The Power Of Brand, with Fabian Geyrhalter

August 3, 2022
PRODUCED BY JOSH DOUGHERTY

Fabian Geyrhalter is a brand strategist and creative director who was born in Vienna, Austria and has been living in Los Angeles for well over half his life. He understands that any venture can turn into an admired brand if developed in an intrinsic, holistic, and methodological manner.

Fabian has deep expertise in guiding companies through their brand transformations and has been sought out by companies such as Marriott International, Warner Brothers, Match Group, Honeywell, Kaplan, and Randstad. His thoughts on branding have appeared in publications like Inc., Forbes, Entrepreneur, and The Washington Post.

All three of his books became international Amazon best-sellers and turned into go-to resources for entrepreneurs and marketers alike. From his Resonaid brand strategy workshops to the Hitting the Mark podcast, Fabian is in a constant stimulation cycle, which is clearly visible when he advises clients or shares his insights with his followers.

In 2022 Fabian launched a product startup, Toneoptic, which brings innovation, coupled with his brand-thinking, to the vinyl record storage system space.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Fabian’s fascination in logos as a child grew into a passion for building brands that build authentic emotional connections with 
  • Why every company must invest in brand if they want to succeed
  • How brands like Liquid Death succeed by being bold and focusing on a narrow niche
  • How early stage startups can leverage great branding to ensure their product gets noticed
  • Why B2B brands should loosen up and realize they are building connections with people, just like everyone else
  • Why emotions lie at the core of any great brand
  • How to break through any mental blocks as you’re trying to uncover the emotions behind your brand
  • How to go about naming creating a great name for your company

Additional resources: 

Transcription:

Intro: Welcome to A Brave New Podcast, the podcast all about how big ideas, brave thinking, and marketing smarts help businesses grow. Here is your host, Josh Dougherty.

Josh: Welcome to another episode of A Brave New Podcast. I'm Josh Dougherty, your host, and today we have a really special guest. Fabian Geyrhalter is a brand strategist and creative director that I've gotten to know over the last few years through the Founder Institute. The reason I'm so excited to have Fabian on is he's a true believer in brand. He, like me, believes that a brand is really the key to success for any venture, and he brings a ton of experience to the table. He's worked with massive brands like Marriott International, Warner Brothers, Match Group, and Kaplan, but he has also done a ton of work with startups.

I think this juxtaposition of working with both these large brands and the more startup brands brings some really interesting things out. In addition to being the principal of FINIEN, a brand consultancy based in the LA area, he's also written three books about the topic, and he hosts a podcast about branding. So as you can see, this is something that is a real passion for him, and that's why I'm excited to share the conversation. So let's jump in. Hi, Fabian. Thanks so much for coming on the show.

Fabian: Oh, it's a great pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

Josh: Awesome. Well, I know you've been doing branding work for a long time. I'd love to dive in for our listeners and just have you share a little bit of what first got you interested in brand. And then after building a career, doing this work, what keeps you energized all this time?

Fabian: Well, good question what got me into it? I was always fascinated by the idea of logos. So as a kid, when I was in the back of the car, and we saw all these other cars go by, and all the wheels had their logos on it, and I'm like, wait a minute, this is a Volkswagen. And this is a Jaguar. That idea of identifying something that people purchase. And then, a lot of people actually start falling in love with that thing, whatever that is, maybe that’s someone being a car nut or someone following a band. And the band had the whole visual kind of aura. So I was always into that, and it stuck with me and I studied graphic design with the sole purpose of designing kick butt logos and designing brands.

That was always, since my early teenage years, I was fascinated by it. And the older you get, the more you start to realize there's so much more to branding, and it's so much more exciting to actually think about these emotional tie-ins and the strategy behind it. So that was always something that interested me. What keeps me going and what keeps me energized is that branding is so misunderstood.

Everyone gets marketing, but branding is this thing where I think it can be someone's life work. And then someone else's life work added on top of it to educate people on the power of branding, and what it takes, and why it is not a four-letter word, why brand is actually something that is really important, and it can be done in a way where it's very amicable. I just feel the more I work with clients⸺and bigger clients and bigger brands⸺ and seeing them and also well-funded startups, and seeing them flourish. And if I just had a little bit to do with that, it's really gratifying, especially working with companies that you believe in.

Josh: Totally. I think in my practice as well, it's the same thing. Getting the chance to actually share with someone that brand is separate from your marketing⸺ and it's going to actually move you so much further ahead than any marketing tactic⸺ is one of the most rewarding things if you can get to that point with someone and get them to actually think deeply about it, rather than just give me a new mark, give me a new visual identity, give me something that we can just roll out into our marketing.

Fabian: But that's right. There are plenty of companies now where even though I only work on the brand part, very often the brand is the philosophy and it's the true north of a company. And very often that also impacts the employees in the company. Like what is the culture? Who are they? And I always tell some of my mentees when a lot of the next generation says I'm only going to work for great companies. I'm only going to work for companies that actually do better.

And I always feel like, well, shouldn't you work with the companies that are currently not doing better and you be that person that actually gets them to do better? And even if it's just 5%, and if you have a Fortune 500 and you tilt them 5% into a better direction, imagine how many people and in the environment, et cetera. So that's kind of my philosophy and that's why I keep going, because I think it's really exciting.

Josh: Yeah. I think that's exciting work too. And it's always that aha moment that you can get to. And I think this is why in past conversations, we've talked about the fact that brand is really that single most important thing a company can work on if they want to succeed. Because you're building emotional ties, you're building real connections with the consumer or whoever you're selling to. What do you think are the biggest benefits that really come for a company? Or what are the biggest benefits that a company gets when they make a true investment in their brand?

Fabian: You know, it's funny. It's cheating, because you see me right now on camera and behind me, I've got this quote of mine from one of my books and it reads, "Branding is a layer of insurance for your company." And I really believe in this idea that, why should companies, and I don't even say should, I should say need to, why do companies need to, regardless of size, need to invest in branding, Because it creates this layer of an insurance around them, where if their product sucks, if their feature sucks, if they get out-priced, if they, whatever, right. It's [inaudible 00:06:28]

Josh: Is all going to happen at some point [inaudible 00:06:30]

Fabian: You are all successful. If you're at all successful, people are going to steal everything away from you. And the one thing that you have, and they can't steal that from you is the soul of the company, is the brand of the company. You and I chatted a little bit before we went on air about this. I'm currently working on a product startup. It's my first product startup. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I know how to brand. And I feel like I launched a brand rather than a product, because that's what I understand. And now the product, of course, we're going through all these iterations, we're doing all these things. Maybe we have to pivot. But I still have this huge hope, because I know that there's a brand that actually connects with people and they love what's at the heart of our ideology.

Fabian: Of course, now we're racing to get a product out there, because, otherwise, everyone's going to steal from us. But that, to me, is extremely powerful. And that has nothing to do with the logo and nothing to do with ... It's that culmination of brand thinking and ideology, and then the name and then the logo, and then your promise. And when all of this comes together, very often organically by founders that just know that it's important, those are the companies that have some sort of advantage.

Josh: Yeah. And it's so compelling too, because then they can find experts. There's someone who can help you retool the product so that it can be produced at the right price or sold at the level of quality you need, but no one can teach you what is that soul? What is that essence deep at the heart of your company?

Fabian: And on top of that, Josh, some companies need to pay people like me a good amount of money to get it there. And some founders spent $0 on it, and they got it right. And I think that's what makes it so strange to people. But it's the same thing of, like, you can come up with your company name in the shower and you're like, that's it. And you happen to go to GoDaddy and you get it for 10 bucks. And you're like, I guess I got lucky. And you're like, I don't need a trademark. And you guess you get lucky again. But then most of the time people have to spend a lot of time or a lot of money getting there. And it's just this weird, intangible thing that is branding where some people get it, and they have it in them. And some people just really need to go through the processes to get them there.

Josh: Yeah. And I think that's what makes it so misunderstood, what you alluded to, because I have those conversations in my work all the time as well as like, "Oh, I don't want to invest six months in working on this, we just want to get this nailed and then move forward." Because they've seen those success stories, those startups that have said, we came up with this idea. We were talking one evening, and it popped into our heads. We launched the brand, and the rest is history.

But that's not how it works for the majority of people. I'm thinking back to some of the conversations we've had through where we met, working with the Founder Institute, mentoring really early, early stage founders about their startups or really their concepts for their startups. Something that's really struck me and made me excited every time we've gotten to talk in that context is your real emphasis that brand needs to be invested in at that stage, really before there's even any product, before there's maybe even a solidified pitch for investors. Can you unpack a little bit about why you make that case? And I know this is something you've worked on throughout your whole career, but why is branding is so important even for that earliest, earliest stage startup to invest in?

Fabian: Well, because it's an early, early stage startup, you don't have much to show for it. You really don't. If you're lucky, you have a crappy deck with an idea that is rough around the edges. Maybe it has a good core. Hopefully, it has a good core. But it's a lot like people. You meet some people, and you just get a really good vibe from them. They're really personable. You want to hang out with them, you want to have a drink with them. Your startup needs to be that company, because there are tons of people that are going to be really awkward at presenting. And then they've got really ugly looking decks and a silly name for a company. And on top of it's a product that may or may not work.

If you are the one who has the same pitfalls of a product that may or may not work, but you are fun. You are intelligent. You are amicable. You resonate with me immediately. And not as a person even. Some of us are fortunate to have that and some don't, right? And there are language barriers and all kinds of things. But comparing that to a brand…So if I opened a deck and it's a really well thought out name that immediately catches me, and then this beautiful design, and then these words that just speak to me where it's like, oh my God, this is so different. This is so fresh. This is so fun. This is so interesting.

Then at some point we get to your product. I will already want to invest. I will already want to be part of this ride, because you're telling me a story that's interesting. And in a way, your pre-launch startup is not much more than a movie trailer. But some movies you want to watch and some you don't. So how do you create your movie trailer?

Josh: And the product has to do so much less work if you're telling me a compelling story, and I'm wowed by the presentation up front. That gives someone that time, I guess, to iterate on their idea.

Fabian: And of course, a lot of it also has to do with philosophy. Because I was leaning big into the name and the logo and the visuals of how you tell that, and then the storytelling. But a lot of it just has to do with philosophy. I interviewed the founder of Just Egg or Just Eggs the other day. And it's going to be on my podcast soon. And they invested an insane amount of money, I'm talking tens of millions, before they created an egg substitute that could actually perform like a scrambled egg. It didn't even taste good yet, but they were just able after millions and millions and millions of dollars to create this.

Well, what happened before they were able to scramble an egg that doesn't come from an animal? Before that was a brand, before that was a founder with an ideology, but you have to, if you don't have that charisma or that big talk, and you can't do that, then your deck and your design and your language and your brand need to do it for you. If you have both, I think you're in a winning streak already.

Josh: Totally. And I think the other thing, even if you have both, that brand gives that charismatic founder a way to translate their charisma down into the rest of their team. Because at every startup right now, they want to be able to scale quickly. So give your team, as you grow, the tools to actually scale with charisma, as opposed to trying to just do great work. Because a lot of times I feel like those founders that are super charismatic, they're hard to replicate. They're going to be nearly impossible to replicate.

Fabian: Well, and very often they also get so carried away with their own charisma, as we saw with WeWork and the WeCrash, which was hilarious. And whoever hasn't seen it has to see it, has to watch it. The problem is this is not about creating the wrong painting, the wrong picture and creating BS that people believe in because we make it look so pretty and sound so good. That's not the job of branding. Sometimes it does that and it shouldn't do it. Just like we shouldn't market nicotine.

But it really goes down to the bigger truth and to the bigger vision of a founder and a company and painting this in a way where people say, you know what, this is a revolution I want to participate in. And, even, if you don't know how to make your product yet, then you don't know if you ever will be. I will invest in this because I share your vision. And we are getting sidetracked to what a founder does and how he or she behaves. But still, the brand is very similar. It has to do all of that work. And sometimes it has to do it alone because the founder is a complete introvert. So the brand needs to take that heavy lifting.

Josh: Yep. But it has to be authentic, and it has to push towards somewhere, like what you said. So what startups do you think are doing the best at this recently? Are there a couple that come to mind that you're really excited about?

Fabian: Well, I could just start naming off all the ones that I have on my podcast, but that would be too editorial of me. But-

Josh: Look, we'll put a link to Fabian's podcast in the show notes.

Fabian: Very good, so I don't have to keep saying this. Thank you, Josh. You're helping me here. Well, there's one startup that is just so absolutely knocking it out of the park and they've been doing it for the last, must be two years now, and they call it Liquid Death. And the reason why I bring up Liquid Death is because it is so silly and so stupid on the outside, but so deep and so well thought through on the inside. And to me, that is, and it is in the most commodity of a market space. And one that is so dominated by the big three or big four or whatever. That's why, to me, it is so spectacular. And whoever doesn't know Liquid Death, it's water, it's Kent water, and it's Kent water made with a punk aesthetic and esprit and philosophy. And it is so hilarious if you like the humor, and so appalling if you don't. What's at the heart of it is that they're just selling like hot cakes at 7/11s and Whole Foods and everywhere now, and everyone wants to be a part of their story.

Josh: And it's spring water, right?

Fabian: And it's spring water. And, in the beginning, it came from Austria. I don't know where it comes from now, but what's happening behind the scenes is that aluminum is better than plastic. And really, what they're doing is they're actually saving the environment by becoming a big brand. So creating something that is hip and cool, and that goes totally anti-marketing, and anti-advertising, and anti what you actually expect, starting with the name Liquid Death, but actually doing good for mankind. That's why I would immediately highlight a brand because I think from a brand playbook right now, they're 110% on top of that game.

Josh: Totally, totally. I agree. I love their brand. There are very few brands that I actually go to their website and just poke around. But it's one of the most entertaining places to spend time.

Fabian: And look, Josh, I don't know you well, but I know you well enough that we had a couple of sessions together with Founder Institute, and you don't come across as the hardcore punk rocker.

Josh: I'm not, yeah.

Fabian: Okay. But that's the beauty of that brand where every other founder would be scared shitless to say, "Oh my God, I'm going to create a water brand and a niche of a niche of an niche and a niche niche niche, and then no one's going to buy it, and I'm never going to become rich." And that is why no one's doing it. But if someone has that foresight and says, no, if we create something really cool and the cool kids are going to like it, this is going to spread. Because all the ones like you and I that want to be the cool kids or want to hang out with them, they're going to buy it too.

Then the parents and their aunts and the grandpa, and that's why, again, it is such a great brand because a lot of these pitfalls that a lot of other founders or CEOs and big companies fall into. And I had him on my podcast a long time ago. He said no, none of these big ones are going to be able to duplicate us because they cannot, they cannot create a brand like ours. It is so crazy. It is not allowed for them to do it. And it's just-

Josh: Yeah, they don't have the freedom. They can't go for it. Yeah. I love it. So shifting over to a lot of our listeners who are in the B2B healthcare and tech industries, not super exciting, compared to Liquid Death. It's a perfect example of what you just said. They don't have the freedom to be that crazy.

Fabian: But they do.

Josh: Yeah. So I would say, how does brand differ for that type of B2B versus a consumer-focused brand? And I would agree with you, they can go for it and be successful if they have the bravery to do it.

Fabian: And I keep saying this, I'm repeating myself over and over with this. And I think it's well worth repeating over for another couple of years or decades. The B2B brands that understand that their customer is a person that is drinking Liquid Death and buying Nike shoes and doing whatever people do out in the wild. Their brand needs to fit in with all the other brands. And if their brand fits in with those brands, rather than their accounting software brands from 1990, then they will create an emotional bond which no other can create if they're the first ones doing so. And yes, it's a consumer brand, but I had the founder of Claire on my show and Claire is a paint brand. They literally create paint, that's it.

It's Home Depot stuff, it's boring, but they just say, "Hey, we take the pain out of paint." And they create a lifestyle brand based on a paint bucket. No one would ever do that. So if you are a healthcare company, or if you're a financial company, quite interestingly, both of the verticals that I work with the most as well, and you realize that, and you say, no, wait a minute. We can actually be the people that we are behind that B2B facade. And we can start talking to people in a way that is amicable and that's different and that's actually high fiving them, instead of like, here's the contract. Really amazing things can happen. So they're going to have a leg up when they think of a D2C brand or at least a B2C brand because they need to, and more and more will do it. And once they do it, they will be the ones that will succeed.

Josh: Yeah. Because it's all anyone ever wants. I think we discovered that during the pandemic. I want to get on and hang out with someone, even in my work life, who is fun to hang out with, knows me, gets along, likes the same things as me. And that goes a long way to who I'm going to hire to work with me. Because I spend too much time at work to actually want to work with people who suck.

Fabian: That's why Robin Hood is doing so well. I remember when they were a startup and when they were just coming out. And they led immediately from the beginning. They had their fist in the air and everyone loves to join the revolution, we know that. And they had amazing design, incredible UX. They were so fresh in a space where others didn't even know that space existed. And of course, yes, the company has problems and, yes, we have the same kind of founder story where it's extremely over the top, et cetera, et cetera.

But proving the point that if you create something with the user in mind, in a space that is really boring, really boring, and that's finance and that's healthcare, it's really boring. Yeah. Should it be boring? No, because without money, you can't survive. Should healthcare be boring? No. Because without health, you can't survive. Why is my water silly? And my paint bucket is silly. It just makes so much sense for that to become something that I can fall in love with. It's like the idea Fitbit. And suddenly we actually care about walking 10,000 steps. And before we didn't. Mind blowing.

Josh: It changed a whole culture.

Fabian: Everything, Fitbit thing. Exactly. It changed everything. And who would've thought that this is possible in a don't walk on the street country like the United States, where we have zero public transportation. It's like, but, but, but, but it's amazing. You see people walking on the streets in LA and you're like, what's wrong with you. And that goes back to your very first question of why is it important to think about branding at the beginning with a startup, because that's how revolutionary brands are actually created. Because it's like, I want to be a part of this. This is not about a stupid, ugly-looking plastic watch on my wrist. That has nothing to do with 10,000 steps.

Josh: And I think that's the big thing that I always talk about with healthcare startups or healthcare companies in general, when you get to the point to say, we are not selling primary care, we are selling access to your doctor at any point when you're worried at no cost. That's something that's super valuable to people, which then ladders up to peace of mind, which ladders up to actually getting to the place of like, oh my gosh, I don't have to put off going to the doctor, which gets to like, I can be a healthier person. That's a transformative brand, but if you just stop at we're selling primary care with this new model, it's pretty boring. Totally.

Fabian: And most healthcare companies work within a niche. And so they usually approach people like you and I, and they say, "Hey, so we're in the space of X and we are selling these three features X, X, X, X, X, X. That's what we do." And what my job is is to ask them, "Okay, so if this is the business that you're in, how do you make people feel?" Because that's all that branding is. It's like, no, you're not in the business of a feature, you're in the business of an emotion. And once you're the emotion, you're so much closer to becoming a Liquid Death or becoming a 10,000 steps behind a Fitbit, because you understand how you can actually impact people's day to day and how they think about when they actually pick up your product.

And that with B2B, look, I don't know what you're looking at right now on your screen, but I've got three screens open and there must be at least 50 tabs open in different browsers. And no one should know that, that it's not a good thing to do. Kids at home don't do that. But that's what I have. And then there are some tabs that I like to look at more often than others.

It most probably has to do because the IUX is really nice. Most probably the data is realized in a really good way. And it gives me something more than what's being displayed. So yeah, it's a platform, it's a software, it's a dashboard, it's whatever, but it sure as heck is not QuickBooks. So that's why finance and healthcare, boy, there's a huge opportunity.

Josh: So much opportunity. What about someone who's listening? And they're like, yeah, I get that emotional connection thing, but they're kind of having that block of how to get through and figure out what emotions they should be evoking or how they should be building that connection. Do you have some tricks for people to start thinking about how to break through that block of moving beyond their services, maybe into the emotional realm? Any tricks you use with people to get them to start thinking?

Fabian: Yeah, none of this is really big, new thinking, but it's something that needs to be repeated over and over because it's hard for people to actually do it, for everyone, including myself. So if I work with my own startup, it's like, "Hey, yeah, here I am preaching, but boy, do I need to remind myself of it," It's not about what you do, it's about how you do it and why you do it. And you as a founder or as a company spent 99% on the what. And then you spend 1% on the why and on the how, but usually you outsource that to some creatives doing something. But really, what connects your brand and very often your product subsequently to a customer or a user, is that how and that why.

And so it's Simon Sinek's why, which really he shouldn't own. But that idea is okay, so you're in the business of this, you're working with these people, these are the people that you actually need to convince or attract. And these are the benefits that you give them. And in the end, just finish that sentence, that positioning sentence with because. And that's going to be interesting, because you know this is the market we are in. These are the benefits and our audience. And that's usually, this is our business. Let's go, right? Let's create the feature list on the homepage, and everyone's going to love us.

But the why. Why would they deeply care? And why do you do what you do? That's that big emotion. That's that thing of like, "Hey, why do you exist? What's that missing link?" And it's really hard for us to do that as companies to actually give that thought. And then how, how do we deliver our product in different ways that make our audience appreciate us more? And then go deeper into that. Because very often that's the big differentiator in the marketplace and not the 48th feature that you plug into your ...

Josh: Totally. I think that how is easier for people to get to often because you get them to sit down and think about the why. And they're like, I don't know why, but if they can start talking about how we've done things differently, that can be a ladder into getting to the why, because-

Fabian: I very much agree. There was this shop here in Venice, on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. And I walked in and on the wall, it said, "It's not about what we do. It's about how we do it." It was a clothing store and it's very much about, okay, so where is that actually from? Do you do small batch? Where is it manufactured? Who's working on it? I think that the why is the big one, but the how is so big too, because like you said, the how cements the philosophy and then out of that, you can actually create that, whatever you call that why, the brand DNA, the true north, let the shot go, it can go on forever.

Josh: Yeah, totally. So after you've got your why and your how defined, that's my approach to start looking at naming, right? And then start diving in and saying, "How do I build out a name?" But people face a ton of stumbling blocks about that now, because they're like, "There's no URLs available," which is true. There are no URLs available or they want to just name it something that's really straightforward and descriptive, because it's hard to find something that you can truly own. What are some of the approaches that you like to use and the philosophies you like to use as you're building on a name for a new venture?

Fabian: I don't think anything has changed in the last few years. The only thing that changed is that it's much harder work these days, because somehow during the pandemic, everyone either started a business or felt like, why don't I just buy some domains, because I'm going to start a business. And so now I would say that out of 10 domain names where we wonder, "Hey, shoot, is that available?" And we go to GoDaddy or some site like that and we plug it in. I would say that maybe six or seven out of those 10 are parked pages and we don't know anything. We don't know, do they have a trademark, will they ever exist? And it's really painful. But that's what has happened.

The approach has not changed. And quite frankly, the outcome hasn't changed either, because over and over, we still find a way to get dot coms for $9.95. We still do. It's just that it takes a little bit more work and a little bit more sweat. But the consumer has changed. The consumer doesn't need to go to a perfect flat out dot com anymore. If the domain Shrimp is taken, you can go to www.goshrimp.com and you would be just fine because you're going to search for Shrimp clothes. And then, oh, if you're in clothing and your company's called Shrimp, you're just fine. That has changed. The sub domains have changed, but you still need to come up with a smart name. Most people don't go for generic names like Shrimp, but it's kind of what's happening right now. It's a lot of startups. A law firm that I know is called Better.

The fashion company is called Shrimp and we're using Square, so it becomes simpler and simpler in a way. But at that point, it's not so much about creating the name anymore but about creating really heavy, in-depth trademark searches. So you're saving some money on the name that you're now putting into the trademark lawyer to go super deep dive, because have fun saying, "Hey, our name is going to be Square and we want to own it across finance and software and worldwide." It's always-

Josh: This is what I'm really happy about. I'm not an attorney on things like that. That's insane.

Fabian: I know. I know. And it really depends on what company it is and how far you want to go with it. But the traditional names, which we still craft a whole lot of, are these names that are made up of words that are usually combined words. And the way that you go about it is you just brainstorm about, okay, can I use what the company does, and how the company makes me feel, or why the company exists, and how it makes me feel, and start writing down hundreds of those keywords in even different languages, and then start combining them until I find something that if I ended with an IO or something makes it sound good. But it's amazing. Just last week we had a huge eureka moment in our second round of names for a client, and it's such a good name, and I can't even believe it. And we got the dot com. We had to pay $3,000 for it, which is nothing [inaudible 00:34:17] right now.

Josh: So affordable now.

Fabian: They had a budget of $110,000 for the domain. So we got it for $3,000 and I'm like, that's nothing. And these names are still out there, and all it takes is patience and time, and you can hire someone like us for it. And that means you're going to have a little bit less money, and you don't need to spend the time on it, or you just really have to reserve time. This is not going to come easily. Coming up with that big idea and actually that name working is almost impossible. There has to be 30 variations of that name and then the trademark cuts it down. Or then you can't for the life of you find a dot com that works or a dot co. So it's just work. It's a lot of work.

Josh: That's the funny part about creative work. At the end of the day, people are like, "It's just coming up with a name." I'm like, "Try joining me and my team for doing this for a whole week for a client sitting down and coming up with four names that might potentially work as you're going through."

Fabian: Well, and that's it because people say, "Okay, yeah, I created a hundred names. Here, awesome. Let's send it to the trademark attorney." Yeah, you would be insane doing that. But I know that a couple of namers still do it that way. They just throw at you a document with 4,000 names and it doesn't do anything. I would say it's 80% science and research and 20% creativity at this point.

Josh: Yeah, totally. And I think the thing that you mentioned about the classic way of combining together a couple of names that really are phrases that are somewhat matched to your brand and the concept behind your brand, people sometimes shy away from that, but I'm like, there's no difference between that and Square. You're infusing meaning into one or the other.

So I think that's the other encouragement I have for people when they're thinking about this, is that for any name, you've got to create meaning behind it. Let's make sure it's connected to something, and it's unique, and it sounds good, and it'll stand out and people will be excited when they hear it. And then you can build meaning around it with the brand that you build behind it.

Fabian: And a made up name, people used to say with a made up name, you have to spend more time marketing it because it's made up and you don't have any associations with it. But one could use the other argument that if you have a name, if you would launch Virgin today, Virgin Airlines, and you would call it Virgin, which by the way is completely, absolutely nuts. But if you would come up with a company name-

Josh: We just accept it. Because it exists.

Fabian: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. But imagine, and you say, "Hey, let's call it Virgin." And then wouldn't you think that there's a boatload of marketing that needs to be created for Virgin to suddenly mean a really cool airline.

Josh: 100%.

Fabian: Yeah. And so the same thing with Square. If I use Square, the first thing I'm going to think about is why is it Square? And then what does it mean? And aren't you thinking outside of a box rather than inside a square? What's going on? So I still feel it takes time. So it's really about choosing a name that feels like it can expand with your company, and the right story can be told at different times on the company's journey. I think those are really the successful names.

Josh: Yeah, nice. I agree. As we head towards wrapping up, I'd love to just close out by talking maybe about one more example. As you think about B2B brands today, what's the one that you think is doing it best or creating the most unique place for themselves in the marketplace, that's been brave enough, like you talked about, to relate to people like humans?

Fabian: Well, this is interesting because I was thinking about something else until you said relate to humans, which as you and I discussed is really the big thing. Usually, whatever I come across lately. So I came across a brand lately because I worked with a company in the space. They're in the wonderfully boring, it can't get more boring than that, B2B world of digital contract management.

Josh: Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Fabian: So it's literally centralizing the purchasing process and creating simpler workflows for contracts for large companies. And there's a competitor that got into that space called Ironclad and it's ironcladapp.com. They don't even have the.com. They're called ironclad. They have a pretty sexy logo, not super meaningful, but pretty sexy. They started just working with startups in the beginning, I think. And what they do is they've got a good design. They've got good UIUX, which already is amazing. They've got a different name that really comes on strong.

Josh: That means a lot in contract management.

Fabian: In that space, that's completely right. And then they realize that they're entering an audience that is completely misunderstood, very introverted. And that has absolutely no one to talk to. Because that's like procurement and that's contracts. It's basically you sit in a corner, and everyone hates you. Because that's kind of like what you need to do, is you need to talk contract all day long. So they basically put the customers on a pedestal. They tell their stories. They have an entire community that's set up for them to be part of, where before there was no community. And that to me is amazing brand thinking, that you understand that you're entering a boring, you're in a boring space.

First of all, that you actually understand that, that someone was smart enough to hold a mirror against you and say, this stuff's really boring. And you're not offended, but saying, "Well, let's make it less boring." Well, how do we make it more humane? And then it's like, "Wait, these people, who are these people?" Oh, they actually have no one to talk to. They've got one annual conference and that's it and now doing COVID et cetera, et cetera. So to me there are lots of cool B2B brands, but they're one of the last ones that I researched. And I thought that a lot of the things that they did is really, it's not super cool, but it's amazing for the space that they're in.

Josh: And it connects with those people who are doing that work in a way that is completely different.

Fabian: Which is all that matters. This is all that matters. If you create a B2B brand or you're into B2B space, you don't have to have your nephews think this is the coolest thing since Liquid Death. No. They will never think that. But in your audience, everyone's talking about you because you're doing something in a different way, and people seem to really love you. And no one loves a B2B brand. That's really what you want to get to.

Josh: Totally. So final question. As we close out, this has been an amazing conversation. I really appreciate everything you've shared. I ask everyone who comes on what their superpower is. So I'd love to hear what you think your superpower is.

Fabian: Well, I love you, man, but I hate superpowers. I passionately hate the idea of having a superpower. And I don't know if that's because it's such an HR thing to say, and to kind of go deep and I hate those exercises, but I also feel that people have a lot of superpowers. Usually they are categorized in different areas and they have sub superpowers. But since I am my own brand as well. I want to make sure I've got a good answer for this. So I would say when people work with me, that they would say that I'm really good at creating focus and brand clarity.

And I'm specifically good at creating this focus and that clarity with Founders and the C Suite. So that's something where that's a little bit of a superpower because after I do workshops and things like that, people are like, how did you even get all these people in line to come up with something that's so big and everyone's so excited, and they usually don't even talk to each other. So that's something where I feel like I'm pretty good at.

Josh: Yeah. Yeah. Nice. So as we close out, how can people connect with you? What's the best way for people to keep up with your work? We'll add links, I think you have the books that you've written that are amazing, right? They're good books. We'll link people up to your podcast, but what are some other ways for people to stay up to date with you online?

Fabian: I think the best way is actually Instagram. I've got the really unfortunate handle underscore FINIEN underscore, because at some point we thought that's the way to go, even though FINIEN is available now, I don't know. But you can find FINIEN very quickly. That's the name of my consultancy. That's where I'm really active. Otherwise, you can go to finien.com, and there you get sucked into the books and the podcast and all the other digital channels.

Josh: Awesome. Very cool. Well, thanks so much for your time today. Really appreciate the conversation.

Fabian: Thank you for great questions and thanks for having me on.

Outro: Thanks for listening to this episode of a Brave New Podcast. Go to abravenew.com for more resources and advice. If you enjoyed this episode, show us some love by subscribing, rating, and reviewing A Brave New Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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