The Golden Rule of Branding with Emily Soccorsy and Justin Foster


August 24, 2020

justin and emily on brand

“The old world of branding is falling away and it’s being replaced by intrinsic branding—this idea that if you get your inner world right, then how you show up in the outer world will be sincere, authentic, and interesting.” Emily Soccorsy and Justin Foster have an “iron-sharpens-iron” relationship that they bring to bear, sharpening brands as co-founders of Root + River. We discussed their work together and the unique challenges brands face today this week on the On Brand podcast.

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About Emily Soccorsy and Justin Foster

Like chicken and waffles, branding strategists and Root + River co-founders Emily Soccorsy and Justin Foster are a speaking duo who have the it-just-works factor. The two each have their own acoustic sound as presenters, but together, they make music they couldn’t alone. Their speeches play out like a compelling dialogue unfolding in real-time. With more than 50 speaking engagements and podcast interviews under their belts, they are able to create a collaboration-in-action experience to capture the minds and hearts of those who are listening. Together, they’re also the co-authors of the book Rooting Up: Essays on Modern Branding.

Episode Highlights

Branding and marketing in the midst of COVID-19. For branding, the times they are a-changin.’ Especially in 2020. “What the world needs now is who you really are. Old world branding is interrupting someone else’s story. The new world is about inviting someone into your story.”

More on intrinsic branding. “The old world of branding is falling away and it’s being replaced by intrinsic branding—this idea that if you get your inner world right—your mission, your beliefs, your culture—then how you show up in the outer world will be sincere, authentic, and interesting.”

The trouble with mission statements … Listeners of the show know that I’m not a big fan of most mission statements. That’s because these often become obtuse constructions instead of statements designed to provide focus and direction. Justin shared the Root + River mission formula: “The thing that you’re here to do that only can do.”

What brand has made Emily and Justin smile recently? “I’m gonna have to go with TikTok,” says Emily. As a parent, it’s helped her connect with her kids during COVID-19. Justin shared a brand that has stood out as a result of their pandemic marketing—Progressive Insurance. Specifically, their Zoom call commercials with the group editing together virtually.

To learn more, visit the Root + River website, follow Justin and Emily on Twitter, and check out their book Rooting Up: Essays on Modern Branding.

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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