Halo insight 06
April 2020
5 Mins
Paul Bailey Brand Strategy Director

Halo In Conversation with – Marty Neumeier (part one)

Brand is important. Brand can have considerable equity and value – both to a business and to its audience. Brand is the intangible element that can add many multiples of financial value to a business, over-and-above its tangible assets.

Brand is complex and dynamic – so leading and directing a brand takes great skill and expertise… and up-to-date, relevant training.

Often, the role of leading a brand in a business lies with the marketing department. The problem is, more than half of marketers (53.8%) say they have not studied a marketing-related academic or professional qualification of any kind, never mind brand. With people entering marketing from a wide-range of professional backgrounds, there is a value to the broad and varied experience they can bring. However, brand is complex, and so specific and relevant training on the area should be deemed essential.

Fortunately, there are expert sources of professional training in brand out there – none more so knowledgeable than the Level C brand courses founded and run by Marty Neumeier. A highly-respected author of multiple books on brand – reading his book ‘The Brand Gap’ was one of the drivers to studying for my Masters in Brand. Marty has also helped companies like Apple, Netscape, HP, Adobe, and Google build their brands, and continues to consult with leaders and execs of some of the world’s most exciting companies, whilst writing and speaking on the topics of business strategy, design, and innovation.

What brand is, and isn’t.

It’s particularly tricky to build a brand because you’re not building a product or a message, you’re building an understanding in somebody’s head – Marty Neumeier

We spoke to Marty about what brand is, why we need professional training in brand, and how it helps businesses better connect with their audience. Opening with the obvious (and difficult) question – how would you define brand in its simplest terms? – Marty starts by explaining what a brand isn’t, then gives us a simple definition of brand, and finally explains where our focus should be when we consider a brand.

Your job is to make those understandings as similar as possible, and craft them in such a way that it’s to the benefit of the company and to the customer and to the public – Marty Neumeier

The value of shared meaning.

We then explored the idea that for a brand to have any value to a business, the meanings people have must be shared. Without some form of shared meaning, there is no brand. As with the obvious example of Apple, a brand can add huge financial value to the market capitalisation of a business. And at the centre of a brand must be the customers.

Customers pretty much run successful companies – without their participation there’s no company. So you need to pay attention to them. – Marty Neumeier

The need for training in brand.

You have to start with, how are we going to improve peoples’ lives with what we do, even in a small way? – Marty Neumeier

As the notion of brand has moved from corporate identity to a more all-encompassing ‘meaning’ relating to a business, it has become increasingly difficult to manage well. The type of knowledge and expertise required to be able to lead and direct a brand covers many areas – from economics to sociology, from psychology to design. We asked Marty about his Level C course in brand, and why he felt the need to start a course for professionals working with brand.

If you don’t know what that is, you’re just focused on what you do. – Marty Neumeier

Introducing the CBO – Chief Brand Officer.

CBO - Chief Brand Officer, is where we’re heading with branding. Branding is moving to the top of companies – it has to. – Marty Neumeier

So, how about Universities and their offering on the topic of brand? Marty explained how his Level C course has benefits over more ‘traditional’ routes for education, particularly with his ability to be innovative and flexible in approach, and offer tiers of training.

People don’t understand what brand does, how it works, or what it is even. – Marty Neumeier

So that’s the first part of our chat with Marty done. In the second half of our chat we discuss the importance of brand to the long-term success of a business, the role of the CBO, and how Marty nearly ‘killed innovation in America. Continue to part 2.

Many thanks to Marty for his time and expertise. Check out the Level C brand training and take a look at Marty’s books.