Patrick Hanlon joins the Speaking of Wealth audience and talks to Jason Hartman about his book, Primal Branding. Patrick sits down with Jason to talk about the seven primal rules of branding and how it can apply to small and big businesses alike. As a side note, Primal Branding was released in 2006 and there is now a newer version of the book with more recent tech examples entitled Social Code.

Key Takeaways:

1:30 – Jason gives a short introduction of Patrick.

5:10 – It can be hard to relate to these bigger companies, but remember, they had to start somewhere too.

8:45 – Patrick shares a neat story about Maxwell House coffee.

12:30 – Patrick talks about the non-believers or the ‘opposites’.

17:10 – Do the creation stories work better when you’re a larger business?

20:30 – America’s brand is entrepreneurship.

25:10 – How do you apply Primal Branding to social media?

27:25 – Social Code is the name of the new book.

Tweetables:

It ties right in to the whole notion of Yankee ingenuity and why people came to America in the first place.

Rituals are the interactions that we have with a brand and they can be either positive or negative.

Where does your creation story go? Well, it’s not going to go on Twitter.

Mentioned In This Episode:

Primal Branding by Patrick Hanlon

Social Code by Patrick Hanlon

Simon Sinek TED Talk

http://thinktopia.com/

Transcript

Jason Hartman:

Hey, this is Jason Hartman. Welcome to everybody from 164 countries worldwide and so many of you listeners on Stitcher radio. We’ve got a great episode today, so let’s dive in.

Hey, it’s my pleasure to welcome Patrick Hanlon to the show. He’s written a fantastic book called Primal Branding: Create Zealots for Your Brand, Your Company, and Your Future. He’s also founder and CEO of Thinktopia. He can explain more of exactly what that means, but they were work fortune 100 clients and help them engine their brands. He’s also author of The Social Code: Designing Community in the Digital Age and contributor on branding and ideation for Forbes magazine. Patrick, welcome, how are you?

Patrick Hanlon:

I’m good. How are you?

Jason:

Good to have you. Where are you located? Minneapolis?

Patrick:

I am in Minneapolis, yes.

Jason;

Fantastic. So, was Primal Branding then your first book in 2011?

Patrick:

Actually, Primal Branding, I came up with the concept in 2001. I was working, like, the book itself came out in 2006 and is in seven languages and taught at some universities and so forth, but I was working on a client problem back in 2001 and I started to think about why do some companies mean something to us while others don’t. Why do we think happier thoughts about Apple than a lot of other computer companies that are out there or Nike or Coke and back in 2001 those were the relevant ones. Starbucks was just coming along. I really got to where we trust them, certainly. Something that was ladder up from trust was really that we believed in them, strongly sometimes.

People talked about Nike tribes and the Apple cult and this religious, almost religious zeal that people felt towards some products and I started thinking about that and really got into what is a belief system and there are actually a system behind belief and that lend me to thinking of brands as belief systems and the, all great brands of a creation story. They have a creed, they have icons, they have rituals, they have, what I call, sacred words or lexicon – Just Do It; Think Different; Iced Grande Skinny Decaf Latte. They have a group of people that don’t wanna sit at your table, they wanna sit over the other side of the room. They have a leader. So, once you wrap all these things together, you create a constellation of parts that really snaps people’s heads around and gives you, really, an unfair advantage out there in the world.

Jason:

I think that’s absolutely true. IO mean I love the way you put that and it really sums it up very well because a brand is something that we can relate to without having to explain. It’s like, instant trust. It’s short hand, it’s a shortcut as to what it all means, but there are important things like you talked about. The creation story, love that. There’s a lexicon that’s unique to that brand and many personal brands and leaders have used that throughout history for good and bad, I guess, and that’s great.

So, I wanna make sure we focus though, because, I don’t wanna talk too terribly much if we can about the huge companies that we all know, but if you have any stories of small companies or small business or personal brands that have done any of this stuff or advice for those people, because that’s most of the listeners and certainly we all believe in Apple and Simon Sinek’s TED talk about that is a great too and incorporates a lot of your ideas that you’re talking about; this creation story and the lexicon and the why power. So, good stuff. Let’s dive in. Tell us more.

Patrick:

Well, i think he’s read the book.

Jason:

Yeah, I think so too.

Patrick:

And the why is really just the creed. So, that’s just one of seven pieces. There’s six more pieces. Yes, of course, everyone thinks about, oh, you talk about Nike. I’m not Nike, I’m not Apple, but when I wrote Primal Branding, Phil Knight’s college roommate called me and asked me for a copy of the book, if I would sign a copy of the book, because Phil’s birthday was coming up and he wanted to give him one and we started talking and he was telling me how Phil Knight used to sell Nikes out of the truck of his car at swamp meets. We all know that Apple started in a garage or, at least, there was a garage somewhere in that story and Woz refuted that a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, these are very, I mean, very simple beginnings.

Jason:

That simple beginning concept, I think with you know with the Nike, the selling shoes out of the truck of your car or the, you know, the Hewlett Packard or Apple in the garage concept, it sort of has an aspirational kind of connotation, doesn’t it? It shows that, you know, look what just normal people can do. Maybe, maybe I could do that. Is there something to that?

Patrick:

Oh, of course, I mean, I think it ties right in to the whole notion of Yankee ingenuity and why people came to America in the first place. I mean, even Henry Ford worked in a garage, except it wasn’t a garage then, it was a shed. So, yeah, I think that ties into the roots of our society as a nation and I think also, so when we start talking about individuals and we do work with individuals and we work with startups and young entrepreneurs and so forth in Silicon Valley and else where around the country and we talk to them about, I think, the real advantage for this, Jason, is once you – these are things that some companies created through, I mean, Apple, Nike, and so forth, they didn’t go through, “What are my seven pieces of primal code?”

They just did it through gut instinct and hired smart partners and they had some time and some investors and money to carry them through when they were figuring it out and sales to help them figure it out, but if you do understand that the seven things, once you do them, you’re able to create a narrative about your company, about your brand, about yourself that people respond to, because these are emotional touch points that we do respond to as human beings and so when you’re able to tell someone, well, here’s where I’m from, here’s what I’m about, here’s what it is, display yourself, here’s how we use it, and that’s different then the way other people do things or use things. Here’s where it’s not, never wants to become, here’s the language that we use to surrounds it, and here’s the team that’s leading it; you now have a narrative where other people may say kind of the same thing, but they may leave something out and it just gives them and the people on the other side, they’re not saying, oh, they have great icons or great rituals or whatever, but it just feels right to them. So, that’s the great advantage of this.

So, when people are going into to pitch for money or they’re pitching, they’re sitting on the other side of the table at Walmart or Levi’s, for example, they leave things out. Sometimes, we work with a lot of larger companies and they have products that have been around for 100 years and I remember when we were working on Maxwell House coffee, I don’t think I’ve ever said this on the air, but we were working with Maxwell House once and no one on the team really knew that once a point a time there was a Maxwell House hotel in Nashville, Tennessee and it was a pretty good hotel and good enough so that a President of the United States stayed their overnight and the next morning the President was down in the hotel restaurant and the waiter noticed that the President’s coffee cup was running low, so he went over to refill it and the President put his hand over the cup and said, Teddy Roosevelt, said, “No, no, wait. This coffee is so good it’s good till the last drop.”

Jason:

Oh my gosh, wow.

Patrick:

Once people understood that, you went, oh my. Well, they had the same reaction you just did. You go, “Oh my gosh.” So, a lot of times we think that these things go away and we think that people know them and so they don’t repeat them or they don’t include it in part of their story and that’s how brand start to go awry and that’s how this gives companies and personalities and so forth, social movements and other things, an unfair advantage, because when you have all 7 of these things, these pieces of primal code, social code, you really stand out.

Jason:

So, Patrick, just tell us all seven at one time again, if you would.

Patrick:

There’s the creation story, we were just talking about the garage and so forth and Phil Knight selling out of the truck of his car. There’s the creed, which could be Just Do it or Think Different or Ultimate Driving Machine; freedom, peace on earth, those are creeds as well and then there are icons. Icons are interesting because we usually think of things like the Nike swoosh or the Coca Cola can or the American flag, but icons involve all the senses, sight, taste, sound, smell, so forth, touch.

Jason:

So, is an icon, well like when you say icon, I kind of thought, oh, there’s a person. There’s a Steve Jobs there. Not necessarily at all, right? Could an icon be a person or not?

Patrick:

Absolutely. Steve Jobs, Oprah, Phil Knight, Branson, etc, etc. Those are all super iconic people and they are certainly icons for those brands.

Jason:

Rituals?

Patrick:

Sure, the easiest one is Starbucks, which changed the way we have coffee in the morning and now it’s changing again. People are starting to have coffee at home again, but rituals are hopefully positive interactions. Rituals are the interactions that we have with a brand and they can be either positive or negative. If you want a positive ritual, get a hug. If you want a negative one, well, call a credit card company or something.

Jason:

Love it. Call your mortgage company and talk to the people in the Philippines and be frustrated or the cable company. Good thing. Okay, what about pagans and non-believers? That’s the next one.

Patrick:

Yeah, pagans. Someone wrote me from Australia told me that pagans was probably politically incorrect and I agreed, so we now call them non-believers, but non-believers, that’s the Mac versus PC, Coke versus Pepsi, imports versus domestic cars, things like that. Originally I just thought that people, as human beings, we have this compulsion to have this opposite, but sacred and profane things like that, but now we’ve worked with this for awhile, I also understand that they’re huge marketing opportunities or potentials. When you, because when you couldn’t identify – if you could identify a group of people that does not want gas-guzzling cars, you can create new kinds of cars or new kinds of energy, you know, electric instead of gas, for example.

Jason:

You mean, coal-powered, right?

Patrick:

Well, what I mean is, if you can identify a group of people who don’t want sugar, you can create sugar-free. If you don’t want caffeine, you can create caffeine-free.

Jason:

I was just making a snarky remark about electric cars like the Tesla, because they’re really powered by coal. It’s amazing that Elon Musk was able to bring back the coal-powered car. I mean, it’s quite impressive that achievement, but in other words, the point of the pagan or non-believer is you have to have an opposite, right? Do you need an opposite? Do you need a Yin and a Yang here?

Patrick:

Here’s what we’re not and here’s what we never want to become. I think this is a – and understanding that is a great saying when you’re trying to figure out strategy for who you are and how you position yourself and understanding what you’re not, what you never want to become and know we don’t do that is excellent, because a lot of times as marketers we want to do everything, we want to appeal to everyone and we think that one day when people understand how wonderful we are, everyone will want us, right? Well, that’s never the case, so understanding that upfront saves a lot of time.

Jason:

Right, right. It definitely does. So, then we’ve got sacred words in the leader. Oh, you covered sacred words, right?

Patrick:

Yeah, well, ice grande skinny decaf latte I think is..

Jason:

A venti. I just refused to buy into that. I call it a small, and a medium, and a large, but they probably hate me at Starbucks for that.

Patrick:

You know and the pledge of allegiance and Semper Fi and so forth and these words, I mean, you can really just think of it as remember the last time you changed jobs, you spent the first day and weeks and months learning all the words that everyone else knows because you’re trying to fit in and more than that, more than just terms of art for the job that you’re trying to do is you also learned all the jokes and all the antidotes everyone else learned, because you’re trying to fit into that community, right? By the way, we belong. as individuals, we belong to a lot of communities. I mean, we belong to the community that’s listening to this show and then when we walk away from this we will be part of the community that’s, you know, on the job or part of the community that goes to Starbucks or part of the community that’s commuters. We all have our own words, our own lexicons, our own rituals, and each of those..

Jason:

So, try to create words around your brand that are either special words or, you know, used in a different way or there’s something about them, right?

Patrick:

Yes and all of these are points of differentiation. I mean, obviously your creation stories going to be different. The way you start it is going to be different, presumably. What you believe in is going to be a little bit different and so forth. All of these help differentiate you via severe competitors and certainly advert versus the world at large.

And then the last piece is the leader and that’s usually the person, like, the Steven Jobs or Oprahs that we were mention earlier; at the Time magazine front cover level, but there are also leaders within the organization and the most successful small teams, for example, kind of innately, organically figure this stuff out, so that if you have a small team and you’re trying to recruit other people and you tell them, okay, this is how we started on this, got into this, here’s what it is about, here’s what we’re doing, here’s where we’re calling it, here’s how we’re doing it, here’s what it’s not. We’re not doing that and here’s the team. I just went through all the seven pieces and it was pretty easy, right?

Jason:

Right, it was. You’ve really defined this very well. I love it. It’s awesome. Okay, just review a couple of specific points here. I really want to make sure the listeners walk away with, you know, some actionable ideas and so, the creation story. I have a creation story for one of my businesses that’s a pretty good story, but I think the creation story, it’s got to work a lot better when you’re a large successful company, right, and you say, hey, we started Hewlett Packard out of the garage or whatever or you have those old pictures, you know, Jobs and Wozniak, but does it really work for a small business person?

Patrick:

Well, absolutely. I mean, everyone, eBay started in what, a backroom or a spare bedroom or something like that, but that’s, you know, we’re looking back on very successful companies when we do that, when we start out, when they started out, they didn’t know that they were going to be a large successful company. We kind of don’t give ourselves credit for the potential for success that we might encounter downstream and that’s just so wrong, because we all have the potential to not follow in someone else’s footsteps. I mean, if you’re working at GE, you’ve got a great company that you’re working for, but basically you’re working in Thomas Edison’s – You’re fulfilling Thomas Edison’s dream, right? Same with Apple, you might have a great job at Apple, but you’re still fulfilling Steve Job’s dream. So, the potential and ability to fulfill your own dream is huge and it’s no where more significant or relevant or available here in the US. As a part of that, we are all kind of..

Jason:

Well, I’m so glad you mentioned that Patrick, because I wanna just do on a side with you for a moment if we could, you mentioned the American brand a couple of times you’ve alluded to that. One of the things I talk about on my financial shows is, you know, I’ll have these doom and gloomers, oh, we’re in debt.

We’ve got this huge 700 trillion dollars in derivatives, blah, blah. And you know, listen, I know all those stories, I believe them from a mathematical point of view, you know, they’re right, the country looks like it’s going to hell in a hand basket, okay, if you just look at the math, but one of the things I always bring up is, you know, number one the US has the reserve currency and it has the military to keep it that way.

I’m not saying it’s fair, I’m just saying it’s true, okay, you know, we can throw our weight around and then one of the things I think is largely underestimated about the power of US hegemony is the American brand. You hear these financial guys, I talk to economists all day long and they never really much consider that, even, and I think that’s one of its most powerful assets is the fact you’ve got billions of people who still want to live, you know, or move in America or look at American movies and think, gosh, what an incredible place, you know. They look at the business stories and they think, you know, look at this Bill Gates, he came from no where and Steve and the two Steves at Apple and whoever else. I mean, there’s all these stories, Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire in his 20s and came from, you know, no where. Granted, he was at Harvard, okay, you know, he was still just a guy in a hoodie, okay. You know, we have a lot of great creation stories here.

Patrick:

Absolutely. Edwin Land of Polaroid, he started Polaroid, he was at Harvard also; also a dropout.

Jason:

To succeed, drop out of college. That’s one of the rules that seems to be pretty true nowadays.

Patrick:

Three of the four we just mentioned were all drop outs.

Jason:

Yeah, it’s amazing.

Patrick:

I think that America does have a great brand. This is entrepreneurship or ism is something that we stand for and is the reason why a lot of people came here in the beginning and continue to come here. Things like debt, of course, a few other things do kind of disrupt, we are disrupting our own brand a little bit.

Jason:

Does America though, at least in its past, has it followed this seven Primal Branding strategies? I mean, its got a great creation story between the Brits and so forth. Its got a creed, its got icons. Its got rituals – I don’t know, do we have rituals?

Patrick:

Yes, we have the Fourth of July, we have voting, we have Thanksgiving.

Jason:

I don’t think of those as rituals, but okay, fair enough, that’s true. What about the pagans and the non-believers, would they be the people in the Middle East or something?

Patrick:

Pagan would be, I would say, ISIS, the Taliban, I mean, originally it would have been the red coats and those were the non-believers. What else did you ask?

Jason:

The sacred words, leader? I mean, I’m just going through the steps.

Patrick:

Oh sure, independence, freedom.

Jason:

Rugged individualism.

Patrick:

Pursuit of happiness.

Jason:

Yep. We the people.

Patrick:

The American dream, we the people. Yes, absolutely.

Jason:

What about the leader, though?

Patrick:

Well, it would be the current President and then also, I mean, a brand that has existed as long as our nation has. These things kind of go out. So, we have political leaders, we also have cultural leaders, and like, Hemingway or Mark Twain or Bill Gates, you know?

Jason:

Don’t other countries have all that too? I mean…

Patrick:

Absolutely and so do cities. I mean, this is where we get into preference, I think, and this is really the nut of all this is that people prefer you above all others when you have..because you mean something to them and you mean more to them then the thing that’s side by side. Today’s world we have a 100 different, I think over 300 different kinds of cars, car models to choose from. We have over a 100 different drinks that we can choose from, from smoothies to milk to water and so quality and quantity are pretty assured in today’s world, in the western world, first world, and they’re pretty much assured, so how do we mean…when consumers have all these options, how do we stand out, how do we – and the way to stand out is to be more meaningful and the way to be more meaningful is to have a better brand.

Jason:

Let’s make sure we get to the perfect primal, the five things that you talk about or the three things that you talk about there. You know, any final steps? I think you’re alluding to that, but go ahead, I didn’t want to interrupt ya.

Patrick:

First of all, people ask, “Is this what you’re alluding to?” I mean, are there are some that are better than others or more important than others? They are all important and to have all seven is prime, but in some categorizes, like the tire category or something. Low interest categorizes, you can get away with a couple. I mean, the Michelin ties, for example, you have the Michelin man, you have the Michelin book and that’s much, you now have the logo, that’s pretty much it. Bridgestone, I don’t know, where di they start? I have no idea. I can’t even think of the other one, Goodyear blimp. That’s pretty much what you have and you have a price point and so you can be in a low interesting category or manufacturing something, you know, a zipper or a snap or something and have a very successful, manufacture boxes, and have an incredibly successful company, but I think that the ones that… but you could go away tomorrow and no one would care.

Jason:

Right, right. You know who I think does a pretty good job of some of this thing in primal branding is wineries. They have sort of like these creation stories, they have rituals, they have all this stuff, you know, I’m not a huge wine guy, but I’m just saying. You know, alcohol brands seem to do that pretty well like Ketel One, you know, came into the market and got really big in the vodka category, which is pretty much a commodity item. I mean, vodka isn’t that tremendously different, but they have a story, right. People care more and relate more to those brands with stories. No question about it, so this is a great lesson. Okay, what other points do you want to mention on the perfect primal.

Patrick:

I think that one thing people might be wondering about is what you do in social media and this is where really shine, because the notion that then is becomes once you understand that these seven things exist, where do you put them? So, does your creation, where’s your creation story go? Well, it’s not going to go on Twitter, I don’t think, but I don’t know if you can get it in how many characters, but the, it could certainly go on your website. If you do have a package, it could go on the back of the package and these are the kinds of things that come up and how do you create this social conversation and how do you keep it going and fuel it?

So, instead of doing a one off hashtag program, for example. Not that there’s anything wrong with hashtagging programs, but just as an example, people keep following the craze of the moment or selfies or whatever it might be next week instead of just going off and doing those kind of things, spur of the moment things, what seems to be popular at the moment. You can think about investing that hashtag program or that selfie with your icons in terms of a selfie and hashtag program could be sacred words or something like that, but take the time to think about it and develop those things in advance so that people within your community are surrounded continually with your seven pieces of primal code, because that will keep you very buzzy and relevant with them.

Jason:

Good stuff. Patrick, give out your website and tell people where they can learn about Primal Branding.

Patrick:

You can Google Primal Branding and find any number of things about it. Someone even put up a slide show as they were listening to me talk much to my dismay, but you can google Primal Branding and, of course, Thinktopia.com is our website.

Jason:

Yeah, great name, Thinktopia.com. That’s good and of course the book is on Amazon with great reviews. It’s really an excellent philosophy, so I appreciate you sharing it with us today and that’s Patrick Hanlon. Primal Branding is the name of the book, create zealots for your brand, your company, and your future. Thanks for joining us.

Patrick:

Jason, I just quickly pointed out, Social Code is the name of the new book.

Jason:

Oh yeah, that’s right.

Patrick:

Which is the updated version. Primal Branding, which was written in 2006, I was still talking about AOL instant messenger and the crazy thing is that, well, now it’s been eight or nine years, but all the new things that, you know, that are new now I guess, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so forth have all come about in the last, you know, five, six, seven years.

Jason:

Absolutely. Good stuff, but the principle of branding, they don’t change too fast, do they? I mean, this is stuff that worked a 1,000 years ago and it works today, right?

Patrick:

Someone told me, I have not created anything St. Paul did not already know about.

Jason:

But you say it in a way that’s really understandable so people really, really make sense of it. So, good stuff. Patrick, thanks so much for joining us.

Patrick:

Oh, thanks Jason. It was great. It was fun.

Announcer:

This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, all rights reserved. For distribution or publication rights and media interviews, please visit www.hartmanmedia.com or email media@hartmanmedia.com. Nothing on this show should be considered specific personal or professional advice. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, real estate or business professional for individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own and the host is acting on behalf of Platinum Properties Investor Network Inc. exclusively.