Marty Neumeier

What is branding? Listen to Chris Do talk with living legend, Marty Neumeier, about how to connect creativity to business.

Deep Dive: Branding, Sales and Creativity
Deep Dive: Branding, Sales and Creativity

Deep Dive: Branding, Sales and Creativity

Ep
73
Mar
09
With
Marty Neumeier
Or Listen On:

Branding and sales with marketing legend, Marty Neumeier.

“Whatever skills you have as a creative person, they become weaponized when you understand branding.”

In this episode of Deep Dive, Chris talks with branding and marketing legend, Marty Neumeier. They discuss Marty’s journey from Art Center College of Design all the way through to his experience working in Silicon Valley. The two enter a deep conversation about connecting creativity to business, how to do better by doing less and answer the question: What is branding?

A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization. It’s not a logo, promise, product, or a marketing asset.

You might have heard us say this a few times before, but we’re only repeating it because it’s absolutely crucial to know this definition, plus we have the man behind the quote with us on the podcast today.

As the author of eight books on branding, Marty is what we’d call an expert on the subject. The man is and always has been ahead of his time, knowing at the age of 7 that he would be a commercial artist.

After two years at Art Center, he opened up his first freelance business as a graphic designer. He was the only graphic designer to take up an ad in the Yellowpages (bonus points if you know what that is). He found himself having to explain what he did and why graphic design was necessary to potential clients.

Explaining how design and business interacted together and the value design could bring to a business sparked something in Marty.

He began paying more attention to award-winning work; what it looked like, sounded like, and felt like. He picked up writing—though he wasn’t a huge fan of it at first—to articulate and explore his ideas further. This gave him the space to find that connection between business and design, and how creativity worked across all fronts.

Listen to the full episode to hear more about how Marty became the branding expert he is today.

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Episode Transcript

Greg:
Hey, Greg from The Futur here, and welcome back to the podcast. In today's Deep Dive episode, we talk with branding legend Marty Neumeier, and my God, it's- it's amazing. I don't know if you saw this on the channel, but you are in for a real treat. He and Chris talk about Marty's history, going from the original ArtCenter all the way to Silicon Valley, how to connect creativity and business, and ultimately how to do better by doing less. I think you're really going to love this one. Please enjoy our conversation with Marty Neumeier.

Chris:
I am beyond thrilled to have my guess who's sitting across from me, which I'll introduce in one second to be here in the studio. This is a conversation that needed to happen many years ago and Marty and I have been exchanging conversations and he lives in Santa Barbara, and you know how LA people are, we just don't wanna drive and... but we're here. We're here right now, so guys, you're not gonna believe this. I have the author of The Brand Gap, of Zag, of The Brand Flip, of Scramble, The Brand Dictionary, a total of eight books I believe. Eight books, uh, he literally wrote the book on branding. He's here, you guys wanna stick around for this episode.

Chris:
We're gonna get into a lot of things, how he got started, what he's up to today, and why are we even having this conversation? So let's get right into it. Marty Neumeier, welcome to the show.

Marty:
Oh, thanks Chris. It's great to be here at The Futur. Yes, and the future is definitely here, I can see it, I can smell it, I can hear it.

Chris:
(laughs) Does the future smell good?

Marty:
Yes, the future smells good. Yeah, I can... I can assure you of that.

Chris:
Smells like crisp dollar bills (laughs), or fresh printing, or something like that.

Marty:
(laughs)

Chris:
Okay, so why are we talking today? I wanna set the tone intention, initially it was because you and I were producing a workshop here, at least I shouldn't say producing, we're hosting the workshop that you're having here at the end of February-

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... called The Brand Masterclass and I wanted to have you on so in case somebody who's been sleeping under a rock somehow and they haven't heard about you-

Marty:
(laughs)

Chris:
... or the workshop, this would be a great opportunity then to find out about this. But the class is sold out. You guys snooze, you lose. So the next opportunity to see Marty in the United States do his two-day workshop, which there's a certification part which is incredible, is in Philly.

Marty:
Yeah, right.

Chris:
That's your next best time, or best opportunity to do this. So you guys, we'll include the links in the description below, if you guys want to attend that to go to Philly. I'm gonna tell you, this is something you do not want to miss. I agreed to host this just because I wanna learn from the master himself. Now before we get into all the brand gap, the brand goodness and definitions and misunderstanding and dialogue, conversation and debates that have happened prior to this, I wanna take us back in time. So we're gonna rewind the tape, 'cause we were just talking, we're both ArtCenter people. Now you have a few years ahead of me, and the program was very different back then. Take me back.

Marty:
Oh (laughs). ArtCenter in the, uh-

Chris:
Tell me about what you... what you did?

Marty:
... s-... mid '60s was a really cool place to be.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
It was in an old, um, it used to be a girls school I think, in Hollywood, Third Street. Uh, and it smelled like, uh, pipe tobacco, because every-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... um, s- s-... you know, design teacher, art teacher there smoked a pipe (laughing). And probably wore a wool vest.

Chris:
Yes.

Marty:
And, uh, you know, uh, but it was a cool place.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
And you'd get a lot of teachers who were actually working professionals and, um, I mean it was a lifesaver for me, because my world opened up when I finally got to do what I always wanted to do (laughs), which was be a commercial artist. Uh, at seven years old I had put... I put my stake in the ground (laughs) in grammar school, that's what I wanted to be and I stuck to that the whole time.

Chris:
And you knew that at seven years old?

Marty:
I knew it at seven years old.

Chris:
Holy cow.

Marty:
Yeah, and everybody said, "What? Commercial? What?"

Chris:
Wow, you were ahead of your time, for sure.

Marty:
Yeah. Well, you know, you get these ideas in your head and you just, you know, it- it becomes who you are, and so that's- that's, um, you know, I'm so... I'm just, you know, marking my days until I get to be (laughs)... to go to art school.

Chris:
Right (laughs).

Marty:
So anyway, it was go-... a g-... a great place to be, um, there was no, uh, graphic design, um, track. Uh, they didn't use that term really.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
It was just sort of coming out at the time. They had... you could go into advertising or you could be an illustrator, and so I took both of those-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... figuring that graphic design was somewhere in there, you know? And, uh, later they added the graphic design program, but, um, a great experience. Um, I lasted two years until I couldn't afford it anymore, because it was $50 a semester.

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
Where am I gonna get $50?

Chris:
$50. That's outrageous (laughs). $50.

Marty:
$50.

Chris:
Oh my god.

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
Okay, just for context you guys, ArtCenter a semester now is, I- I think somewhere around $22,000 a semester.

Marty:
(laughs)

Chris:
And this is important to note, because some of the things that we'll be talking about later about money and what we charge, just keep that in mind, uh, all you young whippersnappers out there.

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
It used to cost $50 and Marty could not afford it.

Marty:
Yeah, but my first really big job after I got out, um, really great campaign that I worked on, I got, uh, $50 per ad. So, I made it back.

Chris:
Oh, wow.

Marty:
I mean I made the whole thing back.

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
Yeah (laughs).

Chris:
So were you living in LA at this time, going to ArtCenter?

Marty:
At that time I- I had mo-... I left, uh, school. I went to, um, Santa Barbara, got married there.

Chris:
Okay. Okay.

Marty:
Started a freelance business. Uh, there were no designers, no graphic designers. You go look in the yellow pages where you'd find people and there's nothing. So I had to actually have them put that in there for me and I was the only one under the graphic designer heading (laughs).

Chris:
Oh my god.

Marty:
And I had to, as part of my job as being the only graphic designer, I had to explain it to would-be clients.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
I had to tell them what it was and why they should pay any money for it at all. And they'd say, "Oh, you're like, uh, you know, you're a commercial artist." "Uh, you know, that's- that's old-school."

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
"No, we- we- we're serious professionals now."

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
You know, explain why it's gonna be good-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... and- and that- that- that, um, exercise of having to explain it, uh, like what's the business value of design, was really good.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
And I think that probably set me on this course of what I'm doing now, is explaining, uh, all this stuff and how business works and how design and business interacts, connects together.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). What- what's, uh, surprising for me to hear the story, is I know you mostly through your books and through your writing and just how clear you write, how you articulate very complex ideas that are very tangible, and just very easy to digest. So how did you develop this ability to wri-... Uh, did you teach yourself? Uh, where did this come from?

Marty:
Yeah, I mean it comes from writing.

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
And, uh, one thing I have to s-... you know, interject before I answer that question-

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
... is that, uh, what I've noticed about graphic design and probably other kinds of communication design, is that language is super important.

Chris:
Yes.

Marty:
And even if you're not the word person.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So, um, that's what I discovered pretty early, is that I can't do really award-winning cool work unless I have good writing to go with it, because it'll drag it down to a lower level if it's not great.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
And the... you know, the words and the pictures have to work together, so o- one and one gives you three.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So, how am I gonna do that, and I just started, you know, really looking closely at how award-winning w- work sounded, looked like, you know, how the words and pictures went together. I started just teaching myself how to do it. I didn't really like doing it. I didn't like writing. It was hard. It was harder than graphic design.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
I mean graphic design is like eating candy. It's like you- you have a piece of candy and it's really good, so you want another one (laughs).

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
And writing is like, "Oh god, I'm tired after that one."

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
That's like it took everything out of me. So it took many, many, many years before, um, writing was pleasurable at all, but I always did like it when it came out well-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and when I made my work look really great. It was just like, "Yeah." And then, you know, it would win awards.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
And, uh, so I, uh, you know, I had that experience of doing it all and having control over, uh, both sides of communication, the words and the pictures. And- and that really, um, taught me a lot and it started leading me into thinking about how other things connect, you know? How does design connect with business? Where's the connection? Because my- my clients didn't really see it, right?

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
And I wasn't sure exactly how I was contributing to their business-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... because they wouldn't tell me really what their business was or how they were, uh, achieving success, and so I had to figure that out so that I could be in that conversation.

Chris:
So many of, uh, while we're on this subject, so many people in our audience, in our community, have a really difficult time answering that question, what value does design or writing creativity have on a company?

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
Because they're feeling that pressure of doing work for less and they don't even know how to articulate that. So here you are in the '60s, '70s in Santa Barbara and you're already figuring this stuff out. How- how could you advise or help some of these young- younger people that are out there right now who have a hard time communicating what is design, what's the value of it? I would love to hear from you.

Marty:
Yeah, yeah. Well, I, you know, um, so- so business has its own names, you know?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
I mean it's- it's really profit driven.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Uh, there's more to it than that, it's not just money, money, money.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
It shouldn't be. Um, and design has its own history and we all love that history and we wanna be like those people that we admire in our business, um, and if it's a new... whole new thing, we wanna be the leaders in that, but it's kind of, uh, divorced from business unless you connect it yourself. And that place that it connects is branding, that's the area where everyone plays together, right?

Marty:
So whatever skills, um, you have as- as a designer, as a creative person, um, um, they become weaponized when you understand branding. Um, suddenly you know where to aim those skills, that talent, you know? So it- it's a... it's a force multiplier. It's like, you know, so once I understood that branding is the area where we can all play together, and- and- and we understand each other's business and what we're doing together, um, it probably made me about 10 times as valuable as I was when... in the early days when I was just copying-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... what Milton Glaser did (laughing)-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... or Paul Rand before him.

Chris:
Sure.

Marty:
Um, you know, so, uh, I actually knew how this, um, hopefully award-winning work would actually be driving business forward, and I could explain it, uh, from my little corner of what they were doing how it was helping them, and then they'd, um, appreciate it more, paid me more, uh, let me into more, uh, s-... parts of the company that I wasn't in before. Um, so I realized that, um, even though business wasn't something I was ever really very interested in, I had to be interested in if I wanted my work to be great.

Chris:
So many questions here, I- I feel like I'm gonna splinter into a 1,000 parts and pieces here, in that the term branding I think unfortunately has become syn-... like people use it interchangeably with logo design, identity design or even-

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... sometimes typography-

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... and maybe we need to set the record straight, and I- I- I know you're the best person to tell us, what is branding Marty?

Marty:
Yeah. So let's start with what branding isn't.

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
It's... 'cause it's not a lot of things people say it is.

Chris:
Yes.

Marty:
It's not a logo.

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
A logo is a very useful tool for business, but it's not the brand. It's a symbol for the brand. A brand is not a product, so when people talk about this brand buying this brand or that brand they're really talking about buying one product or another product. The brand is not that. Uh, people say the brand is a promise the company makes to customers-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
.... and there's some truth in that.

Chris:
Yep.

Marty:
I mean it- it does end up acting as a promise, but that's not what it is either. Uh, advertising people like to say, "Well it's the sum of all the impressions that a company makes on an audience."

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Well, you know, if you're trying to sell a lot of impressions I can see where that might be useful to you, but from- from a business's point of view, why do they want that (laughing), right? So... and how does that help, uh-

Chris:
Self serving degradation there.

Marty:
... creative people understand what they're doing.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
So, um, uh, none of those things are really, uh, what- what branding is. A brand is a result. It's- it's, um, a customer's gut feeling about a product, a service, or a company. It ends up in their heads, in their hearts, right? Um, uh, they take whatever raw materials you throw at them and they make something out of it, but it's they're making it, they're creating it. And so in a sense when you create a brand, you're not creating one brand you're creating millions of brands like however many customers or people in your audience.

Chris:
Oh.

Marty:
Each one has a different brand of you. So a brand is like a reputation, right? So it's your business reputation, and everyone's gonna be a little bit different about what that reputation is. And that's okay as long as you have a... you've got it corralled s-... mostly where you want it, and that it's beneficial to the company.

Marty:
So, um, we tend to look at... companies and- and designers, uh, tend to look at branding as from our point of view like we're... this is something we're doing. We're telling a story, we're- we're making a claim or, you know, we're making a pitch. Uh, and- and that's what we do, but that's not what a brand is. A brand is the result of that, and if you don't start there you don't know what you're doing.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
You actually don't know wha-... You- you- you think you know what you're doing, but you- you don't. So from a- a... from a designer's point of view, I mean I always tended to be this way, it's like I just had a f-... it was my gut feeling, right (laughs), about whether this is gonna work or not.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
And then I would sell it as hard as I could-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... to get the client to s- sign off on it. Um, from the clients point of view they're going, "Well, it's a checklist. I got the, you know, I got the logo, I got the, uh, I got the tagline, I got the ad campaign, like check, check." And they think they're done.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
None of that's right, you know?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
What's right is what happens in people's heads. Like what have we achieved?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Like what's the reputation that we've created through, uh, the products were putting out, like and the design of the products, the messaging we're putting out, the look and feel of them, uh, our culture, you know? How does that affect people? How our... how our employees behave, you know, how is that affecting, um, our reputation? All that stuff counts, so it's a big world and it actually, uh, takes in almost all of the business. Not so much finance, but finance is involved too-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... 'cause finance has to green-light all these things. But, uh, almost everybody in a... in a company is, you know, affecting the brand, doing something with the brand, doing it for the brand or hurting the brand. So you- you- you got to think of it that way. Now, this is not, um, well understood. So, um, anybody who gets this and can explain it is in a very powerful position with the company, right? And designers are just naturally good at this.

Marty:
Like if we opened our minds to it, uh, and learned a few skills, learned a little bit more about business, we suddenly have a lot more control over, uh, how our work is perceived by our clients, how it works in the marketplace, how much we get paid for it, uh, and at some point when you get really good at this, you don't have to charge by the hour, you charge by the results. And or- or not even that, you just charge for being involved (laughs)-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... at the very highest level.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Um, and it can be huge amounts of money. So the- the range of like s- starting out as an hourly performer, getting up to where you're an expert in something is huge. I mean the- the difference (laughs) is like, it's millions of dollars, uh, in your income. So it's worth doing is what I'm saying. So no matter what skills you have creatively, if you, um, find out how they apply in the world of branding, they're suddenly more valuable. Same skills, but you will... you will be doing it differently, um, and you'll have the confidence that you're doing it really really well and you can explain why.

Chris:
Phew, I mean I could... I do you wanna say one word, 'cause that was perfect. This is unscripted, Marty's just talking from decades of experience in writing, and articulating this, it's very clear to me. I'm trying to imagine myself in the audience right now listening to this, like you mean I could to have a more profound impact on the business Marty? Are you saying there's more to this branding than the logo or the product? And then it's like you're talking about business and I can make more money, I- I can charge for the result, or even my involvement. This sounds very exciting.

Chris:
So if they're watching this and they're in the traditional graphic design space and they- they make things visual, what are some easy like... let- let me just get started in this world, do I have to learn how to write? Do I have to, uh, take a business course, or- or get a business degree? Ho-... Point me in the right direction-

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... maybe not the whole plan, but just help me out.

Marty:
Uh, you know, the business degree is interesting. I've talked to some people who sort of learned how to do their craft and then they've taken business, MBA classes-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and I think that's really helped a lot, um, but you have to figure out how to put those together, because you're not gonna hear anything about design in an MBA class. Nothing. Zero. Zilch.

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
They don't wanna think about it, right?

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
So it's your job to get them to think about it. So, um, that's why I wrote my books. I would just say start there.

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
And anybody else who writes books like mine, if there are that many people (laughs), uh, but where- where, um, they're trying to connect, um, creativity and business. Um, they ha-... you have to connect them. And you can figure this out yourself, but it... I think it helps to get, um, you know, inspired by it and get a few principles under your belt, and then suddenly the world will open up for you and you go, "Oh my god, like- like I'm really powerful if I... if- if I understand what I'm doing," right?

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Paul Rand, the famous graphic designer, um, told me that when I, um... This magazine here, um, uh, Critique-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... I did this for five years until it almost killed me.

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
Uh, and sort of similar ideas like how can I bring designers, uh, closer to, um, being m- ma- masterful?

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Like, you know, how do I teach them about business? How do I... how do we talk more about the ideas behind design instead of just the look and feel of it?

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
And, uh, and when I did the first issue I s-... uh, send it to Paul Rand, who was old at this time, he was, uh, I didn't know it, but he would only live a few months after that.

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
And he looked at the magazine, he says, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is good. You got some good people in here. If I were you I would just like only show good work, don't show any bad work. Don't show crap like those other magazines. Just, you know, do..." He- he was kind of like that cigar chewing kind of-

Chris:
Yes (laughing).

Marty:
... gruff sort of person.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Uh, he says, "You got to teach designers what they're doing." That's what he said. Um, and I thought, "Gosh, that's right." I mean I really didn't know what I was doing and, uh, nobody ever gave me that advice before (laughs). I did get some really good advice, um, when I was a young designer. Um, I went to a poster biannual in Colorado where they have this annual, uh, biannual, uh, poster... uh, international poster, um, conference competition. And the winners are there and you're- you're meeting these famous people that, you know, have been in Graphis magazine and so forth.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Uh, and I was just really excited to- to have won an award and be talking to those people. And I ran into... you know, we all have our plates of food and we're sort of (laughs) schmoozing and everything and, um, I run into this old guy. Um, he seemed like he was probably 90, but, you know, to-... he's probably only 70. Uh, I was pretty young so, uh, 25 or something and, um, he says, "Ah, so you're, uh, what do you do? You're like a d-... you're a designer?"

Marty:
And I go, "Yeah." He said, "Yeah, I was a designer too. I used to art direct Graphis magazine when it first started." And I said, "Whoa, I think I've seen your name before." He goes, "Oh yeah, you know, um, let me... I'm- I'm, you know, almost retired. I mean I'm still working and everything 'cause I love it-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... but, um, let me just... you young-... you're young, let me give you a piece of advice." And I said, "O- okay," (laughs). Uh, he says, "Okay, just kind of tell me one or two things about how you work?" I said, "All right." He says, "Well, um, so you work at a, like at a desk or a table?" I said, "Yeah, yeah, I have a table with a drawing board on it." "Okay, so that's good."

Marty:
He says, "Okay, is the table like up against the wall like you're facing the wall, or is it, um, out in the middle, or...?" I said, "Well, it's kind of like it's, uh, the one side of it's against the wall and then it's sticking out into the space."

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
He goes, "Oh, yeah, that's good, that's good. Okay, so here's my advice. When you finish your, um, sketch or your drawing or your work, whatever you're working on, uh, get up and go to the other side of the table." I said, "Yeah." He goes, "No, that's it." And it like took me (laughs) like about a minute to- to like, oh, all right, I get it. Look at it from the- the other point of view. And he goes, "Exactly."

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
[French 00:20:54] he says in French.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative) (laughing).

Marty:
So- so, uh, I- I just thought that was, um, charming and wonderful and I thought, you know, that's- that's a great metaphor for really what we should be doing. We have to look at our work from the- the readers point of view, the users point of view, the clients point of view. We cannot look at it just from our own point of view. It's just not gonna... it's- it's not gonna get us anywhere. We have to look at it from a different point of view.

Marty:
So, um, I think that stuck in my mind for a long time and eventually that's why I started testing my work. I wanted to make sure that I actually nailed it, uh, because it's gonna get judged, right? Sooner or later-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... it's gonna be judged in the marketplace. So what if I could get judged before it goes to the marketplace-

Chris:
Oh, yeah.

Marty:
... and correct it?

Chris:
We're gonna get into more of that. I just wanna make sure the pro-group or the YouTube community that's tuning in to watch, Jonah and Mark are checking out your questions and the questions that are relevant to what we're talking about, we will bring up to Marty. Now this idea of testing is going to make a lot of sense in a little bit, but before we get there we're going to do like a- a Quentin Tarantino style edit here. We're gonna take you back to Santa Barbara and then you move to Silicon Valley at some point.

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
I think you said you spent 15 years in Santa Barbara-

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... uh, basically the only listing under graphic design in the yellow pages, young people won't know what we're talking about, but-

Marty:
(laughs)

Chris:
... I know what you're talking about. You decide to move to Palo Alto, and you're gonna work there. Um, I think some- something very special was happening with Steve Jobs and Apple and all that kind of stuff.

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
Take us... like what- what made you go out there? How did you r- relocate your business? How did you get business? I wanna know all that stuff.

Marty:
It was such a wrenching change-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... for my wife and me and our daughter, uh, because we lived in Santa Barbara and, um, even though it's very difficult from a business standpoint, it was beautiful from a living standpoint, right?

Chris:
Yes.

Marty:
And then we had to leave that-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... to- to m- make enough money to send our daughter to college eventually, you know?

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
And so that was... that was the tough rea-... but we just weren't getting anywhere.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
So- so, um, I started hearing a lot about, um, Palo Alto, Silicon Valley-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and, um, it seemed like not a big thing to me at the time.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Uh, but then I talked to a few people who are like investors and stuff and they were saying like, "No, no, Silicon Valley is like hot, hot, hot." It's like and it... at the time we were in a recession, the rest of the world was in the recession.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
"Silicon Valley's hot? You're kidding me." "Oh yeah, I mean you- you don't know what's going on there."

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
So I started, um, just looking around it like what companies were up there. I mean there was no internet or anything, so, uh, there was no way to easily find this out, but-

Chris:
I mean were there even computer... I mean what- what year are we talking about here?

Marty:
Uh, the co-... well-

Chris:
It's the '80s, right?

Marty:
... that's the reason I wanted to move-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... is because the Apple Macintosh was almost ready... it was ready to come out.

Chris:
Almost ready. Okay.

Marty:
They had the Li-... I saw the Lisa.

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
Uh, Apple's team brought the Lisa to Santa Barbara-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and- and this trade show that had like three booths (laughs).

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
And they were all just these like little desk top, funny desktop computers-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... um, and then they... there's this beautiful one with the beautiful graphics and I went, "Oh my god, where did this come from? Oh, Palo Alto."

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
From Silicon Valley.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
So, um, I started looking at, you know, what companies were up there and I saw all these like Atari was up there-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and, uh, um, phew, um, Hewlett Packard, and- and then I started looking... finding them on the map, and I'm like, "These are like all within like, I don't know, five square miles."

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
All of these companies.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Like these are the clients they- they, you know, they're right there. All you have to do is like move in and say, "I'm here," you know?

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
And say that's what we did, and it was just that easy.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
I mean, um, I mean we started with a phone number only. That's just a test-... uh, you could get a phone number that- that looked like it was from that area-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... but it really rang in your... you know, so that was a nice tricky little thing. And so, um, I'd get calls, uh, or I'd call, I'd cold call, um, companies and say, "Can I show my portfolio?" 'cause that's what you did. And they'd say, "Yeah." Um, you know, so I called Apple and I said can I-

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
Yeah, yeah. So I said, "Can I show my portfolio?" and then the guy, um, like the- the Apple- Apple creative team, they said, "Yeah, come on in. Uh, how about Monday morning?" So I get in the car, you know, Sunday night, and I drive up and I stay over at a friend's house.

Chris:
Were you still living in Santa Barbara at this time?

Marty:
I was living in Santa Barbara.

Chris:
Okay. So you go to Palo Alto [crosstalk 00:25:21]

Marty:
It's a 400 mile drive to- to the first meeting.

Chris:
Oh my goodness. Okay (laughs).

Marty:
Right. But- but they- they-

Chris:
It's a long-

Marty:
... can't know that, right?

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
Because they got to think I'm local or they're not gonna give me any work.

Chris:
Right. Sure.

Marty:
So, I just drive up and I stay overnight and I get there, and they forgot about the appointment. Like they missed it totally.

Chris:
Oh.

Marty:
I had to drive back.

Chris:
Oh my god.

Marty:
So like... so it didn't mean anything to them, right?

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
But to me it was like everything.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
So, uh, you know, so I- I... but I- I made that work. I- I landed Sun Microsystems, I got Atari.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
I was doing this wonderful work for Atari from Santa Barbara, and then I installed one of my former employees up there and a little one of those like w-... um, you know, workspace offices where you get a cubicle.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Uh, and she was doing more work than I was getting in Santa Barbara.

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
So I said, "Okay, that's it."

Chris:
That's it. You got to-

Marty:
"We got to be there."

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
And we packed up the kid and, uh, the parakeets and the cats-

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
... and the dogs and stuck them in our little car-

Chris:
It's like Noah's Ark here (laughs).

Marty:
Noah's Ark.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Uh, drove up there. It was this horrible, horrible thing, the daughter hated it. She was just starting high school.

Chris:
Oh.

Marty:
Um, it was just like she just... it was, really, really wrenching.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Um, but as soon as we got there, it was like the... just the roof filling with work.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
And, you know, all I had to do is say look this is where I started to realize specialization-

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
... was really powerful (laughs).

Chris:
Okay. This is... I'm ready to lean in and listen to this part.

Marty:
I just... I just said, uh, this is a big lie, you know, it's the sort of fake it till you make it thing.

Chris:
Yes.

Marty:
I- I told clients, "Look, all I do is high-tech. That's all I do. Other designers, they'll do a little high-tech, then they'll do a museum, you know, I mean they're just not dedicated to this."

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
"I'm all about high-tech" (laughs).

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Like I had done maybe two jobs for tech- tech companies-

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
... but I could show those two jobs.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
So I... and they said, "Hey, that's great, 'cause nobody really, you know, takes this- this stuff seriously." Um, and we got a lot of work, and then... and so I said, "This is totally working," right, and my- my income, uh, quadrupled first year.

Chris:
Wow.

Marty:
Yeah. So all I did was bring the same skill I had-

Chris:
Good move Marty.

Marty:
... to a different place.

Chris:
Literally.

Marty:
Yeah. Into a situation where there was-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... um, a framework for it.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). So you did a couple like really smart business things. Uh, may I ask like at that time how old you are? Your daughter's in... going into high school, so she's like 15 years old.

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
How old were you back then?

Marty:
So it's, uh, let's see, so I must have been 30... early 30s.

Chris:
Early 30s, okay.

Marty:
Yeah, yeah.

Chris:
So here you are in your early 30s, you realize you got to go where the client is, 'cause they ain't coming to you.

Marty:
No.

Chris:
You also did something that most designers would never do, you- you had the guts to pick up the phone and just call people and say, "Hey, I'm in town. Let's- let's do something," right?

Marty:
It's was the hardest thing I ever did. I'm just, um, you know, they say that i- if you're... if you are, um, if you run a business you're probably, uh, an extrovert, and I think you need to be.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
But I think a lot of designers are not born extroverts (laughs).

Chris:
No.

Marty:
So they have to learn to be extroverts or fake it.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Marty:
Like just force themselves to be extroverted when needed.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
And that's- that's what I did. But, um, you know what makes that a lot easier, is if you have something that the person on the other side of the fence or the phone or- or the computer really wants. It's- it's not a cold call, it's a very warm call.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So you just have to have that thing-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and be able to express it. So, you know, so, um, I would say "Look, um, you don't know me, but, um, I'm an award-winning designer." Like I thought that meant something. Uh, maybe it did at the time.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
"And I only do high-tech and, um, I'm doing, um, identities and, um, advertising and just like everything for small start-up, um, technology companies."

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
"And I just love- love to show you what I've done for X, X and X," you know? Uh, Sun Microsystems, Atari, uh, Apple, 'cause I was involved in the launch of the Macintosh, uh, Plus, so I had some things to show there. Um, and- and it was like, "Yeah, come on over." So there was just really not this, um, sort of distance like there is now. Uh, uh, and like there was for me f- forever until I had something I could s- specialize in and say, "Look, this thing is what I own."

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
"Nobody else else does this. If that's what you want, we need to meet," and they went, "Yeah, okay," or they would say, "No, we don't need anything now," and that's fine.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
Later they they might.

Chris:
I have so many questions about what was your... wh- what was your instinct or what drove you to say of all the things I can sell, it seems obvious now, but back then, "I'm just gonna tell people I do high-tech and I only have two things under my belt?"

Marty:
(laughs)

Chris:
Uh, uh, was it because you-

Marty:
It sounds pretty silly, uh, you know, looking back.

Chris:
I mean and- and it's pretty awesome that you figure that out-

Marty:
Uh-huh (affirmative).

Chris:
... because again, just like you're... and I'm seeing patterns here-

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... you go to Santa Barbara, like I'm [inaudible 00:29:57] graphics and I'm just gonna take over this category.

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
And then you go to Palo Alto, it's like a lot of computer companies, "I should just tell them I'm high tech."

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
I mean where do that come from and how did you know like that's what I wanna say? Because so many people are afraid that by staking a claim or specializing, they're limiting all these opportunities when it's actually the opposite.

Marty:
I couldn't have said it better.

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
I mean it's- it's counterintuitive, isn't it?

Chris:
It is.

Marty:
So- so, you know, as a designer you're creative, and people who are creative like to do lots of things.

Chris:
Yes.

Marty:
I mean they wanna be Leonardo da Vinci. I mean really. They wanna be Renaissance people-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... uh, and it's fun to do that, but the world doesn't want that from you. And so I had to understand that and I- I think I understood it, um, like in the first 10 years of being a designer I'd watch how illustrators got famous.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So in the old days I don't think there are any illustrators the way they were then, but, you know, you had all these magazines and, you know, there's Playboy magazine, you always wanted to be in that one, 'cause it got a lot of readership (laughs).

Chris:
Yep.

Marty:
Um, uh, so an illustrator if- if... would settle on one style, one look-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... that, um, was unique and cool. And, uh, then that illustrator like got hot and within five years was dominating it, and then... and then had another five years, uh, until they would be out of business basically because everyone had seen everything they could do-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... and it just... the world moves on. So there's like a 10 year career-

Chris:
Yep.

Marty:
... that they could... and- and if they wanted to change after that and s-... adopt another style, they could probably have a- a second act. But I'm- I'm thinking, "Well, I don't wanna be the kind of person that has a ten year career, but I have to admit they really get successful fast-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... by doing one thing." And I said, "What if I applied that to, uh, something else about my business like the kind of work I did or the kind of, in this case Si-... uh, Silicon Valley case, the kind of business that I specialized in so that I get a lot of word-of-mouth?" So if people say "Oh, you need a designer? This guy did our whole everything. He did the whole thing. It's like amazing, like brought us from nowhere to being highly visible. You got to... here, have- have my guy."

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Um, and so that was my original idea when I got there, and then I found out that actually Silicon Valley was moving past that really quickly and it was so big, getting so big so fast that, um, that was no longer a specialty, it was... that was too general to say, you know, "I do identity and everything for a company."

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Like I- I do all their communication, because, uh, software companies didn't talk to hardware companies, who didn't talk to chip companies-

Chris:
Yep.

Marty:
... who didn't talk to, you know? I mean they were all separate little, um, universes and you had to pick one. So- so eventually I decided that I would be the guy you go to if you need retail software packaging, which was just starting.

Chris:
Wow.

Marty:
Um, it was just starting and it... and it was like I- I really didn't wa- (laughs) wanna specialize, but I could see why it worked, you know?

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
You know, it's like it just makes the decision so easy for clients. They go, "Well, we need this, we got this checklist, we need the package, who's gonna do that? Who does these things? Joe, go find the... go find the package designer," and they go out and get Landor or somebody and I said-

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
... "No, I'm gonna be the guy that does it, and- and that means I have to do only that."

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Or at least that's what I say, that's what I have to say.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
If I do other things, I'm just not gonna show those things. I'm just gonna master this and I'm gonna be obviously mastering it so that I can prove it and- and then I'll get it all for as long as that lasts.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So, um, that's what I did. And, um, that worked amazingly well, and it was only about two years before we were charging more than Landor and more than anybody actually, because Landor didn't know what they were doing, and couldn't- couldn't explain why they were doing what they were doing.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I wanna get into all that. Uh, Mark, you flagged me, you're like make a little signal and then I'll acknowledge you, just give me one second. I do want to talk about this a little bit, uh, just to- to kind of re-articulate what you've said. There's a lot of stuff to absorb here, so you started out kind of broad as, um, a graphic designer/communication/advertising guy, and you thought that was specialized enough.

Chris:
Then like, no, may- maybe it's just identity designer. Maybe it's just for high-tech industry, and then it became software retail packaging. And you just... you went narrow and narrow.

Marty:
Hah, business software.

Chris:
Business (laughs).

Marty:
Uh, because that's where-

Chris:
I love that.

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
Business software, retail packaging.

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
So if somebody needed that, there was one game in town that was your game-

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
... and you dominated, and you win against... and people don't know this, Landor's a ginormous operation.

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
A multinational corporation, right? It's just-

Marty:
High prices too.

Chris:
High prices, okay.

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
Mark, we have a question either on branding, uh, or specialization or something like that?

Mark:
Yeah.

Chris:
Go ahead Mark.

Mark:
Yes. We have a good question from the pro-group from Asher. He's asking, how do you measure the effecti- effectiveness of branding, uh, in terms of ROI?

Chris:
Okay, that's a good question.

Marty:
Um, yeah, so traditionally people say you can't... you can't measure it-

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
... because it's too soft, it's, um, it's- it's too amorphous, but you can, um, measure it in terms of, um, engagement with- with, uh, customers and you can measure that from year to year and it's cheap and it's almost free to do. If any company wants to do it, my book, uh, The Brand Flip has a really good formula for that and it's- it's called the brand ladder.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I saw that.

Marty:
And it mo-... it- it measures how people move up from, um, how they... how they regard your company, s- so how your reputation is doing. So, um-

Chris:
There it is, there's the brand ladder.

Marty:
Yeah, so Chris, what's at the bottom of the ladder?

Chris:
The bottom of the ladder is satisfaction.

Marty:
Right, so, um, are customers satisfied with- with the company and- and what they put out? Well, that's pretty low bar these days, right?

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Satisfied means, yeah, uh, they did... it did what they said it would do-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... and, you know I... you know, maybe I'll buy it again.

Chris:
It feels like that the-

Marty:
And then from there you go up to what?

Chris:
The next step up is delight.

Marty:
Delight. So, um, delight is when, um, you're going, "Wow, I didn't know it'd be this good. This is really cool, and I'm gonna tell my friends," right?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So you can measure that.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
And the next one is?

Chris:
Engagement.

Marty:
Engagement. So in engagement you're like, as a customer you're going, "I love this company and, um, I really feel like I belong with this brand, with this, um, um... I love this product." Let's say Apple, I- I'm really an Apple person.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
I really buy... I just buy everything they come out with, because I know it's gonna be good. I just, uh, even if I- I've never even thought of that before, that category, you know, here comes an Apple watch. I didn't even know I wanted a watch. I'm gonna get it.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
So that's engaged customer. Then from there-

Chris:
You have three things under engagement I wanna point out to them-

Marty:
Okay.

Chris:
... 'cause I have the book in front of me. I'm a genius here. Automatic repurchase is how you can tell. You- you s-... with that question they launch a new thing, I'm in, I'm bought. Uh, the emotional attachment. Uh, you've talked about this in many of your books about how when Steve Jobs passed away there was like vigils and people were like crying and just eulogies and all kinds of stuff. There was an emotional attachment. You don't feel that way about a lot of companies, and the sense of belonging.

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
Like I am an Apple tribe guy and I- I know my PC friends-

Marty:
I'm a Chris Do tribe guy, right.

Chris:
I like that.

Marty:
I mean it's, um, yeah. And so what you're doing though is you're going beyond that, you're- you're at the top level.

Chris:
Yes, here we are. The top... the top of the brand ladder is empowerment. Talk to me about that?

Marty:
Empowerment. So, that's where as, um, someone who's joined the brand, which is what you do with brands, you don't buy them, you join them. Um, is saying, "I don't know what I would do without Chris- Chris Do helping me understand all this stuff. I mean I wouldn't be making as much money, I wouldn't be as happy. Um, I'm t-... I'm totally bought in. MY life wouldn't be as good if you took that brand away from me, so that's- that's at the very top.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Um, and the... and your customers are gonna be at all these different levels, but you wanna see how many have moved up to the top. So that's a way to measure the overall success of the brand. Now as far as your part in the brand, that's a little more difficult. You have to like decide what it is you're contributing to-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... uh, to make that happen on the brand ladder-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and then explain that. So a lot of it's just being- being logical about it and just saying, "I know what we're trying to do together, here's how my part's gonna help," and so it's- it's a bit of explaining.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Um, uh, and- and if you know enough to know more than that, like more than what your part is, now you're becoming more valuable. Now you're someone to listen to.

Chris:
Right. Um, would be fair to say like when you engage with the company that wants to enlist your services, that you probably wanna establish a baseline, some kind of metric like let's measure something first-

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... and let's make an effort towards improving that, whether-

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
... like right now, let's just say they're at the r-... lower rung of the ladder and like we- we just have satisfaction, we're just barely doing what it is that we tell people we're gonna do. We wanna move on to delight, like... and then you come up with ideas on how to add a little surprise.

Marty:
Right. Yeah. Yes.

Chris:
That you go beyond expectations and then you can measure that.

Marty:
Yeah. Right.

Chris:
Maybe customer surveys, uh, satisfaction things, you rank things, something like that.

Marty:
So the first thing is to have this language, right?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So that... a lot of my books are just about create, and that's why I have a dictionary. It's creating a language so that you can, um, talk with business people in a way they'll understand it. And it doesn't mean using their language, but it's using sort of a, um, a language that everybody understands and that you could easily explain, that makes sense to both sides. So, um, if you talk about engagement, they're gonna get that.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
And they're gonna understand how engagement leads to customer loyalty, and loyalty, uh, leads to higher profits.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
But if you can talk about higher profits too, I mean that's what branding is about. Branding is a way to get more people to buy more stuff for more years at a higher price. And every, uh, business owner can appreciate that, and then you just have to say like, "Here's how we're gonna help."

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
But already you've given them some information that they didn't know. They didn't know branding was supposed to do that, right? So I mean that's what my, uh, Level C program is trying to do, is teach, uh, all that- that language to people and, uh, little by little they absorb it so they can talk about it, um, without... you know, in their sleep.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
And- and, um, makes sense to people who actually are gonna hire them.

Chris:
I'm gonna just admit I'm a Marty Neumeier fanboy for sure.

Marty:
(laughs)

Chris:
I- I think I have almost all of your books. I had to track down this through a used book seller, and I was like, "I'll get it any which way I can get it," 'cause I knew you were coming here. I'm like, "Let me track it down."

Marty:
Yeah, this is, um, this one is-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... in there. I- I don't know, I... maybe you can get these like used on- on Amazon or something?

Chris:
The gray market maybe, like eBay maybe?

Marty:
Maybe.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Maybe eBay.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Uh, this, um, is a little dictionary, um, paper dictionary that, um, was commissioned by Google-

Chris:
Oh, wow.

Marty:
... 'cause they, um, wanted to use all my- my language and my system, my understanding of branding-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... for their clients-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... their big high-roller clients, you know?

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Um, and so they started like a little school, and my dictionary is the- the- the text that they... that they use for that. So, um, I updated it from the earlier version, put it in a lot of sort of Google terms.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So- so that- that one's pretty interesting-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... but I have a even, uh, newer one, more updated that- that you can get on Amazon. It's an eBook-

Chris:
An eBook.

Marty:
... so it's, um, yeah, it's-

Chris:
Okay, and that is-

Marty:
... hyperlinked.

Chris:
... the- the Dictionary of Brand from A-Z. The Dictionary of Brand-

Marty:
It's called, uh, Brand A-Z.

Chris:
Brand A-Z.

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
There we go.

Marty:
And you can get it actually free if you just sign up on my website, just subscribe.

Chris:
Okay, we'll include that link in a little bit. And- and as I was talking, Marty's authored, uh, eight books and probably has a couple of more in him, but we've talked about The Brand Gap, and this... I refer to this a lot. I also love Zag, and- and right now I'm just like rereading this like a gazillion times, this is The Brand Flip. And, uh, a lot of times you read book and you feel like a little bit smarter and you learned a few new words, but what I love about your books is that I can apply what it is I'm reading.

Chris:
There are frameworks built in, and there's a lot to think about. From The Brand Gap, I think it was the onlyness statement where there's like this structure, and I started to use it. Now I have to say, you're a far superior writer, and this is not like false modesty, because when I read it, it makes sense. Everything clicks. Every example you gave was like, oh, so, so good, and then you try to (laughs) do it yourself and you're like, "Okay, there's a reason why-

Marty:
This is like taking golf lessons, like-

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
... when you're taking the lessons-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... you're hitting the ball 300 yards, and then you can't do it on your own the next day.

Chris:
No, I'm not even that good. I just watch you do it-

Marty:
(laughs)

Chris:
... and then I went to swing and it went right into the lake or wherever it went.

Marty:
(laughs)

Chris:
But there's some great frameworks. And now we're looking at our community and the brand that we're building around The Futur-

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... and I remember having a management meeting, I turned it to the teams like, "Let's stop talking about click funnels and marketing and retargeting and all that kind of stuff. Yes, we do need to do that, but I wanna talk about how we empower our community, the pro group." And I've made it like our mantra, is sit there and think about how we can achieve these five things that you talk about in the book for our community, and I wanna go over it. Personal growth, how do we help our community grow? How can we give them emotional support? That was number two.

Chris:
How can we help them to achieve business success, make more money, charge a higher rate, do fewer pitches? Whatever it is, we wanna help you grow in your business. Social status, and s-... that's not something we think about. Like how do we celebrate the people who are doing a great job and help them rise in esteem among their peers, and to achieve fulfillment? So you guys, if- if you get nothing from our talk today, remember those five things whether you're a solopreneur, if you run a big firm, if you're managing a team of 100,000 people, think about your customers in that way, and if you can do that, that's the top of the rung. Empowerment.

Marty:
Right. So go back to the definition of what a brand is, it's a person's gut feeling-

Chris:
Yes.

Marty:
... about a product, service, or company. So that means it's not what you say it is, it's what they say it is. And once you understand that and start thinking about what that means for you, it changes everything. So that's the big sort of flip, is, uh, in your mind you have to realize it's not about you, it's about them and what they achieve. So if you have customers or clients, think about, um, how is their life transformed by what you're doing in some- some small way?

Marty:
Or how is their company transformed? And you got to be aiming at that all the time, not aiming at your own success and you-... 'cause, you- you know, you have to worry about that, but that's not what's really gonna make you successful. It's doing something big for your clients, and once they understand that they can't live without you, um, all things are possible.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. Let's see, um, Mark, is there another good question? And thanks for kicking us off with that question. Is there... I don't wanna prompt it, unless you find like a really good question, 'cause I have more things I wanna... Okay, I'm gonna prioritize (laughs) my questions over your questions. We'll just keep going here.

Chris:
So- so Marty, you... before we went live we were talking a little bit about how you were the reluctant salesperson, but you did it and you achieved success, like even in the first year you like quadrupled your business. But you were sharing with me something that I- I have to... we have to recreate for the... our- our audience here. You talked about at the Neumeier design team, your pitch was, "I've got a presentation on 20 ways to sell more software." This sounds genius, tell me about it-

Marty:
(laughs)

Chris:
... and who could refuse this at this point?

Marty:
Yeah. Uh, this is a breakthrough for me. This is kind of it's the perfect, uh, question after what we just said about like how are you going to do something for... you know, what are you doing to change your customers or clients life?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Um, I- I really wasn't fully getting it at that stage and, um, but I didn't know I had to specialize, so I took- took up the specialty of software packaging and figured out every part of what a software package needed to do, and ways of measuring it and ways of testing it and all that. So I had it. And I put together a typical portfolio showing here's all the great work we did and here's what we did on this one, we did this for this company and so forth, and, um, and then here, you know, s-... here's some of the results we got.

Marty:
Um, for instance for Apple they said, um, the president of, uh, the... of Claris, which was Apple's software, um, division. Uh, I asked him how it went. He goes, "Are you kidding? No one told you?" I said, "No." He said, "We got 40% increase in sales across 15 products without changing one product."

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Wow.

Marty:
I went, "That sounds really good." He goes, "Yeah, that's 40% with no extra work. An extra 40, you don't know how much money that is. Like- like I'm a hero." And I said, "Can I, um, quote you?" (laughs) His name is Bill Campbell, just a wonderful guy. Um, he goes, "Yeah, you, uh, you should. Yes, definitely quote me." So, um, I had that slide show kind of put together and I showed it to, um, a guy who had nothing... really nothing in common with, um, he was completely a marketing guy and a retail consultant, um, helping software and hardware retailers to sell stuff.

Marty:
Like it's just not my world, um, even though my- my- my packages, uh, are in those stores, I really don't think about it the way he thinks about it. So I said, "Would you kind of look at my slideshow? And 'cause I think it'd be great if you recommended us to some of your contacts, because you know all these retailers." He goes, "Yeah, I'll look at it." So I looked at it and he didn't say a word through the whole thing. At the end he goes, "Well, where's the ending?" (laughs) I said, "What do you mean? I- I showed you all the stuff." He says, "You didn't tell me like how much money this is making for your client."

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
Like why are they gonna spend money on you?

Chris:
Right, right.

Marty:
You didn't even say how much it was. I said, "Well, you know, we designers don't talk about m- money really," (laughs) you know?

Chris:
Yeah, it's kind of gross. Yeah, yeah (laughing).

Marty:
It's all, you know, we- we, you know, it's- it's, uh, depends on, you know, the assignments and-

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
He says, "No, no, no, just tell me how much you cost and how much it's gonna do for me?"

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
And I said, "Well, um, Bill Campbell said, you know, that they got 40% increase," and he goes, "You're kidding me?" He goes, "That's your ending right there. If you don't say that, you're out of your mind."

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
"Let's go back and do that over." Uh, and then, uh, then I realized another client had said, "Look, we've got, um, we di-... you know, you did our, uh, a series of products for us and we got a 500% increase after that." I went, "Wow, (laughs) that's really good." So- so I started collecting those and using them, uh, to prove the value of design.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
It's like this is a measurable thing.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
You know, you- you do a package, uh, it was... the product was selling X, and now it's 10 times X or five times X. So that's something you can put in there and you should. Um, does it really tell you that much about why that happened? No, it doesn't tell you anything, but- but business people aren't as, um, uh, as, uh, geeky as you think about business. They just like... they just want something that they can tell each other (laughs).

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So give them something, uh, give them something true, uh, that sounds like, um, a- a business result.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
And, uh, and you're all happy-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and, um, and just keep learning how to do it better.

Chris:
My business coach used to tell me that they need a repeatable story and you gave them plenty.

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
40% Increase, 500% increase, those are some sto-... Like if they forget-

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
... the rest of the presentation-

Marty:
Right.

Chris:
... they just go back and like, "[inaudible 00:50:35] this guy, they didn't change a single thing-

Marty:
And- and-

Chris:
... and they sold 500 fold.

Marty:
... and I think an important part of that particular pitch, uh, aside from, "Here are the results," were... was, "And here's how much it costs to get those results," and so I was smart enough to realize that if those results were like amazing, um, I don't know if Landor could get those kind of results. I don't think so, because I don't think they thought about it very much like how to actually accomplish what they needed to accomplish. Um, s- see, I forgot (laughs) what I was gonna say. Um, where were we? Take me back. I went off on that... on a side road.

Chris:
Um, I don't know where we were at either, so let me think here. I was talking about the repeatable story-

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
... and about the impact you were able to create, uh, 40%, 500% that they- they forget the rest of the story-

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... and this is kind of like what you need.

Marty:
Yeah, it's like so the main thing-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... I need to tell you, is I forgot it. So (laughing).

Chris:
Perfect.

Marty:
So- so I got to... it will... it will come back to me.

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
Um, yeah, but that was just a huge, um, you know, experience for me-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... to see that you didn't need to be the biggest company to comp-... to just wipe out the biggest company.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
You just need to be so specialized that they couldn't afford to do the same thing.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
And so the rule is, um, the- the bigger the market, the more you need to specialize-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... 'cause there's more competition and you'll do better if you do less.

Chris:
Okay, you guys hear that? The bigger the market, the more you need to specialize.

Marty:
Right. The smaller the market, like was... when I was in a little town-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... and I was the only designer, I had to do everything.

Chris:
Oh.

Marty:
I was like a country doctor.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
You know, they needed me to do everything.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
And sure, I sewed up all the business, because there wasn't much competition.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
But, you know, it only went so far. So, um, yeah. So the... it's all about that. So if you wanna compete in the big world and make good money, you need to specialize more-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and that's the counterintuitive thing. You think like, "Well, then I'm gonna be ruling out all this business that I'm getting now. I can't do that anymore, because now I'm just going to do this little sliver." Um, so I would encourage you to think about it in a different way. Think about it as, um, if there's a m-... enough money in that category-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and you got a lot of it, how... and- and let's say that category is growing.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
That could be huge, right?

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
You can grow with the category. Uh, so, um, uh, I- I just think that's the way to go.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Specialize. Now, you d-... it doesn't mean you can't do other kinds of work. So all you people are worried about all the clients you're gonna have to say no to, don't worry about it. Just take that work.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Just don't talk about it.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
Just take it, you got it, it's profitable, talk about the one thing you can do that nobody else can do, and, um, talk about it in a really clear, powerful way. Make sure they understand you're the only one that knows how to do this, and you'd be surprised at what that does for you, and you'll still get other work from that, that you just won't talk about.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Okay, so if I had a software company and I did the software, they might say can... like Apple said, "Can you do the Claris logo for us?" "Yeah." Charge a lot of money for that, um, 'cause it's Apple, right? They got to like make sure it works all around the world and-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... that means traveling around the world and testing it and all- all the kinds of things (laughs) we did. So it was probably, I don't know, half a million dollars to do this little logo that was just typed that you could buy for $40.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Um, but it was the right type and it was the right solution and they were all really happy and felt very strong about it, so it was valuable.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
And, uh, we made a lot of money, we just never made a big deal out of tha, because it's not what we do.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
It's not our niche.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Uh, you were talking earlier about segmentation and how different companies don't talk to verticals of other things-

Marty:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Chris:
... uh, like software doesn't talk to hardware and hardware doesn't talk to retail.

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
Uh, so when you are able to pick a lane, which you did, uh, business retail software packaging, if that sounded like you, you were the guy to call and you could basically outdo a firm that was probably 100 times your size and start to charge. And I wanna talk about this a little bit, um-

Marty:
Right.

Chris:
... how much were you able to charge for this re-... business software retail packaging, uh, back in the day?

Marty:
Right. So, um, allowing for inflation-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... I mean it would be a lot more now, but, um, probably triple it and that's how much we would be charging today.

Chris:
Okay, so guys keep that in mind. Take these numbers triple it.

Marty:
I- I'm guessing triple.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Um, so we started out doing packaging at the same prices as other firms were doing it that weren't specialists, you know, like Landor and, uh, Primo Angeli-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... did a lot of food packaging and really beautiful packaging, but not specialized in software. And we s-... we... it took us a couple of tries to get up to that level where they were, and- and that was at about 10,000 per package.

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
It's basically six panels of a box and whatever goes on that, right (laughs). Uh, and for us it meant also testing. Um, so well a- actually at the time we didn't test, we didn't about that. Apple got us into that. They forced us to do it-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and it was the best thing I've e- ever been forced to do. Um, so $10,000, and then we started getting up to 15 and as we got more, when we could say, "Look, all we do is software packaging hooks, here's five- five examples." It was probably everyone we'd ever done.

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
Uh, "Here just a, you know, a cross-section (laughing). A cro-... a cross-section of what we've got." Uh, and, um, and we... so we get more-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... and we can charge more.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Now once we got to the point where, um, the retail stores were recommending us, like, you know, a software company would go into the CompUSA, um, or Fry's Electronics and they say, "Look we... here's our product, uh, we'd like to get into the store," and they'd say, "Well, the package, you know, really we find packaging is very important. Um, nobody can really test your software and so if the packets isn't really... doesn't pop on the shelf-

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
... uh, and it doesn't look like yours, you don't really know what you're doing." And- and the reason they thought they knew what they were doing, is 'cause we'd been in there-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... in Silicon Valley-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... testing them and talking with the managers and the sales people, and like we indoctrinated them over a few years. And so they now had all the answers, right?

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
And they'll say, "Oh no, you- you- you got to have the name really big on the front, you've got to have some s- symbol. You can't put all those screenshots on the front of the package."

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
"Nobody wants to see... they normally have know that on the back."

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
"You're just not doing it right." So okay, they'd say, "Well, what should we do?" They'd write out our phone number-

Chris:
That's fantastic.

Marty:
... and they'd say, "Use these guys." Like a prescription. So they'd come to us and they say, "Oh, we got to use you guys. We were told by (laughs) CompUSA or Fry's."

Chris:
Right. Right.

Marty:
Okay, so at that point the price was 60,000.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Now we're doing the same work as when we were making a profit at 10,000, but now we're charging at 60. So you see how that works? Now we were also better at it after a while-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and we- we really knew that we could make a lot of money f- for companies, and it was so measurable because it's a package.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
It's a little more difficult when you're se- selling logos and trying to get $100,000 for a logo when they can get one for, you know, 1,500 or something someplace.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Um, but there are ways of doing that too.

Chris:
There- there are so many layers to peel away from this one story, this one example that you have, that I- I would be remiss not to point out some of them. Be- before we went live you were telling me at the end of the presentation of your- your carousel slideshow-

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
... of the 22 ways to, uh, sell more software and that they would ask you like, "So what's the price?" and you were saying like 10,000 bucks, even though that's more than what you have ever charged. And you were doing something very powerful you're- you're dropping an anchor, and eventually you got that 10,000 and then you blew past, which seems kind of like almost unfathomable that you could take on Landor, own one section of it, and do 6 X of what they were charging.

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
And- and beyond-

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... and just keep going.

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
You went in... you were so well known that you actually went into these big retail spaces and you educated them on what you need to do is. So much so that you became the de facto authority and they... you're a words guy, they were using your language to tell, uh, potential manufacturers, uh, this is not gonna work here. And you- you guys don't know this, but retail stores, these big chains, they have a lot of power, 'cause shelf space, very valuable to them. They put a dud on there, they're not making money.

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
And so they're gonna... it behooves them to say, "We're not gonna accept this, go hire Neumeier Design Corporation. That's who you need to work with." Amazing. So now they're doing your selling for you. When you specialize and you're that... as good as Marty is, people sell for you. Incredible.

Marty:
Yeah, and, you know, that language thing is really important, having the words and keeping it simple and- and- and making your... um, how you express your work, making it memorable is super important. So that's one of the things I try to do in my books, is give people that language so they can just take it and use it. I mean a lot of it I took from somebody else.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Um, and, uh, talking about software companies, uh, one of them that we had, uh, we ended up doing, I don't know, 50 packages for them. They just kept... after a while, they were testing packages with no software in them to see if there was a market if they built that software.

Chris:
Ooh, this is like early prototyping here. Wow.

Marty:
Yeah, it's like a product prototyping.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
Like "Here's a pro-... here's a... would you like this product?" And people, if they went, "Oh, yes," uh, they would go... they would program it. The would build that pro- product, so we were doing a lot for them. And, um, and after a while I got more and more comfortable with the people I was working with there, and I, um, talked with, uh, the head of the whole product division and I said, "So we've been doing a lot of work together. This has been great and it's fun, we like working with you guys, and just I hope it goes on forever. Uh, why did you make that decision to use us when you had... you didn't even know who we were in the beginning?"

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
"What- what was it?" Uh, and my contact said, "It was the Zag." I said, "The Zag?" Remember what you said, when everybody's zigs, zag. So, okay.

Chris:
(laughs) Title for the next book.

Marty:
That became a book.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Uh, because I just remembered that story. It's like-

Chris:
Right, right.

Marty:
... that would s-... that word stuck in his head, and I want a title that'll stick in people's head, so it's Zag.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
And, uh, Seth Godin said, his review of it if you read it, says, uh, "Before you even read the book you know one thing, this is the best title of any business book ever."

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative) (laughs).

Marty:
Um, so- so it's all about how do you... how you name things, how you express things in your work-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... and if your work is, um, specialized and you do something that nobody else does or in- in... do it in a way that nobody else does, you've got to name those parts. You have to name the things you're doing, um, and- and- and that'll help you sell it. It's all... you- you don't even know when it's working, but you find out later usually. It's like they... 'cause like you say, they tell people. They tell other people.

Chris:
Yeah. I have one little quick question and then Mark, you have, uh, somebody lined up. He's just giving me the signal there. Take me back to this awkward Marty doing this sales pitch, 'cause you shared that like when you picked up the phone and you wanted to get one of these meetings and talk to them about the 22 ways to sell more software. Take me through that pitch, like how did you do this?

Marty:
Okay, yeah. Well-

Chris:
'Cause people need... you guys can take notes here. Are you guys... are you guys ready for this?

Marty:
Well, you know, you had to dial it.

Chris:
Yeah (laughs). Dial.

Marty:
I think we had dials.

Chris:
I think you had buttons.

Marty:
We didn't even have buttons.

Chris:
I think you had buttons.

Marty:
We didn't even have the buttons.

Chris:
No, come on Marty. Come on.

Marty:
Oh, we probably had buttons. Um, yeah, so pushed the buttons.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
It's like I- I push it and hang up.

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
It's like, "No, I can do it. I can't do it. I can't do it." I have written out-

Chris:
(laughs) You pranked them.

Marty:
I mean I- I just, like it was so hard. Um, but I get somebody on the phone-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... and they like pick up the phone, because they probably didn't know it was a sales call and they're used to not getting that se-... many sales calls.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
If you have... got their number, you've, you know, it's hard to get their number, but-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... they'll pick it up and I'll say, "Okay, hey, um, you don't know me. I'm Marty Neumeier, and I've got a, um, uh, I do software packaging. And you're in the software business, um, and I'm the guy who- who has kind of, um, helped shape how a software package works in the store and I think we should know each other. And I'd have this slide show called, um, 22 way... 22 ways to sell more software, and, you know, no rush, um, whenever you're ready, whenever you think you're interested in this, I will bring over a slide show called 22 ways to sell more software, um, and I'll share it with everybody for free, and you'll know all my secrets."

Marty:
"Tuesday, yeah. 15 people. Good. Yeah. Cool. I'll be there. See yah." It's like, um, they were like, you know, you- you don't get any feedback like, "Hey, that would be great." You just get, "Okay, Tuesday. And how many people can I bring? 15. Okay, great." And I'll be there, there will be 30. So huge room of people and I'm the guy giving the slideshow, and it... and- and with all the questions they would go on for like three hours, just talking. It was a 45 minute slideshow that ended up three hours, because they wanna know everything about it.

Marty:
Now once you get to that stage, um, who else are they gonna hire? I mean it's like if they go to- to somebody else, another company, Pentagram or Landor, and they ask the sa-... they said, "Well, what do you think about, um, what- what should happen on the side of a box?" or "What do you do with the top of the box?" and they don't know, they're gonna go, "Can't hire these guys." Or they say, um, "How do you know your design is gonna work in the marketplace?" And they go, "Well, because we are experienced. We've been doing this for a long time."

Marty:
They'd go, "No, not gonna do it. Neumeier design team, they test." So, um, we just basically sewed it up and, um, and then when- when you get to the point where you own that category and there's nobody else that can compete with you, that affects profit margins. You can, uh, your price goes up, you know, if it's valuable, and, um, the- the mo-... the amount of money they were making in software, I mean it was really expandable from hardly anything to billions of dollars. So this is not a big investment for them.

Chris:
It's a drop in the bucket.

Marty:
It was huge for me.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
It was like I couldn't believe-

Chris:
Yes.

Marty:
... uh, that they were paying me this much money.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
So I went from being like broke all the time, like most designers (laughs), uh, to- to having... to be able to buy another house and to, you know, to upgrade my Toyota Tercel to a... to a Honda (laughing).

Chris:
Oh, man.

Marty:
You know, times were... times were tough then.

Chris:
Yeah (laughs).

Marty:
And, you know, people think like, uh, Boomers, they got it made. They, you know, [crosstalk 01:05:05]

Chris:
Right, right.

Marty:
Well, you know, yeah, now. Sure. But- but-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... it- it, you know, took a long time.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
And you have to learn how to do it, and-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... but you can do it. That's the whole thing. It's- it's- it's, uh, it's- it's not magic, it's just like figuring it all out, trying things, trial and error, putting it together, find out who you are, what you love, get it out there and make sure that, uh, you- you- you know everything there is about that. Um, life gets better.

Chris:
Yeah. I'm gonna say this just so that everybody's watching, you're probably gonna wanna rewind this and loop this part where Marty does his sales pitch, and studied it... study it, figure out his framework, his process, because it's the most natural, true, genuine way to do a sales call that I've ever heard. This is so... you are like... I wish this was one of those competition shows where I could hit the golden buzzer and the confetti rains down on you-

Marty:
(laughs)

Chris:
... and balloons and everything. That was pitch perfect. I wanted to applaud, but I didn't want to- to- to break your story there.

Marty:
(laughs)

Chris:
So you guys, re-listen to that part, see how he structured it, high piece of content, high value. And you know how good he is, is because when they don't ask you any questions like Tuesday, 'cause to open up their appointment book, that's a big freaking deal. To say that, "Can we invite other people and all the executives, all the decision makers?"

Marty:
You taking all these people offline that are these highly paid executives, to listen to something for-

Chris:
Yes.

Marty:
... and it ended up being three hours.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
And, uh, with rapt attention.

Chris:
When you go from 45 minutes to three hours, you know pretty much the fish, you don't have to fish when the fish just jumped in the boat and you're ready to take it home.

Marty:
Fishes is jumping in the boat.

Chris:
Uh, that's done.

Marty:
And- and actually that's the way you want it to seem. You don't wanna have to sell or push. Pushing, um, is a... is a tell for clients to go, "Oh, yeah, they really want the job."

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
"They'd- they'd just say anything to get it." Um, but I never like, um, I- I'd say, "You know, we're not for everybody. It's really expensive." So part of the thing is when I showed them the price, I wanted it to be more than I even wanted to get-

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
... because I wanted to s-... to like m- make sure they understood that this is super valuable.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
And we can always argue about the price later.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
If they say... if they say, you know, "We loved your... it's like you're way out of our budget."

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
And then say, "Well, how much way out are we?" "Well, it's like 10,000 over." "Well, what if we compromised?"

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
"Well, yeah, maybe." But usually it was more like, "We want the best."

Chris:
Sure.

Marty:
"Um, so we have no choice."

Chris:
Right. And through specialization and your testing you- you were able to spot and see patterns that these other generic firms could not see.

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
That's why you can say we always put the screenshots in the back, this is what's on the front, these are the colors, this is what works, with authority, 'cause we've tested it. Okay, that was perfect. Let's segue to another question. Mark, take it away.

Mark:
Yeah, so we have a lot of young designers who watch our show, and, um, a lot of the young designers are aspiring to be brand specialist. What steps do you recommend so that they could up their game?

Chris:
We already answered that question.

Mark:
Yeah, you touched on it, but they're wondering kind of like, okay, as they progress, you know, like-

Chris:
I'm gonna say it for Marty. I'm gonna say it for Marty. The first thing you do is you buy every book that Marty's written, and you read them and you reread them and you highlight them and you take notes and you just try- try to incorporate this, and you get the language. Now this book, uh, Brand A-Z, is new to me, so I need to go through this, because you can see that Marty's very specific and particular about language and words. And when you use the right words to describe something, you communicate to the other person they know what they're talking about.

Marty:
So, yeah. So, um, yeah, I think that's- that's what I would suggest too. You start, you read my books in order. You can go online on Amazon and you can see the- the dates when they were published.

Chris:
Yep.

Marty:
The Brand Gap is the first one, then Zag. It's actually the order that my, uh, brand, uh, teaching program follows that same order.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
It starts with a general idea of what branding is-

Chris:
I see.

Marty:
... and where people fit-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and then it drills into, uh, strategy-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and then it opens up a little bit, and so forth.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So, um, and once you've gotten everything you can out of the books, taken it as far as you can-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... then- then maybe sign up for, um, a master class.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Um, we like to have people that have read the books-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... not just come out of the blue, because th-... uh, they might not pass (laughs).

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
They might not pass the test, and that would be very embarrassing. Um, but so- so far everybody's read at least one of my books-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... probably The Brand Gap and so they're primed for this-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... and, um, and usually they're... they've been in the field for a few years, so it's not like they're just out of school or something.

Chris:
Yeah. Okay, so we will include a link in- in the description below with our affiliate link guys, and the order in which you should read them. And I- I felt like this, and thanks for reminding me of this, it's like I think Zag's like the philosophy, the primer, and... I'm sorry, it was The Brand Gap was the philosophy and the primer, and Zag, it- it got a little bit more tactical and like I could get into a little bit more, right? Is that what [crosstalk 01:09:37]

Marty:
Zag is about differentiation what's... what makes... just like I've been talking about-

Chris:
Yes.

Marty:
... like how did... how did I be- become successful in Silicon Valley, I specialized. So what is that like? So, um, that is actually the bedrock of branding, is that difference. Um, a difference that people can believe in, right? They see it, they understand it, they- they get it, that this is how you're valuable in the world.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
This is that lane that you're in. So, um, the- the question at the center of this book is, um, our brand is the only blank that blanks.

Chris:
There's onlyness, right.

Marty:
The only.

Chris:
Yeah, the only.

Marty:
The only. The only.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Um, and, uh, that's a very high bar to say you're the only at anything-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... but that's what you're shooting for and, um, so that's the centerpiece of everything I do right there. So if you just wanna go right for the strategy, Zag is the book to get.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
I- I do recommend that you understand branding first, so maybe Brand Gap and Zag are really good. When I... when I, um, was writing this Brand Gap, my... uh, the publisher came after me. They said, "We saw you give a talk, we want you to write a book."

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Which hasn't happened to me since, but it was really great.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
And- and I s-... and I said, "Okay, gi-... uh, I have to come up with some ideas. I've got some thoughts. Let me get back to you." And they- they flew out to California to talk about it. And, uh, and I said, uh, "I got two books, I don't know which one to do. I got one that's called The Brand Gap." They go, "Ooh, that's good." "Uh, and then, uh, and then I have one called Zag." "Oh, that's good too." And so I told him a little about it and they said, "Oh, this is an easy thing. You do The Brand Gap and then you do Zag." So I- I- I sold two (laughs)-

Chris:
Nice.

Marty:
... two titles-

Chris:
Wow.

Marty:
... in one meeting. Um, uh, and that was the right thing to do-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... because first you find out about the general layout, what's the ga-... what's... how's... what's the playing field of brand?

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Where do I fit? "Oh, this is kind of cool," and then you get to this part about differentiation, which is the first part of that book and you go, "This is really counterintuitive. I'm not sure I'm getting this. I don't understand how this works."

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So Zag is the next one to read-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and it explains exactly how it works.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
And once you've got those two things, you could pretty much build-

Chris:
You're in pretty good shape at that point. Right.

Marty:
You are in pretty... yeah.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
So the rest is just, um, nuance I think.

Chris:
Yeah. So I always recommend this, because people always ask us the same question. Like "What course should I buy?" I'm like, "You know what? Why don't you look at all the free content or just take small steps, read the books or listen to the podcast first."

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
Uh, there isn't a shortcut guys, read the book, and then you're primed and now you know, and when you take the course, and- and- and hopefully some of you guys will wanna take Marty's master class, uh, that's happening in Philly, and then, uh, back to London and then Dublin. Participate in that way, and then you- you just... it's layers. You just peel it back, uh, so that you don't get overwhelmed. Uh, I would say-

Marty:
Don't try to observe it all at once.

Chris:
Yeah, it's- it's not-

Marty:
It's- it's a lifetime of learning, you know-

Chris:
It is.

Marty:
... and- and you got a long life to do this. But, uh, just keep making progress little by little, and make sure you understand whatever you're learning. Really understand it-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... and- and absorb it, even if it's just one thing a month.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Like I really get that concept, and you remember it all the time and you add that to your, you know, your repertoire.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Um, you're- you're gonna get there.

Chris:
And if we apply some of the things that you're talking about today even in the way that you learn, uh, I- I know I probably read Brand Gap probably 12 times now, maybe more. Zag, I don't know. I mean some... at some point the books are gonna fall apart, 'cause I'm going over and over. R-rather than spread yourself out wide, you can buy these two books, read them, stop, think about it, re- re-read them, because you're gonna pick out new bits that maybe were just too much for you to process the first time.

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). True.

Chris:
Um, something else that you talked about, now, you've had a lot of practice writing because you've had years of writing and editing the magazine Critique, right? An-

Marty:
Well, I started out, I was writing advertising copy and learned how to do that-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... and it has like really hard, but I could write a headline and then I could write maybe 20 words of body copy and make that perfect.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So, you know, I just learned little by little. So after Critique though, that's what really, um, gave me a lot of strength in writing-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... 'cause, you know, you have to write 3,000 words in a couple of days.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
And- and it has to be good. So...

Chris:
So maybe that's another tip, uh, is to- to practice articulating your ideas by writing, uh, maybe even do public speaking, but at least start writing-

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... and- and formulate the things that you think you've learned, and- and, uh, maybe you can pick up, uh, maybe one or two books on- on business and marketing. And I think you- you have a pretty good foundation to build your house of branding on, I would think.

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
Yep.

Chris:
Mark, are we good with that?

Mark:
Yep.

Chris:
Okay. And I think we've... I could sit here and talk to you for 14 hours, but I think at some point you and I, if you have time, I'd love to have lunch with you. Um, is what- what... how do we... how do we wrap this up here? We- we need to kind of finish it strong and, uh, maybe- maybe it's another story, something else you wanna talk about Marty?

Marty:
I wanna talk about, uh, my latest book, 'cause- 'cause just because I love it (laughs).

Chris:
Okay, yeah.

Marty:
I love writing it. Um, it's a l-... uh, different than the... than the o- [crosstalk 01:14:25]... on the whiteboard, s-... Yeah, Scramble.

Chris:
Oh, Scramble.

Marty:
Scramble.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Um, so I've been writing these whiteboard books, um, which are very simplified, uh, the fewer words the better.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Just get it down to just pure gold and- and illustrate it and make it interesting, um, and th- those work great. But I- I realized that as you take branding into, um, a more collaborative setting where you've got executives that you're working with, so this is advanced branding, not just being a designer, but, um, being involved in advising companies-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... um, it's a whole different can of worms, because you've got a lot of different personalities, a lot of people protecting their turf. This is where things go wrong in companies, uh, it's people at the top, um, being Machiavellian basically. Uh, not that they set out to do that, but that's just the way people are.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
And so, um, how do you, um, how do you show... how do you get through all- all this complexity that you have, this human complexity? And I think the best way is with a story, so I decided that I would write up all this brand stuff a-... in a... as a thriller.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So it's a business thriller, so a new category.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
And it's about a company that, um, the- the head of the company is young, he has only been in the job for a year, he started out as an architect, so he's a creative person. He's... he led this architecture firm to get to be like 200, 300 people. Like amazing the number of people and it's very successful, and one of the clients, a hotel client that they were building hotels for, said, "Why don't you come and run our, um, business, because you're already been running a pretty big business? And, uh, you- you can design amazing hotels, and so why don't you run the company?"

Marty:
He takes the job and the first year is a disaster. Um, not his fault, but he's facing all kinds of, uh, headwinds as we say in business, uh, that he doesn't know how to deal with and so the Board of Directors gives them an ultimatum. They say, "You have to reinvent the company in five weeks or you're out. That's... we can't... we can't tolerate it anymore. We're- we're gonna go out of business after this business has gotten to the size 3,000 people, uh, in 40 years, suddenly in one year we could lose the whole thing. So it's up to you to reinvent it."

Marty:
So that means changing the strategy of the company. So brand strategy becomes very important. So that's just page one. Um-

Chris:
(laughs)

Marty:
... yeah, so he's- he's like in trouble from day one.

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
And, uh-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... he gets... he gets uh, uh, picked up by an Uber driver, uh, who ask him a few questions that just like totally stun him (laughs).

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So, he becomes a major character, the Uber driver.

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
He becomes his personal driver essentially, even though he's an Uber driver.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So it's that story of how this young CEO has to learn a new way of looking at things through the lens of branding, uh, to reinvent the company into something amazing. Like really innovative, and it's awesomely innovative.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
And what happens when you do that, what happens to you? What do you have to go through to get that to happen? Well, you know, how do you deal with the Board of Directors who's maybe not so open to something new? Uh, how do you get design in- involved in this full, you know, like all the way in and make it like a design centric solution? All this kind of stuff.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So, and- and this book now is, um, the first book I've written that's out selling, um, The Brand Gap. The Brand Gap is just because it was first, just, you know, I mean it's been read by 23 million people. So, but this one is, uh, selling really well, so I know it's working for people. I know they're getting a lot out of it, and there's two more that I would love to write, so we'll see. If it goes well I'm gonna follow it up with the next... the sequel and the next one, but it's... follows this same company all the way through, uh, to like amazing awesome success.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Apple sort of success.

Chris:
So the book is Scramble, and it's a... it's a Zag for you, because, uh, previously, uh, these were kind of instructional, uh-

Marty:
Well, they're very graphic, they're design based.

Chris:
Yes, they're very graphic. Right.

Marty:
And this is, um-

Chris:
Narrative.

Marty:
... completely... it's a narrative-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... but it's- it's actually pretty visual-

Chris:
Yes.

Marty:
... the words and everything are- are-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... include a lot of design, um, and design and- and visualization things, so you... the whole thing is to make it, um, palpable for people-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... to bring in a lot of, um, bring the five senses into the story.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
So, you'll see a lot of stuff there. So it's a... it's, um, was a great experience for me, not that different than the little stories I've been putting in these books.

Chris:
Yeah, I was gonna mention that.

Marty:
This is just an expanded one.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
Um, and my goal is to create an atmosphere where design is, uh, much more appreciated. So it's for you guys out there.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Like so when you come into a company you're gonna get invited into the big... the big room-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... the big conversation, and not just stuck in the back room, stuck in the basement with no windows.

Chris:
If I don't know anything about branding, if I read this book, do I learn about branding through the narrative?

Marty:
Yep.

Chris:
Okay. This is perfect.

Marty:
Yeah, I mean I'm trying to teach CEOs about branding-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... because they're the key to all this. If the CEO doesn't really value design or puts it down in the lower end of the food chain-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... that's where you are. You- you can't get beyond that, so I want everybody to understand what their role is. So it parallels all the other books, but it just puts it into a narrative. So for people who love stories or even thrillers, they're gonna really gravitate to- to that one. If they just want the principles in the most memorable way, maybe the whiteboard books.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
Although these can, you know, the stories can make things memorab- memorable too.

Chris:
Yeah. And- and this is also s-... now self-published, it's the Level C imprint there.

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
So this is great, and as you were saying, this is now outselling the original book, The- The Brand Gap, which this looks very promising for books two and three, so I hope that that does happen. You guys, go and pick up this book. Like I said, we're gonna include all the links, um, in the notes below. Uh, Marty Neumeier, I- I... like I said, honestly I'm not just saying this, I could sit here and talk to you forever, but here's the good news, this is actually the prequel to the workshop.

Marty:
It is.

Chris:
So that's happening at the end of February.

Marty:
Yep.

Chris:
I'm really looking forward to that. I think we're all sold out now. Like there's... you- you'd have to know somebody on the inside to get a ticket at this point. I think we're sold out at 60. That said, you guys go to Philly, that's the next location. Otherwise you can make a beautiful trip across the pond-

Marty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... go to London or Dublin, a- and before we go, um, you talked about Level C having five levels.

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
And I- I said I'd put a pin on that one, so what are the five levels that you plan to teach?

Marty:
Right, so the first level is what we're doing here at The Futur-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and- and, um, uh, this is certified brand specialist. So this teaches you where you fit in the big world of branding, where you're going to be most successful, how to collaborate with people and make the most use of your skills, and- and start to learn the terminology, start to learn the- the language of branding.

Marty:
The next one, uh, is more like the book Zag, uh, and that's, uh, Level Two. Level two is, uh, uh, certified brand strategist. So that's where you get to think bigger, like and you really connect design with- with, uh, business success, right? And, um, uh, if you get to... if you're lucky enough to be a strategist and make money consulting that way, that's- that's a step up in terms of profitability for most people. Not always, but it- it is.

Marty:
Uh, the Third- Third Level is brand architect, and so that's like going from checkers to- to- to chess to three-dimensional chess-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... and that's where you- you can, um, lead a whole company basically. You- you can l- lead any part of branding. Um, very valuable in the world. Uh, the Fourth Level is a brand instructor. That's where you get a chance to teach the same stuff that you were learning and you... uh, that really cements it in your mind. Like once you start teaching it, you know it cold.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
And from there you're ready to go to brand master, which en- en- enables you to be a CBO, chief brand officer in a large organization where you're working side by side with the CEO, uh, in full partnership. So that's a new job classification that wasn't there before-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... it's just coming out now, and by the time we get that, uh, in place, there'll be jobs. There are already people in our first, um, our first class are already getting those titles.

Chris:
Oh, wow.

Marty:
They just heard about it and then they just like tuned into it-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... and they're getting them. S-... for smaller companies-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... or for divisions of bigger companies, but it's- it's an emerging, um, role that you can play, and that's not for everybody obviously.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
Not everyone wants to be a leader and lead, you know, hundreds of people-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty:
... but if you have... if you think someday you may wanna do that, um, we can show you how to do it.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Did you coin that term CBO? I thought I read it in one of your books.

Marty:
Yeah.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
You know, i put it into The Brand Gap-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... my first book. I envisioned it right then-

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
... we have a CBO.

Chris:
Right.

Marty:
There has to be someone's, just-

Chris:
It makes perfect sense.

Marty:
... it doesn't exist, but we have to have them.

Chris:
Yeah.

Marty:
So now it's starting to exist.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay, you guys, on- on behalf of everybody I know that's watching live, first of all, thank you guys. Uh, M- M- Marty, it's been a true pleasure. Uh, this has been fantastic. I know this is gonna get a t-... a ton of repeated views, because of how much information you've shared with us, the learning, the sharing. Like I said, we probably need to do a follow-up at this... on this episode sometimes, because-

Marty:
Oh, please.

Chris:
... I have 1,000 more questions to ask you.

Marty:
Yeah, yeah.

Chris:
Okay.

Marty:
No, no, that would be great.

Chris:
So, thank you very much guys. Thanks for tuning in. See you guys next time.

Greg:
Thanks so much for joining us in this episode. If you're new to The Futur and want to know more about our educational mission, visit thefutur.com, you'll find way more podcast episodes, hundreds of YouTube videos, and a growing collection of online courses and tools covering design and business. Oh, and we spell The Futur with no E.

Greg:
The Futur podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. This episode was edited and mixed by Stewart Schuster with intro music by Adam Sanborn. If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor by giving us a rating and a comment on iTunes. It's a big help in getting The Futur message out there and it makes us feel good too. Thanks again for listening, and we will see you next time.

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