Nick Westergaard

By Nick Westergaard on June 26, 2017

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Why You Should Build a Free Range Brand with Nicole Ertas

nicole ertas on brand

“You have to be able to let go.” As brand builders, we’re used to being in control of our brands. But that’s something we have to get over today. Our brands are owned not by us — but by our community. Nicole Ertas knows this. That’s why she helps companies like Wrigley, Johnson & Johnson, and General Mills become what she calls “Free Range Brands.” This is also the focus of her new book. We spoke about all of this and more on this week’s On Brand podcast.

About Nicole Ertas

Nicole Ertas is a recognized global brand strategist, best-selling author, and speaker who has helped build many of the world’s finest and most powerful brands. Her thinking has been embraced by companies such as Beam Suntory, Wrigley, SC Johnson, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Johnson & Johnson, General Mills, Con Agra, Kraft, and Nestle.

Nicole’s success in global innovation and brand leadership gained her recognition in Forbes, The New York Times and selected to be one of Crain’s Chicago “40 Under 40.”

Based in Chicago, she and her team transform brands and cultures and train business teams to become Free Range Thinkers to thrive in the age of unpredictability.

Free Range Brands is available on Amazon or you can sign up for free tips and tricks on how to Build a Free Range Brand at www.freerangebrands.com.

Episode Highlights

So what is a Free Range Thinker and a Free Range Brand? “It’s preparing for unpredictability. You have to be able to let go today.” We’re not in control of the ecosystem in which our brands exist today. “The old way simply isn’t working anymore.”

How do you create a Free Range Brand? “There are two very distinct objectives — authenticity and relevancy. And sometimes these are at odds with each other as authenticity is very static. Today you also have to be a part of what’s going on in the world around you.”

So who is an example of a Free Range Brand? “To see this you can ask yourself, ‘Who is the hero of the (brand) story?’” Traditionally, it’s been the brand. Not so, anymore. “You have to make your community the hero of your story.” Ertas advises brands to create multiple “entry points” for accessing the brand story.

Taco Bell is a Free Range Brand. They’ve used their 7,000 stores to create a “cult of food.” They understand something else that’s important for brands to have — a brand purpose.

What brand has made Nicole smile recently? “Dollar Shave Club’s ‘Butter Safe Than Sorry’ campaign. I love brands that are spot on with who they are. There are some … suggestive fruit arrangements.” You can see for yourself below.

To learn more, go to freerangebrands.com or follow @freerangebrands on Twitter.

As We Wrap …

Before we go, I want to flip the microphone around to our community …Recently, past guest Mack Collier gave us a shout on Twitter for our episode featuring Bill Samuels, Jr. of Maker’s Mark. Thanks for listening!

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!



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Nick Westergaard
Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, where he helps build better brands online. He also teaches at the University of Iowa and is host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.


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