The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

8. Take Care of Your Brand and It Will Take Care of You w/ Kurt Bartolich

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

“Any brand that you frequent, or are fond of, or use, there's been a journey of some kind,” says Kurt Bartolich, the founder of GUTS Branding, and the author of You Can't Ride Two Horses With One Ass.

Whether your company offers an active (Build-A-Bear) or passive (Southwest Airlines) consumer experience, there are some basic branding truths that successful companies observe.

Unfortunately, a lot of businesses get customer experiences backward.

But if I'm going to boil really down towhat is a brand, I like to say it's the reason that someone would choose yourbusiness, your organization, your products, your services over any otheroption and again, I think, that's also fairly strongly or intrinsically linkedto the experience that you crate as well. That's all part of et you're, listening to the customerexperience podcast a podcast dedicated to helping today's growing businesses,restore a personal human touch throughout the customer line cycle, getready to hear how sales marketing and customer success experts surprise anddelight and never loose sign of their customers. Humanity here is your hostEefan beaute. Thank you so much for clicking play onthis episode of the Customer Experience Podcast. I am eath and bude, and I amjoined by a gentleman I've known for about fifteen years awesome person anda branding expert, the founder of guts branding the author of an excellentbook that I'm sure we'll take some thems out of you can't ride two horseswith one ass cur bortoletch welcome to the customer experience podcast. Thankyou. ATHAND, it's great to be here. Yeah. You were one of my motivations totake the podcast in this direction. Again, we've been t we worked togetherfor a few years much earlier in both of our careers and Hafe stayed in contactover the year since and as I was thinking about customer experienceas, atheme, you know your expertise and what you share with me that 's reallyaffected my career over the years around internal branding and making apromise to your customer that you live out every day and every sead of theorganization. I think that's so foundational to customer experience,and so I wanted to make sure to have you on early, if not often so I'llstart with you curt with the question I always start with, which is when I saycustomer experience. What does that mean to you? What is if you had todefine it or mention some characteristics of it?What does it mean to you sure? That's...

...very good question. I think you you andI both know that, there's a lot of different ways. You can define it justlike there's a lot of different different definitions for what is abrand or what is branding. I think about customer experience a little morethrough the lens of of what is the brand or what brand are we talkingabout? I think there is active customer experience where you're activelycreating those experiences for your customers and pespective customers. Ithink there's passive customer experience type of brand, so you knowmaybe it's a convenient store or you know. Maybe it's an airline right wherethe experience isn't you're going to get a fly, the airplane, but what kindof experience can they create for you as a passenger as someone who's buyinga ticket in the airport itself at the gates? I at the ticket counter thosesorts of things so, but I think today, a lot of brands that are ticker themore active ones. You know there's more of an emphasis and again I'm not acustomer experience consultant per se, but of course everything I do isintrinsically linked to that. So I think today you soing a lot of brands.Moving more towards customer experienceas involvement, customerinvolvement, custumer, Co creation, know we hear a lot about journeys,customer journeys and I think, there's a place for that sort of emphasis. Youknow I've always thought that any brand that is a brand that you frewent or fond of oruse whatever the case may be. It's always there's always been a journey ofsome kind and I think thoug in the day and Asia. We live in that's socialmedia and digital experience. Obviously that's been amplified dramatically, butyou know, I think, about some stores today when I think about co creation onsome stores, but some different brands out there. You know think about theyour neighborhood pottery store right.

I mean they've been around forever andI can remember in th s Jus a kid getting drugged on Wath, my mom, andwhat do we do in that store? Well, we had a brand experience right. Wecreated pottery, you think about a brand like Builda bear now, that'sobviously a brand that's focused on children, but the parents are clearlyan audience and- and that's about you know a very hand on type of experience,so you know, I think it today and moving forward. It's really about. Imaybe less about every single. You know creating some sort of amplified,experience every touch point, but really creating a real, authenticexperience, a real hands on co creation. Type of experience- that's great. Ilove active versus Passive Co. Creation generally is going to fall into theactive area where you are where you're interacting you mentioned at the top totheir multiple definitions for for brandon branding. Can you go there whensomeone says you know we're working on our brand? What does that mean to youand I have a feeling I's going to be a little bit different than what it meansto the average marketer or salesperson sure I know such a foundational andit's such a fundamental question, and I appreciate that question and I alwaysrespect everybody's definition. In fact, you know the old saying perception isthe reality right, and so it's interesting that I will ask thisquestion. Typically, if I'm in a prospecting meeting or I got a newclient and were I'm engaged, you went through Ladership Tam. I always askthem, you know, what's your definition of a brand and and it's interesting tothey typically get thi a fairly consistent answer. It's it's! Whatyou're known for into REPUATION IT'S IT'S! How people can distinguish youfrom other companies, organizations products are services and a given thevertical or given market space. I also sort of Sidebar Finan ironics that somany companies are actually fairly consistent internally. When I talkabout this, but their actions speak...

...differently right, but I have a sort ofa different way that I like to talk about it and I think it's all rooted inthose ideas of reputation and it's ruted in the idea of you know uniquevalue to some extent. I think trust trust to such an important part of howa brand is defined today, particularly with so much over saturation everycategory. But if I'm going to boil really down to what is a brand I' liketo say it's the reason that someone would choose Your Business YorOrganization, your products, your services over any other option and again, I think, that's also fairlystrongly you'r intrinsically linked to the experience that you crate as well.That's all part of it, but really what is that reason that they would chooseyou, your company, your services, your products over any of their option outthere, and I think, if you can define that and clarify that that's a prettygood definition of brand today, that's great and something else that youturned me on to a long time ago, not that I've always had the resources toexplore it properly. But let's talk about market research and its rolerelated to brand. You know, I think I think, a lot of folks and I've been inthis exercise before I've been in this room and participated in this waybefore you know Gosh, you know who what do people seem to like about us? Whatis unique about us? What are we doing really well, how are we known? How arewe differentiated, what is our unique value? What a people, what a happycustomer say about US cool, that's our brand and we'll move forward, but done well. Obviously, the brand isn'twhat we say: It's what the customer says. Can you just Ri on that? A littlebit sure yeah, I think about you, know when really good brand research is well there's there's. Actually let metake a step back, there's a couple ways to sort of look at research in generaland there's there's a lot of really good research out there. You know wecan look at some of the challenges out there in terms of sampling and panelstoday and our validity of certain...

...things, but the end of the day, there'sstill really good research being done out there. That helps you discern yourhalf forward. You know, I think, but really good brand research is rooted inthe idea of what does the get between who we, asthe compay and organization are or want to be, and what do our consumers needus to be, and I use the consumers as a placeholder right. We know that incertain verticals N indistries they might call them there. You knowsomething else, but consumers im using pretty much as a placeholder these days,whether you're you know in the business to business, space or a BTC or whateverthe case may be, and I think far too often, companies and organiations todaystill take a very inslar look at themselves in terms of building a brandand to your point, there's you know: There's certain things that y. If they do do research and if theydo engage a third party, I just don't think sometimes the research goes deepenough to really suss out what the real position is. I think really great brandresearch, today's about finding those gaps and want to talk about gaps. Idon't talk about a marketplace. I talked about the gap in the mind rightI mean at the end of the day brant I is aloplay the psychology of words andphysitions and images that you that you think of that that you can, that youknow you sort of have stored in the hard drive in your head and brandbruser. Fel helps find the gaps, but I think, really great brand research.Today it isn't so much about he logos and things like that and and slogans. Imean I'm, not anti logo, I'm an Antislogan, but it's really badunderstanding. What perceptive gap can you Alcupie and there's always a gapright? Let me give you some actual esamples of just different cliensytwork it I won't. Men necessarily mention their names, but but theindustry they're in Yeh, Gret Yeah. I worked in a biomedical research interms of joing brand position with two different clients: Dureing the courseof the last five or six years and one...

...on the west coast. And you know whatwas interesting. Is the organization viewed itself as a lot of biomedicalresearch institute institutes to do and very much like a lot of nonprofitcharities. They looked at themselves as hey we're out to cure cancer, we're outto cure hart. You know heart disease and all these different things, whichis, which is a wonderful, wonderful vision and goal. But it's really notthe necessarily realistic right, I mean yes, we all want to get there and Ithink someday. We will get there and an all these different diseases, but this particular Clineiwas working with. They saw themselves very much in the same way and had builta position around tours, and I posed this question to the CEO I said:whenwhat's, the last disease we've actually cured domestically and it wasPolyo n th s, and so the reality was here's a brand that when we went outand talked to their consumers an did real market research, we did QUALITATIVfocus groups, we started there with their doners and they endid amarketwide study in a major metropolitan area. Seven hundredrespondent throughout their where they're located general consumers justwanted to find out. If there was any awareness about them, but but also,more importantly, than awareness about them is what Dar they really want orneed or well for what reasons would they support a biomedical researchinstitute and they weren't they weren't the Pollyana things like hope in cures.They were the everyday things that you bring to market that can make lifebetter day by day incubatively over time. If you do enough ot those we'regoing to get to cures right. So it's that kind of a dispenet that I see fartoo often I worked with a clinand survey. I'm starting in surveillancetechnoloty many years ago, was a really interesting client. They actuallyinvented the or created the first...

...wireless body wire and so fors yeah forundercover agents who ere in the field- and you know they saw themselves thecompany as a solutions company but theire conthecustomers or their consumers in their in their industry Salhem as atechnology company, that's a huge gap, a huge Hasim there, so I think, reallyunderstanding hone of those gaps. You know, how do you see yourself versushow they your consumers? Are Your customers and prospects, see you andbuilding that bridge between those two things? That's the sweet spot betweentrying to detera trying to dial in what your brand position is in research isthe key to identifying the gap, and then you start building strategies andtactics to cover it. Absolutely absolutely that's a yeah two thingsthere. First of all, there's no way that any organization, no matter howstrong they may have onterm Howstrong they may be in termsof research and even a market research company should never do thei, wrown iesearch right. So that's a key right there. What you said you've got a you e.You do have to go third party. You do have to have an objective snatchsnapshot, so you detach from the emotion of it. You eliminate thatconfirmation bias all these human conditions that we all suffer fromthat's critical number one, and then you have to make sure that you look atit from both perspectives right. You need that objective, that IndependentResearch, Parterndnyeu Stol, look at it from your perspective versus theexternal perspective and make those twoparisons. But you said somethingelse: That's really critical! Basically, what you're saying is: What do you dowith it and far too many businesses out there ere sort of swept up in the wholeagency model and I'm a anti agency actually a partner with a lot ofagencies, and I think, there's a lot of very, very strong agencis o a lot oftalented people, but the idea of externalizing that beforeyou've internalized what Youve learned,...

...ind operationalized, perhaps is abetter way to say it, which I think is what you ere getting to eat and isreally the key, because you have to make sure that when you not only youknow, once you discover what that that brand promise should be, that closes,that gap between who you are and who they need you to be man. You have tomake sure you can deliver on everything that you do and I think far too often,companies and organizations Kiv that most cretible step, and I let meconnect the Doc. I did a I typically about once a year we'll just do my ownreseargh project about a topic and the one that was really sort of at theforefront or me last summer, as I just kept seeing all these differentdefinitions of brand popping up on link din right, everybody had a definition,and I'm might here to criticize those definitions, I'm not here to say theywere right or wrong, but I'm like you know, instead of me just kind ofthrowing my own idea. Let me just go out to consumers and find out how theydefine it, and what surprised me is the number one thing that they said whendefining a brand was really essentially and I'm paraphrasing was a covenant oftrust and if you think about how you build trust, it's really throughconsistency and delivering upon that expectation. So if you have anoperational lies, what you've learned from research andagain crystallizing it in the form of what is our grand position and thenfirst operationalizing it. So when you do put that promise outward, then youhave you risk breaching that trust, because you may not hade off. In theway the customer or the consumer expects that's great, I doing your own research on howcustomers define it is great and you really emphasize trust, probably sevenminutes ago as well. So it's great that that came back up again and it's reallyagain making these promises fulfilling the promises talk about. So so, whenyou wrote, you can't write two horses...

...with one ass: It's not a! I just saidthat again because I just love the title first, but before you answer thisquestion, if you would breathe by you know what that really means, I thinkit's clear to me, but just so so anyone else is clear. You know why that title,but then you know it's not a book about brand building. It's a book about brandconservancy so also cover that for folks sure sure I'll try to keep thisbrief on the title it was ou now anicdotally was a title that Ididn't come up with and it's an expression that I think is. U isobviously been around for quite some time, so I can't claim ownership of it,but I was in a meeting with a client five or six years ago, and this is whenI was in the early stages of developing my outlie for the book, and I kept alittle diary with me for about six of the last well I'd, say probably fiveyears leading up to that, where I would just take notes about differentexperiences. I have with clients different things. They taught me aboutbrand because it is. It is a two way street as much as I pretend to be abrand texbert. So much of what I've acquired and learned in terms ofknowledge jus come from my customers and from my client. So I startedkeeping a log and I was in a meeting one day and there was. I was talkingabout this. This idea, this axium of grand- that's you know it's been aroundfor many years. Perhaps outreese might be credited with with reallyemphasizing focus and really trying to be about one thing, and so I had thisclient that was was trying to be about more than one thing and I'm in ameeting with this leadership team and there, as a woman in the ROAOM and veryintelligent woman, very thoughtful, a little reserved- and I was talking- Iwas geeving some real world examples about brands that you know tried to be.A brandad house tried to fit everything that they could possibly do under whothey were and how that can rencounter to what your consumers or yourcustomers preceeve you to be, and she...

...just blurt id out. So you mean youcan't write two horses with one ass and I in in that moment I knew that was thetitle of my book, because that very much fits one of the many sort ofaxiums or pillars of brand that that I believe in so yes, it's not a book about how to builda brand by anymean SOG. I do think that there's enough in there that someonecould, but it's not really a brand startup book, but when I talk aboutbrand conservancy- and I think this is something that farts again, manycompanies and organizations overlook much like they either. Don't embraceresearch, take a very insurat point of view, or if they do research, they doit themselves, which again, for all the reasons we earlier discussed, is nevera great idea. You, no it's kind of like a it's kind of, like you know, doingyour own financial planning or diagnosing your own illnesses right.You know you need those expers to do that work, but that being said, I thinkanother thing that that businesses often overlook as the importance ofjust protecting their core right. Far too many brands expand too quickly. They don't haveanything in place. Any guard rails in place that hell protect that brand and,as you said earlier, you ant the very beginning of this. Ultimately, theconsumer owns the bran because they're going to define how they perceive right,and I think anybody who doesn't believe that's true- is potentially settingthemselves up r for some failure down. The road right was a Sam Walton, whoonce said you know the ony person that can fire me as my customers, and that'sso true, and so I often think about. Yes, every brand needs to find a way tocontinue to stay relevant and to grow and to engage, but at the same time wehave to make sure that we're keeping our grands true to how our consumers arcustomers perceive our brand, and so I...

...think, about, for example, a Brandlikolive garden who many for many years just kept expanding its menu. I don'tspend a lot of time eating it an olive garden, but I have a few times, and Ive just I noticed through the years how it's Menyu just got bigger and bigger,and how at Ket just building and building and building and olive gardenlost its way, a d. It really struggled in all the different ways that youmeasure success, particularly in sales and when the new CEO took over I' sayabout three years ago. The first thing he did was say: Let's get back to thebasics: shruck their menu down to great sauce, Great Pasta, graceit great meat,and he said, let's just go back to the basics and immediately turnedeverything around, and so there was this idea that he was going back to. Hewas taking a conservancy mindset to their brand again. Conservancy doesn'tmean you're, not moving forward, in fact, in a world where we have so manybrands, and so many categories today and new ones emerging every day,particularly in Tachin of technological spaces, keeping it simple and sayingFocusi and going deeper with your brand, not wider. You know, there's a there'sanother aspect to brand conservancy B: It's all about protecting it,authenticity and I'm even speaking about that now, but I wrote about it inmy book pesus. So I won't going to a kin of detail. But it's actually a is.You know one of the things that that Kansas City is known for- and this isI'm based in the can city area- is barbecue and they're o any barbecueconofseurs out there. You know, typically, when you see these differentlists that come out of best barbecue places in the country we have thre orfour lat are typically in the top ten, sometimes in the top five and joesKansas City, formerly Oklahoma, joes is often t the very top of this list, andit started out in a gas station. Here is still in a gas station by the wayone of their locations is at least and...

...a few years ago I learned a lot aboutthat as a brand and apparently what it was was. It was two different peoplewho owned it. One of them, one of the gentlemen, had moved away and hadstarted a couple of his okoma joes barbecue places in Oklahoma. She wasfrom Okahoma original but anyway, and he wanted to expand nationwide. Well,the partner that that had control of the location on CMC in the gas station.He didn't want that. It wasn't because he didn't want to grow, but he lookedat it from the standpoint of I'm going to lose control potentially of thingsright and that's really critical to in terms of brand is over partnerships andreally take letting things get out of your control right and when you dothose sorts of things, there's a certain amount of risk that goes withthat that you know partners have different ideas, things can go. Roguethings happen, life happens, I'm my anti hardership. I think. If we reallyreally careful Ho, you choose to part. I wish I've learned that personallymyself by the life but anyway, so he basically ne that he and the othergentlemen that that were partners in the Harbecue restaurant. They came to aan agreement. It was very amicable, but he he basically- and I read a storyabout him in the Canc Star and he just said look I would I would lose controlpotentially over the menu. You know we have a certain way of doing it here andwe want to make sure that we stay true to that. So- and he said, I don't haveany plans to expand so and again not to get too far off on an upbeaten path,but I think that's sort of part, an parcel with another thing that I findwith a lot of brandses th y. They think that mass consumption equates to mat ormass availability quase to mass consumption and that's not always true,with brants, sometimes creating little mystique about your brand ticlally,depending on what category you're in is a very effective tool, O building asuccessful brand. So I've gotten down several rabbit holes for you. ThereII'll summarize it with with just one...

...take and then then I'll go to my mystandard clothes that I'm excited to hear about from you. You know, I think,with the Olive Garden Story and with the joes Barbecue Joes, Kansas City,and even with that that last take there you're kind of drawing that line, thatyou do really clearly in the book several times the difference betweenbusiness thinking and brand thinking. So I'll just read a quick quote that Ipulled I just refreshed on the book. It's one that I wrote about. Personally,in my blog and I h've read a couple times already andto your point- Thereare some brand building tips in there, as well as just understanding andseeing it just through this conversation through the way you lay itout there. It's certainly for someone who is revisiting or building a brandthere's plenty there, but brand thinkers tend to spend their money onproduct development and employee and customer experience. I love the UTIemployee in there too, more than they spend on advertising, and by doing so,they create stories that their customers willingly share with othersand probably that their employees will share as well. So Thi's been a greatconversation here on the customer. Experience podcastand at Bombamrelationships are really a big deal to us, so I want to give you theopportunity to thank or mention someone who's had a really big impact on youron your life or on your career and and to give a mention to a company that youthink is doing brand or customer experience the right way. But there'sbeen so many people in my life who have you know mentored me and guided me. Iwould probably say that Alt Reece, even though we've never necessarily had whatyou would consider a Mentormenti type of relationship. So we've had someemail exchanges in the past and he's so many think he's he's a little oldschool, but I think that many of the the ways we look at brand today arereaded his original teachings as original findings about about brandpositioning, and that's how I got my start and and for many years justalmost to the letter following his approach until I got my own voice...

...until I learned to expand upon those ina way that I think are meaningful, but he's somebody that you know, even though I think that there's somethings about that can be contemporized today, I think just sort of the justthe fundamentals in the basics are really really still applicable today.Right I mean it still. You know you still about how you win the mind right.I sill about thinking about the minds versus the market. You know it's stillabout, and this is some this isn, you know the whole notion. You broughtabout business thinking versus brandthinking right. You know he talksabout decisions made in board GRUPS, I think about I a much bigger level. Ithink maybe we're saying the same thing, but I think about the ethos of theorganization. We talk a lot today about cultural strategy and culture driveseverything and I think, actually culture's a tactic of the ethos of theleadership of the organization, but so he's somebody that I you know from adistance from his teachings. But someone later in live, I had a chanceto connect with uglinkd in and we've exchanged some emails and- and so I youknow, he's someone to this day that I'm maybe not look up to as much as today,but is thankful that that he started this crazy journey for so many people,including myself, so he's somebody that I definitely think very finally, even agai thinktoday that he's still relevant highly and I have seen him embraced andadapted. You know, Iwas reading this gentleman's work- and I was like this-is the twenty two immutable laws at branding like that's what this is like.I can see it in his writing so so he is super relevant today. Positioning withJack Trout is a classic love. That call. Can you name a company that you reallylike or respect in terms of the way they deliver customer experience oreven live out their brand? Well, I mean there's always the go to southwestairlines. You know I mean I don't think,...

...there's anybody that can argue thattyoy're not just a great grand. I think what if I can, if I can just share twodifferent brands and I'm a big fan of theyre one of them, and I have to justquickly share a story that a colleague of mine had shared with mea couple years ago that he was on a flight on southwestairlines with his family, and there was a young lady on the flight who younggirl excuse me. Maybe five years old, four years old, it was her birthday andso the flight attendant got on the the PA and and said that we have a a youngyoung girl celebrating her fourth or fifth birthday and unfortunately, don'thave a real Kak on board. But if you could help us help her blow out handlesthat would be awesome, and so what she did s she had. Everybody turned ontheir overhead light overheadlight and they dimmed all the cabin lights andthey brought her up to the front and they had her blow out the candles andevery person, almost seing conter, all the way from the front of the plane inthe back of the plane, turned off their overheadline, so hets copletthe darkfor a second. So you know it things like that. You know they're the heroairline, that's how I define their brand they're the hero right. Theydon't nickel and Dimemou. They take themselves seriously, but they poke funt at themselves. At times they they just create just a wonderful end, endexperience so in terms of building it from the insideout. They have a wonderful. If, for those of your listeners who haven't hadan opportunity to read on how theye created that experience, how they'veoperationalized that and done it a very authentic way. There are a great casestudy what I mean, what a wonderful story, what a cool experience,obviously for the girl, but also for all the passengers as well, and it'sone of those things that you know you could let that moment go, but insteadyou take care to give employees and create and ethos give them the space,give them the authority to create these...

...moments. For for all the customers,great example, and and a really great success Tory to from a brandingstandpoint. How can if someone wants to follow up with you to learn more aboutguts, to learn more about alrees? Where would you send people here is theconclusion of the show? Well, they can email me at at k, as in Curtin, then mylast name Ba rt Ol, Ich Gutz brancom. They can go to Gus Grannycom, but I'min the process of having a new website launched and that should be coming outinside the next thirty day. So there's a it's a dated exsite, but it's gettingready to be brought into the the thuendateen. So I'm excited about that.ligtlinked in Tevan wants to connect to be a length, and you can search me onLik Dan so, and I encourage anybody WHO's interested inreading my book to check it out so bable in Amazon as well. So- and youknow one of the things ea an that- you know I you know- everybody again, Ithink has, as can have a different point of view about what we've talkedabout today and I respect those points of view. So, if anybody you knowanytime, someone doesn't agree with lie: prospect, ind, plenty, diew, I'm veryopen to having that dialogue and having those exchanges as well stuff, that'sgreat, because this is all it's all in flux. There is no one right answer:Therere there are things that we've seen be effective. There are thingsthat we aspire to thereare things that customers respond to and and that'swhat we're trying to explore here on the podcast curt. I really reallyappreciate your time today so glad he could come on and we'll have to do itagain. Thank you e thin. It was a pleasure you are listening to the customerexperience podcast, no matter. Your role in delivering value and servingcustomers you're intrusting, some of your most important and valuablemessages to faceless digital communication. You can do betterrehumonize. The experience by getting face to face through simple personalvideos, learn more and get started.

Free at Bombomcom. You've beenlistening to the customer experience podcast to ensure that you never missan episode subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player or visitvom bomcom. Thank you so much for listening until next time.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (165)