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


In this 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:

Mhm Welcome back to BBB 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 longtime 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 have 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 graphic SAm, I'd love to kick it off, we're 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 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, 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 a part for sure. I would say 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 gonna 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 a 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 that 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 your side of this argument in a way. So I would consider Brandon 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 swag 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 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 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 wordsmithing 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? It comes from the beliefs that message is spread through places where you can't track and the best ones do right from there. I add like a shared enemy anti believer, 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 or 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 were attacking and standing up against. I also think rituals play a role into it. So that's to think like, you know, Dave Ramsey is a brand that has a ritual. If you're familiar with Dave Ramsey and his radio show, he has people come in and do the debt free Scream, that is a ritual that everybody in his brand knows about and some have partaken, they have traveled to the place and the 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 may be 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 the audience is familiar with him. Like he has a lot of beliefs that don't that don't include his origin story, right? His strategic narrative was like 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 I 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 broke? And then he realized the legion essentially legion in the way we do marketing attribution was all broken and really we just needed to go out the sound kind of butchering as much now. But we need to go out and develop new demand gen 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 way before they actually need the thing right. His villain is certainly is like marketing attribution and MQ Els but I think his positioning as a demand as a leader in dimension and his origin story or separate from the beliefs but they informed the beliefs like 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 its positioning. And I think positioning so critical that 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 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 just beliefs are fine. Like I've modified it a bit because I'm not 100% 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 opened my eyes to like how do you build a good brand? 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 a cool logo, you buy a Mercedes because of the luxury feel and 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 talked 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 on the websites. Hence I do 200% believe 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 Josiah Wedgwood who is like the O. G. Marketer that no one has ever heard of. Usually he 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 or 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 identify 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 and identify here 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 GDP growth, you know that I'm one of the co hosts of the 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 lately. 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 where 75% 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 IQ as well. You can check them out at least I Q dot com. That's L E A D I Q dot com. Alright, let's get back to the show. I think if you want to like usually you're doing branding work well I 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 the company is changing every six months every day or 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... 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 position you might be broken even though they 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 downstream to like you don't have a good story for why that's something we're wrestling with that 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 y right? So there's no need to get a larger 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, I'm sorry, not downstream, continually evolving. So yeah, so I guess honestly one of the reasons that I was just like, I feel like we need just a visual representation of branding 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 strip 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 Brandon, but it sounds like you're just expanding on what branding is more than the visual aspects. It goes deeper into the, 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 Skechers to some degree, you know, like, these brands are just kind of like, uh no one really resonates with Skechers. 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 that because I think everyone, no one, no one's like, I love Hyatt Hotels, that's my thing. You're like, Most hotels are like that in particular, 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 we don't have any interest in. 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 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 up 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 think about it, of course I can remember it, but immediately the thing I think about is wow from the start, James has created an an 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 consumers 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, you know, personal profile or just life in general, right? And that's why in the book, primal branding, he would say every strong, really strong brand as a leader, right? You think a virgin, you cannot think of their leader, you cannot think of richard Branson, right? You think I actually like, I'll tell you, 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 leaders, but there are other aspects that impact the brand. Like what you said about James is 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 Southwest, 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 strong beliefs and viewpoints that has like when he has a strong point of view that especially in a startup where 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 hi sh with 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 leadership team or as an orig 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 I don't know if anything comes to mind for what we do. I think, I don't know that we're just 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 is interesting like that and I think that's, we're thinking about like your anti believers and I don't think you're 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 approach is the enemy right for chris walker. It's legion in general, people who are big into legion and hubspot and tracking to the N degree with analytics and data and driving lots of em Que els, those are the anti believers of which I find myself somewhere in the middle for his camp. I'm not like, it's not gospel to me. I'm like, I could still win with Ceo. 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, it's like part of them. So I think thinking about what beliefs you have that make you weird as in, there's going to be some people that think you're really weird for it, but you and the other people that you are like, yes, no, this is the truth. This is the thing. Yeah, I agree. And I think that's something that we're going...

...through right now is, I mean, I guess it 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 were, 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 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 sweet fish is positioning, but we all know that BBS usually kind of boring. I know it's in fashion right now to make B to be fun, but hardly anybody's doing it. Everybody's talking about what I want to do, what you guys are all talking about it, but we haven't actually like 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 as 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 bye bye boring content. I think that's one of the things that would, that would be, that would be an extension of the belief that commodity contents 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 tic tac 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 like, 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, uh, 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 what 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 is doing right now and I'm like, okay, so Tiktok is becoming a thing. But what's after Tiktok and I've already have in my head what's next after Tiktok that I'm like starting to invest in now. So we'll figure that out. But I don't know this, this Ma'am branding branding such a broad and fascinating topic to pick up what are some of the your favorite brands gone, refined labs. Uh Sweet fish definitely hits the list. I guess I'm going to be to be ones uh 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 can 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 show is kind of like nodding their head like, yep, yep, those are all brands. I'm proud that sweet fish made it to the list. That makes me happy. Yeah, it's a culture. I honestly 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 is excited to be there...

...excited to, 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? That's good, I will 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 Well. Cool man! Sam. This has been an awesome conversation and I think this is gonna be a continuing dialogue and to be fun kicked off with this this podcast episode. Is 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 Sand 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 comment 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 BBB 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. Thanks again for joining us. Danchev That's right. That's what my friends call me. So if you're a friend, call me Sanchez, That's always true. So again, thank you for joining me on the road. You gotta thank you. Are you on linkedin? That's a stupid question. Of course you're on linkedin here. Sweet fish. We've gone all in on the platform. Multiple people from our team are creating content there. Sometimes it's a funny gift for me and other times it's a micro video or a slide deck and sometimes it's just a regular old status update that shares Their unique point of view on B2B marketing leadership or their job function. We're posting this content through their personal profile, not our company page and it would warm my heart and soul if you connected with each of our evangelists will be adding more down the road. But for now you should connect with Bill Reed, R C 00. Kelsey Montgomery, our creative director dan Sanchez, our director of audience growth Logan Lyles, our director of partnerships and me, James Carberry. We're having a whole lot of fun on linked in pretty much every single day and we'd love for you to be a part of it.

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