Inspiring Your Brand’s Fan Culture with David Meerman Scott


January 6, 2020

david meerman scott on brand

What do the Grateful Dead and Harry Potter have in common? Both have huge fandoms that include author David Meerman Scott and his daughter Reiko Scott respectively. “Our thesis was this—are the lessons of fandom relevant to brands?” While most fathers and daughters would use this as a jumping-off point for stimulating after-dinner conversation, the Scotts used it as a jumping-off point in writing a book together — Fanocracy. David joined me for a discussion of this on the first On Brand podcast of 2020. Enjoy!

Enjoy This Episode Now

About David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott is an internationally acclaimed business growth strategist, entrepreneur, advisor to emerging companies, and public speaker. He is the author of 10 previous books including The New Rules of Marketing & PR (now in its sixth edition and in twenty-nine languages), Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead, and his latest co-written with his daughter Reiko, Fanocracy. He travels around the world to surf and hear great live music.

Episode Highlights

Fanocracy DMScottWhy Fanocracy? As David says, “Democracies are ruled by the people. With fanocracies, the fans rule.”

Fandom by the numbers. David has been to 780 live music shows (and counting). Reiko once wrote a 90,000 alternate ending to the Harry Potter series. Serious fans put up serious numbers. Can brands harness this passion? Absolutely.

“Passion is infectious. It doesn’t matter what it is about.” David shared stories about government agencies with passionate fans scattered across the globe (NASA) and a dentist who makes his own passion for skateboards part of his brand’s passion by sharing his fandom on Instagram for potential customers to see.

“Oh, I’m just a … (insert excuse here).” David hears this response from businesses a lot. However, brands like Hagerty Insurance debunk this myth by building brands with passionate fandoms.

Get closer than usual. There are nine steps David and Reiko share to building a fanocracy. I asked him to share one of them. He chose one supported by neuroscience. “We’re hardwired to be a part of a tribe. It’s a survival instinct.” David discussed the power of being within 20 feet of someone and how we can recreate that experience as brands with closeup (literally close-cropped) photos and video.

What brand has made David smile recently? “I smile every time I think about Grain Surfboards.” David shared his love of the brand that lets customers/fans make wooden surfboards.

To learn more, go to davidmeermanscott.com and fanocracy.com.

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!


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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