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  • Uncovering Many Brand Misconceptions with Martin Lindstrom

    Today, I speak with Martin Lindstrom, who is one of the premier branding legends.  He spends a lot of his time consulting Fortune 500 clients, speaking, writing books and researching trends in branding.  During this interview he uncovers some brand misconceptions and reveals the truth, using his experience and research.

    Martin, in your words, what is the difference between a corporate, product and personal brand?  What strategies have you learned over time that can help build each?

    I think the fundamental ingredients should be the same – but in today’s world they’re not. We tend to justify that when you build a product brand that you can be more rational, that you’re user rational with personal brands and in-between with corporate brands. But in reality it shouldn’t be like that. Remember brands are in principal all about emotion – and the better we are at wrapping a product or service or a person around an emotional aura the higher price we can charge. That said – there are of course situations where you can do that (as you need to generate immediate sales) – so a classic ration I’m working with is to say:

    • Personal Brand = 90-100% emotional focus 0-10% rational (I.e. talent)
    • Corporate Brand = 80-90% emotional focus 10-20% rational (I’d love it to be 100% but only few cases is able to do this – like Apple)
    • Product Brand = 40-50% emotional focus 50-60% rational

    What makes brands so compelling that they create raving fans?  Why do Apple enthusiasts wait in line for 48 hours to receive a T-Shirt and sleep over night to get an iPhone?

    The secret is communities – when it comes to the Apple story I’ve been in extensive contact with a film crew which is producing a movie (soon to be released in the U.S.) called MacHeads. They’ve told me that the core of Apple is 3-4 communities which burn for Apple – so much so that they’re are like evangelists – that’s the secret. If they were gone – the Apple brand would fade.

    What are the common “buying” myths and what are the truths?  Does sex sell still?

    • Sex doesn’t sell – controversy does.
    • Special offers doesn’t sell – limited offer does.
    • Transparency and 100% accessibility doesn’t sell – mystery and limited accessibility does.

    We’re rational and buy stuff with our rational mind – forget everything about it 85% of everything we buy is decided in our subconscious mind. Subliminal advertising doest exist – you bet it does and happens every day….and the list goes on and on….

    What is mirror branding and what are somatic brand markers?  Why are they important?

    Phew – that’s a big and interesting question. Mirror branding is the fact that we’re hardwired to imitate -so much so that we rarely question why we buy – we just do it. Now – finally – we’re able to explain why and how. It all links with our mirror neurons – neurons which helps us to imitate and in reality feel empathy – now we know when they’re activated and thus can migrate this amazing insight into the world of branding.

    Somatic markers is an amazing discovery – and ironically it has never been used in the world of marketing before. When Socrates was teaching his students he slapped them on the chin – whenever he said something important. They never forgot the message (who can blame them – receiving a slap from Socrates). This is a Somatic marker – it is a book mark in our brain which we’ll never forget – it is so dramatic that it over time even creates a short-cut and just based on few signals initiates a chain effect which makes us do certain things.

    What did the scientists discover when drawing parallels between religion and powerful brands? How can we use this information to build powerful brands?

    That there indeed is a strong parallel between powerful emotional brands and religion. What we’ve learned from this is the creation of a 10 point list of ingredients which brands in the future needs to build into their strategies – a plan which by the way reveilles why brands like Apple is doing so well and why other brands struggle.

    What are the three most bazaar pieces of research you uncovered when writing your book and how will they impact branding moving forward?

    That the Nokia tune (which I told the executives at Nokia they should promote because it was so powerful – which they by the way did later on ….) has become a negative Somatic Marker – this means – when people hear it they instead of loving the brand begin to hate the brand.


    Martin Lindstrom is recognized as one of the world’s primary online branding gurus, defining ten groundbreaking Internet-branding rules in 1995. A leading thinker in his field, a visionary and an educator in the rapidly growing field of online branding, Martin Lindstrom has authored several best-selling books, including his latest book, Buyology, on the use of emerging techniques for building strong, international online brands.

    Co-founder of BBDO Interactive Europe (later renamed Framfab), Europe’s largest Internet solution company in 1995.  Throughout his career, Lindstrom has provided brand-building advice to international companies including LEGO Worldwide, Mars, Pepsi, Mercedes-Benz, VISA, Quicken and Yellow Pages. He is a member of several international boards including Wotch.com, Hitwise and eKit.com.

    Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press) and the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future (Kaplan Publishing), which combined have been translated into 15 languages.

    Posted in Book Reviews, Interview, People, Personal Branding
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