[Podcast] Best of JUST Branding Podcast 2023 (Season 4)

[Podcast] Best of JUST Branding Podcast 2023 (Season 4)

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Welcome to our special ‘Best of 2023’ episode of ‘JUST Branding,’ where we dive into the most insightful and transformative ideas in branding and marketing from the year.

This episode is a curated journey through the minds of industry leaders, innovators, and rebels, each offering unique perspectives on branding’s evolving landscape.

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We kick off with the most popular episode of the season, Episode 1, which just happened to be our own. In it, we discuss the intricacies of becoming a brand consultant and our own personal journeys.

  • Episode 8 takes a different turn with Mike Roberts, exploring personal branding and the influential role of LinkedIn.
  • In Episode 11, Ian Barnard brings practical wisdom on building big brands with modest budgets, followed by a rebellious twist in
  • Episode 5 with Stix of Liquid Death, who redefines branding norms.
  • Episodes 9 and 15, featuring Fred & Erik of SNASK delve into the heart of creativity, empathy, and culture, and the development of BIG brand ideas.
  • The art of workshop design is elegantly unfolded by Brittni Bowering in Episode 3, while Rachel Davis in Episode 14 balances the scales between facilitation and strategy.
  • Chris Kocek in Episode 16 and Dan White in Episode 7 take us through the intricate process of uncovering insights and measuring brand impact.
  • Miri Rodriguez’s Episode 17 on Brand Storytelling and Jenni Romaniuk’s Episode 12 on Distinctiveness & Differentiation provide a masterclass on crafting compelling narratives and standing out in a crowded market.
  • Terri Goldstein in Episode 10 and Hamish Smyth in Episode 13 bring their expertise on mastering brand building in regulated environments and the art of consistency in brand guidelines.
  • Lastly, Kate Pincott in Episode 4 explores the cutting-edge world of NFTs and their impact on brands, while another Episode 17 offers insights into brand growth through AI, marking the convergence of branding and technology.

Join us as we revisit these captivating discussions, each a cornerstone of modern branding and marketing.

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Transcript (Auto Generated)

Hello and welcome to Just Branding. The only podcast dedicated to helping designers and entrepreneurs grow brands. Here are your hosts, Jacob Cass and Matt Davies.

Hello, everybody, and welcome to the best of episode of JUST Branding, the best of 2023, season four, Jacob. Can you believe we’ve now done four seasons? My mind boggles that that is an action.

How? But it’s awesome.

And folks, if you are watching this via YouTube, you will notice that this is a special episode because Jacob has got his special flamingo shirt on. So kudos to you, Jacob. But putting the effort in, I’ve just rocked up in a t-shirt.

You’re going to be wearing the same black shirt on.

I should have worn my suit and tie, shouldn’t I? But Sunday best. But there we are.

Not like you, Jacob. You’ve made the effort. So kudos to you.

Listen, folks, thanks so much for tuning in, not just at this episode, all the way through the year. I think Jacob and I really want to thank you for all of your support. And we also want to thank all of our guests.

Now we’re going to be doing, as is customary on our Best Of, a little sort of overview of the whole year and some of the amazing things that we’ve uncovered and thought about with some of our guests. But before we do that, Jacob, we’ve had a fantastic year, haven’t we, in terms of some recognition and stuff. So, you know, is it worth just highlighting that?

Like, what has actually happened to the podcast this year?

Yeah, well, let’s look back on some stats, right? So we’ve nearly got half a million downloads across all the episodes, which is crazy. So thank you, everyone, for tuning in consistently.

We release an episode every two weeks or so, sometimes three if we miss it, but generally every two weeks. We also picked up an award this year for being in the top 10 global design podcasts, which are from Good Pods, which is awesome. Thank you, Good Pods.

Yes, thank you. And yeah, we have an average of 4.9 rating on Apple, which is awesome. So thank you for the reviews.

They’re always appreciated. They do allow us to reach more listeners, your reviews. So thank you.

And yeah, we’ve been in a number one design podcast in a number of different places, including Switzerland, Slovenia, Cyprus, Nigeria, Lebanon, Belize, Ghana, Tanzania, Bermuda. They’re all number one in those countries. Austria, number two, Slovakia, number two, Croatia, number two, number six in Australia, seven in the UK, six in Canada, number 25 in the US, and Welk Magazine voted us number one brand in podcast, as well as FeedSpot.

It’s amazing. It’s really very humbling.

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It blows me away that that’s happened, particularly because one of the things, folks, that’s probably worth mentioning is that this is an independent podcast. We don’t sell ourselves out to any advertising network or anything like that. This is totally funded by Jacob and I.

We do it for love, don’t we, mate? At the end of the day, it’s always been our intention to learn from great minds, to give back to you, our listeners, and to be along for the ride with you. Hopefully, have a little bit of a laugh along the way because fun is always underrated.

It’s such a wonderful thing that all those things have happened. Now, without further ado, without waffling on about how amazing we are, although I didn’t actually know about some of those awards, so that’s actually been news for me, which is brilliant. Let’s get into a bit of an overview because it’s been a busy year.

I think this season has had a very eclectic mix, and I don’t know about your observation, Jacob, but mine on the type of guests we’re getting in, they’re really high caliber experts, as is usual, but we’re going deeper. We’re going deeper into different specific areas around brand building and brand strategy and the surrounding disciplines, if you like, that help contribute towards businesses and organizations creating alignment, creating an understanding of what they stand for, creating market growth opportunities and standing out and developing the value that they can bring to their consumers. We’re going deep and deeper.

I don’t know what your thoughts are on that, but that’s what I’ve observed.

Yeah, as I was trying to find the clips for this episode, it was pretty tough just to choose one minute or less of each episode. And we have covered a lot of the past four seasons, but we’re still uncovering new insights and speaking to different subject matter experts. And like you said, we are going deeper.

And I think that’s what keeps things interesting. If we kept talking about the same things, it can get boring quickly. But what I’ve learned that everyone has a different lens on branding and how they approach it.

And that’s what’s most interesting for me personally.

I absolutely agree. I was just going to throw in a couple of things there. They all do have a different lens.

And I think what I sometimes people give me feedback that listeners give me feedback. And one of the pieces of feedback I’ve had is that, you know, it’s been helpful this podcast because it shows that there isn’t just like one answer or one way of doing it. So if you feel like if you’ve got imposter syndrome, hopefully, you know, you tune into the podcast, you’re like, hard, these there’s different insights, there’s different ways of doing things.

There’s commonalities for sure. But as you go through, you realize that actually not one person or one system always works in every circumstance. And I think hopefully that’s comforting to folks because it gives you should give you more confidence that that, you know, if you hit a stumbling block, like chances are that, you know, you just need to adapt and that’s what this podcast is about.

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And so that was one observation. The second observation I would just like to throw out there is that, you know, this is a shifting discipline. It changes every year.

And we’re going to talk a little bit later as we review the year that about the future, because we’ve had a couple of guests on that have really given us a sneak peek behind the curtain of what we think is coming down the track in regards to to to brand and technology, particularly. And so I think as we navigate that together, that is going to be, you know, a key a key thing. Hopefully this podcast will continue to add value to practitioners as we go forwards.

So anyway, without further ado, I think it would be great if, you know, we look at we look back at some of the best highlights of the year. And Jacob and I have kind of, as Jacob said, gone back through some of the clips and we’ve got some clips to sort of highlight. And we’ll have a bit of a discussion as we go through the journey of season number four.

So where are we starting, Jacob? What’s the best clip you’ve got so far to share with the listeners?

Well, I looked at what was the most popular episode from season four and just by chance, it happened to be our episode that we started with. It was our to-be-careful plan consultant. So our best of obviously starts with us.

So the clip we’re going to start at the beginning with a clip from us. It’s about how to become a brand consultant and what makes a good brand consultant. So that’s what we’re going to jump into, but I just want to give you an overview of some of the clips before we get into that, because we are going to go through a lot of them.

We’re going to look at how to become a brand consultant, personal branding and the power of LinkedIn, how to build big brands on small budgets, rebellious branding, creativity, how to develop big ideas, workshop design, facilitation, insights, storytelling, distinctiveness, brand building in a regulated world. And we’re going to touch on NFTs there and AI, of course, as well as star guides. So we have a lot to cover, so that’s what you’re in for.

But yeah, without further ado, we’re going to jump back into the clip I mentioned. What makes a good consultant? I’d love to pick your brain on what you think makes a good brand consultant, because for me, it’s like a wide depth of skills and a deep depth of skills in terms of knowing different areas, right?

Marketing, design, business, strategy, vision, and bringing that together to help advise. And just to come back to my point about selling deliverables, you may not be able to do all of those elements, right? You may be a brand designer and you deliver logos and identities and so forth.

However, you could also do the strategy part as well. So it just really depends on what you’re offering, I guess is my point. But the skills, let me go back to that.

What do you think makes a great brand consultant? What skills and knowledge?

I think a number of kind of things. I think you’re right. It’s not like you’re kind of in a box, right?

So first of all, you’ve got to be comfortable being slightly uncomfortable. I think that there’s a confidence that comes in this space because not every process, not every method that you’ve ever used will always work in every single business. So there’s always moving parts.

So you’ve got to be kind of comfortable in that space. And I think as designers, we kind of are, right? We’re used to stepping into the unknown because a designer usually starts where they are today, looks at a brief and thinks about the better future, the better tomorrow.

And so we’re used to kind of thinking, well, you know, how do we get there? And that’s the beauty of design. It’s kind of about trying to solve the problems en route sometimes to the end solution.

Working, you know, testing and learning, failing fast and all that stuff. But you’re doing the same thing, but hopefully in a de-risk, you know, trying to de-risk yourself, but doing it with alongside a business. So that’s I kind of say I’m a kind of business designer.

Business designer, that’s how you describe it.

Yeah, that was a great episode. I think, and it doesn’t surprise me actually, it’s one of the most popular ones because, you know, I think I see a lot of people moving into the space of brand strategy, but then thinking like, well, what do I describe myself as now? Am I a designer?

And a lot of folks have come from that design background. And so I think that discussion that we had was super valuable there because, you know, we’ve come quite a long way. I think when we first started the podcast four years ago, I think I’d been practicing sort of brand strategy officially as a consultant, maybe three or four years.

I think you were, you’d been practicing it for a similar amount of time. And so I guess it’s quite a fresh discipline and we’ve come on from there. So, you know, another four years later, you know, we’ll share with, I guess we’re like a couple of old men, like, you know, in the care homes.

Let’s tell them all about, you know, brand strategy. But, you know, you sort of stop and you look back and you think, actually, we’ve learned some things. And hopefully that will be helpful to folks entering the space as they go through.

And so, yeah, how to be a brand consultant is, you know, an important, I think, contribution to this space. If you want to proceed alone and have something, you know, valuable to offer your clients. So, yeah, really, really cool.

And being uncomfortable, I think was a key point there is that you don’t know where you’re going to end up. And, you know, trusting that process, just as we do as designers, we have to problem solve along the way. So that was a really key point.

That kind of leads us into the next clip, which is about personal branding from Mike Roberts.

Yeah, Mike is an amazing expert, particularly focused in on LinkedIn strategy. And so this is something that he had to say around personal branding. And so if you are thinking about, you know, going alone or even if you’re in an agency or in house in a market, in a marketing team or a founder or a CEO, you know, this is something that I think would be helpful.

So this is what Mike had to say about personal branding or LinkedIn.

People fall into the trap of creating a profile, connecting with hundreds of people for the sake of it and hoping, you know, there’s hundreds of thousands of people on LinkedIn. They’re all addicted to Hopium. They’re basically just waiting for a sale to come through.

And hopefully someone will just get in touch and say, great, where do I sign? And I think rehumanization has never been more important. And what I mean by that is, yes, it’s a digital platform about you, but how can we make it even more about you and your personal branding?

And I know we’re going to come on to this shortly, but putting yourself into the other person’s world through a video message, through an audio message, so that they can see you, hear you, feel like the passion that you’re putting into what you’re doing, almost like you’re in the same room with them. That to me is so much more important than driving six hours out of my day and six hours back just to get some time in this corporate cold office with somebody and when I can do it through this digital platform and save myself a huge amount of hours and time.

So what Mike’s saying there is as you go about building your reputation, your brand, personally, and I think this is why it’s interesting, A, you have to be more deliberate about it, but there’s this massive kind of digital component that he talks about in that episode about how to show up well on digital media and how you can start leveraging some of the power of platforms like LinkedIn. And that concept, Jacob, of humanizing yourself and showing up in an authentic way, I think is absolutely crucial for anybody operating in this space. If you want to become a trusted advisor, if you want to become a consultant, you’ve got to really think through that personal brand.

And even if you’re in house, as I’ve said, that is all absolute gold dust in terms of the thinking there. That was a great episode from Mike, I thought.

That was Episode 8 on personal branding. If you want to learn more, the one tip I do remember from that is the video personalization. So I technically used was he had a whiteboard and he wrote the person’s name on it.

And at the start of the video, it starts with the whiteboard with the person’s name on it, which shows that as a personalized video. So that was one key tip I remember from that episode.

Yeah, Mike’s got so many good tips. If you want to improve your LinkedIn, definitely listen in to that episode. And he builds very much on the principles of personal branding.

So super helpful, super helpful. The next episode we wanted to highlight, I guess, was that one with Ian Barnard around building brands on small budgets. Because I guess that builds on this idea of using platforms like LinkedIn and so on and so forth to kind of create your reputation, to manage your meaning.

So what have you chosen from Ian’s episode?

So I chose the clip around the 60-40 rule, which some may have heard from the long and short of it.

So as a rule of thumb, when you have your marketing budget and you’re trying to balance between brand and performance, there’s actually a lot of data and science behind this. And what these two guys found in this report called the long and short of it was the 60-40 rule, where they say that most of the time most brands should spend around 60% of their budget on brand, on reaching future customers and building future demand, and about 40% of their budget on performance, on harvesting the existing demand, going after about 5% of people who are in the market. And it’s the balance of these two types of marketing campaigns running simultaneously over a long period of time that’s going to get you strong, steady, profitable growth.

And who doesn’t want that? So that was a really insightful episode where we go into brand marketing, the performance marketing and how they work together. So if you want to learn more about that, that is Episode 11.

But it’s really interesting to dive deeper into that study. Like 60% of your marketing should be on brand. And obviously, there’s variables here.

It’s not always the case. But just think about the long term effects of building brand versus just dumping money into freelance marketing, such as ads, which is all short term results. It does work, but over the long run, brand is definitely going to work harder for you.

Yeah, you’ve got to have that more sort of strategic view, haven’t you? And I like that about that episode because, as you say, I think a lot of people, particularly if they feel like, but we’re just a small brand, we’re just starting out, or we’ve not got the huge marketing budgets of our competitors. What he pointed out was, look, take a long term view, take a strategic view, show up in a different way and leverage some of the channels that don’t cost you loads of money.

Do it, be smart, I guess, is his approach, which I think was super helpful. So tune in to that. That was Episode 11.

But talking about being smart, showing up and making an impact, I think the next one that we want to highlight, I think was one of the highlights of this season.

It’s funny you say that. It’s probably one of my favorite episodes of the season, is with Stix of Liquid Death. So if you haven’t heard of Liquid Death, it is water in a can, but it’s so much more than that.

It is a brand. And this episode, we go into how that brand has been built, and from the ground up, and how it’s really been a destructive player in the water industry. So we’re talking about rebellious branding in the episode, but for this little clip, it’s about authenticity, and we’ll get into that after the tip.

Just be cool. It’s so much harder to be a **** than being really cool. Like, just be nice.

That’s it. It’s not hard, you know? And deliver.

So, you know, do we say you’re going to do? But to answer your question, Josh, I literally go in, and I’m literally, Jacob, having people say that to me, and it comes down to my friendships, and it’s like following up with them. Are their friends, not name dropping, not saying, I know that guy.

Like, no, do you legitimately know that person? Like, that’s what it comes down to. But a lot of it is lip service, and the world is tired of that.

There’s a lot of people talk at the game, and they go, deliver. It does come down to delivery, and that’s why we’re into the gun. Now we’re in all these retailers, and they’re like, you better deliver, because in retail, you lose that real estate, you don’t get it back.

It’s all about velocity. How fast does that move off the shelf? If you lose it, someone else is just going to be there waiting.

So with the success, I appreciate you acknowledging that, comes the pressure of, okay, how are we going to keep this going? So it’s never ending. Every day, it’s like, how do we keep this machine going?

That episode just, if you want to know how to build a brand and occupy in a very short space of time, a dominant position in a market with a product in essence, that is just water, right? Packaged differently, positioned completely differently, in a rebellious way, that is the episode for you. So if you’re looking to make waves, check that out.

And one of the things I think is amazing about Stix, he’s obviously, I can’t remember his official title, but it’s something like Chieftain of Indoctrination or something at Liquid Death. Like he’s the head of their brand department. He’s so creative, so rebellious.

And he’s so generous in that episode, because he shares all the things that they’re doing over at Liquid Death. So it’s not for everybody, it’s high risk. And we talk about that in the episode, but it’s powerful.

And the waves that they’re making over there are great. I just saw actually, interestingly, very recently, they just did a collaboration with Burton, and they created a snowboard. Have you seen this?

And it’s called the Death Trap, right? They even say it’s basically the worst snowboard you’ll ever ride. It’s the most dangerous.

It’s more like the shape of a coffin, just for our listeners. You can picture that.

Yeah, it’s like an extreme constant shape, basically, with no turning radius at all. And obviously, it’s a bit of a joke, but you can go and buy it, and people are buying it. That’s the sort of crazy stuff that Stix and his team are doing over there, and it gets noticed.

Why does it get noticed? Because it’s different, because it’s rebellious, because it’s unusual in the space. It’s creative.

Yeah, it’s creative. And so that is something that you need to really bear in mind if you’re trying to build a brand in your category, in your space, what would stand out? And not just stand out like a little bit.

If you want to make waves, you’ve got to take risks. And that’s what Liquid Death are doing with their sort of canned water approach. And by the way, just with that, one thing I did enjoy about that episode was the fact that it wasn’t just water in a can.

As you say, it’s a brand. But there were a number of kind of key drivers as to why they put the water in the can. It was because they wanted death to plastic.

So there was kind of a purpose and a reason behind it. But then the way that they’ve positioned the brand is almost if you’ve not seen it, it kind of looks like an energy drink or a hardcore kind of, I don’t know, beer brand, but it’s just water in a can. So that’s what they’ve done.

They’ve smashed up loads of…

And it’s bottled out of the source as well. Well, canned out of the source, I should say.

Yeah, yeah. So there’s quality in there as well. So there’s a number of kind of crazy things they’ve smashed together strategically, but it’s working for them.

They’re now in the UK, which I think is great. And yeah, keep an eye out for that brand, because I think it will be taking over a supermarket near you soon. So let’s move on a little bit.

You mentioned creativity as being a core part of what they’re doing at Liquid Death. And that is something that we caught up with the guys at Snask about, Freddie and Erik. They are really interesting.

They’re doing some wild work at their agency. And we caught up with them about creativity specifically and how to stimulate that creativity and create a culture around it. So this is what they had to tell us about that.

We think in… And I think you need… The only thing that you need is time.

I mean, you need time to be able to figure something out and especially try it. I mean, if you want to be creative and try to come up with something original and new, you need time to do things wrong. And then, you know, try it out.

Oh, this didn’t work. Okay, let’s try something else. So if you have that, I think, you know, it’s possible to do something good.

Just listening in there, there was obviously a long conversation there, and they touch on a lot of things, but they make a good point, right? Businesses have to carve out time for creativity. So often, it’s kind of, you know, rushed through or there’s a pressurized situation because there’s a deadline.

Trying to tick boxes.

Oh, yeah, like, you know, or it’s an afterthought, the way it’s, you know, the concept behind the thing being delivered, you know, from a communication campaign or a marketing campaign right the way through to the actual brand concept itself. We don’t think about things creatively enough, and that takes time. And so that was something I got out of the episode that we did with those guys.

Yeah, and time leads to big ideas, and that’s the topic for our next clip. So this episode was with Jacob and myself, sorry, with myself, how to develop big brand ideas. And this was an episode that we did off the cuff because our guests didn’t show up for the recording.

So yeah, we just recorded and some big ideas to come out. So let’s get into that clip. You mentioned brand essence, and I just wanted to state that there’s many different names for this.

So there’s, you know, brand DNA, brand core, brand heart. You said the soul of the brand is another one. So it’s basically, as you said, the essence, it’s basically what’s inside.

And we think about this like a human, right? We all have souls.

There’s not like a literal handheld thing that, you know, you can hold, but it’s within us, right?

So if you think about the idea is that, that’s what we’re going to be talking about. How do we actually find this big idea that is like the glue for the brand? And this is, it’s powerful stuff.

It can, it can lead the employees internally. It can also guide external communications and everything about the brand. So it’s really, really, really important.

So yeah, big brand ideas. And what I touched on there is the glue that I mentioned. It’s what drives and sticks the old ideas together and everything.

So the brand core, the brand DNA, it’s everything. So what are your thoughts on that, Matt?

The thing about what we talked about was how do you boil, you know, a strategy, a positioning strategy down so that it’s easy to understand, right? Because you’ve got to sell that internally, usually to the business. And you’ve got to get all your people pointing in the right direction.

And it’s also got to be relevant, you know, ultimately externally so that, you know, your customers, your consumers, your partners can see what you’re doing and why it’s, you know, why it’s helpful and useful. So boiling it down to a big idea, that’s that episode was about simplifying, you know, clarifying the essence of what you’re doing. But you can’t get there, as we’ve pointed out before, without creativity, without thought, without time and without strategic thinking.

The other thing I think I remember about that one was, yeah, our guest didn’t turn up. Now we won’t mention the name of the guest, but they are a really big cheese in the brand space. And I’m pleased to say we have got them for season five.

So we won’t tell you who it is, and we won’t even tell you when it is happening in season five because we don’t want to embarrass them, but keep an eye out because we’ve got some amazing guests coming up next year already lined up. That person is one of them. Who shall remain nameless?

You can guess if you want in the comments on this episode who you think it might be, but we’ll leave it there for now. So yeah, so to all our future guests, turn up, because this is the last time we’re not naming somebody who arranges to record with us and doesn’t turn up. The warning has been given this time round.

I think when we talk about creating a brand strategy, creating a powerful and creative concept behind a brand that really sets a business up for a high growth situation, how do we do that? And we get that question a lot. And this season, as I’ve mentioned, we do go deep into some key areas.

One of the key areas that we went into this season was around workshops and facilitation and collaboration between strategists and creatives and the business that they’re working in. And so that kind of idea of how was something we picked up with two specialist experts. Brittni Bowering was one.

She’s a workshop designer and specializes in that. She used to be from AG and SMART, and her episode is super helpful if you are looking at wanting to design workshops and collaborate. And the other person was Rachel Davis, who again is an expert facilitator and strategist in her own right.

Both had amazing things to say. So we’ll start with Brittni, and here she is telling us about when actually is it a good time to have a workshop. And it’s definitely around the time when you want to do brand strategy.

When would you say that kind of work is necessary? Why would we pull people away from their everyday individual activity to come together? When is that a good idea to do?

Yeah, that’s a great question, because I think what happens a lot with people who have not done a lot of workshops is they’ll do one and then they get really excited and they’re like, that was so fun, that was so awesome. That’s how we’re going to work forever. And then you start having this series of like, you’re invited to workshops every day of the week.

And that is too much, right? It’s just simply too much energy to be working in that format all the time. But I would say that the key to when to workshop is, is the challenge a big one?

So is it like risky? Is it going to be expensive? If you make the wrong decision, is it going to be expensive?

Is it something where, a second thing would be, is it something where we need more hands on deck, right? So we need people maybe coming from different sides of the business, or just we need the whole team together, right? One thing that I think often happens with challenges where people are like, oh, I have this, yeah, okay, what I’m going to do, I’m going to do a workshop.

And they just sort of like bring people together. It’s like, do those people need to be there, right? It’s sort of something that needs, you need to think about, like who actually will provide value for this challenge?

So making sure you have the right people there. And then I think the other thing that you need to think about is what is the challenge, right? So a good workshop challenge is often when you aren’t sure where to go next, or you feel like the team is a little bit misaligned right now about, you know, what our next steps are, or, you know, if you see your team sort of everybody doing their work, but it’s not sort of adding up and coming together, then it’s a really good time to bring people in and reassess and have a workshop.

So, you know, there are times when it’s definitely much better to do one, and there’s like not everything can be solved in a workshop. So, yeah, I think it’s a great question and one we need to think about a lot.

So Brittni’s there saying, you know, that’s when you want to bring everyone together. And I think one of the things I thought was, you know, how pertinent that is, big challenge, lots of people from across the business, as you said before, Jacob, the glue to stick everything together is brand, is brand strategy. That is when, you know, workshops are at their best.

So if you are into designing, you know, the experience with a client or with your own business where you need your brand to be set up for success, listen to Brittni’s episode, you know, powerful stuff around how to do that.

I would just say this is episode 3, workshop design. I just had a comment before we go into the next one. There are a lot of practical tips in that episode.

So if you run workshops at all, there are some really, really good tips in there to make your workshops more smooth, especially around preparation and how to get the most out of a workshop. So that’s what I wanted to mention.

Yeah, no, powerful. And following swiftly on from that, I think, you know, we had a sort of a similar episode in a way, but completely different in terms of the topics covered around the detail with Rachel Davis, who had this to say when we spoke to her.

You have to separate creative thought from critical thought because they can’t exist in the same moment. They can exist after each other, but critical thought brings in evaluation and judgment. And if you bring that in too soon in a workshop, you’re going to shut people down.

I agree there. The way you say gathering verse, not creating.

I kind of say we’re trying to get the ingredients out. We’re trying to get all the ingredients, then we can cook up something amazing. And that’s the metaphor I use for our clients.

That was a really great insight, I thought, around when you run a workshop, you’ve got to separate the two things. Are you gathering insights or are we creating a strategy? You can’t do both at the same time.

It’s a process of time. And I love that little cooking analogy that you cooked up there, Mr. Cass. Lovely, lovely.

Any thoughts on that? And I’ve got one more from Rachel in a second.

Let’s dive into the next one.

So my very first one is think of it as an experience, right? Not everything happens in the room like we talked about. It’s what happens before, what happens after, how do you keep that momentum?

That’s my first tip. My second tip is everything should have a reason. Everything you’re doing, whether it’s before the workshop and an async activity, every single activity, every single thing, you should be able to before you run that workshop, write down the why.

You should be able to do that before you even step into that workshop session. And you should be able to explain why are we doing this. Even like a purposeful connection activity at the beginning, I don’t like to call them icebreakers.

Why are we doing it, right? Are we doing it to open up our minds to creative thought? Are we doing like a 30 circles activity?

Because we want to see if people can think outside the circle, right? What are we doing at the beginning?

Just to show folks, they’re some of the kind of the depths that we’re going into, like super deep stuff. You know, Rachel’s saying there, you know, we need to think about workshops as an experience for the people we’re bringing in. She’s talking about when you, every exercise needs to be justified and useful.

And, you know, they’re just a couple of tips. She gave tons more. So again, if you’re setting up workshops, dive in to Rachel’s episode, which I think was Episode 15, if I’ve got that right.


Thank you. 14.

I love what you said about why, why are you in this workshop? Because that’s going to help you get the right ingredients to continue that metaphor. So you get the right ingredients out so you can cook up something amazing.

The other thing there, Jacob, is, you know, senior people, if you’re dealing with a senior team, they haven’t got the time to waste. And they often don’t suffer falls lightly. So they need to understand why are we doing this exercise and where is it going to get us?

And I think if you can explain why really simply, you get the buy in of everybody. And even if you’re doing a one hour workshop, you need to say we’re doing this, we’re doing this, we’re doing this for these reasons. And I think that that gets you a long way when you’re facilitating.

And on the topic of those workshops, it kind of leads into our next clip, which is about insights. We had two episodes on insights this season. And like we mentioned, we are going deeper.

And this is actually how to uncover insights. And this clip from Chris Kocek on Episode 16 talks about what a true insight is.

So one of the characteristics of a true insight is you’re reframing the situation away from something that’s obvious. There’s a lot of common cultural wisdom, right? A lot of common expressions that we have in the culture and a lot of things that we see.

People are time poor. That’s true. The world over.

Everybody’s busy. Everybody’s time poor. OK, so that’s an observation.

It’s an interesting one. But we know that. What’s our twist on that?

What are we going to do with that and twist it around to come up with something different? So data can be the beginning of an insight. It can be the first step or the first star in the constellation.

Hey, I’ve got this really interesting data point. It makes me wonder this, this and this, right? So data can kind of kick you off down the road.

But I like to also think of insights as something that we build, right? So just like a constellation is something that you build, you connect the dots. So you build an insight.

And in that way, it’s a very iterative process. It’s very collaborative. And another characteristic is a true insight should be should be able to connect the dots in a way no one’s ever connected them before.

Right? So that gives you something new, something fresh to think about. It also has to connect with what your brand has to offer.

So Tracy, as I was mentioning at BBDO, she would often say, and forgive the bad British accent, but she would say, well, I think we’re looking for insights that are useful, not just interesting. Right? So there are a lot of interesting insights, but they have to be useful to your brand.

If you can’t connect it back to your brand’s value proposition or your brand’s strengths, then it’s not going to be particularly effective and you need to move on.

Yeah, that was a brilliant episode with Chris. So Episode 16, if you want to dive more into insights and how to use them for brand building and business growth, I think you made some brilliant points in that because everyone says they have insights, right? They’re like, get me the insights.

And his book was actually called Any Insights Yet, which I think is hilarious because we’re always after, like, what’s the insight? But like we’ve uncovered in this episode, like it takes time. We have to go through the steps, the motions to get that information out and to connect the dots, to get that balloon and that big idea.

So I think he put that together really nicely.

Right, and how can you build a strategy that’s unusual in the marketplace but still valuable to customers without those insights? It’s almost impossible. You’re just shooting in the dark.

So it’s such a crucial area of brand building, insights, how you gather them, research, how you go about that. You cannot afford to rush that. So many businesses are like, hey, I need a new brand.

And their brains just go to the logo, the fonts and the identity. But as we’ve been showing over the course of the last four seasons, brand building is not simply about logo and some fonts. It’s way more strategic.

It’s a much bigger discipline than that. And it sits really, in my view, at the highest level of business if you take it seriously and if it’s done properly. But thinking about insights, we also had, as you say, another episode about insights with the author Dan White.

And Dan, we asked him specifically about, well, how do you go about kind of getting good insights? And he had this really, really cool sort of example of how you can go about really getting useful and interesting insights through good qualitative research.

There are a few, yeah. I think the best ones are things like, qualitative will always be a good way of understanding the consumer. We mentioned ethnography before, which essentially is where you go in and you observe, and you become, you can observe, people become part of a household even for a while, or get people to film and interview individuals or families around the category, that kind of thing.

So what are you asking them?

So I’m just wanting to go like a little bit deeper, rather than just like do five minutes, whatever.

What are you actually doing to get that?

Well, you start to tell me about the last time you bought such and such, or last time you used such and such. What did you do? Where were you?

What was the experience like? Were you happy with the experience? Was there anything frustrating?

Or can you show me? If you’re in the home, can you show me? Next time you, I don’t know, load the dishwasher, can I film it and ask you some questions?

So why are you doing that? I noticed you put the tablet in, you threw it in rather than putting it in the… You’re nosy.

You observe and you probe as to why. Because the thing you can get from market research very powerful is understanding, well, why did people do that? Or why didn’t they do something?

The more you understand about the why, the more you reveal about their truths and their pain points, like you said. So that’s what you actually do in those kinds of research.

Yeah, so, you know, interesting, right? Like, you know, you’re hearing from experts in that field specifically, and we go really deep on insights in both of those episodes. Super interesting, I thought.

Like, get close to the customer, understand why they do things, what they’re kind of, what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. And, you know, as I say, that was just like an awesome episode around that side of things. What did you think of it, Jacob?

Yeah, understanding why people do things and why they act in a certain way is really, really important. That’s where those insights come from, and you can innovate from there if you have that research. But so many brands and businesses skip that step.

They don’t talk with their customers. They don’t observe. They just have a hunch and go after it.

So if you slow things down, take time, observe, understand why, you’re going to have a much stronger foundation to stand on.

The problem with research, I find, and that side of things and the concept of insights, is that it’s often tied to data and cold, hard facts. But as those episodes showed, it’s not about that. It’s about how you take those observations and you make them interesting and useful to the customer.

And not only that, you then take them and weave them into a narrative and a story that the customer can actually understand and connect with, and your teams can kind of resonate internally with, your leadership can get inspired by and get excited about, and storytelling is a crucial component of great brand strategy and brand execution. And I know we had an amazing episode on that, which I think you’ve got a clip from. So do you want to talk to us about the storytelling?

Yeah, this episode was with Miri Rodriguez, Episode 17, and she wrote a book on brand storytelling. So again, another subject matter expert. And in this clip, she talks about the storytelling machine.

So it goes into, once you have this big idea and insight, how do you continuously tell that story? And this is the framework she uses with the brand storytelling machine.

A storytelling machine is really an internal strategy to bring all the key players today that are telling the brand story, going out to market sales, marketing, operations support, of course, communications, internal, external, and really defining what is two things. First is the origin story. What does that look like?

Why does your brand exist and why? You will never run out of space and content to be able to tell people why your brand exists, where it’s going, why it’s doing what it’s doing, why it’s pivoting, why it stopped doing this product, why it’s going to go digital. The brand is an entity, and it’s growing up, and it has friends and foes, and hopefully it doesn’t die, so it’s growing, getting better, and that is the origin story that keeps going.

That’s the story that will always be told. Reminding consistently your audience why it’s doing this, what it’s doing, it’s a beautiful way to embed the narrative, the origin story that continues through anything that you do. So it’s not a marketing plot, and it’s not a campaign, it’s not a tactic, it’s a continuous approach, and that takes everyone to understand.

The machine is going to be creating a central location, an assets location where you’re creating the story, you’re creating, and I talk about it in my book, assets, decks, kits. You’re educating from the inside out and telling, using your own storytellers, your employees, your partners, your vendors, to tell that story from the inside out, understand the story and tell it in their own way.

There you have it. Straight from Miri, she talks about brand storytelling, but her key point there, what I pick up is the fact that it’s continuous, it never stops. So you need to consistently share this story, and it’s over time that this gets ingrained in people’s minds, and that’s how brand building works.

So that is what I found most useful from that episode about new math.

Yeah, she was amazing. And one of the things I remember from that is, you know, Miri works for Microsoft. I think she’s been there for like 17 or maybe 11 years, sorry, not 17 years, about 11 years.

And she really pulled the curtain back on the way Microsoft are building their brand through storytelling. And she talked about the fact that there’s a number of storytellers, actually, their job is storytelling at Microsoft. So if you’re interested in how a big brand like Microsoft builds authentic connection with consumers, particularly in the kind of the tech and SaaS space, you know, that is a great episode for you to think through.

It’s not what you think it might be. You know, that’s what I’d say. So that was a, yeah, that was a powerful, powerful episode.

Really thoroughly enjoyed that one.

Yep. And following on from that is distinctiveness. And we have Jenny Romanoik from the Ironberg Bass Institute, who comes and talks to us about distinctiveness and differentiation, how they work together.

But continuing on from brand storytelling, which is about the continuous sharing of that story, it still has to relate back to the brand and also has to be relevant for the customer. And how you do that is through the distinctive assets that you own. And this is the clip that I’m about to share is about distinctiveness.

What is distinctiveness in the context? Why is it crucial for a brand success?

Okay, so one of the easiest way I think to describe it is we all have a friend that has a style about them. You know, they have a look and feel where you could look at an outfit and go, yep, they would wear that or that’s that person’s style of outfit. Even if they’re not in it, if you just saw it on a thing, you’d go, oh yeah, I could see so and so in that.

They just have a way of looking about them that makes it easily identifiable what sort of clothes they wear, what sort of haircut they would have. You could probably predict the sort of things they turn up and also when they would look a bit odd, if they were wearing something different out of that, you’d know immediately this is not your usual style. And it’s not all of our friends, some friends turn up in anything, but they’re just some people you know that just have a style about them.

Well, that’s what brands can be like as well, that this is just this characteristics visual or audio, they can be other sensory as well, that just is what makes them look like them. And that can be broken up into the different sorts of sensory components that contribute to that sense of, yeah, that’s that brand and not anybody else. And that’s really all distinctiveness is.

So she wrote a book on distinctive brand assets, if you want to learn more by that same title. And yeah, it goes into all sorts of science behind how it works and how it can help grow brands. That is Episode 12.

We also talk about differentiation, which we won’t get into that debate, but yes, there’s a ton of useful tips inside that episode.

Yeah, I think the other thing that I would say is, although we do have a, I would say we have a leaning, don’t we, in a lot of our sort of episodes to strategy, that isn’t exclusively what we look at. We also try and get really practical as well. And this season was no exception to that, because we did have a number of very practical episodes where we did deep dives into certain areas.

One of my favorites was the one that we did with Terri Goldstein. She was really interesting because she operates in the pharmaceutical space in a regulated world. And so we had a really interesting episode.

Since we opened our doors in New York City of our office many, many years ago, you can imagine New York City, the vibrancy, a sensory stimulation. And I’m lucky that I have very interesting global clients. And sometimes they come over with a translator.

And I always wayfine people into my office in this particular order because the sequence of cognition exists. So I’ll say to either them or their translator, when you get into New York and you arrive at one of the stations, hop a yellow cab. Look for a yellow cab.

Next, I want you to look for the Empire State Building. It’s tall. Just look up.

You can’t miss it. Walk in that direction. Next thing I want you to do is find the Macy’s Building.

You’re going to see a great, big, huge, red star. And know you’re there because we’re at 35th and 7th around the corner from Macy’s. So there was a particular sequence of cognition of how I helped them wave by my office.

That’s because color is always first. It’s what we see first and recall first in our lives. Find a yellow cab.

Shape is second. It gives us information about how to use a product, where it fits in our life. Does it go in our duffel bag?

Does it fit in my messing cabinet? That’s why they have the hand on Amazon, so we can see how big it is. Shape is two.

Symbols are third. That’s why I always tell my clients, look for the big red star. And if you think about symbols when you’re shopping, you’re like, my kids hate strawberry.

I’m going to buy the cherry one. So one second decision. Hey, I want to recycle.

Where’s that recycle symbol? So creating a symbolic language is forever key. And words are last.

I mean, we talk all the time. You know, we have so many words in our mind that words can be confusing because they need to be decoded. What did he say?

What did he mean? What did he say? Words always need decoding.

Colors, shapes and symbols don’t. It’s a visual vocabulary. As branders, we always want to create, turn those words into a visual suite of colors, shapes and symbols.

So yeah, a powerful, a powerful lesson there. And the other thing that I thought was fascinating that came out of that, she went on to explain how you use that principle, colors, shapes, and symbols in the way that she designs packaging and how she brings brands to life, particularly as we say, in that really regulated space. What did you remember about that episode, Jacob?

That was the one clip I would have chose for that episode. That also stuck with me, just how the sequence of events and how a memory pull goes to color symbols and so forth. And that was memorable.

But as we’re going into design now, we’re bridging the gap between strategy and design and how we can use visual communication and those aspects to actually communicate. And that’s what it comes down to. And we have to do this consistently, and that’s how we build brands.

And this next clip is from the Iod of Consistency, which was Episode 13, where we had Hamish Sligh talking to us about how you can master brand guidelines. So how do we make our brand consistent? And he’s actually created a company called Standards, which helps with this.

He’s made brand guidelines digital. He is a subject matter expert. He also runs a publishing company called Standards, where he brings some style guides to life in book format.

So we’ll play this clip, and we’ll talk about how the Iod of Consistency can pay off for a brand.

In my early years, I wrote some really strict guidelines that you must use this, you know, type size of this, you know, tables and tables of meticulous things. And we thought we were being really smart. And then I bet you no one even cared, and probably was just like, I’m never using that.

And then I’ve written really, really simple ones as well, where it’s just one page and it just has the very basics. And sometimes, you know, maybe that’s more successful. But I think what, to mitigate the inconsistency, the best examples I’ve seen or the best rollouts that I’ve seen is when the design team is brought into the process early on, basically.

And this sounds pretty obvious, but bringing them in, especially if it’s an in-house team, let’s say, bring them into the process. And look, that might be difficult if you’re dealing with, you know, a European office and a US office, for example, in-house. But if you can bring them into the process and actually get their feedback, have their voices heard, all of those sort of cliche things, if they can actually, you know, say to you, oh, we’re never going to need to put it on that, or we really need help with, you know, putting it on this, that can really help with them, with the buy-in and mitigating that inconsistency that might come.

But I think you’re right. I think a big part of this is that often teams in-house will sort of have these things dumped on them, where, you know, maybe the CMO or the CEO has commissioned some big agency to do a rebrand, big agency talks with the CMO and the CEO and does this process. Then design team at the X company, I won’t say X, now that doesn’t work, design team at Y company gets this PDF dropped on them.

And they’re sort of like, and they’re told to, you know, roll this out. And I would be frustrated if that happened to me. So I understand why people, you know, don’t want to, or there’s some backlash to these things.

And so I think just bringing people in, if possible, always helps.

Yeah, so I think, as we said, you know, it’s not just, we’re not just theorizing in this series. That episode showed very much around, okay, we’ve got the creative idea, we’ve got the positioning, we’ve created the brand identity, now we want to execute. And what Hamish was doing there was showing, like, how to do that within a business, like you’ve got to bring teams alongside you, you’ve got to help them understand how to execute on the brand.

And he goes into huge detail around his brand guideline process and how he gets some of those, you know, some of the big brands that he works with to execute things consistently and the importance of that.

Yeah, and collaboration is a big, big point of it. As you said at the start, like bringing in designers and the creatives into the start of the process and not just being, you know, right at the end with everything dumped on them. They don’t truly understand where the strategy came from or why these decisions were being made.

So it can lead to, I don’t want to say poorer, but it will be a much stronger result if they were there from the beginning.

Yeah, for sure, for sure. I think the sort of the final few clips that we’ve got really take us, I think, beyond into the future, right? We’ve had a few episodes which were very much futuristic.

They were very much around, okay, what are emerging trends in our space for brands to really think about? So the last three clips we’ve got for you folks are, you know, super futuristic. The first one was with Kate from Materium, the head of design for Materium, and she’s talking about the amazing kind of world of blockchain and NFTs.

So if you want to understand, you know, what’s going on in that space, have a listen to that episode. It’s actually Episode 4 in this series, but here’s a little clip for you, just to give you a flavor of what was talked about.

This kind of world of authenticity and buying and selling is something that relies upon two parties agreeing that the information is correct and trusting each other. So this is where NFTs come in. This is where the blockchain comes in, because the information that we put on the blockchain and the information about a product that we put inside an NFT can create that transparency so both parties feel super duper confident that what they’re buying is actually what they’re getting.

NFTs, they’re widely misunderstood, and a lot of people think about them as art and monkeys and so forth. And NFTs aren’t dead by any means. They’re here.

They’ve been integrated. People are working on Web3, blockchain technologies. And this episode with Pay was really insightful.

Of course, we learned about the spiral economy, which you’ll have to listen to the episode to learn about that. But just learning how NFTs are going to be so useful for luxury brands in particular and how authenticity plays a big role in that and how NFTs can make that happen and the blockchain. Right.

She talked about, didn’t she, like a three-legged stall almost, where you’ve got the consumer, you’ve got the brand or the manufacturer, and then there’s this other party involved, the certifiers. And basically you can have a number of certifiers that actually certify that the brand is authentic, that the things that are said about the brand or perhaps the supply chain that has produced the physical thing are correct. And what that is all wrapped up together in is basically this digital certificate, which is legally binding, which is connected to a real world asset, a real thing.

If none of that made any sense to you whatsoever, listen to that episode because it is awesome. But the key thing that I got out of it, Jacob, was that we are moving through the power of technology to a space, which is more decentralized and the power is more and more going into the hands of the consumer. So if you’re building a brand and you want to build trust with your consumer, which every brand needs to to remain competitive in their marketplace, that episode will blow your mind and be super, super helpful, I would suggest to you, to understand what’s coming down the track from such things as NFTs and blockchain.

And how could we do a best of without mentioning AI? And that’s what our last two clips are on. We had a subject matter expert, Rob Lennon, who has been in the AI world for many years and has a ton of resources around it.

I found him through LinkedIn, connected and got him on the podcast. And we talked about how to grow brands with AI, how to improve our productivity, efficiencies and how to actually go about it. But also we talked about things like the ethics behind it, where the future is going with AI and brand.

To create great content or write good copy, you need to be more than an AI. You need to have that human imagination. You need to have that connection with the brand.

You need to understand the client. You need to know more than the AI can know, or at least right now the technology can know. And so I think that for people who are developing their expertise, their jobs are actually going to get more valuable in maybe the next five to ten years as the bottom of the sort of skill pool starts to get turned around or people get addicted to AI and they forget how to write well because they’re not practicing anymore.

So if you’re just starting out, this is actually, I think, a great moment to double down on learning what really good writing looks like. You may want to focus more on learning to edit or like strategy because those things are going to be helpful. Like if you end up managing a program that uses AI and human inputs, you’re going to want to be able to do both.

But I actually think it’s going to create like almost a writer shortage in the medium term after all this craziness goes on.

So will AI take our jobs? No, but someone using AI may. That was the key point from that little clip, was that it’s the power of humans plus AI, and that’s where the true magic is.

And what were your thoughts, Matt?

Yeah, I thought what was fantastic about that was we looked at loads of use cases in that episode. And the thing that I got out of it was, look, AI is a tool, right? It’s like a hammer or a saw, but obviously a much more advanced piece of technology than that.

The key here is how we use that. And I think the brands and the strategists that get ahead are the ones that will be able to leverage AI in a way that will add the most value to their consumers. And so that’s what I got out of that episode.

It’s a tool to enhance value for other human beings. Think about that. Don’t think of it as a threat.

Embrace it. Use it. It’s here to stay.

But use it in a way that’s useful. Don’t just kind of… And also don’t kind of become a slave to it.

You’ve got to constantly think about the human at the other side. Is this adding value to them?

Absolutely. Well said. And there is a discussion around ethics with AI because AI was built on other knowledge and other people’s work.

So I asked Rob this question and how he felt about it because he’s so heavy into AI. And this was his response.

The first thing I think is everybody is just going to have to have kind of a moment with themselves and go, what are my personal feelings about that? If that was my content or if I’m creating content, I think even beyond what the courts think or the laws or things like that, the technology is there right now. You can just type in somebody’s name and get content like theirs.

I personally don’t feel great about that. I’ll use a tool that’s trained on it, but I won’t use a person’s name. I’d rather describe a writing style or a type of content using words rather than saying, hey, just copy this person.

But I’m still benefiting from their talent in some little part of the pool. The reason that I came to that conclusion was I thought about how am I creative? I learned to write by reading and by practicing.

I learned to do digital art by looking at things and studying them and even trying to draw or digitally paint an image that somebody else had painted just to go through the experience of what is it like to create like this? And so I kind of see using some of these things that are trained on a little bit of the other data, a lot like the human experience of creativity. We’re inspired by everything around us.

We take them in as influences. Let’s not just straight up copy other things.

It’s clear Rob has thought about this, and I’m on his side with this. It does come down to your personal preference and opinion, but I agree, they are trained on other people’s things, but we’re also standing on the shoulders of giants. We learn from other people, and nothing really is new.

It’s about combining all these ingredients to create something new from it. And that is what I think AI is most useful for, is connecting those dots and helping that process. So what are your thoughts, Matt?

Yeah, I think if it copied something flatly right out, then I think that’s obviously an issue. But I don’t think the algorithm is a program to do that. As you say, they’re smashing together lots of concepts in a way that’s spitting out something at the end.

But on the ethical front, I think there is a moral and an ethical thing for the humans overseeing what is going on. And I think that’s really the part that we need to play. The robot is not going to be ethical.

That’s something that we have to look deep within our souls to try and ensure that we are. But the murkiness and the ethics about copying is tricky because if you don’t know where the AI has got its sources from, how can you assess whether or not the thing that it’s produced is a direct copy? So there are challenges there, but I think the algorithms are going to get smarter and smarter to negate those sorts of things and help us kind of ensure that that doesn’t happen.

And that’s the end. We’ve come to the end of our clips, and we hope you have enjoyed our roundup of the best…

What a whirlwind!

Yeah, start to finish.

Yeah, some deep dives and some unusual subjects there, I think, in this space, which shows us how the space is evolving, how brand building, brand strategy is folding in lots of different disciplines, from leadership alignment, workshops, strategy, classic kind of creative graphic design, all the way through to marketing, obviously, and then right out to kind of futuristic stuff, like NFTs and AI. So what an amazing season we’ve had together, Jacob. Thank you for being my co-host in this.

I’ve really appreciated your terrible sense of humor and mild bullying from time to time, which keeps me humble. So thank you to you.

Very, very welcome. It’s a pleasure, as always. I could not have thought we’d be here for five years later, but it’s good fun.

So I’ll see you next year, and I’ll see you listeners as well in 2024. So thank you for tuning in. We appreciate all the reviews and your feedback.

So thank you.

We are super grateful, everyone. Thank you. See you next year for season five.

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