Episode 011

Branding & Creativity
with a Higher Purpose

with Marty Neumeier

You have to have a purpose bigger than profits.

The landscape of branding has changed over time, and with the advent of two-way communication via the internet, a mission statement that prioritizes a financial responsibility to shareholders simply won’t cut it anymore. People want to support—and be a part of—the companies that aspire to a higher purpose and align with their own personal values.

How does a brand go about identifying its purpose? How do you do good AND do good business at the same time?

Today, Jeffrey sits down with Marty Neumeier, the Director of CEO Branding and de-facto thought leader at Liquid Agency. Marty is also a bestselling author, speaker and facilitator in the realm of helping people and organizations uncover their creative genius. Marty describes growing up with a mother who taught him the magic of art and a love of learning. He speaks to his time in Silicon Valley, learning to translate tech into English and pictures, and the history of branding from the agricultural age through the current consumer-led movement. Marty explains the concept of ludic learning, the difference between a brand and branding, and the business advantage of identifying a purpose beyond simply making money. Listen in for Marty’s insight around the nature of sin as the choice for a short-term, selfish good and learn the value in a brand driven by purpose for the benefit of society.

Our Guests:

Marty Neumeier

Director of CEO Branding at Liquid Agency, Marty Neumeier spends most of his time lecturing all over the globe about the role of creativity and innovation in the creation of relevant and meaningful brand experiences. He is a firm believer that clarity about a brand’s purpose has an inextricable relationship with business success and the role of design in business. He has penned several books, including The Brand Gap (New Riders 2005), The Brand Flip (New Riders 2015) and MetaSkills (New Riders 2012).

» liquidagency.com

» martyneumeier.com

Twitter: @MARTYneumeier

Key Takeaways

[3:15] Marty’s young genius

  • Learned magic of drawing from mom
  • Wanted to be commercial artist at 8

[5:58] The adults who nurtured Marty’s love of learning

  • Creative pursuits (e.g.: weaving) from mom
  • Grandfather interested in how things worked

[9:05] Marty’s experience in Silicon Valley

  • Worked with Apple, met Steve Jobs
  • Learned to translate tech into English

[18:55] The difference between a brand and branding

  • Brand = customer’s gut feeling
  • Branding = company’s efforts to influence perception

[20:31] How the landscape of branding has changed

  • 1930—Naming, packaging, corporate identity
  • 1970—Trout and Ries codify positioning
  • 1990—Aaker creates strategy framework
  • 2000—Design, strategy become partners
  • 2020—Customer-led companies

[28:11] The shift to a customer focus

  • Internet opens up two-way conversation
  • Goodwill impacts balance sheet (brand value)

[30:15] How to hone your branding

  • Identify purpose beyond profits
  • Ride trends (e.g.: authenticity, surprise)

[32:49] The brand advantage of being driven by purpose

  • People want to join companies doing something bigger
  • Examples include Method, Apple and Amazon

[39:32] Marty’s take on campaigns like REI’s #OptOutside

  • Possible to do good while doing good business
  • Statements must align with who you are as brand

[43:43] Marty’s insight on the nature of sin

  • Chose short-term, selfish good over long-term, broadly beneficial good
  • Brand might lie about dangers of product, reputation suffers long-term
  • Human evolution slowly moving toward beauty, coherence and order

[51:50] The definition of ludic learning

  • Learn through play in state of flow
  • Purposeful learning by caring

[54:29] Marty’s advice around unlearning

  • Take on new challenges to keep curiosity alive
  • Consider how someone might disrupt your business

[57:30] What Marty is pursuing moving forward

  • Continue to reinvent self, reach people in new ways
  • Writing thriller based on fictional business case


Each week brings you in-depth conversations with leaders, stories from change-makers, and provocative ideas from artists and scientists – all designed to inspire you to shape your best work with more possibility, impact, and – yes – wonder.