Nick Westergaard

By Nick Westergaard on July 23, 2018

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The Architecture of Building Brand Intimacy with Mario Natarelli

mario natarelli on brand podcast

“Brands aren’t logos or static concepts. They’re value systems.” Mario Natarelli has branded everything. From Fortune 500 companies to entire countries. Regardless of how different the individual clients may be, the frameworks remain the same. Author and brand strategist Natarelli was kind enough to share them with us on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

Enjoy This Episode Now

About Mario Natarelli

Mario Natarelli is a trusted advisor to executives and their companies looking to leverage their most important asset — their brand. By first being able to uniquely understand a brand’s true challenges and untapped potential, then through deliberate and extensive analysis, he has helped major Fortune 500 companies and even entire countries tangibly transform, align their cultures and deliver unprecedented growth and value.Trained as an architect early in his career, Mario uses the

se fundamentals to balance the art and science of brand building. He understands that a brand’s essence and their cultures emanate from their strategic core outwards. Over the past 17 years he has led teams across three continents, working for clients of varying size and industry focus, mostly in the areas of technology, real estate, travel, sports, and hospitality. Along the way he has developed a proprietary set of frameworks, processes and tools that deliver proven results.

Episode Highlights

Architecture and branding. From building buildings to brand building, Mario’s background in architecture taught him about the art and science of branding. “It’s society forming.”

“Brands aren’t logos or static concepts. They’re value systems.” So how do you do that? Mario shared the three pillars of his brand-building framework — essence (the foundation of who you are), story (how you communicate this), and experience (how you control this across all touchpoints. “They’re all interdependent. It’s like a Russian stacking doll.”

“Great brands start with great culture.” Being a fan of tough questions, I asked Mario if brand can help guide culture or is that too controlling? “That’s the question, isn’t it?” It all comes down to balance. “It’s not something you switch on. It’s something you build slowly over time.”

Branding country. Branding a place is hard enough when it’s a city, region, or state. But what about an entire country? Mario shared his experiences working to brand Dubai. It’s extra challenging as countries aren’t homogeneous. The brand has to work for everyone. This makes it a big test of one of the hardest requirements for all brands — building something that’s flexible enough to be used by everyone but still cohesive enough to stand for something big.

What brand has made Mario smile recently? “Netflix for a couple reasons. They are the ultimate brand for (1) indulgence, (2) ritual, and (3) enhancement.” An insightful answer to a very basic question!

To learn more, follow Mario on Twitter, check out the Emblem website, and learn more about their book.

As We Wrap …

Before we go, I want to flip the microphone around to our community …
This week I gave Colin Finkle a shout for having me as a guest on his podcast. Thanks, Colin!

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.

On Brand is sponsored by my new book Brand NowDiscover the seven dynamics to help your brand stand out in our crowded, distracted world. Order now and get special digital extras. Learn more.

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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 Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.


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