Nick Westergaard

By Nick Westergaard on October 26, 2015

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How to Develop Fluid Brands with Marty Neumeier

marty neumeier

“Brands are not static anymore. They’re fluid.” As the Director of Transformation for Liquid Agency and the author of several books on branding including The Brand Gap and The Brand Flip, Marty Neumeier has spent his career studying, speaking, and writing about the shifts in brand building, design thinking, and business strategy. I couldn’t wait to chat with Neumeier about all of this on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

About Marty Neumeier

Marty Neumeier is an author, designer, and business adviser whose mission is to bring the principles and processes of creativity to industry. His series of “whiteboard” books includes The Brand Gap, widely considered the foundation of modern brand-building; Zag, named one of the “top hundred business books of all time” for its insights into brand strategy; and The Designful Company, a guide to building a culture of nonstop innovation. His latest book, The Brand Flip, lays out a new process for building brands in an age of social media and customer dominance.

In 1996, Neumeier founded Critique magazine, the first journal about design thinking. He has worked closely with innovative companies such as Apple, Netscape, Sun Microsystems, HP, Adobe, Google, and Microsoft to help advance their brands and cultures.

Today he serves as Director of Transformation for Liquid Agency in Silicon Valley, and travels extensively as a workshop leader and speaker on the topics of innovation, brand, and design. Between trips, he and his wife divide their time between California and southwest France.

Episode Highlights

How did Marty end up in branding? “Over time! I started in graphic design but lived in a town without a design infrastructure so I had to write my own copy.” Neumeier eventually found himself in Silicon Valley, helping engineers at tech companies connect “the link between design and business strategy.”

What’s Marty’s definition of a brand? It’s what others say about you. It’s your reputation. In the old model, the company created the brand, the brand attracted customers, and customers support the company. All of those steps still exist today but they’re in a different order.”

What about that ‘brand gap’? Marty’s first book takes its name from the gap he observed between businesses and their customers. “It’s like a double helix. On one side you have manufacturing and management — the business disciplines. On the other side you have branding — the way people see it.”

Who owns branding? “It’s not just a subset of marketing. I think when it was just identity and ads then it could be.” Not anymore. Now it requires a cross-functional team across the business to build powerful brand experiences online and off.

Segmentation vs. Tribes. One of the many new shifts Marty outlines in his newest book, The Brand Flip, is the power of tribes over the traditional marketing practice of segmentation. “Start a tribe. Connect people with your product and serve them well. Over time the tribe grows stronger, more organically.”

What step are most missing today? “You have to start thinking about it from the customers point of view.”

What brand has made Marty smile recently? “Blue Apron — they give you so many opportunities to easily say no.” Plus, they reminded Marty of the value of good customer service with their response to an incident with his first order.

To learn more about Marty you can follow him on Twitter and check out the Liquid Agency website.

As We Wrap …

Before we go, I want to flip the microphone around to our listeners … Recently past guest Dorie Clark tweeted out a link to her episode on rebranding from earlier this year — the third one ever in the history of the podcast. 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 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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