[Podcast] Mastering Brand Building in a Regulated World with Terri Goldstein

[Podcast] Mastering Brand Building in a Regulated World with Terri Goldstein

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Calling all business owners and marketers operating in regulated environments like finance or medical! This episode is tailor-made for you.

Join us as we delve into the extraordinary mind of Terri Goldstein, a visionary strategist and design expert, whose unwavering commitment to brands has spanned decades.

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Step into the captivating realm of brand creation amidst regulations, where Terri unveils her groundbreaking methods and invaluable experiences in the medical field.

Discover how she skillfully guides customers to ‘way-find’ and effortlessly navigate through her Shelf Sight Sequence, tapping into our innate ability to perceive colors, shapes, and symbols.

Brace yourself for a deep dive into the core challenges encountered in regulated spaces and Terri’s ingenious solutions.

Uncover the pivotal role distinctive assets play as strategic drivers and gain invaluable insights on how to conquer the unique hurdles faced by brand builders operating in regulated environments.

Don’t miss out on this dynamic conversation packed with wisdom and inspiration. Tune in now and revolutionize your brand-building game in the world of regulations!

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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.

Well, hello everybody, and welcome to the latest episode of JUST Branding. We have got a treat in front of us for today’s episode, for we have before us, the wonderful Terri Goldstein. Terri is a wellness brand designer and IP expert.

She’s also the author of, hopefully some things we’re gonna get tuck into, but something called the Shelf Site Sequence and the eSites Sequence Methodologies. So we’ll look at that hopefully if we get a chance in this episode. But basically Terri is just a lovely person.

She’s a breakthrough strategic and visual thinker with an unmatched dedication to the brands she designs for. Amongst loads of accolades for decades, she’s lent her expertise to hundreds, specifically of health and wellness companies, advising them and their teams around how to basically carve their way out in regulated environments. So today’s session is gonna be a lot about that.

You’re gonna hear a lot about regulation. We’re gonna talk a lot about IP. We’re gonna talk about a lot of the constraints, but also hopefully ways of navigating those because Terri’s been doing it fantastically for years.

Just a couple of other quick things along with her creative counterpart, Claudia Ariso. I hope I said that correct, Claudia. Please forgive me if I didn’t.

And their team, Terri heads up the Goldstein Group Branding. And what they do over there is that they bridge the gap between strategy, regulatory adherence and design for each and every client of theirs. And just as a personal note, Terri and I also are on the editorial committee and are colonists for Branders Magazine, which is where I met Terri.

And I was like, right, we’ve got to get her in to JUST Branding to share some of her amazing knowledge. Anyway, Terri, welcome to the show. Thank you for carving out some time for us.

Thank you. Nice to be here. Hi, Jacob.

Nice to see you both.

It’s fantastic to have you on. I’m really thrilled for our episode. But before we tuck in to some of the detail, what I’d love to do is just kick off with a little bit about you and how you got to do what you do and how you’ve basically landed here on JUST Branding, high level story of Terri Goldstein.

Go for it.

Let’s see if I can tell it in one minute or less. So I started out in the advertising business as so many of us branders do, Madison Avenue, 1970s, the whole mad man era. That’s really when I started doing what I did.

And I was advertising on the creative side of the business as an art director. I had a headhunter call me and ask me if I wanted to go into the brand packaging business. And I said, doesn’t the printer do that?

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And she said, no, it’s a whole bonafide business of its own. And then I went in the 80s and I’ve been there since. So I worked for a few firms.

I learned everything to do and everything not to do. And I started my own company 28 years ago and it’s been a success. And we specialize in brand packaging.

And it seems to be that the clients that need us the most are the ones in the health and wellness space. So we specialize in what’s called OTC, which are over-the-counter goods that you can get any drug store at any moment or off Amazon. And we also specialize in RX2OTC switch.

Am I explain quickly what that is?

Please do, because I have no idea what you’ve just said.

Okay, so I’m sure we’ve all experienced where we’ve gone to the doctor and they write out a prescription. And we know today, no one wants to go to the doctor. With COVID, we have telemedicine, we don’t want to leave our home, we get 15 minutes.

It’s just a drag going to the doctor. So what’s happening is these molecules are going off patent that manufacturers own, like Claritin, Allegra, Nasacort, Nasonex, they’re molecules that go off patent. And what that means is the company can now switch them and make them available to the public.

So no longer do you have to get a prescription, you all of a sudden, if you use Nasonex, you’re at the grocery store, you’re like, my goodness, I can just buy that. I don’t need to go to the doctor for a prescription anymore. It’s called RX2OTC Switch.

And it’s a big arena in many, many categories. Birth control, we know soon that in America, consumers will be able to buy birth control at the store. That’s very exciting.

So it’s called the switch business. And it’s something that we specialize in. And it’s very, very important for consumers to really practice self-care for themselves and not have to go to a doctor.

Soon we’re gonna be seeing new medicines that come out in all sorts of arenas that a prescription will no longer be necessary.

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Wow, that’s incredible, that’s incredible. So what’s pushing that switch just out of interest, like in terms of the, because obviously I’m here in the UK, right? We’re super, like that sounds really scary to me.

I don’t know what you think, Jacob, but for me, like in my country, here the NHS is like the government’s like fully involved. So like what’s sort of pushing that? Is it like that freedom to go and buy drugs, like knock through a doctor?

How does that sort of, what’s pushing that forward?

Well, you know, the FDA in this country, which is, you know, FDA is here, Association of the European Self-Care Industry, AEGSP, you have Global Self-Care Foundation, you have WHO, you know, Poland, you have GIF. There’s so many organizations and they’re there to keep us safe, of course, but they’re also there to provide assistance to people, to citizens to allow them to take good care of themselves. So it’s really become more prevalent as consumers and certainly post COVID that we want to be able to take care of ourselves and have access to more and more medicine that is declared in this country by the FDA to be safe and declare that we understand how to use it without a doctor there telling us to administer it.

It’s no different than telemedicine and, you know, we’re seeing telemedicine so on the rise because there’s a big movement towards self-care. And that’s where this is really becoming prevalent. I happened to get involved in it in the early 1990s with Plan B was the first switch that I ever did.

I just wanted to know, is it like a goal for these RX brands to become over the counter because it increases sales or not always?

Not always because it’s a molecule. So a brand is that active molecule and it’s a series of active ingredients so they’re making a lot of money on the RX side. But when that comes off patent, which they do eventually, summer 30 years, summer 10, summer 25, what happens is now it’s fair play.

Now store brands and everybody can get in on the action. So what they want to do to really monetize that is they want to switch it. Now they might just switch two milligrams or four milligrams because the governing regulatory bodies say, it’s not safe to switch eight milligrams.

So they may switch two or four milligrams and then keep the six or eight to be RX. So that happens too. But it’s very lucrative for a manufacturer to hook up with another manufacturer that has retail distribution and Amazon distribution and to switch.

You can imagine. And the average switch, the revenue in one year is $100 million.

Wow, that’s amazing. And I guess the important thing here is that, as brand people, that this is great for consumers, right? Particularly if you can self-medicate and self-care, as you put it.

And I think it’s better for the consumer. It’s quicker, it’s faster. And it’s super positive, assuming it’s being done in a considered way, right?

So, okay, let’s switch, let us switch a little bit. So I’m gonna switch back from, on the medical sort of side of things in the medical industry, to more of a brand kind of territory. And those listeners who listen to this podcast frequently know that we always ask our guests, well, how do you see branding?

Like, how do you define branding? So I’m gonna ask you that question, Terri, so that we kind of understand how you approach this concept of branding.

So I approach branding from a very scientific point of view because branding is really all about understanding consumer’s needs, wants, aspirations, and their sequence of cognition, how they see everything, how they relate to everything. So to be a great brander, you have to be able to see what others fail to see. And you also have to know all the research analytics in your tool chest, because there’s always going to be someone somewhere that says, I don’t like it.

Why don’t we make it purple? Here’s a design you should do. I did on a napkin.

Why don’t you make this? So we have to make sure that branding can remove the inherent subjectivity of people that approve brands so they can come out and market. So the more science, the more research, the better.

Branding today is really a scientific endeavor.

Branding is the scientific endeavor of… I mean, I define it as like managing meaning, right? So that’s kind of how I sort of would position that.

And I completely love the way that you think that through. And we’re gonna tuck into some examples of how you might leverage the research and the science in a minute, if that’s okay, because I think that would be fantastic. But let me just ask you another thing.

So you mentioned that the clients that seem to most need you are in the medical fields, right? And I know, I imagine you don’t just exclusively do that, although that’s the focus, right? But how did that happen?

How did you get into that as an expert now for over 20 years in that field? What was the first, you said the first one was like 1990, was it, or something? So like, how did that happen?

Yeah, how did you continue to build that expertise up over the years? What was the sort of philosophy there?

Well, I’ve always had an interest in intellectual property. I’ve always felt that the only way you can really own a brand is to lock it up. It’s core identifiers, it’s colors, it’s shapes, it’s symbols, it’s words.

That’s the true intrinsic value to a brand. Look at Coca-Cola. I mean, look how much they lock up every square inch of that brand and they have people that do store checks for it.

So when it comes to just designing everyday household goods or food or things that, you know, manufacturers might say, okay, we’re gonna have 28 new product launches this year. We’re gonna throw them all out there. We’re gonna see what does the best.

That just doesn’t turn me on. I like to work on a brand that is very deliberate about owning its core identifiers, owning every inch of its IP and building enduring value for the lifetime of its brand. And I find that brands that are over-the-counter, medical-oriented, more about lifesaving techniques, take themselves more seriously.

And I’m a very serious brander. So it’s a fit.

Right, because they invest so much money in obviously developing these drugs. I don’t think people realize, I did a bit of work for an international organization that represents the pharmaceutical company, companies across the world, a couple of, well, it was last year, I think it was. And it blew my mind, the level of investment that these companies put in.

And we only hear about the great things that come out at the end, like, hey, they’re making millions out of this product. But what we don’t hear about is all the failures and the investment that goes into them failing to get the one pill that is a success. And then they make loads of money on that, but that then fuels the investment and the failures that there were hundreds of failures before they get to a success.

So the pharmaceutical industry, to me, I always used to think of them as like, oh, like super money grabbing and really commercially driven and rinsing the poor, ill people of the world. But when you sort of realize the risks that they have to take in the level of investment, then you suddenly understand like, oh, this is actually quite, we should be very grateful, in my humble opinion, for some of the things that happen. And I can understand, therefore, what you’re saying about, they take it seriously, right?

Because if they get one of these pills through all the trials so that they can take it to market, like that’s a big deal. They need to make the money back because they probably failed on at least 20 other drugs to just get this one out to market. So I get it.

I really get it. And I think what I find fascinating is how you’ve talked about the defensibility of these brands. Let’s tuck into that a little bit more.

So how do you approach that side of things? And I guess particularly from a packaging perspective and making sure these brands are positioned well on and in stores, how do you sort of approach that? Because I know you’ve got some methodologies.

I do. So very often when I’m working on a brand, whether it’s Getting Ready for Switch or the brand, let’s say Cortisone 10 or Carmex Lip Care, or any brand that you might have in your duffel bag, your medicine cabinet, your bedside drawer. These are brands that live in the most intimate rooms of your homes, your kitchens, your bedrooms, your bathrooms.

They’re intimate brands. We use them every day. And there’s a reason why we buy some over others.

So the first thing I like to do is I like to do focus groups with color crayons. And I like that the moderator gives everybody a fresh box of crayons and a clean piece of paper. And let’s take Carmex, for example.

And the moderator might say, okay, why don’t you draw the lip care category? And if they don’t draw Carmex, if we’re talking about Carmex, they may say, okay, now draw the Carmex brand. And we get to see unaided what colors they pick from the crayon box, where everybody’s got a fresh box of crayons, what colors they pick, what symbols they write down, what they associate with the brand unaided in the mind.

Now, what this tells us right away, gee, if we’re gonna restage a brand, people know this brand by these colors, shapes and symbols. We better not screw that up. We better move some of that forward and reinvent what we can.

Or maybe we learn, my gosh, there’s no equities to a particular brand. Okay, then let’s go ahead and pick a color because color is the first recall in the mind. And Angela Wright, a noted color psychologist, will tell us that we will recognize, the brain will recognize color before shapes and symbols and symbols are words.

And when a distinctive color is attached to a brand, it will help a brand be more findable and recognizable by 80%. So color is king. And to own a color, you have to understand what colors are unaided in the consumer’s mind to the particular brand.

And if there are none, then you have to do a functional color code study. I’m gonna give you one quick example. If I was to go ahead and redesign Band-Aids, and I have a competitor and it’s called feel goods, they’re strips that say it’s feel goods, and I was to make it red, white and blue.

That would be what’s called a functional color code, because that is the color that goes with first aid. You can’t trademark that, but gee, nobody else owns purple. So you know what?

I’m gonna do an early initial trademark usage. I’m gonna claim purple, and I’m gonna take it for my brand. So that’s one thing I like to do, find out unaided if there’s any color recall.

If there is, move it for it in a brighter way and lock it up if it’s not. And if there’s not, pick a color you can own. Because brands can own color, even toothpaste can own color.

And a lot of clients don’t understand that brands can own color, and they should.

So Terri, just so I understand this, because I think this is super interesting. Just to be super clear, so a brand can claim a color, and then if anyone else in that category try this to like dress themselves in that color, legally, you can take them to court.

That’s right. And you can send them a cyst and do not resist letter, and you can go ahead, take them to court, and you can get them to stop. Certainly, if let’s say you’re purple, and they’re using a close shade of purple, you can even stop them with that.

Doesn’t need to be your formula or PMS color, Pantone color. You can do that because they’re creating intent of confusion. And then that goes into advertising.

At what point do you own a color, and do you have to register it, or where does that line?

You apply to USPTO, the Trademark Trade Dress Office, and you have to go, a lot of clients don’t realize, you have to go country by country. Okay, so you start with the US. If the brand’s global, you have to go country by country.

We might own a particular color here and not get it in China. That can happen too. So you have to apply for initial trademark usage and then you have to prove that you’re using it and then you apply again.

And it’s granted very, very often, as long as you’re not encroaching on somebody else’s color in the category, as long as you understand your category functional color codes.

When I think of colors, T-Mobile comes into the press quite often.

What is your thoughts on owning IP around a color like that, and then just blanket owning the whole category and no one else using it? What’s your thoughts?

It’s Nirvana. I mean, we talk about advertising. When you own a color on a brand, good example, when we created the Allegra brand.

So Allegra is an allergy medicine. Allegra really had no color. You would get it from the doctor, it came in an amber bottle, there were some pills inside, like there was no color.

So we assigned the color purple. Why? What’s some functional color code and nobody else had it.

So what was our mantra? Let’s paint the store purple. Let’s paint the airwaves purple.

We all wore purple shirts. The whole company, Chatham of Sanofi, wore purple shirts. And we painted the world purple for Allegra.

And now, you know, Claritin owns blue, Zyrtec owns green and Allegra owns purple. That’s enduring value.


And that’s great from a consumer’s perspective, Rob, because I always think that good brand strategy should set things up so that people can make great decisions. Like not only the leadership team and, you know, the teams underneath them internally, from a positioning perspective, but also from the customer’s perspective, right? So if I’m in the market for that brand, I know purple, right?

And I hunt that down. And it helps me make a quick decision and an easy decision. So, yeah, I want to get into this wayfinding thing because I’m kind of like, I’m thrilled about that.

So talk us through how that then, that only the color, and I know there’s other things probably as well, there’s the symbols and so on and so forth. And then talk us how those principles find their way into wayfinding and your thinking around that.

So 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 wayfind 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 gonna 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 wayfind 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 my mess and 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 gonna buy the cherry one. So one second decision. Hey, I wanna recycle.

We’re thought recycle symbol. So creating a symbolic language is forever key. And words are last.

I mean, we talk all the time. 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.

Color 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 color shapes and symbols.

Absolutely love it, absolutely love it. So in a store then, I go into the store, right? Talk me through how you would, well, I say me, I go into the store.

A consumer goes into the store. How do you help consumers make those decisions and find their way to the right products? I guess it’s through those things you’ve talked about, right?

It is. And we know, I mean, there’s so many terms, supermarket seduction, drugstore delay, warehouse madness. I mean, that’s a science in itself where the retailers are spent.

I want to say millions of dollars probably on understanding our psyche of where to put the end cap, how to direct us, how to make us go right and left. I mean, I’m sure we’ve all encountered that we walk into a grocery store. There’s a reason that the flowers and the produce are the first thing we see.

So we’ll assume everything in the store is extremely fresh. Then our most frequently purchased items, the curtain of milk, all the way back at the end of the retail environment. So we have to walk through everything.

And that’s why we run in for toothpaste and we come out on average with $25 worth of product. We get home and our loved one goes, why’d you buy this? Why’d you pay all this?

I didn’t even know. I don’t know. Well, that’s because our emotions were hijacked while shopping.

And that’s our job as branders to hijack consumers’ emotions.

I’m gonna send this to my wife after this episode is live. No, brilliant. Yeah, I think you’re right.

I think the retail environment is so interesting. As you say, the level of research and analysis that’s actually done. I’ve been exposed to that a few times.

They put cameras up, they check the routes that everybody takes, they analyze, they tweak things. It’s like a whole world of scientific endeavor in some stores. And yeah, it’s kind of scary in a weird way for me, Terri, because I kind of like, you know, but you know, it’s the world we live in, I suppose, you’re not gonna easily change that.

So, okay, so let’s talk a little bit more about the regulated side of things. You’ve sort of mentioned that that’s kind of an area that you specialize in as well. Do you have any like legal training or is it just stuff that you’ve picked up along the way or like how do you navigate just generally the legalities of the medical sector?

Thank you, great question. I’m not a chief medical officer, only in my dreams. I’m not an attorney, I wish I was, but having done it for so long and being around so many experts, I’ve learned so much along the way.

And I belong to a fabulous organization called CHPA, Consumer Health Care Products Association. And they don’t report to the FDA, but they’re very connected to the FDA. So through that association, I’ve been a member for decades and decades, I’ve learned so much about monographs and new drug applications and 510Ks and everything that’s necessary.

And I’ve learned really how important it is to pass the FDA and how to do enormous amount of testing. And it’s all under the guise of making sure, Matt and Jacob, that when you buy a product, that you don’t by mistake give it to your child and harm them. Or that you don’t take four because you think four are better instead of two.

So it’s making sure that we’re really keeping you safe, but getting those medicines directly to you, either Amazon telemedicine or certainly through the retail environment. So sometimes I speak like you do at conferences and people come up to me, ask me, what law school did I go to? Which I’m really honored they think I have, but it’s really from learning so much and really wanting to do the best for the brands and get them over the finish line and protected.

So from a creative perspective, then, what would you say the main challenges are that that throws up? Because obviously there are laws and it is regulated. And so there is sort of limits to what you can do.

How do you sort of navigate that side of things and the restrictions that that might bring?

I think that’s one of the biggest challenges that I face quite often. And I believe education and I’ve spoken to the FDA, which was an honor. I’ve educated my clients all the way through their regulatory departments that brand marketers have long believed that what’s the most important asset on their brand are the words.

But neuroscience proves the words are the least important because consumers aren’t reading. We’re an autopilot while shopping. We want to get in and out of the store.

That’s why we read our cereal box at home, not in the store, okay? Might read the back. So educating, it’s not just about words.

It’s about creating associative, emotional drivers and triggers that can get to consumers’ experiences and their memories and really targeting that sixth sense. And that’s what color shapes and symbols can do. So very often, us three, okay, are given, we’ve all experienced this, a marketing decadence, like War and Peace.

It’s like a book. And they wanna put all this in their ad and all this on their package. Our job is to translate those words into a visual vocabulary.

Like, okay, here’s eight words, but here’s a symbol that I made that says time release better than these six words could ever do. And I’m just gonna put around it quick. That’s it.

So it’s really educating that the neuroscience proves we don’t buy brands because of words. We don’t buy products because of the words that use on advertisements. We buy products and we buy brands with our social emotional radar, Sixth Sense, that gives us all the information we need of that’s right for me.

I’m going to buy that.

Just on the topic of creativity as well. So when I think of pharmaceutical products, at least here in Australia, they’re very wide, generic, like neutral and clinical, right? It’s just very text driven.

So how do you get around that, especially, you know, our exp, like where you have to have a prescription, everything is pretty generic here. Is it the same in the States and how do you get around that, like a clinical look?

It is, well, I have a few beliefs. That’s a great question, Jacob. I have a few beliefs.

One, all brands today are eventually going to look to switch when they can, because it’s so lucrative and it gets more product out there. And it’s no surprise that our doctor model around the world is kind of shrinking. Okay, so that goes with what we know.

RX branding, you know, is starting to become much more sophisticated. So that brand lives in your medicine cabinet. That brand lives in your gym bag.

That brand has some sort of oppression. You don’t want to be embarrassed if someone sees it. So RX is starting to get better and attaching colors and logos and taglines.

So they’re getting better because eventually it may switch. It may go into a category. So RX is starting to change.

I think you’re gonna see more of that. Now the lion’s share of what we do, 95%, is not on the RX side. It’s on the side that’s switching or it’s on the side of products that live in your bedroom drawer or your messing cabinet or your refrigerator.

Everyday household items.

So can you actually start the process on the RX side before the switch or is it very regulated where you have to have it kind of very neutral and clinical?

Another fabulous question. A switch can take anywhere from one to four years. It’s a really long process.

There’s so much to it. So when a molecule, let’s say a brand is going off patent and they know it’s going off patent in three years, they’ll start to clean up their RX efforts. Like, oh, wow, we’re gonna go off patent.

Let’s pay attention to our RX brand. So that can happen too, because we know in three years, we’re gonna try to sell over to the other side.

So when you say clean up, what does that refer to?

I would say just what you’re saying, Jacob, that let’s clean it up. It’s just black and white. It has no personality.

It comes in an amber bottle. Let’s clean it up and treat ourselves like a brand because we’re going to become one.

But can you actually do that on the RX side, like during the time that is behind the counter, can you actually, as you said, clean it up and make it a brand and have all those shapes and symbols and logos?

You can. There’s a lot of regulation to it because you don’t want to confuse, you know? So there’s certainly regulations to it.

But there are, there’s RX committees that allow you to do that. Some, they only allow 10% change. Some, you know, it matters a lot of what class you’re in.

Is it a medical device? You can’t change the device. That’s really hard to do.

You know, what class is your drug in? And then there’s different governing bodies that tell you how much cleaning up or license you can take for creativity. And they do monitor the creativity to make sure the drugs aren’t over-promising, which is really important.

It’s a massive area. I used to work in the financial sector for a big corporate who shall remain nameless, but I ran a creative team. And what I, it used to drive me crazy because basically in the UK, at least, there was something called the Financial Conduct Authority.

And they would, they set guidelines, right? And if we broke the guidelines or we’re deemed to breaking the guidelines, they would literally find the company. So I find myself as a creative director in a corporate with a creative team of fantastic crazy creatives underneath me coming up with all sorts of amazing wacky ideas for the sake of risk management to put all of our comms through the legal department, who would then shut down on basically everything because they’re super risk averse.

So what I would end up doing, well, this is what happened to me anyway, was I ended up literally reading, this nearly killed me by the way, reading all the financial conduct authority guidelines on what we could and could not claim. And then going into battle with my own legal team because what I found was as the legal team, because they were so risk averse, would be like, they would draw the line fast, sort of much safer than where it necessarily needed to be. So there was kind of a, and this came about because I know my team would put ideas forward and then they would come back to saying, no, that breaks the guidelines.

I said, which guideline? And they’d point out the guidelines, that doesn’t break. And so we’d have this debate, right?

And it was all healthy and sometimes I won, most of the time I lost. And that was really interesting. And there was this healthy tension in the business around that.

And obviously legal always would kind of have the final say, nothing would go out, at least in the business I was in, without giving a thumbs up. But what that did is it gave me a massive insight into the restrictions that you face if you operate in a regulated environment. And I kind of wondered, like, how do you advise clients or how do you yourselves kind of conduct yourselves in that?

Do you have a legal team that you would, you send everything through to kind of pass off before you know it’s safe to go out? Or do you rely on your clients? Or how do you advise people about that?

Talk to us about the nuts and bolts of the horror of regulatory environments.

I’m glad that you’ve experienced it yourself, Matt, because you know it’s a big deal. It really is. And we also know us three in our audience, which is design strategy, brand oriented.

We know everybody’s a designer, right? Everybody’s a designer. Everybody’s got an opinion.

Everybody wants something different. And regulatory and attorneys are king, as is the governing bodies when it comes to doing branding in the OTC or RXOTC switch world. So how do you handle that?

You educate. So whenever I go into a corporation, I ask very key questions when they come to me and say that they want to do these big endeavors. May I please meet with your regulatory team?

Well, why do you want to meet with my regulatory team? Because I want to talk to him about the science that brand assigned a sequence of cognition and how words are decoded. I want them on the same page with us.

And I want to make sure that we’re going to be holding hands and walking down that line together. And I want them to know that I respect them. I’m going to hear the monograph, the NDA, everything that I need to do.

But we’re going to together make a solid airtight case to the FDA about how people see brands. And we’re going to research it and test it and provide all the clinical data you need. So it’s really getting everyone on the same page.

Nothing’s worse than starting in, spending our clients’ money and time. And we’ve got big brother over here who we haven’t even spoken to, who’s just waiting to put a great big mark on it because that’s their job. So it’s really Matt, it’s what you do with your groups is holding hands, getting everyone on the same page and agreeing firsthand before we start in that we’re going to be on the journey together.

I’m going to be respectful and get you to pass the FDA. And you’re going to allow me to give you some terminology for your FDA document that can explain what this symbol is meant to do. That’s fantastic.

I love that.

It’s all about alignment, isn’t it? And as you say, working with people, and how terrible it is, and I hear horror stories where thousands of millions, or sometimes of pounds or dollars have been spent. And yeah, then the legal team come in and say, no, there’s no way you can go anywhere near this.

Why didn’t anyone come to see that? Yeah, all the time. And so I think what you’ve said is get them in early, is the big tip.

If you’re working with a brand in the regulatory space, get the client’s legal team in early before you get them on side. That’s what I heard, Terri. So smart advice, really smart.

And the first thing I do is I launch myself into the client of a big suitcase of what’s inside our color crayons. I give everyone a fresh box of crayons. I say, let’s just, everybody draw their favorite brand.

You got five minutes, let’s do it. And I draw my favorite brand, whatever it is at the time. And then everybody gets up and shows theirs and everybody realizes cognitively, like, wow, I knew the colors and the shapes and the symbols.

And they understand for themselves how brands are really recalled and seen. That’s brilliant.

So you started the end, right, with the regulatory people, but before you were talking about, you know, science driven and the data and everything. So what’s the process that you use to, you know, get that data, to get that, I guess, science into the process? Like, how do you get that sort of information?

It’s really about understanding what the client needs to do. So the client might say, I have this new fantastic medicine that’s going to cure poison IV, like nobody’s ever seen before, okay? And it comes in a patch.

And I’m like, oh, and as designers and marketers, you know what our job is to ask the right questions, okay? So my question really is going to be interesting. Have you done a clinical trial?

And if they don’t know what that is, it means really a random clinical trial where so many people use it and have had that result that we can prove. So that’s question one. Question two, well, if you’re going to put it in a patch, did you know that patch is a medical device and that medical device would fall under this classification?

Were you aware of that? So it’s really just going down the road, asking all the right questions and asking them who’s their regulatory team. Often they don’t have one.

So then my regulatory team comes in and just asking all the right questions. And then each class that we want to go to, if it’s a medical device or perhaps it’s a EU drug, or it’s a drug to help people make love longer or to help people. I mean, there’s so many interesting things that are happening that we have to understand the body we’re going in front of and what sort of test we need.

Do we need an actual trial usage? Do we need in-home usage? There’s so many things that we have to do and that’s why it takes three years to prove to whether it’s the FDA or AEGIA, whoever it is, that this will be safe to be sold to the public.

That’s what it’s all about.

So that’s like proving the claims, but once you’ve got past that, right? Then you’re getting into, I guess, research and understanding what consumers may look for. How do you go about that stage?

We do what’s called laboral comprehension studies. So now we’ve gotten the claims, we’ve gotten the brand designed and now we send it into brand targets homes and we do label comprehension studies. Tell me how you comprehend this drug fact label.

Tell me how you comprehend this package that came into you. And sometimes we video them, tell me how you open it. Let me see how you use it.

You know, we can do those, we can do human factor studies, we can do actual use trials. There’s so many things that we do and there’s certain firms, research firms that are set up to do just this sort of things, in home usage studies. Cause all those boxes need to be ticked off.

And what’s great as designers and branders that we also wanna make something that’s really attractive and appealing and something that’s not gonna frighten them or their children walk in the room, the children aren’t scared. So that’s where really the design comes in.

So in between that, so you’ve got the research and then you have the testing, but let’s say you’re choosing that purple color. How did you get to the point of like, oh, we’re gonna choose purple. Like what are you analyzing there to choose the color or shape or text, for example?

Well, I believe you should only design with ownable core identifiers. You should only be using core identifiers, color shapes and symbols that you know you can own. So how do you know what you can own?

You have to do an enormous swat, strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats and see what everybody else owns. So we’ve created this matrix where we put a brand, we’re working in a particular category. Let’s say it’s cortisone and we’re working in a category anti-edge.

We’ll put all the brands and then we’ll write down their color, their shapes, their symbols and all their words in a matrix. And then the client can see for themselves, nobody owns, everybody’s using these five symbols. Let’s design something different.

Everybody else is saying this because, you know, FDA guidelines say that, let’s say it differently. So it’s really understanding what everybody else owns in your category and then doing something that can still fit in the category but really help you stand apart. And that’s how we approach it.

Okay, so is there any science behind choosing like a certain color or is it just based on what’s gonna differentiate the brand?

You asked the best questions. There’s so much science to it because, you know, when we’re very small, we learn things. We learn that red means hot or it means cinnamon.

You know, we learn these experiences about color and we have to understand that color is the first identifier we’ve ever really learned about. That’s how we identify our parents, you know, their color, their shape. That’s how we recognize them, if we’re able to see.

So because of that, we want to pick colors that translate the right associative emotional qualities to it. So if I’m working on a brand and I’m talking about the brand so cooling, I’m not going to make the brand red, you know, that just wouldn’t make sense. It would be counterintuitive to what I’m trying to accomplish.

I’d love to hear your top five tips to brands, well, to folks building brands in regulated environments, Terri. So I wonder if you could, I mean, I’ve asked for five. If you give us three, we’ll be grateful.

But yeah, if you can do five, do us five, five top tips.

Okay, top five, here we go. Number one, ask the right questions. You want to gain rapport, you want to be the expert in the room.

Don’t go in and just have a chat. Go in with all your questions, ready to go that are very insightful, that make the people think, that let them know, you know what you’re talking about. Ask the questions.

You need to know what’s the class of trade. Are you financially prepared? Do you have a regulatory team?

Is your attorney going to work with me, your general counsel, or should I bring in my own? Get your army together, ask your questions. Ask your questions ahead of time.

That’s number one. Number two, once you learn, learn more. Okay, you’re working for this class of trade.

It’s a food? Let me look up the Nutrition Label Enforcement Act, and LEA. Let me go check that out and see what’s going on because it changes every two months.

Let me look, let me join associations. Let me go online. Let me see what’s going on.

I’m not going to depend upon my client to tell me that the muffin can’t show blueberries on the outside, only the inside. I’ve got to know. I’m the brander.

That’s number two. Learn your requirements to where you’re going and let them know you know. And in case they don’t know, inform them.

You’re all on the same page. Number three, do a SWOT. As Jacob and I were talking about.

See in your category, who owns what query diverse, what color, shape, symbols and words. When they zig, you want to zag, go the other direction. Do something different, but still fit into your category.

Number four, design to the sequence of cognition. Color is first, shape is second, symbols are third, words are last. Take all those words and turn them into a visual vocabulary and work on that.

Work on that with your design team. Okay, here’s 20 words. I want everybody to take these words and make them into visuals.

Do nothing else for three days. That’s it. And number five, this is a good one.

Once you’re successful, which you will be, prepare that the world’s going to copy you. Privately, we’ll store a brand. Everyone’s going to take a piece of your action and rip you off.

So build it to own it. Because you know, once you’re successful, there it goes, everybody’s a copycat and a counterfeiter too. Those are my top five.

Drop, drop, my drop moment, that was epic. I was going to say, I love that swap one, in terms of the colors and stuff. And I’ve done something similar in the medical sector with a brand I was working with a couple of years back.

And what I thought was great is like what you said at the start of this episode, which is that, you know, what you start to do is you start to show that there’s a strategic intent behind the decisions that are being made. Yes, they look creatively brilliant, but strategically, and this is what I’d love about your last point there, you own it. You don’t want to come alongside a competitor.

You want to be distinguishable and different and hopefully better for the right reasons for the right audience than your competitor. So, you know, I think that’s a really smart approach and, you know, thank you so much for sharing that with us. Jacob, did you have any final questions for Terri before we call it a day or an evening, depending on where you are in the world?

No, it was more a comment on the first few tips. So it was just asking the right questions, but also knowing the process, right? The more you know about what your industry and, you know, packaging and all that, the more knowledge, the better the process, the more you can be an advisor and a consultant.

And that’s when your value goes up. So I think it’s a really nice way to summarize everything.

I’ve got one final question, Terri. If anyone’s been listening and they’re like, hey, I’ve got to get in touch with this lady. She’s going to be phenomenal.

She’s going to really revolutionize my world. Where do we get in touch with you? How do people contact you if they want any more information?

Thank you. I appreciate that. They can find me on LinkedIn under Terri Goldstein.

They can find me terrigoldstein.com. They can find me at Goldstein Group Branding. They can find my TEDx talk.

They can, I’m pretty easy to find if you remember my name. And once you find my name, you can go on my website and contact me. You can contact me on LinkedIn.

I love LinkedIn. You can find me on Facebook. I love social media.

So I’m pretty easy to find and I’m always up for a conversation.

By the way, folks, Terri’s TED talk is brilliant. If you’ve got slight ADHD, you should totally watch it because it’s all about how… I don’t know the exact title, Terri, you can correct me, but it’s about how ADHD helped Terri basically be amazing at understanding colors, symbols and the other stuff that she talks about.

Terri, you explain it better than me.

Well, I call it the secret to my client’s success, my dyslexia. So I’m neurodivergent, which 10% of the population is, and neurodivergent means that we think differently the most. Gee, what’s a brand or we think differently the most.

We can see things that others fail to see. And my dyslexia has really helped me because my whole world is visual. I see in visuals.

So it’s easy for me to turn 20 words into visual. I do that every day. You talk to me, I see visuals, I translate it back to words.

I knew it was something like that. I didn’t watch it a week or so ago. It wasn’t.

That was the thing.

But they’re very combined. You know, it’s neurodivergent and they’re often side by side.

And it is phenomenal, isn’t it? How a lot of creative people have those conditions is a superpower, but it can be a super weakness. So it’s learning how to manage those.

So anyway, I thought your talk was super inspirational. So folks, check it out. Check out Terri’s TEDx.

And yeah, I guess that’s it. That’s a wrap for our episode. So just finally leaves me to say thank you so much for coming out at the time, sharing your wisdom and knowledge.

Really appreciate it. And thank you, Terri, for coming on.

Thank you. Thank you both. I’ve really, really enjoyed my end of day.

It’s been lovely. Thank you.

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