Brands as Building Blocks of Our Personal Identity with David Lemley


August 5, 2019

david lemley on brand

“The brand has changed from goods and services to a building block of personal identity.” David Lemley knows this first hand. Twenty years ago he led the team that helped Starbucks grow from a boutique coffee shop to a brand many have cited on this show as one that makes them smile consistently. Today, at his company Retail Voodoo, he helps food and beverage brands stand out while also standing for something in the hearts and minds of those they serve. We discussed all of this and more on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

Enjoy This Episode Now

About David Lemley

David Lemley helps brands become legendary. David is the President and Chief Strategist of Retail Voodoo, a U.S. based brand strategy firm l that helps specialty food and beverage brands gain market share by addressing their toughest growth challenges. Armed with a passion for ideology-driven companies and over 25 years of industry experience, David sets the standard for all research, brand strategy, brand positioning, and marketing translation for the firm. Clients include: Essentia Water, KIND Healthy Snacks, Sur la Table, and Dry Soda Company, and Alden’s Organic Ice Cream.

Episode Highlights

Building the Starbucks brand. Twenty years ago, David led the brand team that helped transform Starbucks into a brand most interact with daily. His challenge: how does Starbucks plug into everyday life? “We started with the words, concepts, and rituals.” Today, they’re still using the toolbox David helped define. He also shared this touching story on how Starbucks continues to make a difference today.

Usable tools are critical to building standout brands …

“We want to write the first version of the song but we want to teach everyone to sing it. And we want everyone to scat with it.” For those new to the term ‘scatting,’ this is a form of improvised vocal jazz. David reminded us all that brand builders need to create tools that other team members can take and build and change.

Marketing above and below the waterline. “Most of us spend too much time up in the tippy-top trees of social,” instead of getting down, below the waterline at the deeper issues that impact your brand such as audience, positioning, and culture.

“I’m a student of marketing but I don’t yet say I’m a marketer.” David frames his life and work this way because marketing is changing rapidly. Because of this, he’s learning constantly.

What brand has made David smile recently? Bulletproof. “They’re the bio-hacker’s spirit guide.” This is a key building block in David’s own personal identity. They also allow him to put butter and coconut oil in his coffee!

To learn more, check out the Retail Voodoo website.

As We Wrap …

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 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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