Phillip J. Clayton

Phillip J. Clayton is a design voice that you need to know. The Kingston-based creative is a strategic advisor, an international design judge, and an expert on branding. We talked for hours about his career and his philosophies on branding and life, so I split this episode into two parts just to make sure nothing got lost. If you’re interested in branding, then get ready for a masterclass!

Our conversation started off with a check-in on this year, and then Phillip shared his goals about being seen as a facilitator and about tackling complex problems and making a meaningful impact. We also talked about how he started his own company PJClayton & Co., the client-vendor relationship, and Phillip dropped a ton of knowledge about his creative process, brand purpose, and the power of extracting valuable information from conversations. (Kind of like what you’re doing with this episode!)

Tune in next week for Part 2! Happy Thanksgiving!

Interview Transcript

Maurice Cherry:

All right, so tell us who you are and what you do.

Phillip J. Clayton:

I’m Phillip J. Clayton and I’m a brand consultant, a strategic advisor and an international design judge. I focus on brand design and development. I’m a writer. I write articles, copywriting, etc. I focus on art and design holistically as a foundation for advertising and marketing. And I’m usually hired as a creative director. I do have a consulting company called PJClayton and Company.

Maurice Cherry:

Okay, we’ll talk about all of that, certainly. But if you could use three words to sum up what this year has been for you so far, what would those words be?

Phillip J. Clayton:

So…agony is definitely part of that. I did agony…awareness. And enlightenment.

Maurice Cherry:

Agony, awareness, and enlightenment. That sounds like the hero’s journey.

Phillip J. Clayton:

Yeah, well, I’m hoping it will be.

Maurice Cherry:

Have you given thought to what you want to accomplish next year?

Phillip J. Clayton:

Yes, I have. That’s the awareness part. I’ve discovered things about myself personally and professionally. So next year I would like to actually be more focused on becoming what I label a fixer, not necessarily a facilitator. I went into consulting for that reason. I would like to be more on the consulting side and looking at complex problems. They’re usually very impactful. So I like to focus on complex problems with larger corporations, I guess.

And the reason for that is the impact it can have both in this, like in their specific industries or on a societal level, regarding the thinking and the approach to sustainability and marketing behind that internal change. Right? I’d like to focus more on that regarding innovation — R&D — there are a lot of things out there, and the unsolved. Most of them that I can think of, they’re unsolved. They’re worth a lot of money as well. So it does benefit me to sustain that focus if I’m able to sustain myself doing it.

Maurice Cherry:

In your eyes, how is a consultant different from a facilitator then? Because you really sort of try to make that shift.

Phillip J. Clayton:

For me, a facilitator? Well, generally, to my knowledge, a facilitator would normally broker two parties together. I guess the ideal between two parties or to facilitate one party to another, or they find a way to accommodate something else, to align it with another thing. The consultant to me is more of a fixer. And that was something. The word fixer in this context I learned years ago, I think it was on a movie or something. But it intrigued me because I always had this desire to be someone so important that I’m only called when I’m needed. And it’s usually for something that nobody can solve. No, I’m not the only one, obviously, on the planet, but it’s kind of like that being the only one kind of thinking behind it, where you get called in because you are the only person who can fix this problem.

And a consultant, to me, is that because consulting is a form of therapy, in my opinion, where we have to…the execution is the last step of everything. The consultant listens to people, a client I guess you could say, and they have to diagnose a problem and make a prescription to that problem or symptom. A facilitator doesn’t really do that. The consultant…actually, this is why the time is so important that they spend with each client. That’s why if you’re really narrow in your focus, you probably don’t have as many clients as a company that’s serving a wider market. You’re probably working with very few clients. But those clients are really valuable, not just in the work they do, but also in the financial gain that you get from it and they get from you helping them. It’s really a form of therapy because a lot of times the problems that they come to you with are not what is not what they say it is by listening to them and allowing them to speak and asking specific questions, great questions that lead to answers, because we don’t always know the answers either. It’s just the information that we can extract from the conversation that builds trust. And then the client reveals themselves to you and you realize, “oh, there’s either a personal issue here or there’s actually a deeper company problem here.” And what most company owners will do is because there is this cliched response, especially in brand. Our brand is a solution, is that they will come with a list of requests that they believe will solve the problem for their company. And this could be anything from a little new logo or website or rebrand, something aesthetic or surface level, I call it. But those things are results of deeper processes.

So that’s kind of how I view the consultant regarding a fixer as opposed to a facilitator.

Maurice Cherry:

I want to talk about your company, which you mentioned earlier, PJ Clayton & Co. And I think it’s important to note that you started that 22 years ago, which is fascinating. My hats off to you for your longevity of keeping it going all this time. What made you decide to start your own company?

Phillip J. Clayton:

Irony is the life experience. I actually didn’t want the company. I just wanted to be recognized when I was younger.

Well, let me rephrase it. In my mind, a company requires employees. That’s what I knew back then. I didn’t really want that, but I said, I need to be respected as a professional, and I need a name for that. And during my college years, which started in 2001 — if remember I that correctly…yeah, 2001 — I was freelancing before college. You’re doing side projects. I just left high school like a year before, and I’m just getting hired by people who knew I could do graphic design or art or anything creative that I could do. People are hiring me to help them. These were really small jobs, but I always had this thing growing up in the house I grew up in, which was with my father being my first door to the world on design and all that.

At a very young age, I had this image of myself, even at that age I fell in love with, like, movies and advertising, or anybody, if it is an advertising agency, or architecture or some kind of design firm. I was fascinated with that thing, not necessarily the movie itself. And I always had this perception of myself that I wanted to become someone so valuable.

And that’s where it started. I said, “well, one day I would like to have a global firm.” I think my name, PJ — the J — is important. That’s how people find me. So I added the J in there. I’m talking like twelve years old here. I’m writing. My first logo was done around that age, too, which was hand drawn, because what, my father? That’s the era he’s from. Everything was hand done, not computers. I learned from him. I didn’t know what a logo was. I didn’t know what graphic design was. I just saw him doing stuff, and I’m like, “he’s getting paid. This is fun.” And I started at that age, sketching out my logo, which was PJC. I didn’t think about the Phillip J. Clayton part of it yet. I was just like, “PJC represents me. That’s my name, my acronym.” What’s that word for that again? It’s not an acronym. What do you call it? Yeah, no, something more language related, I can’t remember. Initials. Is that what we call it? Initials?

Maurice Cherry:

Yeah, we can call it initials.

Phillip J. Clayton:

Yeah. Right. So that’s what I knew growing up. My initials. I didn’t know what a logo was. My father used to sign his work with PJC or PJ Clayton as well. He has a J as well. But he’s Paul and I’m Phillip, so we had the same initials.

As I got older, I started to discover all these things about design. And then Letraset. He had Letraset books, art history books. And I’m just reading through — being dyslexic, when I say “reading through”, I’m really looking at what I can understand. And I realized that there is the typography and this thing called advertising. And he used to do mockups that he presented to clients by hand. He’d build the actual billboards, miniature versions of them, and he understood color separation, for example. That was a manual process back then. And I just started falling in love, and I said, “I want to be the person who knows all of this stuff.”

I wanted to become an admin. This is before I even knew about David Ogilvy. I said I want to be an admin. I want to be some kind of…I don’t remember if I used the word “consultant” at that age. And by the time I was in my teens going to college, that’s when I started to freelance, I guess you’d say, officially, while I’m in college under Phillip, it used to be Phillip Clayton. And I added the J because I said, I need to stand out a little bit here. The more I got involved in projects, I started to have this awareness of how the world works. And I said, “I need to have a company.” It wasn’t a company at the time. It was just Phillip J. Clayton Creative. I think I had it at the time. And it was short of PJ Clayton Creative and worked with that for a while.

And then this one that you’re currently looking at, Phillip J. Clayton. I mean, PJ Clayton and company. That one happened last year when I was pivoting myself. When I finally said, “this is it”. I think I know who I am now and what I want to focus on. And so PJ Clayton and company is the newest iteration of that.

But it’s always been PJC. It’s always been something of that. I have logos. I have, like, I think six versions of this logo. This is the most current and pleasing one for me. I wanted to have something that represented me professionally, and I still wanted to maintain my individuality as a person, where I should be able to walk into meetings in corporate offices without having to become what people expect me to become, I guess, for those meetings. So it wasn’t very important that I maintained Phillip in some way.

And I think it was like five years ago, someone saw that name that Phillip J. Clinton on LinkedIn, actually. And they said, “oh, that’s a very prestigious name.” And that’s when I said, “oh, I’m changing this company. He’s going to be PJ Clayton & Company now.”

Maurice Cherry:

Hey, other companies do it all the time. They change up logos, they change their names around. So it sounds like you already sort of had that foresight.

Phillip J. Clayton:

Yeah, from childhood, like I said, I was always thought highly of myself, but I was dyslexic. So even thinking of myself as smart and intelligent was not my strongest attribute. I guess the self confidence, well, externally was low, but in my head I was very confident, and I knew what I wanted from a very young age. It was “you’re going to be a famous artist or you’re going to be in advertising” — that much I knew.

Maurice Cherry:

What were those early days of the company like? I mean, you started back in 2001. You were still in school. What were you doing?

Phillip J. Clayton:

It was just me. I had no concept of hiring people for help at that time. It was just me and some friends of mine. They work in production, the production entertainment industry, and I started working with them. It was mostly on our art direction and set design. I basically helped them with the graphic side of things. I get paid for that. And then I slowly worked my way into becoming into the management side where they start asking me to manage a whole production by myself: stage, set up, everything. Making sure everything looks good for either the TV screen or a concert. Also worked on music videos. So there’s a lot of art and graphic applications from my side. That’s why they wanted me to work with them.

I was doing all of that as myself, and that’s really the foundation of the company where I was known as, or I was dubbed as, a great graphic designer or an artist. So it was a lot of projects like that. It was either logo work or some kind of art consulting thing where I would use my artistic knowledge to help on something. On a visual. As a visual component.

Yeah. So that was the early days, but as a starting point of my official professional career.

Maurice Cherry:

Now, if you look from then to now, what are some ways — and I mean, you’ve sort of already talked about your personal journey growing as a creative — but what are some ways that the company has kind of changed from then to now?

Phillip J. Clayton:

There’s a dramatic change. I have partners now. I’ve narrowed myself into brand consulting. The clients are different. I mean, I’m between corporate startups and the industries are diverse. It’s fintech. So I’m actually solving business problems now. That’s a big difference there, as opposed to then being a creative service, as opposed to a company that has a creative service.

It’s flipped around now. What’s happened over the years is that I now focus on actual business problems. So I’m a business that offers creative services, but I align it all to a business objective or problem. So it has more impact now as a company and myself as a professional. The partners that I have, or people…clients that I work with, are way more, I guess, grown up. You’d say there’s an adult version of the company now where we’re having serious conversations, having fun about with what we do. Yes, but it’s really trying to have that impact on someone’s company who’s asking for help becoming an industry voice.

As someone once said, I’m speaking on behalf of the company when I communicate anything online. And now there’s this responsibility. It’s like you feel responsible now in regarding or accountable for anything that you say and do. There’s this thing behind me that I need to protect. And I guess that’s the big difference now from then, back then it was, “oh, I want to be creative and make a lot of money” and that’s it.

Maurice Cherry:

Let’s say like you have a new project that’s coming into you, like a new branding project. What does your creative process look like? Because I imagine there might be steps that you have to take to sort of transform that client’s vision into a brand identity.

Phillip J. Clayton:

Oh, absolutely. This is a diagnosis, part of the whole process that, well, once anyone engages me of interest, I have to ensure that one: I can actually help them. I can actually solve, or at least I have a process of how to solve it and then I have to align myself if it’s something that is where we are good fit. But once that happens, let’s say it goes well and we are actually going to work together. That process starts with assessing the company, the business development, product development and management. There’s usually probably a brand audit as well where they are in the market and are they okay in the market, should we point them in a different direction? But we have to start with assessing the company and what it offers. And process mapping is part of that, where we identify what happens when a customer is engaged on what happens at that point and then when the engagement ends, what happens after. So you identify these points, pain points or points of leverage. And a lot of times the process of helping that client is not necessarily always going to be on branding.

They may come for that, but it turns out that they need to redo their marketing or we need to do their business management. But in terms of creative process, it’s going to start with. I try not to, first of all, do research until I’ve been given the information or because I don’t want to taint that perception. And then once I have that, I observe that thing, whether it’s a product or the company itself, whatever I receive, I try to observe that from an ignorant place where I have no idea what this is, but who would buy it kind of thing or what’s the value of this thing that I’m looking at. So you have to understand how it works. And this is why I look at a company, you have to understand how the company works. Then you can go into the strategy of how to represent that value and leverage it as on the brand side. So the process is usually going to start with business.

It has to, in my opinion…I always start there. There’s conversation therapy. That’s the part where I am…it’s where I sit with the client and we have these conversations that lead into the development process. I mean, of course, you have to make sure your agreement is mutual regarding timelines and objectives. And I tend to ask this, by the way, I learned from my lawyer, “what’s your pain threshold” and “what’s the results you’re looking for?” Those two questions are really very good questions to start with.

Maurice Cherry:

Your pain threshold. Yeah, talk to me a little bit about that. What do you mean by that?

Phillip J. Clayton:

It’s a way of identifying what that client is willing to do to get the result they’re looking for. Because a lot of times people try to charm me for some reason. You know what I mean? They try to impress you with how much money they have or money is not an issue, or “we want to be different and bold.” Oh, I love that one. They always come with that one.

Maurice Cherry:

Everybody wants to be bold. Everybody. Every client wants that.

Phillip J. Clayton:

Yeah. And there’s this unique thing and it’s like, what I’ve learned is that no matter how complex a problem is or how unique it is to the client, it’s not that unique on a wider viewpoint or industry viewpoint, but it’s unique to that client. No matter how similar, it’s always going to be unique to that client and that company. But bold and different, distinctiveness, differentiation, fine. But when they say they want to be bold and different, it’s not a well thought through statement, because there’s risk to that. And unless you’re willing to take that risk, you can only be so unique in this sea of sameness, right? But you can definitely stand out with distinctive marketing and branding and all that, or how you represent yourself. If you have something different about a product in a competitive market space, then, yeah, you can differentiate that, but it’s to be bold.

Boldness. I love boldness. It goes against fair, which is different from being brave. I think bravery is a product of boldness. But when they come to me like that and I look at the company, this is why I assess the company, I assess the market, I assess their thinking. You’re learning about the management, the owners, you’re learning how they think, what they like, what they don’t like. That’s what conversation is about. So the pain question is to find out or identify what they’re willing to do to achieve it.

And they can tell me when it’s a pain threshold, like, well, they’re willing to do whatever it takes or, yeah, we don’t want to rock the boat too much. You get those things when you ask a question, right? You start getting the real answers, right? Then based on that you say, well, what’s the result you’re looking for? By the way, I learned it from a divorce lawyer. That’s what she asked, because she said, you’d be surprised. These two parties are, when they really go in with that aggressive approach and they want this and they want that and they realize, well, you’re not willing to do anything for this because relationships, it’s complex, right? So yeah, they want to hurt the other person, but what they really want is justice. In the end. They both want justice, right? That’s where the question came from. So what do you want in the end of this? What are you hoping to achieve at end of this process? And once the pain is threshold, what are you willing to do to get it?

Maurice Cherry:

When you look at a brand or a brand design, are there key elements that you try to put into this design that really make it memorable? I would imagine those probably stem from that conversation like you talked about before.

Phillip J. Clayton:

Always. The value of the brand is really what it represents or who it represents. So what you put into that is meaning. People add meaning to things. When it’s symbols, so that’s what a philosophy is for; what I call brand philosophy. I didn’t come up with it; that don’t mean I called it that way. I need to have that information, that knowledge that helps me or the team working together to develop a philosophy. This represents the thinking inside the company or the ownership. For people to feel valuable on any team, they need to have that accountability that without them, this won’t work. So there has to be a philosophy for this company that the brand now would express as the philosophy that this is their belief system. Right? That’s what people buy into a lot of times, whether it’s in religion or not.

I use religion a lot in conversation because it’s a great example of what a brand is and the belief systems are and how people buy into it, getting vested interest. So I have to have a brand philosophy. And then what you do is you make a declaration, so the manifesto comes out. You make a statement as a company and a brand, or you make a statement that this is who we are, this is what we’re about, and it’s based on this philosophy. So when I look at brands and I’m observing them, yeah, you’re going to see the aesthetic stuff first, service level stuff.

These are functional assets, I call them, because the very good ones are usually from a really deep philosophy. And the results of that is something so simple and powerful. When I see too much effort in the visual, I’m not usually very impressed with that because it means that you’re trying to convince something that’s probably not there. When I see a simple symbol and a really distinctive, confident visual language and architecture to a brand, I know that this company is something that I need to pay attention to.

For example, and that’s what happened, as an example I could give you was when PepsiCo, Mauro Porcini did the PepsiCo design innovation. I think it was 2012, they never had that before. That changed PepsiCo completely as a corporation. How they go about their business and their marketing. Design innovation at PepsiCo added deep meaning to the brand itself because it tells me what their focus is, it tells me what their thinking is or how they perceive their market and the customers in that market. So I look for those things. I look for deep meaning behind the logo, I look for deep meaning behind the communication. And I think that’s because of myself. I think I tried to say less and speak more. I hope I’m doing that now. Sorry. I like to speak less and say more. That’s what I meant to say. Because I think that’s one of the most powerful positions you can have when you don’t have to explain anything, urge to explain anything. If a company can do that, then, I mean, if the brand can do it for a company, then you’re really powerful. So I look for that. I look for less communication, more visual communication, less explanation, less wordy. And visual means typography as well, but less wordy, less explaining everything to me. I just want to see it because the logo is what I’m supposed to see. I’m supposed to see your whole story.

And then the logo is supposed to intrigue me enough that I want to know more. And that’s where we pour meaning into brands, because the brand actually forms when that experience ends. Anything that you have in your mind now after that experience is what the brand does to you.

Maurice Cherry:

How have you sort of seen brand design evolve, like over the past 20 years? I mean, we of course now have AI, we’ve got machine learning and all these sort of things, the way that technology has sort of infiltrated a lot of the creative industry, but then we also have changing consumer behaviors. I’m thinking particularly in the U.S. — I’m sure this is different internationally, just based on economies — but there’s been ups and downs and waves of how people spend money, what people spend money on, what people even value from a brand. How have you seen things evolve over the years?

Phillip J. Clayton:

I’ve seen both sides of that. Good and bad, I guess, or horrible. I know it’s bad or good, there’s pleasant and there’s this horrible experience I’ve seen over at least ten years, is that with automation, the objective changes.

For some reason, the brands that are paying attention, their core values didn’t change, their philosophy didn’t change, what they did was change how they interacted with their consumer and society in a whole. For example, the shopping experience, waste management, these things also all add up to what the brand represents because the company has to do these things. So that’s one, I guess, favorable experience on the brand side. The other side is that it has opened up a whole new services on what a brand is and what the process of brand design and development is. Because I rarely if ever use the word branding as a process.

I specifically say brand design and development because branding for me isn’t actionable — it’s under that process of brand design and development. Branding is a stage of the process where you start to develop these assets that represent and communicate for the company. But because of technology, what’s happening now is that…I’m sure you’re aware of a lot of on-demand services are out and what they’re doing is titled branding. Visual design. Visual identities, for example, have somehow become a separate thing from the brand design process. I don’t know how that happened where people are actually doing visual design as a service and I’m thinking, “how do you get there without the brand design process?” So when you go into on-demand services, what you’re doing is…I can pay you less money because clearly you’re billing by time, which I don’t do, but you’re not really providing a valuable solution.

Now I’m not saying that smaller companies or startups who don’t have a big capital can’t start like that. Sometimes you just want to get the company out and if you focus on doing good business, the brand will form anyway. If you’re going to go into brand as a service and you’re expecting a certain result, then it’s probably not the best move to go on-demand. It’s probably better to focus on your business and just hold off on the development of the things like logos and whatnot. You can just register a company name and communicate as a company. Your brand will form and then obviously you made some money at this time and you can do it now you have a proper process, you have an understanding of what your company does and how people perceive you. But what I’ve seen with brands is that…I won’t say the entire brand landscape is like this, but there are some brands that are aligning themselves with deep and meaningful experiences for the consumer. They’re looking into how to make the seamless process of shopping and acquiring their products in a more sustainable way. Obviously there’s financial incentives there once a consumer buys into your thinking. The other side is that there are brands who are aligning themselves to trends. And we saw this when the pandemic came, when everybody started changing…well, a lot of people started changing their messaging. You’re now changing your core value. This is a philosophy — again, you have to have a philosophy that you stick to. It has to be something that you can adapt to environments in, but it doesn’t change your philosophy.

You’re only adapting how you do what you do, but not the philosophy of it, not your core values. That’s what I have seen happening regarding most brands is that they’re aligning themselves to trends and the consumer is dictating a lot about how they do things, and that’s fine. But at some point you have to stick to what you believe in and the consumer gets over it. We saw that with Nike and Kaepernick where Nike just stuck through, right? And I think that’s the most important part, is not to adjust the brand to fit with these trends, whether — and I mean this on a deep level — whether it’s with social movements or activism or anything, do not change your brand to fit that.

If I’m selling shoes, that’s what my company does, then my brand represents a company that sells shoes. And the background, I can support these organizations, but I should not be marketing them up front where I have a company with a brand that supports, I don’t know, some social movement and that has nothing to do with my business unless you build it into your brand like Patagonia. I think they are very open and upfront. It’s part of their brand philosophy. So unless you have that, I don’t see a hardware company to not sell certain tools, to align themselves with some kind of trend. A hardware company is a hardware company. The more tools or lumber they sell, the more money they make. What they can do now as a brand is that they can use that money, I guess, from your profits or whatever they used to choose to use to support some kind of social cause.

Do that, but don’t label it as your brand purpose, is what I’m saying. Don’t get up and say “our brand purpose is to support this cause.” Your brand purpose is to represent your company. That’s what a brand purpose is. That’s what has changed; brand purpose is not a new thing, and the brand no longer serves the purpose that it’s supposed to serve. It’s now serving human social causes or needs, or it’s not representing the companies effectively because they’re changing the meaning behind what a brand’s purpose is to represent your company. So your company is the one who should be doing the social support. The brand is only supposed to represent your company so that when you see it, you think of the company and what a company does for society. That’s what it’s supposed to be.

Maurice Cherry:

They’re starting to become synonymous these days, especially, I think with, not to put this blame on social media, but I do think because social media has allowed a channel of communication between the consumer and the company that probably didn’t really exist that transparently before. What you end up having is a lot of companies having to, in some ways, sort of change their brand values or put something on their brand values that do stick with a specific social thing that might be happening.

Of course, the one thing I’m thinking about that has to do with this is regarding the summer of 2020 here in the U.S. where a lot of people were protesting and they were out in the streets. That was George Floyd. And you had so many companies kind of posting black squares on Instagram and making vows to do this specific social change or whatever. And now three years later, all of that stuff is non-existent and cut. And I mean, people try to hold companies to try to hold them accountable for that sort of stuff. But to your point that you’re mentioning, brand purpose has now gotten…it’s changed and evolved to now include how the company feels or has a stance with or against particular social issues.

And I can imagine that’s like a really difficult place to be.

Phillip J. Clayton:

Yeah, you don’t want to make your brand too human. It’s patronizing. It’s like, okay, so everybody has this human-centric buzzword now, and everybody has this brand purpose buzzword. It’s like, what is your brand purpose? And they’re going to tell you, I don’t ask that question. I don’t ask what your brand purpose asks. What’s your company’s purpose? When people try to make the brand very human, you have to understand what that means. The human being is a contradiction and a paradox. We’re subject to change. So unless you’re willing to put your brand through that constant change, that’s what it means to be human.

So yes, you can have values like you’ve mentioned there that you can add things to, you can build on it. This can be a foundation, and you can build on that foundation. But if you don’t have a foundation to build on, what’s going to happen is that you’re going to put up a black square, and then it’s going to mean nothing afterwards. But if you’re a company that has a foundation and a core value, and you express that core value — and this is what we do — but we are going to show support for this thing. That’s fine. But don’t make these bold statements as if you’re going to change the company now for the next ten years because of what’s happening.

I’m still a company that sells ice cream. My brand is whatever I write on…it’s Phillip. I sell Phillip’s ice cream, so that’s my brand. But my company sells ice cream, and I would like to donate money to this cause I like to do this, and I like to do that, but that’s not the brand. That’s a company. The brand represents the thinking and philosophy inside the company, the type of people that work at the company. So a company that used its brand to put up that black square, and then nothing else followed that, was either a company that’s just saying, “we do support, but we’re going to get back to work” or a company that gave the wrong message out there and made some kind of promises to the Black community and hasn’t delivered on it, now they’re accountable. That becomes a marketing problem for you.

So you don’t want to make your brand do that. What you want is to remember that company management or business management and brand management are two different things. I don’t know if I’m saying it in a way that people understand or if I’m making sense to them, to anyone listening, but brand purpose — if I’m going to be grammatically correct, I’d say your brand’s purpose — is to represent your company. Your company is what you do and the people that do it or help you to do it, right? The company is a group of people. So it’s about your thinking. It’s about what you find important. It’s what you value as a company. The brand represents that.

And I love using Batman. It’s a very great example of what a brand is. All you see in the skies is his logo. That’s it. But the logo represents the promise he made to the city. That’s all it is. So your brand upholds the promise that the company made. Quality products. Quality service. These things. The logo is the symbol that represents the brand and the company all at once. It’s your identifying mark.

Just develop a good core value system, a belief system that you can uphold next 10, 20 years on average — most companies, I think, they last 30 years, unless they pivot or do some kind of innovation. Like Amazon did innovation. I guess you could say Facebook, because all of these companies, their lifespan was, I think, expected to be 30 years before they closed. But they innovated. So yeah, what’s the brand in that? If they’re going to, they didn’t change. They just adapted to a new environment, made product innovation, service innovation, better customer experience. I just want to make that part clear about the brand purpose because I think it’s very confusing and muddy right now with what a brand is.

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