Brand vs Branding - The Debate with Sam Moss & Dan Sanchez

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this replay episode, Dan Sanchez talks with Sam Moss, the co-founder of 1Click Agency about the difference between brand, branding, and what it takes to see success.

Sam Moss takes the position that branding includes creating the logo, website, colors, and swag. Dan Sanchez takes the position that branding is identifying beliefs that make you weird, messaging, rituals, a villain, and a leader.

Listen to them talk it through, share their truths, and unpack the fuzzy topic that is branding.

Connect with Sam:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sam1ca/

sam@1clickagency.com

Today on B two B growth, we are sharing a featured conversation from our archive, with over two thousand episodes released. We want to resurface episodes worth another listen. Before we jump in, I just want to say I would love to connect and hear from you on Linkedin. You can search Benji walk over there and that's a great place to also interact with sweet fish and B two B growth. All right, let's jump into today's featured conversation, conversations from the front lines of marketing. This is B two B growth. Welcome back to BDB growth. I'm Dan Sanchez with sweet fish media, and today I'm here with Sam Moss, who is the CO founder of one Click Agency. Sam, welcome to the show. Hey, thanks, man, a long time listener. I think I met James probably like a year and a half ago. We had him on our podcast and have been following you guys ever since. So I appreciate you guys reaching out to at me on the school. That's awesome. It's always good to have listeners on the show. But you posted something on Linkedin that got me thinking and I'm like, Oh, I need to have sam onto the show because I have a different point of view and I love to have people on the show where we have just like different points of view on a topic, to have a I guess you could call it a debate. It's more like a friendly conversation. Almost always it ends up somewhere in the middle, but I like to have it on anyway because it challenges me as a marketer to talk to people who have a different perspective on topics, and today that topic is around brand and branding. You posted on Linkedin like branding is these things. Brand are these things. And before we go into the graphics, Sam, I'd love to kick it off. What kind of like? What is a brand like? Just start real broad for the audience. What what do you consider a brand, and then we can jump into the difference between brand and branding. Yeah, I would, I guess if I were to sum it up into a sentence, I would say that brand is the emotional connection that you have with your buyers. So it's what they think of you and how they think of you and how they feel when they hear your name or come across a post on social media or whatever it may be. I'd say that sounds about right to me. It's always it's a little bit more than reputation, right, because reputation has like a personal thing to it. It's kind of like, oh, he has a reputation of this, you know, and it could be good, it could be bad. It's a few words. It's usually like Oh, yeah, she's got a reputation of being being super friendly, right, and a brand is a little bit more. Again, I like how you add the word emotional to it so well. Reputation plays apart, for sure. I would say that that I mean whether good or bad. But yeah, there is way more to it and I think that the reputation comes alongside a lot of other things. But reputation plays into the emotional connection you have, because if you have a bad reputation, then what happens when they think of you? It's going to be a not good emotional feeling, like like why would I want to do business for them? Because of the x? So that's how I would look at it. And on one side of the graphic we have all the activities labeled or associated with brand, one of which is the reputation of your company. What are some of the other ones? You have graphic? So I had the reputation. I have what people externally think of you, like I just mentioned, like in conversation, what goes through their mind when they hear about you outside the context of business, how you treat your customers, the community that you've built among your buyers. A lot of companies are starting to do this and it's a community and brand built around them. And the graphic was actually too small to fit another one, but I think a really, really important one that I would have. It's like should have probably been on there. But the culture that you internally have as a team. I think that goes a long way when it comes to brand, because I think of some companies because of their culture and not because of even their product necessarily. I think, wow, that looks like such an attractive company because of how they treat their their employees. So that's that's on the brand side of the graphic and I think it just is like a...

...greater depth of the outside culture. You know, it's the outside culture is good, when the inside culture is kind of like, I don't know, when it's radiating out from the center rather than it just being a facade your agency came up with right, when it's coming from the inside. Now everything you put in the brand is generally what I agree with on what a brand is. Branding, on the other hand, is is, in my opinion, how you get to a brand. But what you had on your list is very different from what I had on my list. So tell us first what you had on your list and then I'll share what we had on what I would put on my list and then we'll kind of compare notes. Yeah, so I would consider this is and honestly, we might simply just be having a play on words. So I'm curious to hear that your side of this argument in a way. So I would consider branding to be the visual aspect of your company, right, so I had on my list your logo, your website, the colors you use, the fonts, style that you have even done, trendy s wag and then cool graphics that you post, like. Those are all things that I feel are visual and therefore they don't necessarily fall into the brand category, but they're in the branding side and I feel like they needed a name because a lot of people will say, yeah, we're working on branding and then they go out and they try to build a community and I'm like, I think branding is something else. So that's how I would define it and I'm curious to hear what you think about that. So and again there's there's definitions in terms floating around here and we might just organize them differently. But to me the brand is the outcome, right. The branding is all the work you do to achieve the outcome, to achieve the reputation you want, how to get people to think about you in the way you would want them to think about you, all those things, and to me branding is more I'd say the visuals and everything you put is a small portion. I'd almost put it like an iceberg. You're talking about the things that are the tip of the iceberg. The logo, the website, the colors and the visuals, specifically the videos, is all the tip of the iceberg and I think that's where a lot of people start and that's and sometimes if you start with those things, you end up with very shallow brands. Right high it has all of those things, Hyatt hotels, but no one really thinks of high it being a great brand. So when I think of branding, I think of things that are like your beliefs. What are your beliefs that make you weird right. What are the beliefs and things that you know are true and the things that you believe about the world, the things that you believe about how to treat customers and things that you believe should always be true about the product or never true about the product? What are the beliefs about your brand that are just different and it's not a value proposition. Beliefs aren't a positioning statement, though I think your position, of course, in your market and your mission should all play into those beliefs. Sometimes your core values are in your beliefs, right. You talked about it being internal. So I almost start like at the very center, at all his beliefs, and then from those beliefs come a message about how you it's almost like the words smithing of the beliefs. It could that's where your slogans come from, that's where your your phrases, your thought leadership, your names. Like Chris Walker talks about the dark funnel. That would be messaging, right. That comes from the beliefs that messages spread through places where you can't track and the best ones do. Right. From there, I add like a shared enemy, antibelievers. Some people call it the villain. I almost feel like a good branding work is actually defining who you stand against, and it's not necessarily a competitor. It could be like a way of doing things like sweet fish. We hate boring stuff, right. That could be a villain. We're actually no, we're coming up with commodity content. Is kind of something we've been playing around as a villain we are. That is our villain that we're attacking and standing up against. I also think rituals play a role into it. So that's to think like you know, Dave Ramsey's a brand that has a ritual. If you're familiar with Dave Ramsey and his radio show, he has people come in to do the debt free scream. That...

...is a ritual that everybody in his brand knows about and some have part taken and they have traveled to the place and a pilgrimage to Dave Ramsey's, you know, studio and done the debt free scream live. That is a ritual in his brand. And then on top of the iceberg are the icons. Essentially all the branding work. I think about that, you've said, are like the tip of the iceberg. After you've done all those other things, then you have something to really it's like that. All the visual work and have teeth to it because it has substance to it from all the beliefs and messaging and the villain the rituals, maybe a leader. So when I think of branding, I think about all those things, defining all those things before you get to the visuals. Now, how does that hit you? Does that come across as like yes, those are good things, but or do you define it differently? Honestly, I'm almost like I feel like there should be a third section to this, like if the graphic right has this line down the middle branding versus brand, and I feel like a lot of the things you described are a combination of narrative and positioning. Would you agree with that? No, I'd say they're they're different. Actually, I play around with this kind of stuff all the time and I have a little bit of a tool that I've been using called the brand sandbox, and I feel like the strategic narrative is upper level, like you can have a strong strategic narrative and the beliefs play into it. But let's let's look at like Chris Walker, since he has a pretty well fleshed out brand and most of the audience is familiar with him, like he has a lot of beliefs that don't that don't include his his origin story. Right, his strategic narrative was like or at least his origin stories. I was an engineer and then I started troubleshooting things down the line into product and then I started talking to the customers and realized they didn't want it, and then I started going to the marketing and sales team and I'm like wait, why are we talking to all these people who don't want the thing? Right? Why is this process broken? Then he realized the legion, Essentially Legion, and the way we do marketing attribution was all broken and really we just needed to go out and that sound kind of butchering, as mentioned now, but we need to go out and develop, do demand gin by getting our thought leadership in front of them, by leading them and creating demand before they even are looking for it so that you can win the deal away before they actually need the thing. Right. His Villain is certainly is like marketing attribution and M Q ls, but I think his positioning as a demand as the leader in demandsion and his origin story or separate from the beliefs, but they informed the beliefs, like a in a position. To me, positioning is so critical to marketing that it's like it's not it's beyond marketing. It's really organizational strategy at that point, right, you have your like company strategy, and then not long after it's positioning, and I think positioning so critical that it's it shouldn't be the marketing team that decides. It has to be at the like C suite level. So you're saying it's like beliefs, which go even before the two things that you just mentioned, right, because that's what builds into the branding. So it starts with, you said, like your beliefs as a company, your core values, and that's like the foundation. That's what you say builds into brand because that's what you would consider branding and getting it right. Yeah, I think beliefs. Once you have your beliefs, the things that you believe to be true, that should impact your messaging. Your messaging, we'll probably incorporate some kind of villain, maybe rituals. Is another thing that doesn't that's not super related to messaging, but all those things add up to what I call your icons. And actually I get a lot of this from a book called primal branding, though I've modified it, but he calls it a creed and I'm like it just beliefs are fine, like I've modified it a bit because I'm not in line with his book, but a lot of the ideas around, like having a shared enemy, or he calls it the anti believers, having rituals, comes from that book. kind of open my eyes to like how do you build a good brand? Is? It's got to be more than a logo, because lots of companies have logos and don't have good brands. So what makes a good moment? Right, it's kind of the stuff underneath,...

...and that's where I go into like the brand side of it, because I think a lot of people and I think marketers are coming around to it where they believe that the logo, you know in the past has been this brand icon and that's why you buy. But the more you dig into it, like you don't buy a Mercedes because it has the cool logo, you buy a Mercedes because of the luxury feel and you know how you look to your friends, etcetera. Right. So I guess if I were to look at it, I guess your argument is branding leads to brand and the more that we kind of talk about it, like if you have good branding, so your your message, your beliefs, the villain that you're going after and even the visual aspects, eventually you're going to build into a solid brand. Is that what you're saying? Yes, and I think you can actually do it without the logo and the websites. Hence I doe, like the hence brands have existed for a long time, like the original one I'm thinking of, I'm reading his biography right now, is that Josiah Wedgwood, who is like the O g marketer that no one has ever heard of. Usually. He was a potter and so he got mad one day when someone's like, Oh, is this one of your pots, and he picked up a competitor's pot. He's like, Oh, this is a wedgewood pot, and he's like what, how could you not tell the difference without looking under the pot to find the name? He's like, uh, something's different. So he started differentiating all his products and really started developing a much broader brand name for his wood style. He also did a lot of other things that kind of kicked off the age of modern marketing. But one of them was branding, because he wanted his stuff to be different and people would seek out his stuff. He's like no, I want I don't want a normal pot, I want a Wedgewood Pot. But that was way before logos were a thing, way before websites were a thing and all the other visual identity pieces were a thing. So I have a question for you. then. Let's say that we are saying we're gonna work on branding. As a marketer right, we can't, as marketers, go back to ground zero to ide if I the villain, if we already have it and if we already have the messaging that was put in place by the founder or the board of the CEO or whatever it is. So like, wouldn't that almost make a third category for marketers, which is the visual aspects that they want to go work on to help create an identifier for the brand that they're building and the reputation that they have? Hey, everybody logan with sweet fish here. If you're a regular listener of B two B growth, you know that I'm one of the CO hosts of this show, but you may not know that I also head up the sales team here at sweet fish. So for those of you in sales or sales ops. I wanted to take a second to share something that's made us insanely more efficient late. Our team has been using lead I q for the past few months and what used to take us four hours gathering contact data now takes us only one. Were more efficient. We're able to move faster with outbound prospecting and organizing our campaigns is so much easier than before. I'd highly suggest you guys check out lead I Q as well. You can check them out at lead I Q dot Com. That's l e a d I q dot Com. All right, let's get back to the show. I think if you want to like usually you're doing branding work. Well, hardly ever do launch a company with all the branding work already done. It has to be done as you go right, because even the position of the company, especially if the company is changing every six months, every or as as often as six months. If you're fast growing and you're accelerating right, things change fast, which means your brand is changing fast, right. So hardly ever is a branding expert stepping into a company that's starting from Ground Zero. It's almost always got pieces in play. Some of the pieces are good, some of them are not, and that's where you need to assess what's good. They might already have some of the things down. The messaging might be bland, but Dang they have this awesome ritual they go through. We're going to keep that. People remember that or um like some of the things sweet fish...

...is known for is personal brands. Right, if you're on Linkedin, you bumped into sweet fish. You know we're all about personal brands because we believe like this reflects a belief about personal being better than personalized. That's a sweet fish belief, but that's like it's like it's like a reflection of the belief. So that would be something I'd put in there so you can actually already assess it and be like what beliefs are already in play, what messaging is already in play that's good and what's missing? Maybe we don't have a villain, maybe the messaging sucks, but the beliefs are good when I hear the founder talk, and we just need to actually articulate them in better messaging because internally they're using this language that's awesome and it's really stacked on good beliefs. We just haven't put it in marketing yet. You might be something farther down, farther downstream to like the positioning might be broken. Even though they've got a strong brand, no one can exactly remember what they do. Right. Everybody likes the brand, but nobody knows exactly why to buy from them. So that could be there could be problems down dream too, like you don't have a good story for why. That's something we're wrestling with. The sweet fish, right, we don't know. Why do we do what we do in a way that is not hey, we want to earn more money, because that's never a good why. Right. So there's no people story or and we're still working even on the mission, like what are we trying to build a community around to achieve together? We have some ideas we're kicking around, but I'd say that stuff is all sorry, not downstream. Up continually eat all the brand though. Yeah, so I guess, honestly, one of the reasons that I was just like, I feel like we need just a visual representation of branded branding is because I see so many posts from bigger name B two B marketers that are like here's what brand is, right, and of course they list reputation and I didn't like straight up copy what they said, but I had some ideas of my own. Right. And then they say it's not your logo on your website. So I sat to myself I'm like, well, what is your logo and website? And maybe it's really not branding, maybe it needs a category of its own or like it's a tip of an iceberg, like you mentioned, of branding. But I think one of the reasons that I was like, we need to identify, like what since? If if this isn't brand then what is it? That was almost my thought process behind creating like this graphic with a line down the middle. And again, I mean if it if it needs another name. You know I'm not always attached to branding, but it sounds like you're just expanding on well, branding is more than the visual aspects. It goes deeper into like the company origin story, and it works this way back all the way from the image all the way back to that's what you're saying. Yeah, of course you can have a pretty strong brand to be missing some critical elements, but the more elements are missing, the harder it gets, which is why you have brands like Hyatt, where you could literally just or brands like, I don't know, Hyatt, sketchers to some degree, you know, like these brands are just kind of like, uh, no one really resonates with sketchers, you know, maybe they saw it in the store. Maybe. I'm sure they're big enough brand that they probably have some followers. Hi. It's my favorite to pick on, though, because I think everyone, no, no one's like. I Love Hyatt Hotels. That's my thing. You're like, most hotels are like that. In particular is it's a huge, huge brand. No one really cares about them. So they've done everything right, they've hired very expensive agencies to come up with visual identities, but they don't have any interest and it only goes so far. Yeah, yeah, the thing is the visual side really only goes so far and like you mentioned, and I actually do agree with this, is you could have the brand side and do well as a company and have mediocre to Subpar, I'm what I would label branding right, uh, logo, website, colors, swag, cool graphics, because people will remember you for the brand side more so than the visual aspects of your marketing, which, as you continue to grow, of course, you need to op that, because if you think about McDonald's Coke Apple, like, of course the visual representation is there and you do start to remember it, but when I think of sweet fish, I don't think of the logo or even your website. Like if I...

...about it, of course I can remember it, but immediately the thing I think about is wow, from the start james has created in it incredible culture with the employees like you, uh Logan, and anyone else that's at sweet fish right and that's something I immediately remember about you guys, and that's where I'm just like, I totally agree where brand carries the weight way more than what I would label branding, which is the visual aspects. I think the thing we get stuck on is, like what is the work that you have to do in order to get the outcome of having a strong brand? So sweet fish has a fairly strong brand, but what's the work that went into doing it? It's almost like James did it on accident, like he of course he did a lot of stuff, but like there's some things that he does just as a person, habits that he has that could be a part of it, though, is simply they james attracts the right people because of who he is, and that can be a brand in itself. For example, Chris Walker is a cool guy. I'm sure there are people that consume his content and say, I like Chris, I want to work with Chris, and that could impact, like trickle down to the brand and eventually like explode into something bigger if you're creating like the same culture that you're portraying through your personal profile or just life in general. Right, YEP, and that's why in the book primal branding he would say every strong, really strong brand as a leader. Right, you think of virgin you can't not think of their leader. You cannot think of Richard Branson. Right, you think of rights. It's yeah, there's usually a leader associated with the strong brand. Not Always, though, because, like you think of southwest, is a fairly strong brand, there's no leader behind it, at least that I can think of. Spent time thinking about them, so I'm like, I don't know what their leader is. But there are other aspects that impact the brand, like what you said about James as. He almost did it on accident. If that's the case, that's awesome, but it's probably because of his integrity, his personality, him as a person, right, and then you get to sell West. There's obviously some other things in the brand category. Maybe it's a reputation, the experience, how they treat their customers. That's like the thing that drives the brand forward more so than like the origin, not the origin story, but like the founder and the personality he has, like you guys like that sweet fish. Right. I think it's easier if you have a founder that has a lot, has a strong personal brand or a strong beliefs and viewpoints that has. Like when he has a strong point of view, that especially in a startup where your it's all flowing from that founder, then that creates a strong brand really easily. Unless it grew it was so fast that it outgrows the founder, which has happened right. You know Tony Hish with a Zappos, talked about it in his biography where he his company grew so fast that they hired so quickly he couldn't instill his personal values into the company, unlike Zappos, where he took his time. But I still think you can do it without you just have to be more intentional and think about like what are the beliefs that we have as a leader ship team or as an organ or what? What do we want to believe in? Like, what can we believe that makes us weird? I actually think the word weird is key. Yeah, that's a good one. I don't know if anything comes to mind for what we do. I think I don't know that weird is a good question where I'll actually have to think about it, because that is a fun way to do it and really like what does make us different and somewhat weird to others? That's that is interesting like that, and I think that's we're thinking about. Like your anti believers, and I don't think your Anti Believers are necessarily the people that buy into your competitor, but it could be if your competitor stands for a totally different way of doing things, and then I wouldn't make the enemy your your competitor. I make it that way of that approaches the enemy right. For Chris Walker, it's Legion in general. People who are big into Legion and Hubspot and tracking to the nth degree with analytics and data and driving lots of m q else those are the anti believers of which I find myself somewhere in the middle for...

...his camp. I'm not like it's like it's not Gospel to me. I'm like I could still win with the CEO. Yeah, yeah, I'm like on the middle, but there's definitely, man, there's a whole crew that are like champion that message now and that those beliefs um it's like part of them. So I think thinking about what beliefs you have that make you weird as and there's going to be some people that think you're really weird for it, but you and the other people that disagree you are like yes, no, this is the truth, this is the thing. Yeah, I agree and uh, I think that's something that we're going through right now. Is I mean, I guess I would be positioning or narrative or whatever, just coming up with like what is it that you're against and what is it that you're known for, because I think that's something that we've lacked and it's like definitely our focus that we're, you know, playing around with right now some ideas and bouncing around. But I'm gonna have to steal though, what makes us weird. That's gonna be something that we certainly think about. Yeah, and I honestly, you could probably look to your positioning for cues on that, right. I don't know. It probably doesn't tell you everything. Like we're a B two B podcast agency. That's sweet fishes positioning. But we all know that B two B s usually kind of boring. I know it's it's it's in fashion right now to make B two be fun, but hardly anybody's doing it. Everybody's talking about you guys are all talking about it, but we haven't actually liked done it yet. You have very few companies are pushing the envelope on fun and B two B um sweet fish. So that's what we're trying to do, is trying to bring that back. Hence our our villain that we've been forming is commodity content. I like it. I like it, so now I have to go and work some messaging around it. And Uh, I think James has been working on some stuff like bye bye boring content or something as a Hashtag he's been using by that would that would be that would be an extension of the belief that commodity that's bad. And then moved to language or messaging right, which is going to be by by commodity, by by boring content. I think one of the best ways I've seen this going on is I see some B Two b brands tooling around with the world of like Tiktok or even instagram reels, and I think that's just a fun way to connect with your buyers. And again this goes back to like your brand, like how does how does your brand make you your your buyers feel when they see you right and I've even seen this is funny because I wouldn't think of them as like a funny brand, but refined labs has a Tiktok now that they've gotten like some videos on, and it's I'm like pretty picky when it comes to content that makes me laugh, like if it's stupid, I'm not gonna Laugh, but they actually had a couple of videos that I was like chuckling at. So I see they're kind of doing the same thing. I think Gong I didn't see their their page. I just started following the other day, but they have some videos there. I think Chili Piper might be another one, but it's whatever we've seen in B two C for the past x amount of years. Give it two or three years and the same thing is gonna start happening in B two B. So it's you can almost get ahead of the curve, see exactly what they're doing and how they're interacting with their audience and their buyers, and then just replicate that in the B two B world and don't be afraid to do it. It's interesting. That's a whole another conversation on what I'm seeing and I'm like, okay, so tiktok is becoming a thing, but what's after Tiktok? And I've already had in my head what's next after TIKTOK that I'm like starting to invest in now. So we'll figure that out. But as Ma'am branding. Branding such a broad and fascinating topic to pick up. What are some of the your favorite brands? Gone, refined labs, sweet fish definitely hits the list. I guess I'm going to to be two be ones drift kind of like the early days, to be honest. I like their narrative better before than what it is now. I think it would be my top four. As for like B two C, because we can get, you know, we take some examples from this. I would say, uh, the...

NFL and the MLB are pretty incredible brands. Apple, of course, coke. Wendy's is one of my favorite. Just go read their twitter. It's hilarious. Burger King. So those are some examples of some brands that I like interesting. I think all everybody listening to this show is kind of like nodding their head, like Yep, Yep, those are all the brands. I'm proud the sweet fish made in the list. That makes me happy, obviously compared to some others, but yeah, yeah, it's definitely the culture. Whenever I think about you guys, I just think about what a fun place to work right. Everyone's excited to be there, excited to do their job and it's like a family, and that's how I consider it and it makes me like have an affinity towards what you guys do because of that. So obviously doing something right. Yeah, that's good. I'll certainly be passing that off to James and uh, our director of culture, because that's what he cares a lot about. Um. But of course that eliminates out through the brand and all the marketing work too. Oh cool man, Sam. This has been an awesome conversation and I think this is going to be a continuing dialogue will be fun kicked off with this this podcast episode. There any final thoughts you have for the guest or anything you'd like to share about what you're doing, what you're working on before we sign off with this episode? You know if you want to continue the debate, I'm pretty active on Linkedin, Sam Moss. Just search it. I'm pretty sure I'll come up, so send me a connection request. We will go at it in the comments section if you if you want to chat, I'm always responding to stuff, so that's probably the best way to find me that. We have a podcast where it's called B t be made simple, where we talk about similar things that we just talked about today. So if you're you're interested in that, be sure to check it out as well. But Dan, I appreciate you having me and this has been great, awesome. B Two B growth is brought to you by the team at Sweet Fish Medio. Here at sweet fish, we produce podcasts for some of the most innovative brands in the world and we help them turn those podcasts into micro videos, linkedin content, blog posts and more. We're on a mission to produce every leader's favorite show. Want more information, visit sweet fish media DOT COM.

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