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No Such Think as Rebranding

Rebranding is a waste of time.  Don’t believe us, then listen in.  Finlay Kerr, Co-Founder of Frejiz, breaks down branding and rebranding.  Many companies spend their time and money focused on the art, the colors, and the visual component in their branding but forget to uncover their brand essence.

In this episode, we discuss how SaaS companies, consumer brands, and large behemoths leverage their essence, tribalism, and the story to drive impact into the market.

Finlay and Kyle discuss:

  • Why rebranding can be a big waste of money
  • How to find your brand essence
  • When is the right time to 
  • You are not going to want to miss this action-packed episode.
  • What B2B brands can learn from Consumer Brands
  • Where you can get the most out of your brand

If you want to build your brand essence, check out this article inspired by Marty Neumeier and Rory Sutherland written by Finlay: Brand Essence – Getting the Foundations of your Brand Right

**Finlay is in Scotland and the internet connection made the audio unstable at the beginning of this episode.  The points were so valuable we did not edit out the gaps in audio.





Intro: (00:00)
Welcome to The Summit. A podcast focused on bringing you the knowledge and insights for industry leaders. I’m your host Kyle Hamer, and I’m on a mission to help you exceed your potential. As a sales guy, turned marketer, I am passionate about building sustainable businesses. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 20 years, like you won’t find in overnight growth scheme, a shortcut to success, or a way to hack yourself. Nope. Success is the byproduct of hard work rate relationships and deep understanding done over and over. We’re here to help you unlock that success with some secrets from other people, one conversation

Kyle Hamer: (00:34)
At a time. Thanks for joining us today on the summit. I’m here with my special guests, Findley Kerr. I said it right in that right. Findlay.

Finlay Kerr: (00:41)
Yep. You got it. That’s it. Yep.

Kyle Hamer: (00:43)
Great Finley is with a group based in Scotland. So we’re very excited to have our first international guest on the summit today. And we’re gonna be talking a little bit about brand, why you can’t rebrand and that’s not really a thing. And before we do that though, I’d like to have Findlay tell us, well, Finn, just tell us a little bit about yourself who you are, what you do and how you got involved in this crazy thing called marketing.

Finlay Kerr: (01:06)
Yes. Well firstly, thank you very much for having me. We’re delighted that we’re the first international guests and makes us feel pretty special, but thanks Kyle for the invite and I’m listen, I hope I don’t upset anyone with that mildly provocative title that I, that I gave you, but Hey, we’ll, we’ll unpack that in a while.

So yeah, I’m one of these strange creatures who went to business school and then came out and very soon after he set himself up in business, and I know we were talking with some friends on the weekend cause their daughter’s about to do the same thing and head off to the Alps and to start a ski season. So, and there’s, there’s snow out there. She’s following her passion. And that’s what I did. I told my parents like I’m just going to go and do one winter season and, and then come back and get a proper job.

Finlay Kerr: (02:03)
But I fell in with my business partner still in, in, in business with, with John. Cause we ended up after working for a big an organization. You know, we will do this as well. So we sit in business, running ski Shally and holidays. And we had a lot of fun. I met some great people and learned some license along the way.

So I think it was one thing having a business education, but then when you actually get out there and set up a small business yourself, you and you really learn. And so I kind of stayed as a small business owner, grew those businesses, you know, but still there. And I was still pretty close to the action and came back Scotland, another business and went backwards and forwards between the operations, which was, which was great.

And, you know, putting the formal education along with the expedience, then you get to a where you go, you know, I think I can put my hand up and say, I’m a bit of an expert in some of this stuff and an a to con and advisor to the rule and local government.

Finlay Kerr: (03:09)
So that meant I was helping more small, medium size enterprises in the practical part, you know, and with our theoretical buck, right. And, and after a while, all of that, I actually managed to convince another colleague who’s in academia to suss out the consultancy fresh.

And, and while we will operate across the whole marketing domain we’ve kind of focused on brand and brand strategy to be that specific if you like. So, so there, there you go. There’s kind of twenty-five years whoosh. We’re up to date

Kyle Hamer: (03:51)
Twenty-Five years in two minutes. That’s pretty good. We were, we were interrupted by our smallest podcast or the five-year-old who comes in for his morning hugs. So now you have, like you said, you have a provocative statement. Your provocative statement is this, there is no such thing as rebranding. Can’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t waste your money. Why do you feel that way?

Finlay Kerr: (04:20)
Okay. So I’ll, I’ll start off at the most provocative level. And as part of frustration in that I see a lot of small, medium size enterprises parting with really good money. You know, not can be 10,000 up to a hundred thousand, depending on the scale of the project and on the business. And really all they’re doing is mucking about with the visuals.

And we like to talk about the iceberg and they’re messing with what is above the water. And they’re no stone to think about, you know, we all know, and can a school schoolboy science that there’s a lot under the water. And that’s fine cause it, it can actually work. But if you’re not aware of what’s below the surface, I believe that you can waste your money, you know, messing about with the visuals. So it’s, it’s really a big provocative statement just to say, stop, wait a minute.

Finlay Kerr: (05:26)
And then the next part of that is often a wake up call or an education for, for people. When we say your brand, you don’t have ownership of it. You don’t have complete control of it. You can only manage it or manipulate it if you like, because your brand actually resides in the head and the hearts of your consumer, it’s a perception. It’s a, it’s a combined perception of the think of you.

So then I may be soft and light day a little and see, well, we’ll, you can rebrand if you understand that that is not simply a graphic proposition, not a change of palette or, and you know, strapline or whatever you think it is now. And I know lots of people get that. I really just want to stop those people that charge on off and spend their money on things that they have rebranded in the broader sense. And now there’s lots of great graphic designers. There’s lots of great branding agencies who will do that work for you because they come from that deeper understanding. They knew what what’s below the surface as well. And at that point I kind of, softed my, eh, my take on it. As long as, you know, that’s a caveat, everybody understands that as you move forward. So yeah.

Kyle Hamer: (06:54)
Well, you talk, you talk about not being an owner of your brand, which I think is a really interesting concept in the fact that you don’t own it. It’s, it’s owned by the perception, the hearts and the minds. I think you said of your customer of your audience.

What does, what does that mean? Like when they say that they own it, how can they own it? If I’m the person who has the organization, I’m the person that comes up with the colors and logos and the communication style and how can they actually own that?

Finlay Kerr: (07:23)
So, and I, it’s, it’s a difficult concept and I think you’re right or not. It’s by and humans in general, we prefer something more tangible is it’s much easier to understand than once we go into a little bit of a gray zone and we’re possibly talking about the psychology or sociology. It’s not so easy, such an easy Cray marketing is advertising.

Give me the visuals. I understand that. But we know that that, that marketing is actually managing the relationships, you know, as much as much more than just pushing out advertising or content, you know, to use the kind of more modern term. And so if you can come at it from that marketing viewpoint, you know, a more a broader understanding of marketing to see, right, it’s managing long-term profitable relationships.

And then I think to take that step to say, you don’t own the brand because we realize then that we’re talking about what’s important is the relationship between us and our customers. So all of a sudden that becomes much softer and, you know, on something harder to, to understand good marketers, know that they have be able to walk in their customer’s shoes. So I think for those that have gone down that path is probably not such a big, a big step. But we, we can manage the brand as long as, you know, if you come with me on that one to say, right, okay, you don’t have complete ownership of it.

Kyle Hamer: (09:14)
Well, it’s interesting the way that you phrase that and position it, cause, you know, you think about a relationship and in a relationship, there’s your intent and then there’s the way that it is received. And if you’re not understanding how something is received, it doesn’t matter what your intent is. It can always lead to some sort of chaos or confusion.

Finlay Kerr: (09:33)
Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, you know, and carrying that on a little bit as that, and, you know, on the psychological SAR level, if you like be all like to think that we are logical creatures and that we have made the decisions, whether that’s what to, to wear or what to do or what to buy, what to consume in a logical way.

But what we’ll do is we will actually post rationalize on, we will make a lot more decisions and emotionally and intuitively and as with the brands, and that happens as, you know, a heuristic, a shortcut and it’s not always processed, but then what we’ll do is afterward we’ll put in the logic that, that you then talk about, are we crave to say, yeah, well I bought the decisions based on price or finance per se. And now I don’t want to kind of pretend that it’s some mystical, voodoo and thing out there. There’s good on, you know, and, and we always have to stress is that we do this ethically. You know, we’re not, it’s not kind of, we’re not trying to hoodwink anyone by, with using techniques or anything like that, but you know, what we’d love to do is make more marked in managers, brand managers, aware of the thinking consumer behavior on the thinking process,

Kyle Hamer: (11:23)
You know, early in my, early in my marketing career one of the, the big heavy components that marketers talked about was, was brand. It was all about brand. It was your brand and like many people in the organization that wasn’t inside of marketing to me brand was absolutely arts and crafts. It was, you know, what is the, what are the colors is a designed to pretty does, is it aesthetically pleasing?

And, you know, we recently went through a rebrand or a brand consolidation with an umbrella brand strategy for a organization that was bringing eight different companies together and trying to take one message to market. And what I found was is there’s a much more depth and intricacy into what what goes into making people believe or, or giving them the tools that they need to go back and do those convincing I made the right decision or you know, believing that their, their decision was right or justifying their purchase or whatever it is that, that makes them feel good about the choices they made in the relationship with your brand.

Can you talk a little bit about what some of the additional elements are, and I think the word you use as you call brand essence, but what is it that, what are the pieces and parts that go into making up your brand essence?

Finlay Kerr: (12:52)
Yeah, so, so we’ve actually got a framework. We, we call the, save an ease of brand. So we’ve, we’re built around a snowflake and, you know, that’s a kind of a nod to my my past in the winter sports industry, but it was just an icon that, that worked really well. And we knew a couple of things. There’s no flicks, again, sort of school, boy science.

Each one is unique, right? So you ask about, and the essence, what we’re trying to find is not just a unique selling point or as, and the brand gudu Marty Neumeier calls it your only ness or key. So what we’re trying to say is that you can be as unique as, as a snowflake. So we’ve got a six branches take my meds. And what we’ve got to see is we’ve actually got to do this too stated.

Finlay Kerr: (13:55)
Haven’t been, cause we’ve got to understand what your consumer or potential consumer things you’d essences, but if we start off in house, then we at least get an idea of what you would like it to be or what you would like the perception to be, how you’d like to be perceived and what we, and we boil that right down.

And so it’s the, the raise on Detra. It’s it’s in the same sort of spaces as the mission, the vision, and as your purpose, you know, we love Simon Sinek and, you know, the buy. So we asked why, why, why? So that absence is the deepest driver, almost even what drives the purpose. And so, so it’s really quite deep and, and, you know, it’s the soul of the brand. And we started to put people off. You’ve got to be careful with some of that language that, you know, we don’t frighten people again.

Finlay Kerr: (14:54)
They think we’re a little bit too mystical or whatever it is. So, so, so it’s the kind of, it’s the beating heart, the essence, and we’ve got to, we’ve got to get right in there now. There’s, there’s two things just jumping forward. You know, we workshop this and the, you know, we’ve got some techniques, some fun techniques, you know, and if you listened to one of our podcasts that we’re, and we’re rock fans, we love rock music and we’re trying to bring into our work into, into the brand strategy.

So so we’ll ask and founders, or my husband teams, what rock band would represent your brand through that? We’re trying to discover the essence, or we say, okay, it’s pop music or performer. If it doesn’t, doesn’t quite work with them. So, so that’s our starting point. And then we, we work our way round and expedience and motion, and then we go and see right, go and execute now, and then actually come back.

Finlay Kerr: (15:57)
And then the rest is future. And looking at the planning, how are you going to be inducing and how are you going to evolve? And then the final one, em, equity. So then we actually try and quantify that. Now that starts a challenge, you know, has been the Holy grail of, of marketing and advertising. Hasn’t that to tell me, what’s the return on investment?

What’s the, what’s the actual financial value in that? So we’re, we’re, we’re working on an equation to try and make it a L you know, quantify that a little bit. And that started called our brand love equation. And so, yeah, it’s a bit fun as well, you know CDs, Hey, we try and have a bit of fun doing it as well.

Kyle Hamer: (16:41)
It sounds like it. So now you, you said something that I think is really interesting and you talked about this where you’ll take a rock band or you’ll take business and you’ll try and compare it to a rock band, and you’ve done this on your podcast. What, what I’m interested in is really two things. When you ask people will rock, what rock band do they, do they see themselves as, what are the most common answers, or is it, Hey, they really need to lean more towards pop? Like what, what type of responses to you?

Finlay Kerr: (17:10)
Sure. So you know, the hook of one of our shoes, we call it life in the brand Blaine, which is obviously a plea on a, an Eagles track. And and what we do, we challenge brand owners, managers, founders to, to come to the shore and with three tracks, and it’s a rock show. So we challenged them to say, Luke, and bring three rock tracks.

Now, do we have to set parameters from that classic rock? You know, we get pretty soft and country or whatever, and we don’t want to frighten anyone’s grand mother by anything too hard either, but, and you’re right. Not, not everybody can do it because this is, this is the kind of the, you know, it’s the agility of mind a little bit to go, wait a minute. How can I connect a song I have not created, does not within our control and connect that to the brand? No, the biggest and trap is that people think that they’re, and it’s the soundtrack to their promotional campaign. Now it may be, but what we’re actually trying to do is get into that essence. So what’s the, what are those real deep emotion?

Finlay Kerr: (18:39)
Well we went from guns and roses through to their pretenders. And I wouldn’t say that’s quite the bookends of, of, of the genre if you like. But it was it was, it was trying to evoke something of the brand, the brand spirit. And, but yeah, sometimes people will push back. So we soften it and go, okay, and let’s slate, let’s change the genre.

You know, we’re actually working with someone just now, and we’re going to look at classical music as someone who actually works in classical music. So it works. Sometimes that exercise works better with a film icon or an maybe something, even more visual lights, the perfect house that your brand would live in. You know, we’ve got to mix it up. And, and sometimes people are sat there with crossed arms a little bit going, you know, these guys are crazy. This was, this is like back at art school and high school. I hate this and you’ve got to try and work with them a little bit. And that’s when your facilitation skills have to have to command as well.

Kyle Hamer: (20:03)
You know, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting. Cause when you think about, you think about large companies and we go back to your original statement of you can’t rebrand. Yeah. But you look at large companies take an Apple, for example, in many ways people would say, no, no, no, no Finley you’ve got companies like Apple, they rebranded, you’ve got companies like Google, they rebranded or they split off and now they call themselves alphabet.

What, what do you mean you can’t rebrand? What about these successful companies that at large scale talk a little bit about some of the techniques that allowed companies that are are larger or yeah, larger that are well known that why it was, they were capable to, to make the transition from, you know one particular style and market into an entirely different brand presence and go to market strategy.

Finlay Kerr: (21:02)
So, so I would argue because we’ll, we’ve almost got as two definitions and, you know, the one word, meaning two different things. So I would argue that the Apple and Google didn’t rebrand, what, what they did was they refreshed their Mark or changed their logo. So, you know, they went from the, the, the, the rainbow multicultural icon to, and can mono color or silver, whatever.

However, if you use our definition and, or stick to the, this relationship between the customer and the brand, then I, you know, Apple, we’re designing information tools, our creative tools, our entertainment tools, it was to make life simpler. And so those fundamentals that kind of assets, you know for changing how people work or letting them be more creative through hardware or enabling them to enjoy and entertainment easier than the house, you know, those fundamentals, I don’t believe have, have changed since the 1980s and likewise, Google, you know, it was always about making information available.

Finlay Kerr: (22:27)
You know, the, the, those fundamentals, they were trying to, eh, make information available to everybody. You know, there’s a democratic element to it, you know, to make it free and easy and so on. And yeah, yeah, they’ve changed the company doctor or the mother ship if you like a little bit, but I think we can get sucked back into, and that’s the kind of smoke and mirrors thing, you know, when the Mark or the logo changes or it’s a rebrand and that’s, that’s how I would argument.

Now. I know we have to spend a bit of time educating customers and potential customers, and sometimes you just have to let them go cause it’s like, well, you know, good luck. I hope you’ve got a good agency that, and that everyone is going to be going to be happy with the outcome. And, but, so that’s why I try and get that provocative statement out there as much as a can add on getting a chance to, to talk on shows like this or elsewhere.

Kyle Hamer: (23:30)
Well, one of the, I mean, one of the things that I I guess when I think about, I think about Apple, I think about your, your particular statement is I feel like there was a, I feel like there was a distinctive pivot for Apple specifically after jobs came back when they released the Macintosh in the, in the shift was, was less about this brand of, of computer and space age, and the, you know, they were heavily into education.

You know, they’re trying to break the mold with their, their commercial in 1984. You know, let me show you why 1984 is not really like 1984, but if you look at how they released the Macintosh, what I felt like was, is they did what you’re talking about. They didn’t rebrand. They actually leaned harder into their essence. And what came out of it was this embraced a culture of thinking differently, behaving differently, changing the molds of the world. And then they went on to pick a fight with Microsoft, with their, you know, Mac versus PC ads.

And so w what it really felt like was not as much a rebrand as just a complete embodiment of their, their brand essence. Are there other examples that you can think of that are similar where, Hey, the company was maybe being too broad or they were trying to be, you know, too many things, too many people, and it felt like a rebrand, but really what it was is they were just embracing their essence.

Finlay Kerr: (25:02)
Yeah. I mean, I think that a great example in Steve, Steve jobs was probably the best example of a brand designer and, and, and its kind of wider strategic sense or how to build a brand. He wasn’t really a CEO, eh, you know, that he was much more about brand building. So I’ll just kind of echo your, your points first and to, to say how well they did the brand is often about is quite tribal because coming back to those fundamental human drivers, you know, mostly we are social creatures.

We like to belong to groups, little family groups and then clubs and societies. And, and that is one of the big drivers behind brand. Now Apple almost the, almost oversimplified that with the Microsoft and kind of kind of battle, but you know, they, they want to, and it worked and it was around and the type of people we are and I think the overplayed it, but they were kinda like, well, if you’re creative, I need a bit cool.

Finlay Kerr: (26:22)
You’re cooler than those guys. Then you’re, you’re in our brand. They’re not in our tribe in our club and, and you know, so, so that has worked for them. And I think what hasn’t worked for me right now. And so I think this is a, an international brand is, is some of the, the motor Mark’s the ultimate of marks.

And I’m the one that instantly jumps to mind for me is Porsche Porsche. And that have moved out of the, the sports car domain and are trying to do a little bit of everything. So, you know, they’ve got not quite cars to fit every type, you know, not quite into the minivan sector yet, but for me that that’s been diluted. And it’s an old, British brand, no, in the, in the same sector, Jaguar, you know, I feel, you know, they’ve kind of moved into a Jeep, an SUV type. I think they’re great cars and they’re probably selling them, but I would see that there’s probably only so long that you can milk that until you’ve undervalued brands, but can the table tail on that one? You know,

Kyle Hamer: (27:50)
It’s interesting to hear you bring up Jagen in Porsche because for me, I agree a first time I heard somebody say yes, I bought a, I bought a JAG crossover and it was like, Jaguar has a crossover. Are you kidding me? And when they, you know, they, they brought their car and I was like, okay, well what did this cost?

And then they told me the price and I was like, well, for that amount, you could have gotten the JAG. So aren’t you just driving the, the traditional car. And I think there’s, there’s something there that gets lost in translation for the next generation.

Not that it’s it’s wrong, but you’re right. It is very risky because you run you run a risk of diluting the brand and I’ll, I’ll pull a little bit on some of the experience that I had was talking to you about, you know, the umbrella brand of bringing eight companies to one and trying to create a cohesive message.

Kyle Hamer: (28:38)
Well, we had anywhere from 35 to 12 years of brand equity in the market where the folks loved and were passionate about the particular products that they were purchasing. And when you tried to bring them all together and while they were loosely associated and coupled everybody still had that vehement response to, well, I’m from the other company, or now this is my sister company.

Well, why are you partnering with the enemy? Because it was a it was taboo for many, many, many, many years. And so weaving a, a cohesive story together was very tricky and trying to do on top of that of bringing another message to market. It was, it was as much market confusion as it was market clarity. And, and the part that I thought was most interesting was this, we weren’t, when I say we, the, the leadership team that I was a part of wasn’t as concerned about the unifying message as they were about color and the archetype and the way that the logo or the Mark struck them, you know, we spent countless hours looking at different logos and designs and going through the, you know, the color wheel and what if this was blue or yellow.

Kyle Hamer: (29:55)
And instead of taking a step back and saying, okay, well, how do we actually tell this story in a way that makes it common sense? And it’s easy for somebody to build those reasons to believe that justification of why this makes sense or, or, or building that relationship across those other eight brands that historically we’ve been enemies with.

It, it was a challenging where we spent the time, the time was, was in N in ornately spent on arts and crafts. And not that there was any, anything wrong with the work that was done. It was a lot of hard work done there, but it was like, that was almost easier than the hard work that it took to really creating a message and narrative that made sense. Do you see that often in, in what?

Finlay Kerr: (30:41)
Yeah. I mean, that, that is, that’s the, exactly the, the rebrand project that I’m trying to just send out a message of caution, because as you’ve seen it is, it’s, it’s costly, you know, in terms of time and money and it’s arts and crafts, you know, that’s a nice way of putting it and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

As long as everyone’s aware that that are much bigger cultural issues at play here, you know, that seems like a real brand architecture challenge that you would involved in, you know, bringing in these different brands, they’ve got their own identity, and that’s not the visual that is the identity of the people. And, you know, the work they are on the culture and, you know, probably rightly so. You did see them as different when they were competitors, because they were, they acted differently.

They had a different culture, and that’s much, much harder to, to integrate that teams of people who have maybe got 20, 30 years of that culture, bill 10, then they are some crafts and you can do it, but, you know, you’ve got to be grown up sometimes and see maybe they should keep some sort of autonomy or identity.

Finlay Kerr: (31:55)
And maybe that works for everyone. There’s an ownership, the business ownership, the, but maybe the architecture is better that they do have their own identity. You know, until at that point it’ll Mark and their own culture. And, you know, if you shoehorn everyone in together and then maybe, you know, the risk is that it all becomes a little bit blind, a little bit vanilla to please everyone or not upset everyone or, or some people. And I’ve seen that happen as well.

Kyle Hamer: (32:28)
You know, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting because I think one of the, one of the challenges that I see in I’m using a stateside based business, I apologize, but Phillip Morris, which is a gigantic tobacco company here in the, Oh, man, I want to say it was in the nineties. They acquired the craft brands, foods. Okay. So Kraft, Mac and cheese.

I mean, there’s, there’s all kinds of different crafts foods that are out there. And in addition to that, it was also about the time of for, for America where it’s not delivery. It’s the Giorno was a, there was the delivery, it was a frozen pizza that was kind of the new expanding crust, like from a consumer goods standpoint, you had these unique brands that were in the market and when Phillip and more spot craft, and when Kraft bought the Giorno, nobody messed with the brand or the brand message or that specific market, they let it do its own thing because it was driving revenue.

Kyle Hamer: (33:28)
It wasn’t like all of a sudden cigarettes and pizza brought to you by Phillip and Morris. It was, you know, it was DiGiorno is still bringing you your delivery. And one of the things that I, you know, at least the experience that we navigated through is when you look at the business model, not just, not just what we were saying about how we did business or what we’re saying that we did to the market or what we meant to the market, but when you really boil it down to how we did business, how the eight different companies did business, how you did invoicing, how you did licensing, how you did customer service, where you routed and directed phone calls across the entire gamut, you went eight different motions and you had eight different things that people had gotten accustomed to. And all of a sudden it was, we were saying to the market, you know, it’s now delivery pizza by Phillip and Morris, which all I’d ever thought about Phillip and Morris was cigarettes. Great. So, yeah,

Finlay Kerr: (34:29)
Yeah, yeah, no, no, I think that’s a, that’s a really good example. And eh, you know, I’ve, I’ve sat in enough advertising classes and so on and different schools, you know, analyzed a Marlboro man and, and, you know, that’s such a strong, strong brand and, you know, it’s constructed so heavily and it’s so powerful, you know, we use that as an example and okay.

No, there’s, there’s questions about how ethical is to sell those products and so on, but in terms of advertising and you’re absolutely right, you know, to, to then put that, you know, Iconic [inaudible] and, you know, alongside any of those other products that you talk about, you know, of course it doesn’t work. And, you know, also it’s a really good example. I think people maybe get a little bit too excited when, you know, they’re involved in merger and acquisition and they think that everything has to be, you know, as a takeover and they all maybe get a little bit too focused or blinkered on everything being unique and under the brand.

And they’ve kind of the meta conquest and, but the bigger manager or, or directors possibly allow that brand to have its own space. And, and yeah, you know, be a great pizza company and it’s all right, thank you very much. And there’s better examples of that as well, you know, like Procter and gamble, that that’s what they do, you know, they don’t show it by approach and, and gamble, but it is the individual brands that they let take take prominence and they manage a kind of a house of brands. Yeah.

Kyle Hamer: (36:05)
Well, and, and, and then you, you know, you look at the take for example some of the products by Procter and gamble dove. So, yeah, and the, the evolution of the brand of dove over the last 20 years in what, what what’s visually communicated has been a, you know, a steady Eddie logo a steady Eddie delivery.

And as far as what they’re, what they’re talking about, but what’s been modified is how they’re taking that brand to market and talking to their audience. And so the rebranding effort, if you, if you want to call it one for dove has less to do about product feature function, or even, you know, the visuals it’s about making sure that it’s succinctly communicated to that particular audience and delivering it to them in a, in a way that they understand, which I think is a higher level of intensity in intentionality and maturity.

It would be very easy to take the off or tide, you know, I remember when Thai changed their, their bags, thinking about when Cheetos changed their bags, right? Like you just, you, you start thinking about when you mess with the, the, the visuals, if you’re not talking to your audience in, in a way that they, you know, they understand, or where they’re at, you run a giant risk of alienating them. Hmm.

Finlay Kerr: (37:27)
Yeah. I mean, I think dove and, you know, let’s stick with that. I like what they’ve done. And I’m kind of guessing that they’ve done this across various ad markets. You know, I’ve seen some of the activity in other European markets, but in the UK they’ve taken what is quite a masculine, natural sport and rugby. Okay.

And the view, some of the, the icons they are and what they’re kind of playing on is this slight lifestyle change that, that men are well, one spending more money on that tape of goods, but that they’re actually happy to openly do it. So we’ve seen there kind of a modernization from, and, you know, a very Machel culture from some of the PNG, eh, brands through the seventies up until today. And, and I, and I, you know, it’s a softening of the, the masculinity almost you’re right.

They’ve been, they’re great. You know, they’ve got, you know, some of the best marketers on board there to, to do that, but also they actually drive that don’t, they, because they’re influential with their big advertising budgets and so on, and they can kind of say, look, guys, you know, it’s so key to, to care about Europeans and your skin and so on. So I think that’s really interesting and take on it

Kyle Hamer: (38:48)
Well, in, in, and there’s a couple of things that P and G leaned into really hard across their brands. And you think about really identifying with your audience, you know, brands like dove degree. I want to say Gillette when the, the me too movement happened here in the States.

And I don’t know if it, if it, if it swept the globe, but you know, it was that there was like, Hey, it’s, it’s what’s happening to women in business or in, in society specifically States it’s just not acceptable. And the, the way in which that was spun in into the advertisement, the way that it was, you know, a fight like a girl and, and the ads that were created to support this, it’s like, it’s not, you know, I don’t throw like a boy.

I, you know, like if you don’t throw like a girl, like I throw like me and created this level of humanity and, and equity, but then also this creating this safety in their more masculine brands of it’s okay to be a guy who’s not super macho, or over the top or overbearing, you can still be rugged, but have this tender underside in, in support this, this whole movement inequity.

Kyle Hamer: (39:59)
And, and to me, when you start looking at, at the outward communication of brand, when it trickles down into advertising in, in an influence, you’re right. When saying, if I’ve got a large advertising budget, I have the ability to produce a lot of right wrong or otherwise propaganda to influence a positive or a negative change. But if you don’t know who you are at your essence, like if you, if you’re not thinking, if you’re trying to, if you’re a, if you’re, you’re the Marlboro man riding up on a horse, trying to deliver a pizza, it is not going to work. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in society like that.

Just that doesn’t work. You have to stay true to the the rules and the constructs of why somebody fell in love with you, why they have that relationship and what, you know, what emotionally they’re going through at this particular moment.

Finlay Kerr: (40:52)
Yeah. I think, I think those are great examples and, and, you know, they’re, they’re great icons and they’re an icon of their time and, you know, the Marlboro man you know, very male masculine and wasn’t probably going to budge too much. And, but then Juliet, which was pretty close, but then there are actually, you know, let’s take our hat off to them that the, the half, and you’re right.

That is part of the brand. No, it can be cynical at times when it’s purely done for corporate social responsibility reasons. That’s not an essence, you know, that’s manufactured purpose and, and you know what, you know, consumers can smell that if it’s not genuine, if it’s not authentic, if you’re just bolting that on, then you’re going to be found out. But, but I think there is an awareness that, yeah, you you’ve you know, you, you have to be genuinely responsible because you, you are influential at that point.

Finlay Kerr: (41:58)
And so I think some of this reflection, you know, that we’re all having as individuals, I think brands are doing it. Maybe through competitive times, let’s be honest, eh, eh, Juliet with the funeral and direct consumer brands, you know, they were having a massive influence on their sales.

Eh, you know, they were seeing market share, just being eroded by a dollar shave and so on. So maybe that you know, makes you sit up a little bit and pay attention as well. Women at, have we got disconnect with consumers, it’s not just the ease of purchase. Maybe, maybe it’s a brand thing. And then they’re, you know, good enough to be able to react to that. I think,

Kyle Hamer: (42:48)
Well, and you know, I think you’re, you’re spot on. I think there’s a nuance between B2B and B2C in, in my opinion, not a ton though, because at the end of the day, it’s still a human to human, right?

At some point there’s a human on one side, communicating a message and a feeling and a a service or a product on the other side, right. To be purchased. And so that exchange, even though, you know, it may be entity to entity versus entity to human. It still is a human to human exchange. And I read several years ago, I read scientific advertising by Claude Hopkins. Have you read that book?

Finlay Kerr: (43:24)
I follow someone else who air quotes him extensively, a copywriter who, yeah. And I have, I haven’t in its entirety, to be honest with you.

Kyle Hamer: (43:36)
It’s a, it’s a it’s an afternoon rate. It’s not a big long book, but it does talk about the evolution of, of advertising into me. W what I think is interesting is as if you look at that at its core, what Hopkins and a lot of the early copywriters early admin were doing was spending a lot of time understanding the customer, understanding the business pain or, or whatever the challenge was, and creating a clear, succinct message to build the brand around so that you knew, you know, unequivocally, this is what’s being solved.

This is how this is being solved. And what I think is really, really remarkable, we look at large entities I mean, Houston, so we’ve got the shells, the chevrons, the British petroleum’s, we’ve got the big boys in the energy. You think, Oh, what is brand these guys? But if you go back a hundred years, 115 years, you can see where organizations like shell oil or Sinclair corporation, where they were placing ads to convince people, to buy their product before they became this giant corporate conglomerate of energy.

They were just a company that had something that was trying to provide light into your home. And so there’s this, there’s this natural evolution that will happen. But if I look at those larger organizations today, that’s not what I see. I don’t see a company that’s just providing a simple service to my home. I see this giant behemoth that has all these different things and, and brand has become incredibly complex. Wouldn’t it be interesting if you could take them and distill it back down to a very simple, easy to understand human to human message.

Finlay Kerr: (45:28)
Yeah. I think, I think the that’s that, yes, it would be to, to simply answer your question. And I was just thinking, while you were saying that how and brand has become connected to these much, you know, the behemoths or the much larger organizations. But you’re right.

They were probably showing the fundamental principles when they first set out. And we tried to flip that round a little bit to see let’s learn from the big brands, but, you know, we use more of the, the, the consumer I’m the better examples like, and Apple or Coca-Cola or whoever it is, and say, look, brand is not the domain of those huge businesses.

You know, you can be a medium size player, but use the techniques and the they use. But I think you’re right. Sometimes it just becomes so huge that it’s almost impossible to to communicate what, what your fundamentals are. And, you know, you’re just almost too broad and too huge to do that

Kyle Hamer: (46:36)
Well. And, and, you know, I think it was interesting cause when you and I were talking on our, on our prep call ahead of this, you actually had some very relatable examples of brands that you thought were doing a really, really good job, delivering their message and, and providing a quality product or service in the market, give some of those examples and share, you know, what are some of the guys that are?

Finlay Kerr: (47:00)
Yeah. So I think I’ve got two and one, one is a Scottish brand Tuesday. Who’s doing really well. I’m ruling out globally. Eh, now I know they’ve got footprint in Columbus, Ohio, so it’s BrewDog and which is a brewery fundamentally brewery. They do a bit of distilling.

And, but what they also do is their control and the bars. So the own and a large chain now of, of bars that are each of these and, and, you know, slate and disclosure here, I do, it’s not a big deal. I bought a couple of shares, early doors and with them. So, you know, there’s a bit of a kind of personal interest here. And people, a lot of people ask me why you did that. And I bought into the brand, I loved their beers. I had a liquor license at the time and I started selling their beers as well.

Finlay Kerr: (47:53)
So it was good. Quality beer still is. I bought into their kind of off the wall culture, right. They love to the big gestures and they’re Mavericks. And they’re, they’re the underdogs. Now, as that happens, they’re really becoming one of the bigger dogs, but, and, you know they’re, they were very much the rebel they’ve matured.

The, the brand is named matured. And what I think they’re doing is great in terms of brand, because they’ve actually risen above the commercial competition. And they are making the planet, the CDs mission. So the brand is on a mission to save the planet, you know, not wanting to be too grandiose about it, but they’ve kind of gone, right? We’ll get, we do good beer, we do good bars, but the big issue here is to save the planet. So they’ve actually been able to make themselves negative carbon emitters, which is quite amazing, you know?

Finlay Kerr: (48:57)
So I just think that it’s great to almost just take the conversation somewhere entirely different. And that’s really what they’re talking about just now. And the other is it’s a kind of, it’s an Australian brand, but there’s Scottish origin.

So forgive me and it’s rock and roll and ECDC, and there’s a new album coming out and it’s the 40th anniversary of what you know, their seminal works back in black and the reformed they’ve gone, the old band together and replaced poodle Malcolm that died has cousins come in to play on the album. And the reason I think they’re so good is because they’ve got this amazing energy about a new album and, you know, here’s, here’s a band that’s over 40 years old and they’re still doing the same thing.

You know, it’s pretty much the same album that I bought 40 years ago when I bought back in black.

Finlay Kerr: (49:57)
And so they are consistent, they’re consistent, but they’ve, you know, there’s a promotional campaign just now little teases about, you know, when it’s coming out and what it’s going to sound like, we know what it’s going to sound like.

And so they’ve kind of the, almost done the reverse of, of BrewDog that I’ve kind of gone. Right. Okay. Were we above this ECDC don’t even get involved in that type of conversation, you know, try and differentiate themselves or reposition themselves or anything fancy it’s like, yeah. But, and brand terms is about consistent consistency and they’re they’re totally authentic. So, so there’s, there’s, there’s too far. Yeah. I hope they, they make a bit of sense.

Kyle Hamer: (50:44)
That’s, that’s fantastic. So does that mean that ACDC is your favorite band of all time?

Finlay Kerr: (50:52)
It’s always hard to say, you know, it’s kind of horses for courses isn’t that, and I’m also listening to led Zeppelin free, just know, and the, that that starts 50 years old this week. And so, you know, I’d be hard pushed to, to, to, to call it between those two bands depending on what was starting to move, to amend what I’m listening to.

And and so, yeah. But they’re just kind of, because they’re I caught, I just know I’m getting quite a lot of focus there. They’re there to talking about less than to quite a lot moved back onto vinyl as well, just as a, as an aside, just for the fuel effect.

Kyle Hamer: (51:33)
Well, you know, it’s, it’s bringing that classic rock back in it’s classic classic delivery, right? Yeah. Yeah. Well, Finley, I really appreciate you being a guest on today’s show sharing your insights on what you can and can’t do as it relates to brand and branding. You mentioned it a little bit a couple of times, but just give us the short commercial on your, you know, your podcast as it relates to classic rock and rock and in how people can get in involved with that.

Finlay Kerr: (52:02)
Yeah. That would be absolutely great if anybody would, would like to come over on listen and you’ll find us on all the usual channels. We are fresh business thinking with the brand guys, and hopefully we should, we should pop up in your feet. And one of the, one of the shows that we do is around classic rock. So if that floats your boat, then by all means

Kyle Hamer: (52:28)
That’s awesome. Well, we’ll definitely have a link in the podcast description here for getting in contact with the brand guys and in one of your episodes or the episode as it relates to classic rock. If somebody has questions about, you know, brand essence or branding in general and they want to reach out Findlay, how can they get ahold of you?

Finlay Kerr: (52:49)
Yeah. So again, you know, that’s, that’s really kind and to, to let me have that plug, so we’re fresh and, but it’s spelled F R E G Zed, F R E J Z, ed dot Bez, fresh dot Bez. And you can find all the information there and get in touch with us. We’d really appreciate that.

Kyle Hamer: (53:11)
That’s great. Well, thank you again for being a guest on the show. It’s been, it’s been awesome discussing brand with you,

Finlay Kerr: (53:18)
Not at all, Kyle. Likewise. I think it’s a great conversation. I think we could probably sit here for longer, just throw in some of these ideas about, so I really enjoyed it. Thanks for having me on

Kyle Hamer: (53:29)
It’s been our pleasure and to our listeners. Thanks for tuning in again, tune in next week when we cover a new topic, something fun, something interesting, and something I’m curious about on the summit.

Finlay Kerr
Finlay KerrCo-Founder Frejz
Finlay is a Director in Frejz, a brand strategy consultancy, working across the private, public, third and academic sectors. Frejz is based in Glasgow but operates internationally.

Finlay is an entrepreneur, advisor and brand coach. Setting up his first business in the ski industry in 1996 after spotting an opportunity in the short break and weekend niche. Adding this very practical learning to his professional training has developed his ability to advise at a strategic or granular tactical level when required.

After developing his own businesses in the travel sector he co-founded Frejz to help other enterprises grow and prosper. He particularly likes bringing the lessons from large, successful brands to smaller organisations with big visions.

He would rather be skiing with his family or riding his bike for some peace and thinking time.