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Hitting The Mark
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Hitting The Mark

Author: Fabian Geyrhalter

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Conversations with founders about the intersection of brand clarity and startup success with your host, brand strategist, and author Fabian Geyrhalter.
65 Episodes
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Jeremy Parker bought the url swag.com to disrupt the boring and outdated promotional products industry. Swag should stand for something new, and be bought differently, and it should be stuff people actually want to keep. That vision turned into reality as swag.com had 2000% growth over the last three years, made it onto Number 218 on Inc’s Top 500 Fastest Growing Companies list, and counts TikTok, Netflix, Facebook, Amazon, Mercedes, Starbucks, Google, and Spotify as its customers. Even during this tough past year, where events were canceled and offices shut down, the brand kept growing while most promotional product companies laid low or faltered. In the end, Jeremy's brand succeeded because he kept a razor-sharp focus on the ever-evolving customer experience. There are many brand and marketing lessons in this episode, from smart brand positioning within a commodity vertical to leading with empathy, this is an episode not to be missed.
Max Johnson built a tremendously impactful business over the course of the last 4 years through simple necklaces that celebrate female goddesses and leaders. The brand, Awe Inspired, was born out of Max's mother’s desire to empower fellow cancer survivors. From the journey of blindly walking into brand agencies on Madison Avenue to learning how personalization and shared values are key to the future success of their jewelry brand, Awe Inspired is exactly that: Inspiring. If you were wondering if taking a political stance is the right move for your brand, or how to navigate picking up the phone to call your customers to have them help you in creating the next iteration of your offering, to thinking of your brand as an actor, this episode is full of awe-inspiring – yes, I had to go there - nuggets of brand and marketing wisdom. And, who knows, you may even be moved to tears when you hear the brand story.
You must have been on a social media diet to not have stumbled upon TRUFF’s masterfully designed array of truffle-infused sauces. But TRUFF is not solely a social media sensation, you can find the brand anywhere from Whole Foods to Neiman Marcus, and from the U.S. to Australia. The two Co-Founders, Nick Ajluni and Nick Guillen, have a knack for brand building and now that I have tried their products, which of course in true TRUFF fashion they immediately shipped my way after recording the interview, I can attest that this is not just hot marketing; it is one unbelievably addictive, tasty, and unique product. I am thrilled to have had them on the show to share their branding and marketing secrets with you. We had tons of fun during this interview and it is an episode I would want no one to miss out on. 
Eddie Hartman created LegalZoom 20 years ago with two friends and built it into the best-known legal brand in the United States. LegalZoom has over 4 million customers and more than half of all Americans know the brand. I have been a customer for a mighty long time and having this chat with Eddie was just incredibly stimulating and rewarding. We talk about how celebrity lawyer Robert Shapiro became the face of the company, we discuss the impact of assurance and how ‘brand’ is the future promise about something you can not guarantee today, how the word ‘zoom’ used to stand for LegalZoom before the pandemic hit, and Eddie shares tons of actionable brand advice for any entrepreneur, CEO and CMO alike. 
In the last episode we were in Iceland, today we are in Australia, and finally, we have a B2B brand on the show again: A tech brand that is in the business of converting, retaining, and growing your customers with delightful personal video messages sent at just the right moment. But Bonjoro is not your typical tech company – it has brand and culture at its heart. It is about creating customer love, and it is a weird brand, a fun brand, a brand that is not afraid to stand out, most probably more afraid to blend in. Matt and I talk about the importance of branding for B2B companies, about brand copy, about creating funnels for a brand that has multiple audiences with multiple pain points, and of course, we talk about the importance of bears to Bonjoro hence Matt's unusual title. Visit Bonjoro onlineSupport the show 
Björn Steinar Jónsson runs Saltverk, which produces hand-harvested sustainable sea salt using only energy from geothermal hot springs in the northwestern fjords of Iceland. Saltverk's salt-making method is based on the traditional methods of the 17th-century, which means that during the entire process they leave zero carbon footprint. The salt is used in many of the world's best restaurants (great story about Noma in the interview) and it was time to sit down and talk about the concept of 'brand' with Björn, whose product I have been enjoying for a little while now. It was a great pleasure and I hope you will enjoy Björn’s story of harvesting salt, his empathetic viewpoints on sustainability, trust, and brand purpose which should be inspirational for any brand builder, marketer, and foodie alike. Visit Saltverk onlineSupport the showApply for the eResonaid Scholarship
Interior designer Nicole Gibbons set out to 'take the pain out of paint' through her brand Clare where she has pioneered an easier, faster, and more inspiring way to shop for paint. Fast Company proclaimed “The Warby Parker of paint is here” and Nicole has just been named one of Inc’s 100 Women Building America's Most Innovative and Ambitious Businesses. In a fascinating conversation, we dive into sustainability, physical retail experiences versus D2C, Clare’s unique brand language, and of course, the meaning behind the brand’s name, which could have easily been Nicole, but ended up being Clare. And you will get to know the very misleading and dangerous side of the paint industry. Visit Clare onlineSupport the show
Shivam Punjya is the founder of the luxury handbag label behno which is designed in NYC but made in India. behno operates at the intersection of ethical thinking and luxury design, a space I have always been very interested in. Further, behno’s mission is to redefine and bring awareness to the character of “Made in India”, and to set a new standard for Indian factory manufacturing that improves the quality of life and safety of women in the garment trade. Shivam and I talk about how to move from exploiting cheap labor to creating a nurturing environment and community, how the company’s name encompasses the DNA of the brand even after pivots, the innovative way in which behno reacted to Blackout Tuesday last year, and much much more. Visit behno onlineSupport the show 
Emmanuelle Magnan is the Founder of the Parisian flower studio Pampa. Those of you listening to the show frequently know that I love to talk with founders of internationally known brands like Rotten Tomatoes and Evernote just as much as with smaller brands that are unknown to many of you, but that I feel are doing something unique in their space or with their brand. Pampa is doing both as they disrupt the traditional flower business with a splash of color. Once you see their brand and their bouquets, you can not unsee them. That’s what happened to me as I scrolled through my Instagram feed and I stumbled upon the brand and sure enough, here we are today chatting with Emanuelle about how to stand out in a crowded space, how to navigate sustainability, and why branding is all about creating self-identification. Visit Pampa on InstagramSupport the show 
Brad Manning is one of the Co-Founders, or Co-Brothers as he puts it, of Two Blind Brothers, a mission-based company whose name is telling at least one important part of this brand’s story. Two Blind Brothers is a NYC-based clothing line that focuses on luxury casual wear. Both founders are affected with a form of macular degeneration and pledge 100% of their profits to medical research to cure blindness. And their brand campaigns and stories are heartfelt and master examples of whip-smart marketing. In this wonderfully inspiring conversation, we talk about what happens when mission-based brands pivot once their vision is fulfilled, how brands with a deep purpose have an easier time expanding across different product categories, how their ‘shop blind’ strategy is working miracles, how underproduced brand materials often outperform polished ones and above all, if you want to get a master class in authentic brand storytelling, this is it. And as you know me, we also go a bit off-topic as I was wondering how a great keynote speaker like Brad works a big speech without being able to rely on a confidence monitor. The lesson: Despite being partially blind he has an advantage over those with perfect vision. And that is a key takeaway for those of you living with an impairment. You can follow Brad’s lead and turn that impairment into your superpower. Learn more about Two Blind BrothersSupport the show
Patrick Lee was Co-Founder and founding CEO of Rotten Tomatoes, the movie rating system we all came to know so well and that I always saw as a kind of anti-brand. To kick off 2021, we are talking about how Patrick transitioned from running a design firm, like so many of my listeners, to running Rotten Tomatoes 23 years ago. Needless to say, the brand is still going strong and we discuss how the name and the famous Tomatometer with its counter-intuitive colors came about, how focus is key to brand success, but we also go back to his design agency days where Patrick shares an inspiring story on how the small agency won Disney as a client without having any related work in their portfolio. A well-rounded conversation to ease into 2021, which I hope will get a Certified Fresh status too. Oh, I know, only you Rotten Tomatoes fans will get that one. Learn more about Rotten TomatoesConnect with PatrickSupport the show
Bernd Roggendorf is known as the Co-Founder of Ableton, the tremendously popular software that helps millions of musicians unleash their creative potential. But today we are talking about EIDU, the social enterprise Bernd founded 5 years ago to improve education standards for the 800 million children who live on $2 or less per day. We are chatting about how he took his entire family around the world, trying to live as closely as possible like people in poverty so he could understand his future audience’s needs, on what role branding played within the organization, the meaning of brand purpose, and the surprising story behind the brand name. Plus, Bernd takes us on his journey of pivot after pivot on his great mission to bring better education to those who need it the most. A delightful conversation that will make you quickly understand how his passion is contagious. Learn more about EIDUCatch Bernd's TEDx TalkSupport the show
Jeanne David and Vasa Martinez, the Founder and the CMO of Outer Aisle, respectively, are joining me to look behind the curtains of how the Outer Aisle brand was crafted; a brand Jeanne founded in her 50s that invented the cauliflower carb-swap category by offering gluten-free, nutrient-dense, low-carb Cauliflower Pizza Crusts and Sandwich Thins/Wraps. Jeanne's innovation combined with Vasa’s knack for community-building and trend-setting has led the brand to become the fastest-growing food company in California on the Inc. 5000. We talk about the importance of foresight when it comes to creating your company name, how social media helped catapult the brand to where it is today, and how Jeanne successfully employed her entire family which is now a big part of their company culture.  Learn more about Outer AisleSupport the show
Cole Orobetz founded Alpha Foods five years ago and is currently the CEO and CFO of the healthy frozen meal brand that can be found in over 9,000 stores across North America and Asia, where their plant-based Alpha Chicken Nuggets are available at KFC (which is quite an endorsement!). Cole and I talk about how a blizzard and a vegan bagel dog got him into the business, why he had to re-name his brand for the Chinese market, how ‘familiarity’ is key to convincing meat-eaters to try plant-based varieties of their favorite foods, and how it took them hundreds of logos and four agencies to arrive at their very first logo – all because the brand strategy phase was missing upfront. Learn more about Alpha FoodsSupport the show
If you launch a t-shirt brand in this day and age and you find a way to stand out, you bet I’ll have you on my show. And that is exactly what Dan Demsky did by co-founding a Merino wool clothing brand that is high-performance yet stylish. Dan was running a Creative Agency but sought to pivot into offering an eCommerce product that allows for scaling instead. That was the goal, then the journey of finding an actual need to built a brand around started. In this fascinating conversation, we talk about the power of having a very narrow positioning at first, how surrounding yourself with friends that are ambitious is a key to success and how the outrageous claim of being able to wear an Unbound shirt for 18 days without washing it was the right brand move. Learn more about Unbound MerinoSupport the show
Muhammad Saigol and Erik Rauterkus of July launched an appliance in 12 months from idea to market through razor-sharp focus. We dive into how the brand made 'summer' their DNA, how transparency with the customer is key, and why The Wall Street Journal called July ‘summer’s unlikeliest status symbol.’ We further look into the brand architecture of a startup that has big plans to become the next generation General Electric. Much to learn from these Co-Founders on how to craft a brand. Learn more about JulySupport the show and get on monthly mentorship calls with Fabian. Join here. 
Anna Sheffield launched Bing Bang in 2001, and her eponymous fine jewelry brand followed in 2009. Since then, some fine folks you may have heard of like Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington, Helen Mirren, and Charlize Theron came to appreciate her work. Today we go deep into how Anna created a cult-like following with a brand that was almost created by accident and how creating the actual brand platform just 4 years ago was instrumental to her growth. But, I also take this opportunity to dive into all the questions so many of us have about the industry as a whole: How much in the diamond industry is an upsell? Are lab-grown diamonds really the future? And, I am going a bit witchy, to what extend do reclaimed stones carry the soul of the deceased? Yes, I went there. Anna was a fascinating guest. If you are an artist who wants to turn their craft into a successful brand, if you are a fan of Anna's work, or even if you are just interested in taking a peek behind the nebulous diamonds industry, this episode is for you. Learn more about Anna Sheffield Fine JewelryLearn more about Bing BangSupport the show and get on monthly mentorship calls with Fabian. Join here.
Shannon McLay built a gym to work out your finances: Monthly memberships, trainers, the whole nine yards. You are matched with a BFF - your best Financial Friend – the call to action on the site says ‘Let’s crush some goals’ and trainers welcome you by saying ‘You are about to get financially naked with me.’ It’s the Financial Gym, and it all started with the name. Shannon built this brand on experience and a lot of fantastic brand gut instincts. This conversation was a complete blast and her brand may just be the type of brand that the world needs right now.  Learn more about The Financial GymSupport the show and even get on monthly mentorship calls with Fabian. Join here.
Just in time for 'back to school' (albeit a strange and unusual one for most kids and their parents this year), I had the chance to talk with the Co-Founder of Kidfresh, a brand of healthy frozen meals for kids. Matt Cohen was appalled when he saw what kids in the U.S. were eating so he set out on a journey to change it by hiding all the healthy stuff in the type of meals kids actually crave.  Today, the Kidfresh line is available in all major U.S. supermarkets and Matt’s mission of creating better food for kids has been fulfilled. We discuss how moving just a little bit away from the core DNA of a brand might quickly result in a flop, how a pivot from retail to wholesale created brand clarity, and what happens when kids realize that they’ve been tricked into eating healthy foods all along.Learn more about KidfreshSupport the show and even get on monthly mentorship calls with Fabian. Join here.
Steve Schulze built Nekter Juice Bar into a franchise of over 160 locations nationwide with sales north of $100M a year. As regular listeners of this show will know, I am always thrilled to feature franchise success stories, because when it comes to franchises, branding is the holy grail while adding a layer of complexity to the creation and duplication of the brand. Steve and I dive into the power of listening to your customer, how he pulled off being a store inside of Whole Foods, how to create brand loyalty, and how to work with creative agencies and consultants like myself along the way to create brand focus and clarity. Much to squeeze out of this episode! Learn more about Nekter Juice BarSupport the show and even get on monthly mentorship calls with Fabian. Join here.
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