that's so powerful is that basically, you're saying here's a thousand other conversations you could be having, you know, and your work as a designer is to help think about how do we bring that conversation for two businesses to come together?
What are some of the major differences between like a B2C and a B2B. How do they talk about the relationships and what does that conversation look like?
Bill Fleming: [00:22:59] Well, first I'll start with the similarities. It's still human to human contact. Yeah. So you want to humanize your brand and that doesn't make a difference if you're consumer centric or if you're business centric, that's something that's really important.
I think a lot of the consumer stuff is focused on either a tangible purchase or service purchase. So I want to buy a TV. I can go into Amazon and I can order a TV. A TV is delivered to me. I want someone to set up my TV and put it into a wall. I can go to Task Rabbit and pay somebody on Task Rabbit to put on and put up the TV.
And so there are very binary considerations. You choose the TV or that TV. Okay. I'll go with this TV and you say, yes, I'll purchase this TV. Okay, I need it installed, go to Thumbtack. Yes. It's perfectly good to get ratings. Yes, I'll do this. So it's a fairly quick process and depending on what the item is, buying a car is a different type of process.
I think a lot of business to business stuff. I think that kind of buying TV is an impulse buy, but that quick decision making is relatively quick decision making it isn't there. And so with B2B it works in concert with marketing. So it's not just about how the brand presents itself. It's about how the brand promotes itself. And so how is it reaching out to the people that will either influence the decision on, yes, we need to have this product or service or the people who are actually the decision makers to get them from tipping from, let me think about it too. Yes. Let's sign the contract.
And so I think that the process of business to business is a longer sales lead than it is for consumers. And I think the decision making process is a lot more protracted compared to consumer stuff.
Adam Gamwell: [00:24:41] One of the pieces you shared from lippincott.com that was looking at brands kind of in the human era is transactions now kind of operate as a relationship because of what you're saying in the B2B space, it seems like that in this case, because it's kind of a more protected process in terms of they're not trying to get this do flashy thing up, they're trying to help a business solve a problem. Right. And given that it's more like, how do you become a partner over time versus like, the consumer is not punished if you buy X TV versus Y TV. Right. But a supplier is if you don't buy from them. Right. And so it is interesting to think about how you build that relationship and, and it isn't all about promotional marketing, which I also to dig into in that section after this, because that's a really important piece to have. It's not just about showing it to you, but it's how does it get pushed out? Do you have a T-shirt cannon or do you have a death star cannon to get your stuff out there?
I'd love to think about that too. And if you, in some of your experiences, how do you see that relationship develop over time? And like, what are some of the strategies to think about if you want to sort of build a I'd love to get my landscaping company to come do your work.
Bill Fleming: [00:25:41] Yeah. So what's fascinating. So Moore's law, which is the founder from Intel in the sixties. The concept is that with microprocessors, the faster they're made, the cheaper that can be made, the more that can be made, the more that will accelerate the next generation. And so things will exponentially get faster and faster and faster.
And I think that there's sort of a byproduct of that now that so much has to be done online with computers. Twenty years ago the only ways that you would be able to direct contact of big direct contact with a sales prospect, from one business to another business, it would be reaching out on the phone or maybe sending a mailing to them or going to a conference, or maybe it's a, a print ad that was in a trade publication.
And I think in the past 20 years, there's definitely been this whole acceleration of all these different vehicles that marketers can use. Now that I don't have to rely on a consultant or an expert or a large ad agency to do it. For some people you can have an intern set it up and, and, and put it out there.
So things like email marketing has become massive both in the consumer space, which we kept bombarded with, but also in the B2B space, the way they do it in the B2B space that was typically much more informative. It's much more giving you content that's stuff that you could use. And so that you're getting an affinity for that.
Organization from one business to another business. Like, this business understands my business and you get these in little drips. They have to come through. They actually do come drip campaigns. And they have these sophisticated, much more sophisticated, automated marketing tools where sort of an if then if somebody opens this email, then a week later, send them this different email. And if that person doesn't open an email, some of the different emails, the hope is to have enough touch points with that person. The more you see they're engaged. The more that they will likely turn into a lead, the lead will then turn into a conversion. And so I think that the technology has enabled us to get really fast with that much faster than we were 20 years ago.
Much faster than we were 10 years ago I mean, the iPhone only came out I think, 12 years ago. So yeah. Like just the ability to have, like, to have your email and check out an email and send out an email blast using your phone. Like just everything is the evolution of the technology a lot easier and therefore, a lot trickier to get the word out there.
Adam Gamwell: [00:28:14] That's actually great to think with, cause I'm even thinking of the example of MailChimp. Thee all in one marketing platform is what they call themselves now and they used to just be kind of an email campaigning group. And so it's interesting to even say again, that evolution cause when you're talking about doing emails and your phone, I'm thinking of the MailChimp app on the phone, which is quite sophisticated for this little screen.
Bill Fleming: [00:28:32] Absolutely.
Adam Gamwell: [00:28:34] And I mean, you're totally right there and i've always had this fascination. Maybe it's a morbid curiosity with if then like drip marketing campaigns. Cause, to me what is the alchemy behind thinking about if they do this, if they don't do that and yeah. And how far do you have to branch out?
Bill Fleming: [00:28:49] It's highly targeted. I've gotten involved with it. It's fascinating. It's basically, if this person isn't responding, then we do a low touch point. If this person isn't engaging, right. Look with this email. If they're not opening the emails, they're not clicking on the email, then you want to do a follow up that's a soft followup versus somebody that did click on something. And you can see that they may have clicked on something twice.
It's like all right they're interested in this. So you want to send the next email to them is a little bit more of a slightly harder sell. And so you have analytics to know okay. How do you, interact with that person? Right. But then there's also other things there's a whole other world of online advertising.
I don't know how it's been for you, but yeah. So Facebook, I use exclusively for personal purposes. I do not use it for business whatsoever. So Twitter is primarily business. Instagram is a little bit of a hybrid. LinkedIn is all business. But Facebook, no clients, no colleagues. No. That's like, that's my own private world. And not that I haven't anything all that private. I just want to keep it protect
Adam Gamwell: [00:29:46] You need some space. My own space, but not myspace.
Bill Fleming: [00:29:47] Well, yes, not my space. Yeah. So what's interesting for me though, is of course in my work I'm looking at different software applications like MailChimp is like, they're promoting us now as this all purpose marketing platform.
So I look at their website and next thing you know, I go on to Facebook and I see MailChimp ads yeah. Are nicely constant contact ads. And I see a marketing code just how to improve your email, best practices. These ads are popping up on my Facebook, clearly their picking up on the cookies from the other sites that have been on, but the advertisers have become much more sophisticated and that they know that.
Okay, they're on Facebook and maybe they're not using it for any purpose for business whatsoever, which is my case. Yeah. But these people are making decisions about business stuff. And so we want to make sure that we get in front of them. And if they're poking around on the web, trying to find information about something, we now know that about them and let's put ourselves in front of their face so that they make us aware of it so that you get awareness. And then you, hopefully you get some engagement. And that turns into a lead, generation, and conversion.
Adam Gamwell: [00:30:49] That dovetails perfectly into kind of, the other topic that you brought up before that I'm quite interested in. I think our listeners are too, that this is not always about making something pretty, but it's about this promotional, like promotion is in how big is your, your cannon?
And that's like such an interesting piece too, that I think a lot of us don't think about. There's two sides I'm thinking about here. Cause one is that, as you said, because technology has shifted so much and I can run a marketing campaign on my iPhone with MailChimp for free for now, until you can get, you know, get more subscribers and you turn your different tier or whatever.
I mean, I've used services like CrowdFire, which is. Is it social media, like a content helper. Yeah. You know, super useful for building a Twitter community and in whatever, I mean, that's just any pick your number of things. Right and I mean, even Adobe premier rush that took the video editing capabilities of premiere pro and condensed it into make this for YouTube or tick tock.
And on your phone now, too, if you want. And so incredible and Photoshop is also now on iPad. And so we're seeing even the most sophisticated of products are like filtering their way into mobile or mobile friendly platforms. And so meaning that like, these are elevated. This is like a sort of micro brands or micro enterprises that have some semblance of it. There's some way they can begin to enter. It's already crowded, terrifyingly, like giant Nike's over there or Google or Amazon. How am I going to get into like, an eCommerce like Shopify? They're trying to make it easy for anybody to open a shop. Yeah. All these pieces say then yet that may or may not do much. If you don't have any capacity to promote, how well can you push that thing out there into the stratosphere? Yeah. And Facebook's a great example. You're like, I'm looking at MailChimp or whatever or reading, we'll just say about Allbirds, you know, on Allbird’s website. And then I go to Facebook, unrelated check on my niece and then bam, I get an ad for Allbirds and you're like, huh.
Bill Fleming: [00:32:42] Or other sneaker companies are the shoe card. Right.
Adam Gamwell: [00:32:46] So let's talk about that. This promotional piece is clearly very important. Like it's not so much about if it's pretty, but like how big is your cannon as the metaphor in my head? Right.
Bill Fleming: [00:32:53] What's interesting. So we can even take us back to Nike and that there's so many people that gush over the Nike logo and the Just Do It tagline, the fact that it's still three words and the impact of that, that both of those have separately in tandem.
And I am a lot more cynical about it. And that at the logo, it's nice. Like I get it. And the tagline yeah, that's great. But the millions and millions, and at this point, billions and billions of dollars that Nike has invested in making sure that that mark is on every single box on every single tag, on every single poster on every single ad on every single it's the billions of dollars that they put behind that mark to make sure that it it's this ubiquitous thing that gets associated with fitness and being an athlete, the mark itself it's a pretty object, but in terms of it having resonance, there has to be the resources, the finances to push it out there. So that's ubiquitous. I think the era of those types of big businesses have changed. I don't know if Nike’s a public company or not. Okay. Cause I think that, that makes a difference too. I think that public companies, they often go, they often go public for funding sources so that they can take their company to just the next level. But then they're at the mercy of stockholders. Right?
Adam Gamwell: [00:34:16] So the answer is yes, they are a publicly traded company. Great.
Bill Fleming: [00:34:19] So, so now they're at the mercy of stockholders and so they have to be their CEO, their upper level employees, all the employees are now accountable to their shareholders and making sure that there is profits and dividends and stock valuations and all sorts of other stuff.
And this also, I think with the stock market is there's this huge emphasis on growth year after year growth year after year growth. And then there's disappointment because it was flat. That's bad that it's flat. Right. And my sense is that there's a lot of us individuals that I would like to be making more money year over year, but I don't need to be making more money year after year. I need to be able to sustain myself so that I can afford my mortgage and I can afford my food and I can afford my, my way of living and, and thus for retirement and savings and whatnot. I need to be able to maintain that. That to me is what's important. And I think that's true for a lot of people.
I think the sustainability of a business. And I don't mean that in an environmental sense. I mean that in a financial business sense, I think has shifted in that we're going sort of back a little bit more to the little bit more of a mercantile society where the individuals like the Allbirds, they don't have to be as enormous as Nike.
If they're building a brand and they're selling enough shoes and they're able to sell the shoes at a profit, that the people that are working there can make a living and they can keep on promoting and evolving the business so they can keep on maintaining that. And even if those sales stay constantly flat but constant, those people can pay their mortgages and they can pay for their food and pay for their way of life. Yeah. That to me is a successful business. That to me is that is I don't think that they need to go against Nike and prove themselves. I think it's valid for a company to say, we're okay going to do this because we can't provide a good product or service and we're going to do this because I need to sustain a way of living and that's good enough. More doesn't mean better.
Adam Gamwell: [00:36:18] Amen. Yeah.
Bill Fleming: [00:36:18] Yeah. So, I think that's what's happening now. I think again, do yourself e-commerce to yourself Shopify, do yourself email blast. I think that there’s a lot more of those independents, I think, who have that ability of not just putting out a shingle, but like okay if I can maintain just a shingle I'm good. So yeah, to meI think shifts the, what a brand. Means, because I think for Nike it represents billions of dollars, both in money spent and in revenues earned. And I think for a company like Allbirds. I think the brand represents affinity and making sure that people are attracted to the brand. When their shoes die out they want to buy the new shoe.
Or when somebody is walking down the street, they see somebody wearing Allbirds. They want it too, and I feel like that to me has as much value then billions of dollars for a company. Yeah. So I'm gonna get into things like streaming is obliterating the entertainment industry. So Spotify and Apple music, there's more artists being exposed like through algorithms or the shared list of other people and whatnot.
And it used to be that there was a day that people would sit and listen to an album and experience the album, and so that they would have an affinity for that artist. And so then they would buy the next album and maybe go to a rock concert or buy a T-shirt. And now I have Spotify. I have this love, frustration with it.
I love the fact that Spotify. As it says, you might also like, and I listen and I’m like yeah, I do also like that. I do also like that. And so I click on all these different artists that I've never heard of, but like, the music is totally spot on is some artists that have been amazing. And, but then it gets to the point where I don't remember their names.
There's so many of them that I can't remember them. I can remember the gist of the song, but so to go back and find out, like, how do I find that song? How do I find that artist there? Isn't the back of the days with. But it was vinyl or CDs. There was a physicality to be able to see artists is a brand. And I think that now that part of the brand is sort of diluted and I think it's also become much more femoral.
Adam Gamwell: [00:38:20] I love that too, because it's in no ironic sense. I was actually at a vinyl party with my friends last night. Nice, we put on Steely Dan’s Aja and a bunch of other stuff in there, but you're totally right. There is something about both the album arts, right. Both the physicality, but like, you know, Because an LP is big, right.
You know, CDs, CDs got tiny, which is still cool, but I'm talking about actually having the LP itself and then you gotta put it, you gotta flip it from side to side to be, there are purists that say, it sounds better. I don't really know, but it sounds great. But if there is, but then it's like, but also the listening of that too in that space is like, we're listening together and there's also like, it doesn't make me love steely Dan more necessarily. But like, it makes me think about, yeah. When I'm with friends, I might then think about a communal experience.
Bill Fleming: [00:39:01] Yeah, it’s a communal experience. So my sense is that I think the music industry, I think, has reverted back to probably what was like in the medieval times, where there was no recording in the medieval times, you would go watch a performance.
And I think now we're getting back to the place where people consume music through these streaming devices, whether it's paid or unpaid services, but the way that these artists make money is through their concerts. And so that they can create these communal services. Taylor Swift is whether you love or hate her, she's masterful at creating those communal experiences. And I feel like there are so many different factors that are influencing a brand's longevity. I think it's not just the way that the mark is and what people remember it's about the experiences that they go through in order to make sure that they latch onto it, that I'm part of their tribe.
Adam Gamwell: [00:39:47] I think that experiential piece is quite an important aspect of this too. On one level too the United States is unabashedly individualistic. Right. And so it is like, I want you to be you. And of course that like what is it okay to be you has changed as we're saying to you, like we see much more acceptance of difference and diversity and also a much more call for it in business space and universities, in a lot of spaces, I think then like, so part of it. There's always this back and forth between the individual and the communal in this case. It's interesting to think about how brands interface with that sometimes. And I don't mean Nike so much, but just like the ideas of brandness. And what does it mean to have a recognition and affinity for something, whether product service or even if I'm not going to brand it lifestyle. But there are things like lifestyle brands, right. And yeah. There are celebrities. We may think of Kim Kardashian,
Bill Fleming: [00:40:36] Kardashian uggh.
Adam Gamwell: [00:40:39] Or even Seth Godin, the market guru. He kind of pushes the idea too of the brand of being like the tribal marketer right?
Bill Fleming: [00:40:45] Yeah
Adam Gamwell: [00:40:46] You know, and I think that there's a lot of interesting pieces there too. Cause I'm juxtaposing in my head, these differences of the ephemeral. I think you're spot on. Spot on Spotify, the ephemerality of what artists do I stick to or I'm gonna listen to one song and they're just gonna make me make a radio from that song.
Yet we have celebrities that make their individual self, the brand. You know, does that mean they're going to be ephemeral? Maybe the Kardashians would just fade away, I don't know.
Bill Fleming: [00:41:14] I think the ability to have everyone's 15 minutes of fame as Andy Warhol, once proclaimed, I think the ability is much easier than it used to be, but to hold onto those 15 minutes, it's much more difficult.
Adam Gamwell: [00:41:23] Ooh, I like that.
Bill Fleming: [00:41:25] That's my take on it.
Adam Gamwell: [00:41:28] Bill, this has been amazing. Cool. Thanks so much for talking on the show today. Let's keep building the conversation.
Bill Fleming: [00:41:34] Cool. Thank you.
Adam Gamwell: [00:41:40] We hope you enjoyed the conversation with Bill Fleming here on This Anthro Life and Experienced by Design. You can check out more of Bill's work at billfleming.com. That's B I L L F L E M I N G.com. Again, we'll have this linked in the show notes as well as if you want to find him on Twitter or LinkedIn or Instagram.
His name is Bill Fleming without the i’s. So B I L L F L E M N G. So Bill flemng little harder to say, but better because Hey, as he likes to say, there's no, I in team.
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