afaqs! news bureau

“Explosion of connectivity is turning your business upside down”: Marty Neumeier

The director of CEO Branding, Liquid Agency shows the way forward.

The first session of day two at the Times of India Star FLOW festival dealt with ‘the new brand model’ and the idea of creating consumer tribes instead of products. It was presented by Marty Neumeier, director of CEO Branding for Liquid Agency. Marty 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 takes us back to 2001 in Silicon Valley when he was sitting by himself with no employees. He says, “For the first time in 25 years I had to let people go. We were in a recession and wondering how it happened. Steve Jobs had a secret office in another warehouse in my neighbourhood. I asked how is Apple doing so fine?”

“It dawned on me that the companies that stayed in business were the ones who invested in their customers. It was a failure of branding and taking care of customers,” he explains.

Neumeier set out to redefine the ‘brand’. He changed it from logos etc. In his terms, a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company. It is what customers say what it is and not the company’s point of view. “It’s not the company’s gut feeling,” he says.

He further points out that because of facets like social media and search, the power has shifted from companies to customers.

Here are a few key pointers from Neumeier’s session:

  • Customers hate being sold but love to buy

  • Customers buy in tribes to feel safe and successful.

  • The battle is with tribes and not rival companies.

  • Tribes are connected through technology

  • People are not focused on products but meaning

  • The most successful brands are not static but fluid

Defining the older brand model he says that it used to be - ‘company creates brands, customers sustain company’. It has changed to the new brand model where ‘company creates customers, they build, and the brand sustains the company’. “Customers die but brands don’t die and attract more customers. A business can only have one valid purpose. You create the customers, they’ll build the brand,” he explains.

Neumeier’s set of solutions:

  • See greatness in people.

  • Don't position products, position customers instead.

  • Talk to them and deliver the highest good that you can deliver.

  • How can you enable greatness in your customers? Help them find meaning in life.

  • They want benefits, experiences, and meaning.

  • They want to have more and more importantly, they want to be more.

  • The product equals a symbol.

  • Design the customers you want.

  • Design nice spaces for your customers so that they want to step in, that’s how they make tribes.

  • Any effort to get customers is marketing but to keep them is branding.

  • Support and keep the tribe - multiply and conquer.

  • Create a framework of stories.

He can be reached at