What makes you a brand engineering expert?
I am an idealist. I believe great brands are causes. When my firm created ING DIRECT, Expedia.ca, Intact Insurance or Borrowell, we parked our cynicism at the door and became true believers in what those brands wanted to do. When you force yourself to be accountable for everything your client’s brand does, you gain insights, you learn what works and what doesn’t in a way that transcends a sales or research report. That’s one way you become an expert. The other is simpler, and harder. Listen, listen, listen. Retain your capacity for awe and never behave like you’ve got it all figured out.
What is the current trend in your area of expertise that people should pay attention to?
Brands are no longer taught. They are observed. So everything a brand does matters. If a brand speaks one way over here and another way over here, it creates dissonance, and that will be felt and interpreted uncharitably. Trust suffers. Another important thing to pay attention to, even more so today, is making sure your customers feel your authentic motive for creating the product or service you are so proud of. It’s too easy to rely on what the product does to get attention, but that can be copied. Make sure you find ways to consistently express why you do what you do. It will make selling what you make far more satisfying and start building a brand people can love, not just admire or find useful.
Why do you love FinTech?
Money is so key to our identity. How we manage it is a litmus test for almost, well, anything. With literally thousands of Fintech startups rethinking how we relate to money, how we save it, move it, use it, give it away etc…the opportunities for these brands to be on the consumer’s side means that Fintech is really correcting the balance of power in terms of consumerism. We should never again talk about empowering the customer. The customer was always empowered. We have to earn their loyalty. No other category is like this to this degree, and as exciting for a marketer. That’s why I love Fintech.
Why did you join the FinTech Growth Syndicate’s Industry Best Team?
Because the FinTech Growth Syndicate is like that old movie The Dirty Dozen. Everyone is truly and profoundly skilled in their own area and respectful of the other. What a panel to have on your side if you are a startup or an FI of any stripe. When the FGS is working with a client they are receiving a level of counsel and a diversity of opinions that no corporate culture can sustain internally. On a personal level I also enjoy the fact that even after thirty years in this business I can learn so much from my peers on the panel.