×

[Podcast] Nike & Brand DNA with Matt Watson

[Podcast] Nike & Brand DNA with Matt Watson

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

What does working at Nike for 10 years teach you about brand? Find out in this episode with Matt Watson, founder of Watson Creative & Brand Labs, as he reveals all, including his affinity for the Nike logo.

Watson will make you think about your brand and market differently after you hear how his firm handles the branding process. We discuss brand audits, consumer research including both creative & analytical sides, the power of brand DNA, plus some key insights on how to take a position and own it. Don’t miss this episode with Matt Watson, Jacob Cass & Matt Davies!

sponsored message

Adobe Creative Cloud Discount

Listen Here

Love the show? Please review us on Apple or Stitcher.

 

Play Now

 

Watch on Youtube

Show Notes

 


sponsored message



Learn Brand Strategy

Best Brand Strategy Course Online

Brand Master Secrets helps you become a brand strategist and earn specialist fees. And in my opinion, this is the most comprehensive brand strategy course on the market.

The course gave me all the techniques and processes and more importantly… all the systems and tools I needed to build brand strategies for my clients.

This is the consolidated “fast-track” version to becoming a brand strategist.

I wholeheartedly endorse this course for any designer who wants to become a brand strategist and earn specialist fees.

sponsored message


Check out the 15-minute video about the course, which lays out exactly what you get in the Brand Master Secrets.

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, and welcome to Episode 16. Today, we have Matt Watson, who is the founder of Watson Creative, and he has an impressive background. He’s worked at Lippincott for a number of years.

He’s worked for Nike for over 10 years, and he has also got art in MoMA. He’s also a teacher, and he’s also come into this podcast from his trailer in what country? SAIT, sorry?

It’s Portland, Oregon.

Portland, Oregon. So we’re going to talk to him today about strategy. He’s got a subsidiary of his company called Watson Creative, called Brand Labs, which is a series of workshops to help small businesses and creatives grow brand.

And we’ll get into that. So welcome to the show, Matt.

Thank you. I appreciate it.

We usually start this show off with definitions. So what is your definition of brand strategy and how that all mixes together?

Definition of it? Well, I’d say brand is not a logo. It’s not a name.

It’s a gut feeling about how people feel about your company. And that can be orchestrated through all sorts of things. Your handshake, experiences, color, typography, emotion, photography and video are some of the richest mediums to convey a sense of who you are.

So all of those things come together to create emotion. And emotion is how someone feels about you. Like you said, I worked at Nike for a number of years.

And I got to tell you that Nike swoosh, as much as we think it’s a beautiful, iconic logo, it’s also extremely difficult to use. And so to a certain extent, we’ve been able to, oftentimes you’ll see it minimized and used as a very small signature for the brand. And that helps elevate it from a premium standpoint.

But it’s also that way because it’s difficult to use. It’s not symmetrical. It’s not balanced.

It’s actually, you know, the opposite of that. It does have energy and stuff. But it’s a difficult mark that we perceive as being one of the best marks in the world because of the experience that people have had with the product and with the company and the brand as a whole.

And there’s a consistent orchestration of messaging and learning and knowledge and where people get immersed with the brand, that your perception changes. So if the brand wasn’t what it is today, you may not favorably look on that logo as much as you do. So there’s a lot that goes into it.

And branding really is the epicenter of your business plan, in my view, and should dictate and be the filter for everything going forward. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a definition or a ramble, but hopefully.

I love how you just hated on Nike’s logo to start off the bat.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, and the people there are wonderful, but it’s hard to use. Maybe I’m just not very good at my job.

Not at all. I love that definition, Matt, and it’s Matt here as well. Two Mats don’t make it right, but we’ll do what we can.

sponsored message


It’s interesting you mentioned Nike, because I literally am just reading, you can’t see because of Zoom’s glitchiness, reading this book, which is the shoe dog book with Phil Knight in it. It’s interesting you talk about the Nike logo because in the book, he recounts how literally it was some art student that pulled it together for like 300 bucks or something.

He is a payroll student at Portland State University, and his famous quote is, that’ll do.

Yeah. Even the name Nike or Nike, we say Nike. Well, I grew up with Nike in London, in the UK with Nike, depending on which side of the pond you are.

Even the name, literally, he wasn’t really sure that it was a good name, and so he faxed it off to somebody, a new manufacturer just before the deadline date, just to make sure that it was called something. So it’s really funny when you think about all of that, and it’s exactly what you say really, it isn’t the logo itself. You could have the world’s greatest designed logo, whatever that means, but that isn’t a brand.

And I think you’ve nailed it when you say it’s all of those things that bring around the emotion, the experience.

And that’s the problem is like, I mean, you have clients that come to you, and I mean, we don’t really have these types of clients come to us too often, but you’ll sometimes have a client that comes to you that’s like, hey, can you spin the color wheel? Can we do a little paint by numbers? I found these logos online.

Can we just hash this stuff together? And I’m like, whoa, that’s not where we start with what we do. I mean, the fact is, I can sit there and have my staff or myself generate dozens of logos or identities or whatever it might be that you’ll probably like.

But like, why do you like it? We can drive through a semi through the volume of ideas that we can generate that are cool. But which one is strategic?

Which one is going to last and be timeless? Which one is clear, distinctive, engaging, and really appropriate for your brand and what you’re trying to do? That’s difficult.

And, you know, while Phil Knight tripped upon some luck, maybe of having a mark that has become iconic, it typically doesn’t happen that way. And what did happen for him is I’ve had a few conversations with him, not much. It’s been like the lunch line at the campus type of thing.

But what I can tell you is the way that he built the company, the culture in the company, emulates through every damn thing they do. And I sat next to, at Nike, I sat next to this guy, Steve Smith. You can look him up online.

sponsored message


He’s everywhere right now. He’s working on Kanye West’s shoe line. But Steve Smith invented the Reebok pump.

You guys remember the Reebok pump? Yeah. You’d pump like the little tongue.

Well, he recounted this story where it was like the late 90s, early 2000s. He was working at Reebok and getting courted by Nike. And at that time, Nike and Reebok were like the biggest things in the land.

And he was like, why am I going to Nike? They’re somewhat rising, but they’re just going to be like, you know, a one and done kind of brand as soon as, you know, Bo Jackson and Jordan are, you know, have their day, right? And he went out to the campus.

He went out to the campus at Nike and he walked away from that going Reebok has no idea what’s about to clobber them. It was the people, it was the culture, and that is what branding is all about. And when you can start creating that filter of who you hire, what it’s like to come to work every single day, the expectation that you have for your team and that you have of yourself, it changes everything.

All of a sudden, yeah, the photo shoots look a little bit more badass. And yes, you put in the extra effort so that the marketing communications really emulate how you feel about the brand. So I think while I get hired to do logos and marks and stuff like that, I want to be honest with people that there has to be a truth, an authentic truth between who they really are and who we can help communicate as to who they are.

They may not be good with the visuals and the verbal and we can help them with that. But the point is that we really need to figure out those qualities that are consistent, those ethos and those core values, the positioning of who they are in the marketplace and who they’re not is equally important. So, yeah, branding.

It’s a big black box sometimes.

I think we could just leave the podcast here.

That’s good enough.

So what made you leave Nike then after all these years?

Well, here’s the story. Dumbest thing. I will coach anybody not to do this.

Number one, don’t name your company after yourself. It’s awful. I hate every aspect of it.

It’s grown on me a little bit. But here’s the point. I left Nike.

My dad was dying of cancer. My wife was having her first child. It was February of 2012.

I put in my notice. I stayed for two to three more months. Nike being the company they are, said, hey, why don’t you sign up for the Family Medical Leave Act?

It got me through July with them. I got my bonus. There’s no company on Earth that would ever do that.

But anyways, the point is, I went out and I left to spend time with my dad. I had been working around the clock and I was going across the pond every other week to Europe. Amsterdam is where Nike has its European headquarters, and Hilversum if you’ve been this close to the UK.

But anyway, I left and I had no real plan. I had some money saved up and I got a job teaching business at Portland Community College because I have a business degree and it actually paid for our family benefits. My wife still worked for a non-profit.

We owned our house, we were able to make ends meet, and then I taught design at a local college here as well, and everything ended up working out really well initially. Then I started freelancing and one good job turned into some referrals, turned into another account, and that very first account I held on to for seven or eight years until the marketing director left and the department left. My second client, still a client to this day, and many of those early clients are still clients.

That’s a testament to the way that business grew. It was just more of my handshake, my interactions with people, and delivery. That goes back to Phil Knight.

It comes back to the way you do business. In the book, you’ll talk about one of the major aspects of working with Footlocker and their trust with him is that he had an order go out, he spent all this money, shipped it out to him and knew that it was flawed. They didn’t know and they didn’t care.

He cared. He recalled back the entire thing and replenished it out of his own pocket with good product. Trust is one of the biggest things that all grow brands.

So anyway, I just started freelancing. I needed a shingle and I just bought the URL Watson Creative. I started emailing out of it and all of a sudden, you start leaning in and all of a sudden, you got this company.

We started hiring people and I didn’t really formalize what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be with the brand for a good shoot, probably four or five years. I really was in disbelief that I was really building something. I was excited about it every day, but I wasn’t being intentional.

I wasn’t understanding my flaws as much as I should. I learned a lot, a lot of hard work. I probably could have been more successful faster if I had slowed down and just really was intentional about stuff.

That brings us fast forward to Brand Labs. What I was teaching my students, what I teach my clients, what I teach my clients, I wasn’t doing myself.

Can you just define Brand Labs for obvious reasons?

Yeah, so Brand Labs is a derivative of what we do say. If you think of like lynda.com, it basically is courses that are a compilation of my experiences at Lippincott, my experiences doing research and strategy work at Nike, my experiences and MBA school and then also a lot of the stuff that we end up doing with our own clients have really become tried and true and these motions that we go through really help unravel a lot of truths and ideas that help remove us from our own bias, if you will, our own gut feeling of where we would take a brand and it points us in a new direction, an authentic direction that is really who they are. I’ll talk about what Brand Labs is, but essentially after doing it for so long and the clientele that built my company was small business owners.

I didn’t leave and do work with large organizations out of the gates. I was under a year non-conquered. I couldn’t go work for and I couldn’t go back and work for Nike for a year.

So it was really just small professional services companies in town and what have you. And today, I can’t serve those guys. They typically can’t afford us.

And the richness of what strategy and getting off the conveyor belt provides clients is just so impactful. And so I was sitting around a couple of years ago, several years ago, and I was like, God, there’s got to be some way where we can still help and service those guys and help give them the tools that I wish I had when I first started my business. And so that’s where we started really reflecting upon education and the teachings that I was already doing at universities and trying to package it up into something that was easy, lightweight, affordable, go at your own pace type of program.

And so Brand Labs is four different modules. In each module, there are tutorial videos, philosophical engagements, articles, and then tools. We give you the tools to print off worksheets, programs, workbooks, games that you can orchestrate with your executive team, your board or whatever that really help unravel conversation and help you be objective about being focused of who you want to be and really who you’re not.

So that’s in nutshell, that’s kind of what Brand Labs is. And I just really hope that it helps the smaller business owners. And I believe it has, but it’s something, like I said, I really wish I had when I was starting out.

So is it something that designers or strategists could actually use as well as their toolkit?

They can totally rip it off, yes. So yeah, for sure. I think other agencies, I mean, there’s no secret.

A lot of this stuff is, you know, you’ve got, you’ve got, the way I explain it is you’ve got all of these exercises that many people have been through over time. But I think I’ve really had unique experiences. Lippincott is one of the most well-known brand firms in the world, and they have an entire analysis team that is just phenomenal in the way that they do research.

It’s very tried and true, and deep, and immersive, and rich. MBA school kind of riffs off of that kind of cloth. And then on the other side of that coin, you’ve got Nike.

That’s very much about its intuition, and gut, and being immersed in the consumer in a vastly different way. And it’s interesting how those two things really play off each other. And I think Nike’s philosophy is great.

We know what the formula is that most, you know, kind of agencies and firms use. They flip it, they flip it around. There’s a beauty to that.

There’s a beauty to the other side. And I think what Brand Labs does is really bring together a unique process that’s fun. I mean, it’s really, it truly is fun.

It’s some of the best experiences that organizations have. It’s like putting an exec team, or like I said, board, or, you know, a small team up on the couch and getting to have a little bit of cultural therapy. Oftentimes, if you have somebody that’s more authoritative or loud in the room, this allows, this really allows.

So that’s Matt Davies.

Listen, I’ve been on my best behavior in this podcast as well.

You have. I’ve been keeping an eye on our guests.

You have to come forth and do some great stuff. I’ve been sitting on my hands and everything. And this is the abuse I get from Jacob Cass.

It only took 16 episodes.

It seems that you’ve caught me out there, Jacob.

Matt, I mean, it’s amazing to hear you talk, because one of the things that I’ve noticed, I do some solo consulting as a brand strategist, and I definitely get the sense that there are these two kinds of approaches. One is very emotional, and one is more analytical. And I agree, there’s a space for both, right?

In creating and crafting a strategy which needs to stick, right? So you need to have that emotion, but you also need to have some reason, some data behind it for the folks that like that. So, yeah, it’s interesting to hear you talk about that.

I just wondered though, could you maybe go dive in a little bit into the process? So I know there’s these four stages that kind of make up the brand lab. Talk to us a little bit about each of those stages and perhaps how you approach a typical project.

Yeah, I’m going to talk about that through an example that does deal with Nike. And I can use examples that are from small businesses, local businesses or other businesses, but we’re on the topic of Nike and it’s something that everybody can identify with. So let’s use this.

So here’s the story. And I think that this goes to how strategy and research is right on one side and how it’s very wrong. And there’s a different approach to the way that things can happen.

I think any RFP, and I assume that you apply for RFPs as well, is that there’s always like, how are you doing testing and validation? And where’s your focus groups? Oh, they’re giving us three focus groups and they’re doing four focus groups.

I’m like, you know, focus groups really only work to validate ideas. If you want to inspire somebody and get immersed into their world, then figure out who that consumer is. And yeah, you should be having conversations and pick up conversations and there should be a methodology of the way that you survey or have questions.

But you got to get in their shoes, man. You got to get out there and go to concerts, go to museums, sit at cafes, sketch and draw and challenge ideas and assumptions. And so I remember being on this one research trip that we did for Nike.

And I traveled out to Miami, up to DC. I worked with a variety of people for insights, whether that’s going to some museums, whether that’s working with the CIA or whomever that we were working on for this product. And what we’re trying to do is just trying to get in their head of like what really makes a difference for, you know, for who they are, what they want to be about, and what they perceive as value, textures, colors, size, weight, dimension, everything that goes into a product and then from there what emulates out.

So anyways, my last trip, I’m just racking the head up against the wall. I’m like, I’m not coming up with any awesome ideas that I’m in love with that I feel are really right. But through that entire experience, you start building intuition.

You start understanding that kid’s world. And I’m the last guy for the core consumer that we were working with that should have probably been working on there. I’m a Caucasian guy.

I’m from suburbia America. And here I am working on something that’s a little bit more culture than probably who I naturally am. But you start getting into that and you can start auditing and taking inventory of what you see and hear.

And putting together, you know, insights. And so I’m down on this track and the tagline is supernatural moves. And I’m on this track in San Diego and it’s literally the last experience that we had.

And I’m talking, just talking to this kid on the side. The focus group’s been done. The formality thing’s been done.

It’s like there. And then he says, just a quote that summed up everything for me through that entire trip of like, what these guys want to be about. And he said, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

The Muhammad Ali quote, right? It’s emulation of what the CIA, the athlete that’s 17 years old, wants to be about. It has this idea of moves and speed and cutting and quickness, but graceful at the same time and beautiful at the same time.

And witty and smart like Muhammad Ali. So I started thinking about that, and I sketched up like here’s this beautiful, crazy butterfly of an idea. And so I went out and took a picture of a butterfly.

It’s red and black, looks pretty badass, but it’s still really gorgeous. And then we started arranging shoes in the shapes of a mosaic, basically, not mosaic, but a composition of the shoes that made a butterfly. And you have this awesome, crazy photo shoot, and the little lines are made out of the shoelaces and stuff.

So super cool, awesome killer graphic that when you see it, you just sit there and go, oh, wow, this is cool and amazing. So we did that, and then we really wanted to validate and understand the power of creative. So what we did is we forked the Nike homepage across the nation for a week so that each region in the US would see a different graphic on the homepage.

So if you can imagine the Northwest where I’m from, might just see a very simple like silhouette. Here’s the shoe, beautiful white background, and it says supernatural moves. Click rate was 2%, sell through of that 2% was 3%.

Normal stats, not too bad. We went through four other examples. The next example showed the shoe like moving around, the stats got better.

We then showed a human being on the page, the stats got better. We then showed video on the page, the stats got better. Better content the entire time, and that’s what really changes emotion, and emotion is how people feel about the brand.

The last example was the butterfly. So at the end of the week, after all five regions had spent one day seeing all those five different home pages, we were able to line up the stats and see how that core consumer was behaving. I don’t recall the exact number.

The best performing graphic on that or part of the campaign was the butterfly by like three or four fold. So the value on that campaign was millions and millions and millions of dollars was earned because it was better insights, because it tugged the hearts and minds and intrigue of the core consumers. They leaned into it, they clicked, and they started learning more about it.

The subsequent pages in that study were exactly the same for all five. So it was literally just the graphic on the home page. So when you talk about strategy, you talk about all of that, you can sit there and say, we’re going to take through, we’re going to do some surveying, we’re going to listen to your consumer, and we’re going to go through some focus groups.

I think that’s great. But the thing that I have a problem with is that, and that’s kind of like, you know, the other side of the coin where it’s very formal. I really do believe you got to get inside the athlete or the consumer’s mind, like, go for a run, like they’d go for a run.

Go to a game, go listen to their music. You better listen to their music like 24-7 so you can get inside their head. But your job is to immerse yourself in their world.

So when we take on like a law firm or a medical place, you bet we are giving them attention and we’re drilling down for those insights because they matter. At the end of the day, it’s that kernel of ideas that can blossom into something that’s truly, you know, powerful, measurable and different. And damn it, that’s why they’re hiring us.

So it’s not about like how many cool designs or trendy designs that we can produce. I hope you go to our website and when you look at each project, you’re not really looking at a look. You’re seeing like individual projects, right?

And look in fields. And that comes from having an diverse team, but it also comes from really taking time to evolve yourself, your interests. Read a book, watch a movie that is in line with who your consumer is.

Understand some history and yeah, talk to them a lot. So philosophically, that’s how important the power of strategy is. It focuses you.

Me as a small business owner, when I finally drank my own Kool-Aid, I made better decisions. I made better decisions on who I hired, where I was going, what clients I went after, the quality of work that we demanded every single day versus being a little bit more loose with them. I’m happier, I’m balanced.

The business is performing exponentially better because of it. So the first thing, the first chapter module is what we call auditing. And people learn how to audit.

And the biggest thing is, is how do we get them to be objective? You know, you have people that have preference of color or their idea of what they just saw inside of a magazine or on a website, and they want to be like that. That’s like me going out and saying, on a trip with Nike and finding a pair of bands and saying, hey, let’s do that.

That’s not what Nike’s about, and that wouldn’t be right for them. That’s a solution, looking for a problem, if that makes sense. So the first thing is auditing and getting people educated on how to kind of start listening, how to be objective.

And a lot of that goes through setting up kind of a construct, a grid format where you can start viewing your own marketing, grading the consistency of it, the messaging of it, how you communicate, how you hire, what’s your core principles. Do you have those? If not, well, later on, we’ll teach you how to create those, but just documenting all of that stuff.

Then looking at your competitors and how do you really understand the white space out there for your competitors, the design language that they’re using, the narrative language they’re using, the digital marketing offense that they’re using or traditional offense that they’re using. It was interesting when I talked to colleagues that own agencies and gosh, you have guys that are superpowers just answering RFPs and they can do a phenomenal job of sustaining the business on RFPs. I have friends that spend five, six thousand bucks a month buying ads and pay per click to get people to come over.

Our business has always traditionally just been through word of mouth. I’m sure people find us on the web too, but for the most part it’s just you do a good job and you become the guy, right? So auditing and setting a baseline and then creating what we call a leaderboard, a view against your competitors and grading how well you’re doing against them, where’s the opportunity, and then kind of quantifying the growth potential of your brand.

So what we also do is what’s called a performa. And so through analytics we start really understanding the growth potential in the space. And that gives people confidence to be like, yeah, we should probably spend a little bit more money over here.

There’s opportunity, right? And it’s in line with who they want to be. And those decisions will come later on.

The next phase, after you understand the landscape, is really diving into the consumer. It’s what we call a consumer 360. So teaching people how to do consumer research in a traditional way, as well as more of that immersion way.

And challenging them to think organically, as well as have structure in the way that they’re documenting insights and interviews. And how do they do interviews without leading the witness, right? How do you survey in a proper way and actually get an insight?

And there’s so many bad ways to conduct that stuff that’s incredibly flawed. So, the Consumer 360 should really start painting in the consumer journey, the pipeline of those key consumers. We start building out what’s called personas.

And that’s kind of like, here’s the muse of who you want your core consumer to be. You start adding the age range, narratives of who they are. And what we try to do is really write out before we visualize, but we write out what is the task flow for somebody to actually engage with you?

What’s the pipeline to get them to become a client or a consumer? And what’s their journey after they become a consumer? How do you retain that?

Where are the points that they’re happy, or they’re sad, or they’re confused, or they feel left behind or forgotten? If you can really manage that membership side of things, I mean, that’s a pot of gold right there. And I think one of the things that’s adding strength to our company is, one, we work in the diversity of businesses.

There’s no doubt when C19 hit, like it hit, and there’s a ton of clients who are like, pause, stop, we’re done, whatever it might be. We do a lot with sports and events, so obviously all this stuff stopped. But we had more than enough goodwill and businesses and referrals that as quickly as that stuff fell off, new sand came in and filled the dam for us.

So a lot of that is a testament that we have a really good retention program. We have the best, what I view as the best accounts team that I’m really proud of that work hand-in-hand with our clients that have great trust within them. So understanding the persona in the consumer journey is incredibly important to map that out.

And then what we like to do is once we understand that journey, then we can really be thoughtful about orchestrating narratives. And the thing that Nike does so well is that they really slice and dice narratives over time for the company, the categories, and the categories have to reach up to the overarching stories and how they answer that, but still have individuality.

So what we try to do is orchestrate those narratives so that they work from a timeless perspective, but they’re always new and fresh on that journey and are being reinvented and interesting. We typically work on a tier of stories, and three tiers is really good, and I challenge any company that feels like they need more. And I think you can only be known for so much, and if you try to be known for more, then you’re pretty much known for nothing.

So it’s crucial that they can understand their sharp point. Nike is a performance company. Everything they do is performance-based.

It doesn’t matter if it’s lifestyle, it’s still lifestyle performance. When they owned Kohan, it was performance-based. It’s for the guy that is going to take off his dress shoes and move straight into a pair of running shoes after work.

But while he’s at work, he still wants to have that A, comfort and that fit. And those nuances of details are part of his DNA. So it was a natural kind of purchase at one point to do that.

So after you understand the landscape, you understand your consumer, you build out the stories which have your positioning, your brand promise, your manifesto, their tiers of narrative, understanding the hero’s journey for your own company, the archetype and filter that you want to have everything that you do go through, you’re organized. You then can be really objective about how you’re going to go to market. And that goes back to the same thing I just said before, which is I have agencies that have built their businesses off of writing RFPs really well or other channels.

And to say like, hey, we got a marketing program that’s going to work for every single dental company across the US is insane because every single company is as unique as a fingerprint. That’s bullshit. What you need to do is build out and understand who you are, who your consumer is, and then you’ll know how to approach them.

And so digital marketing is big these days, and it oftentimes can work in kind of an omni-channel way. But shoot, I’ve had businesses come in. They’re like, we need a new website.

Here’s $100,000. I’m like, no, you don’t. Let’s talk.

And after talking, all of a sudden, it’s like they have a $30,000 book that is beautiful and gorgeous and converts really well into 10 people that they need to impress in a small, you know, tiny website. So I think there’s a misconception, and people are moving way too fast and way too reactionary. And that goes back to, if you can get off the conveyor belt, step back and really understand the landscape, your competitors, and just really understand who they are.

I mean, I have a ton of agencies here in Portland. I follow all the time, and I’m jealous. They do things really well, and I want to copy them all the time, but I don’t.

But there’s a sense of being inferior, but there’s also a sense of being competitive. I also love following my core consumers. Who are those key decision makers?

I know that the majority of my business, and the business that I really want, is kind of the mid-size, mid-sector businesses. They’re $20 million to $200 million. They’re not publicly traded, but they’re substantial enough to have a marketing person on the inside, to have a little bit of structure.

But I also can have a seat at the table and work directly with the CEO, which is where we need to be, because the work that we do oftentimes is at the foundation of the company. And that’s where we need to operate. So that’s kind of the sweet spot for who we are, and we follow no collection.

There’s not that many that are that size, so we follow a collection of those guys, and we try to meet them, try to understand their pains, their goals and what they’re trying to do.

Matt, that was fantastic. Thanks so much for talking us through that. I particularly enjoyed the bit where you were sort of talking about intuitive insight, not just the rigid process.

You could have as much data or as many focus groups as you want, but without that emotional insight and that almost human element, then as you pointed out in the workshop, when after all that formality finished, that was when you got that insight. And I think that’s such a great story. But I had one quick question for you.

You talked a little bit about the three tiers of narrative and how the categories reach up into the storytelling. I just wondered if you could explain that a little bit for our listeners, because I think there’d be huge value in just understanding the basic principles of how you see that and how you use that as a tool.

Yeah, so the tool is to… The stories should inform the products you have, the services you provide, and the idea of tiers gives clients structure. The first time you meet somebody, you shouldn’t roll out your resume and be like, this is everything we do.

Here’s the menu. What do you want to buy? Right?

The first time you meet people, if you’re doing professional services like what we do, you should be listening and open. And if somebody asks about your business, you should have a small statement of what you do. And what you’re about.

And so things that work out really well, just on that point, is, you know, we’re a research-based creative studio. Our next story is about our people and our team and what makes us unique. And then the last story we talk about would be from a top level, some of the services that we provide and being storytellers across all the different customer touchpoints.

I think that the tiers are there to provide structure and also to provide confidence that you don’t have to sit there and talk about every single thing that you do or want to be known for. There are SEO strategies out there and, you know, orphan page strategies that help people find you for services, that you may not want to talk about but that you want to provide. But from a top level, you know, Nike is just do it.

That’s an anthem, right? They’re a performance-based shoe company, right? And in more recent times, they’re really known for their social movements.

And that’s kind of their third tier of stories. And that’s a personal view of it. I don’t know that for sure what their structure is these days.

But what I was talking about with the category level is they will, you know, Under Armour has like 100 different categories of shoes and equipment they provide. They do equestrian. They do hunting, duck hunting.

They do like everything. And it’s like, it’s insane. Nike is, does like, you know, five categories in golf.

They do, you know, tennis, baseball, football, basketball, soccer. I guess that’s more, and then there’s kind of like your exports and stuff. So it’s less.

Ten. Let’s go ten. They do ten.

But what they’ll do is they’ll steer the entire organization, which is really interesting and takes a lot of confidence into having stories per quarter, per month and how things flow. So you’ll see them talk about in the spring, let’s just say, they’ll talk about breathe or vent. And that creative direction informs every single product that’s designed.

It informs every single aspect of marketing materials and color that goes out. But from a category perspective, the category will be like, okay, well, we get that we have to talk about that. And that’s a top level story.

But what’s specific to us, what makes us unique within our space, might be more of a swagger or persona that cross-references with Breathe. So Breathe for Nike running would be vastly different than for soccer or athletic training or what have you. So it’s a unique way of orchestrating that.

Then it kind of allows Nike as a whole to market the brand versus every single bone whistle that they have across the business. It’s an easier way to have what’s kind of called critical mass with your voice and marketing. And that goes back to the three tiers.

You do that enough and over time, you’ll start to gain traction.

That’s awesome. That’s like blowing my mind a little bit, but I absolutely love it.

I absolutely love it.

Brilliant. Jacob, did you have anything for Matt?

I second that. I’m just listening here in awe. Like the whole process and how much deep insight you have is just incredible.

So thank you so much for sharing that. I didn’t have any… All the main questions were really…

I have to ask once and you answered everything. So you went deep into your process and Nike and everything. So thank you for making our job easy.

Unless you had anything else, Matt?

I just wanted to thank Matt for his time. I know he’s a busy chap. And you know, for your insights.

And I think it’s amazing how you’ve taken all of those experiences and packaged them into your course and also into what you’ve talked about to us today. So I guess the final question is, Matt, you know, if people want to find you, if they want to find out what you’re doing, you know, do you want to drop a URL? Do you want to drop a social media link so that people can connect?

Yeah, absolutely. So we’re on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn. Type in Watson Creative and we’ll come up.

I think there’s another Watson Creative in the UK.

Oh, welcome to Solana.

But we have the main. So watsoncreative.com. You can find us on there.

You can find Brand Labs and some other things that we do. So check us out, write me. And especially, I’d love to help out small business owners.

It’s a passion of mine. So I’d be happy to build any questions.

Amazing. Well, thanks so much.

We really, really appreciate it. Thanks, Matt, for calling in from the trailer. Yeah.

Share This Post: