S02E02 – Belonging To The Brand

Talking About Marketing Podcast by Steve Davis and David Olney

Would you join a community build around your brand?

If you're anything like Groucho Marx, you'd refuse to join any club that would have you as a member, which is why this episode might make some uncomfortable and challenging listening, re Belonging To The Brand.

This book by Mark Schaefer, offers community as a new frontier for marketing to explore, but it's a high stakes option where people will be able to smell bad motivation from miles away.

Later in the episode, we tackle community in different ways, reacting to an article that labelled The Banana Splits as the best TV show of all time. Yep, it certainly has a passionate tribe of fans, which is one flavour of community.

Plus we reflect on reading and how to embed it into our lives better, while sharpening our alertness regarding a different type of scam from any we've mentioned before.

Talking About Marketing podcast episode notes with timecodes

01:57  Person  This segment focusses on you, the person, because we believe business is personal.

For The Love Of Reading

We talk a lot about reading on this podcast, so we thought it would be fitting to talk about reading habits.

As business owners or leaders, being exposed to fresh and structured thinking can shine a new light into the shadows of current operations. New insights might affirm what we've been doing or cause us to take stock and decide to change direction.

This opening conversation was inspired by one held on the podcast, Econtalk, and, in particular, the episode from April 2022 in which host, Russ Roberts, had a sprawling conversation with Tyler Cowen of George Mason University, who Russ describes as an intellectual omnivore.

08:39  Principles  This segment focusses principles you can apply in your business today.

Belonging To The Brand

In his book, Belonging To The Brand, Mark Schaefer asks, can a business have a community or serve one?

David and Steve discuss this "radical" idea and try to ground it in the practicalities of small businesses or organisations.

Can we create communities that don't get dismissed by cynical consumers or citizens?

For some extra background, here is a chat with Mark Schaefer by Petra Zinc.

20:23  Problems  This segment answers questions we've received from clients or listeners.

Registration Scammers

On the day of recording, Steve received two scammy registration letters, one from Registry Australia and the other from Online Business Registration, both trying to lure him into their worlds to renew registrations with them.

While they stick to the letter of the law and have wording on the letters saying they are not official and they are not invoices, the whole thrust of these letters is to get a busy business person to assume they are routine and official, and just pay them, thus, making the business person their customer and from that time forward paying higher fees for their registrations.

It is yet another reason to be vigilant when receiving unsolicited communitation, whether that is email or paper-based.

Registration Scammers - examples provided by Steve Davis, Talked About Marketing
22:39  Perspicacity  This segment is designed to sharpen our thinking by reflecting on a case stude from the past.

Best TV Show Ever

Steve stumbled upon an article recently that named The Banana Splits as the best kids TV show ever.

That's a big claim.

So, for our Perspicacity segment, David and Steve decided to reflect on the way we label things like TV shows as "best ever" and whether this can ever be subjective.

And they also ponder how timeless some cultural programs might be.

Here are snippets of themes from the three shows they discuss.

TRANSCRIPT  This is a transcript of the episode. Please note, although checked briefly, this was crafted by an AI tool and will contain errors. For quoting purposes, always check against the original audio.

Caitlin Davis: [00:00:00] Talking about marketing is a podcast for business owners and leaders, produced by my dad, Steve Davis, and his colleague at Talked About Marketing, David Olney, in which they explore marketing through the lens of their own four P's, person, principles, problems, and perspicacity. Yes, you heard that correctly.

Apart from their love of words, they really love helping people. So they hope this podcast will become a trusted companion on your journey in business.

Steve Davis: David, do you belong to any clubs?

David Olney: I do.

Steve Davis: Can you tell us?

David Olney: I can. I'm on the committee for the University of Adelaide club and have been for probably nearly 20 years and have been a member for nearly 25.

Steve Davis: Okay. Do you love it?

David Olney: Having been on committee for a long period of time, I love the fact that there's somewhere where [00:01:00] people can go and have a glass of wine and a coffee and something to eat.

But trying to make that work in hard economic times and through COVID means you can sort of love what you remember when things were easy and then just do the work when times are hard.

Steve Davis: Yeah. Well, I'm a member of the Theatre Critics Circle here in Adelaide, and look, there are moments of dull drudgery of a meeting, but then there's the joy of coming together and talking about something you love.

Today's topic, though, is about whether or not we should or can belong to a brand. So, let's strap in and get ready.

Caitlin Davis: Our four P's. Number one, person. The aim of life is self development. To realise one's nature perfectly. That is what each of us is here for. Oscar Wilde.

Steve Davis: We're starting in the first segment about the person with something [00:02:00] close to our hearts, and that is the consumption of books and ideas. And I just noticed you salivate, David.

David Olney: Ah, books are awesome.

Steve Davis: Love books. Well, look, I listened to many podcasts, but one of them in particular is the Econ podcast. And they were doing an episode, must have been just before summer, the summer just gone in Australia, the 20.

22, 23, and they were talking about reading books and whether or not you should stick through to the end of books you're reading, because we actually have a finite number of books we can possibly read, which I, I'd never thought about before. Let's pick up a particularly key piece of the conversation.

podcast: Econtalk: My guest is Tyler Cowen. This is Tyler's 15th appearance on the program. We're doing something a little unusual today. We're having a conversation, less of an interview. about our reading habits in response to a tweet from [00:03:00] Noam Shapiro asking how I choose what to read, how do I read? And I thought there could be no one better to discuss that with than Tyler, who I think reads more than just about anyone.

Tyler, welcome back to EconTalk. Happy to be here, Russ. I want to remind listeners, if you read a book a week, you'll probably read about 2, 500 books in your lifetime. That's a small number. So choose wisely.

I love to reread classics. The earlier parts of my life, I spent a much higher percentage of my reading reading the kinds of books that would be in the back section of Harold Bloom's, The Western Canon.

Most of those I've read, say, two to five times. And then I read what my friends write. I spend a great amount of time on Twitter, and I love to print out, say, economics working papers and read those. And then I take books on trips. I'm about to take a trip, and I just keep on reading, basically. So here's a book.

It's called Land, Politics, and Nationalism, a Study of the Irish Land Question 19th century.[00:04:00]

I read about two thirds of this book. It's from the library. I'm going to read most of it again, but only after I've read other books about Irish land history. So to reread it twice in a row makes no sense. To read it again 10 years from now, for me, makes no sense. But I like to read books in clusters and overall it's a good book.

Much of what Bull says will have much more meaning to me. After I've read four or five other books on the 19th century Irish land question, and that is how and why I'm going to reread say at least two thirds of this book. I'm doing that same thing with a book called one of my books I'm reading right now is On Human Nature by Roger Scruton.

It's a set of lectures he gave. I read it. I started it, got about 30 pages in, bogged down, wasn't sure what it was about, struggled with it, put it down, picked it up again, read the first 30 pages again, bogged down, struggled. The third time, I really liked it. I finally figured it out. I finally saw what he was trying to do.

Now some of that is that it's a complicated book. Some of it is, I read it in a hurry. Some of it is, I may have been [00:05:00] distracted when I was reading it. And some of it just, I'm not smart enough, right? There's a lot of possibilities for why I might want to revisit a book. But once I've read it, that's... Full time through, I'm not sure I'll re I might reread it one more time down the road because I'll say, you know, I really, I got some interesting out of that.

Maybe we should try it again.

Steve Davis: I will say that that has taken some pressure off me, David. I was one who loyalty is in my blood. And so I feel that if I start something, I need to see it through. Otherwise, I'm letting myself down and the author down. I've become. Much more strong and authoritative in saying, you know what? This is absolutely not doing it for me.

Move along. I imagine I'm getting the sense you've had that skill for a long time or not. Are you, are you tired by the same brush?

David Olney: Funny in my case that I really had to wait until audio books came along to read as much as I [00:06:00] wanted. So I had such a deep sense of I'm playing catch up right from day one, but also having not read as many books.

As I wanted, my thought was, if this is meant to be a classical, this is meant to be important, maybe it's in the next chapter. So I felt a sort of a combined thing of, I need to read a lot, but also if it's been deemed to be important by people who think about books, I should probably get to the end. And I'd say it probably took me seven or eight years to go, actually, if it's just leaving me flat after one hour.

It's time to just stop.

Steve Davis: Yeah. And look, I had picked up that or I picked it up on television ages because television has really just gone down the gurgler. Yeah. Films and those, those more, the higher production value series have a chance of keeping you in a lot longer, but I think it becomes. Self awareness, and certainly doing the mindfulness meditation, which I do with Sam Harris's app every day.

It's just made me flick in and out of, [00:07:00] oh, just being aware of how I'm using my time and to make me stop things that I shouldn't. Where it was hard is books, because Peter Carey, Australian novelist, I've always loved his work. But I've got a book that's been sitting on my side table for at least 10 years, if not 15.

I'm about halfway through it. And I don't think I'm ever going back. It's called Parrot and Olivier in America. It's one of his books. And I just, it's just not doing it. And as of now, I'm just going to give that book away. I think let's face facts. I love you, Peter Carey. Life's too short.

David Olney: Yeah. The equivalent for me is my wishlist on Audible, where if a book makes it in my wishlist, very few of them got purchased and read.

It's almost like that pile where it's like, Oh, well, I can just put it there. If I need another book, I can just dive in my wishlist. And what seems to happen is I, I never do because there's always something new. I get more excited and buy it.

Steve Davis: So this little opening segment was [00:08:00] all about liberation. So if you hear books we talk about and you get stuck into them and some of them don't resonate with you or other recommendations.

From this point forward, I want everyone to feel completely fine with stopping and moving on, just like we'll do with that part of this podcast.

Caitlin Davis: Our four Ps. Number two. Principles. You can never be overdressed or over educated. Oscar wilde.

Steve Davis: Let's turn to principles now, and there is a book that you and I both consumed in the last six months, and it is by Mark Schaeffer. It's called Belonging to the Brand, which is the main theme of today. I'd never thought of belonging to a brand at this deeper level, because the word belonging has a much deeper meaning than just liking a brand or [00:09:00] feeling some sort of affinity to it.

You introduced me to this book, David, so do you want to set up the context for it, and then we'll see what we can apply. Right now, even at the early stages in our own journeys with our own businesses or organizations.

David Olney: Absolutely. So listeners, you would have heard the episode we did about Mark Schafer's previous book, Marketing Rebellion, about the end of lies, the end of control, and the end of secrets.

And really, Mark Schafer, after writing that book, had realized that The big thing that drove his research for that book was that people were looking for community, and once he realized that people will buy from the people they know, like, and trust, he found his thinking had shifted dramatically to, well, if people are really looking to buy from someone they know, like, and trust, Is that actually the main activity that businesses need to be involved in?

Behaving in a way where people can know you, decide that how you behave is [00:10:00] likable, and that they can trust you. And once they've reached those conclusions, immaterial of what your product is, they're more likely to give it a second, and even a third thought, and tell their friends and family about it.

Mark Schafer: Belonging to the Brand: It really started in 2018 when I was writing Marketing Rebellion. And Marketing Rebellion was sort of a wake up call that marketing traditional marketing just doesn't work like it used to anymore. And I had a chapter in that book about belonging and community. And when I finished writing that book, I thought, that's the most important chapter in the book.

That is really the future. Now, boom, one year later, we are in a Pandemic and everybody starts telling me, Mark, your ideas are coming. True. [00:11:00] People are rushing into community. 85% of adults said an online community was their, their most important social contact during the pandemic. During the pandemic.

I saw this headline, which, which just crushed my heart, the loneliest generation. I talked about Gen Z and teenagers and how they're so isolated and lonely and depressed and they're and they're just missing many of the traditional community environments that we've had in our world because they're spending all their time with their head down in a phone.

I mean, that's one of the reasons. It's a very complicated issue. So then you start thinking about community and It's an obvious way to create a strong emotional connection with your customers. But then when you look at the psychological [00:12:00] implications, the sociological implications, we need it psychologically.

Even there's physical. Benefits health benefits of community. This is the greatest opportunity for marketing. That's completely overlooked. You and I go to a lot, got to a lot of different marketing conferences. When was the last time you heard immunity as a topic at the conference? It's just, it's, it's, it's not there.

It's overlooked. And there's a lot of good reasons for that, which I get into in the book, but I think this is the time. This is the time for this idea, and I'm not being like naive and Pollyannish saying, Oh, start a community and you can change the world. What I'm saying is marketing is sick. Marketing needs help.

We need new ideas. We need fresh approaches. [00:13:00] Consider community. And, oh, by the way, it can actually heal people. It's marketing that works. It's marketing that heals. This is an idea we need to be considering.

David Olney: So in his most recent book, Belonging to the Brand, he's really exploring the two ideas that either you need to create the community within which there's trust and like and knowing, or you need to offer a product to a community where You work towards being a trusted member of the community before you start trying to sell them a product.

So in either way, he's saying that this idea of just trying to discount products and use advertising and push, push, push, it's just not getting the results that you used to, and if you want long term success. It's really far more likely to be from people literally becoming your brand ambassadors because you connected with them or they connected with you.

But either way, you and your business are now [00:14:00] part of a bigger community than your business could be on its own.

Steve Davis: We are talking about a very deliberate Approach if you want to create this sense of community and belonging around your brand though It's not just fly by the seat of your pants and see it happens He he gets pretty specific doesn't he in some of the steps that are required?

and I just wonder, there's someone listening right now, I'm sure, who's going, yeah, yeah, yeah, that sounds great, but it's not applicable to my brand. Let's just reflect on that for a moment, David.

David Olney: Well, I think the thing is to remember here that as we've talked about in earlier episodes, we think we can define our brand.

And historically, that's what a lot of people did to make a lot of money. And more often than not, the brand created by outsiders fails. Because it's not how it's perceived by consumers. So, I actually agree with Mark Schaeffer that you don't create your brand identity. You create a logo, you try and create [00:15:00] values, you try and create a company culture.

And if all that goes well, people decide what your brand is and tell their friends and family about what your brand is. So whether you want to do all the work to build or be a part of a community or not, You still need to accept that you have less control over your brand than, say, a marketing executive in the 80s or 90s or early 2000s would have told you they do.

And based on our last episode, we were talking about Oregon University and their brand strategy, it was all crappie less nonsense.

Steve Davis: So are you suggesting we set up, yes, we can't control it, it sort of grows organically, but he does talk about some people specifically crafting groups for brands.

David Olney: Subs He does, and that's, that can happen if you share more than you're selling them a product.

So in all the examples he uses, people don't just want to sell their product, they want to connect with other people and support other people. So he is talking about a minority [00:16:00] of businesses that can so deeply want to. Not just sell a product or a service they care about, but also make it very clear they care about people and want to connect and have a deeper relationship than simply, you know, a commercial interaction and that that is not for everyone.

That's a lot of work and in some ways. I like the argument in his book more than I like the examples, because I think the examples are far rarer than he probably wants to admit they are.

Steve Davis: And we are, just to pull the curtain back a little bit, we're contemplating this at the moment, at the time of recording, I'm still tied up with my Adelaide Friends show, as well as, you know, we're all running the business.

But the moment we, the fringe show is past us and we've got a lot more headspace, we're going to talk around this because we have made an observation, which Mark Shafer's book brought into focus. And and you commented on this too, David, how in my particular journey over [00:17:00] the last 20 years, it seems that relationships have formed where I often just refer to clients as friends, et cetera.

I there's a, there's a blurring there. There's a support where. We just enjoy each other's company, we enjoy some of the thinking and conversations we can have, and there's a genuine willingness on all parties to want to help the other. And so we're going to try and do some thinking about what it might mean to perhaps formalize or put some sort of structure in place to honor the communities that sort of there in DNA or spirit.

I think that's fair to say.

David Olney: Absolutely. What we've really observed is in some situations, particularly like Steve's situation of his career, and me with my years of lecturing, you connect with people and you stay in touch and you become friends. You end up with community because you like being around nice people.

And to me, this is the [00:18:00] situation in which taking on board what Mark Schafer's talking about in his books has the most value, that you don't try and... You artificially build the community at the last minute. You start with a community that almost emerged by accident, and go, well, there's all these people who, in this case, Steve is the hub amongst a lot of people.

Well, what would happen if we organized so that everyone got to know each other better, and they're all in small business, and they're all trying to work out how to look after their business, how to look after their people, how to get a bit more financial security, how to weather storms, how to move forward.

There's so many things. Here, that with those natural connections, it's already in the space. of, you know, know, like, and trust. So why not extend the circle to as many people who can learn to know, like, and trust each other in a safe and positive environment.

Steve Davis: So watch this space. We'll be sharing the journey as we go.

I'm quite excited by it because these ideas are sparking other ideas. And I'm [00:19:00] having a chat with someone at the time of recording last night, who's a fairly new client that I've just met. Who came to see the show and were able to bond as humans around some fun and introducing to other peoples in your lives.

Seriously, you've got the, the really big corporate, huge level structures within capitalism at one end of the spectrum, but here in small to medium enterprise land. There are humans trying to make their way in the world by, you know, offering value to others, but facilitating them to then have resources to put into their participation within the community.

And it really is a human endeavor. And I think that's what I take away from Mark Schaeffer's belonging to the brand is, let's get back. And it's actually one of our core principles, which is business is personal. And this is just looking at other ways to make that. A series an environment for deeper human connection.[00:20:00]

Caitlin Davis: Our four Ps. Number three, Problems. I asked the question for the best reason possible. Simple curiosity. Oscar Wilde.

Steve Davis: The problems segment this time, I haven't actually got an email that's been sent to me by a client, but I received a couple of things in my mailbox. They happen every now and then. They make me fume because I know they will suck people in. So if you have received letters from online business registration, that's one of them, The other company that does this is Registry.

They call themselves Registry Australia. These are absolute wolves in sheep's clothing. They come in with these friendly letters because they keep an eye on all the ASIC information. They see your business name is up for renewal soon. They used to do it a lot with the domain names. I think they still do it for some, and they send official [00:21:00] looking letters to get you to renew easily with them.

At a huge markup. This is horrible. I wish the government had more teeth to stop this scum in our society. They just prey on people who are worried that there could be fines and all sorts of things. And what they don't see? And this is how they keep their notices out of the trough, away from being penalized by the government.

There are little lines that say things like, This is not a renewal notice issued by ASIC. Registry Australia is a third party provider of business names. This is not a bill. You are not required to pay any money. And says opt out at the address. Well, I opted out many times. They ignore the opting out. They keep opting you back in.

Yeah. Absolutely hideous, evil, disgusting businesses that are opportunistic. And please let [00:22:00] Everybody now read the fine print because I tell you what it says in the fine print it's not a bill but it's complete layout with all the visa and MasterCard and BPAY and all. It is disgusting.

Caitlin Davis: Our four Ps, number four, Perspicacity. The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it. Oscar wilde.

Steve Davis: Let's lighten things up for the end of our time together, David. I've I've breathed. Because in in perspicacity, this is that chance where we get to reflect on our thinking and we love looking at things from the past and something caught my eye in some online conversations recently. Someone in social media just referred to Banana Splits, which was a kids TV show in what, late 60s, early 70s, and of course it kept being repeated a bit, [00:23:00] but they said best children's show ever.

Now, these sorts of things get said a lot on social media. You take them with a pinch of salt, or a grain of salt. It's a big claim, best TV show ever, and I actually can't disagree with that more than you can imagine. It was alright, but it was a weird and wonky show, and I can imagine it hooking some people.

And I wonder, how do we access this, David? There's, if, I'm picturing a sound equalizer on a stereo system where you've got the bass, the mid range, and the treble. And for this person, you know, one of those parts of the frequency really was the sweet spot for them. And they've latched onto it where others would be going, Oh how do we make sense of this part of our psyche and our memory?

David Olney: I think a fascinating thing with this is the minute you write best, you want to look [00:24:00] to go, well, why do they think that? So, automatically, whether you agree or disagree, and for me, when you mentioned someone thought Benars Blitz was the best program, I'm like, really? Someone must have dropped them on the head or they fell off the slippery dip.

Steve Davis: LAUGHS

Actually, hold that thought, because we'll get Tim to play the banana splits opening and closing theme, just to put people in context before we continue. Tra


that hasn't changed your mind, David?

David Olney: No, I always liked the music. And for me, like, at the time that was on TV in the mid 70s being repeated, I had just enough sight to work out what was sort of going on on screen. But the only thing that was really appealing about the whole program was the music.

It was just kind of upbeat and weird.

Steve Davis: And so you can see how that would connect someone. But yes, you're dead right. When I saw Best, it's like a red rag to a bull. And it shouldn't because that's such a overused word. We [00:25:00] should be also jaded, but there must be something in the way our, our DNA has evolved that makes us go, hang on a minute and then go, hang on.

Is it, or isn't it? And then of course we've got our own suggestions that float to the surface. Which. It's an interesting thing to reflect on from our marketing perspective, especially when we're doing blogging. I don't want us to all be doing this all the time because I think our communities all can get jaded, but it's an interesting trick in inverted commas, because if I was going to look for best kids show ever, for me, it's going to be this one.

I'll get Tim to play the intro to Peppa Pig!


I loved that. I'm so glad I had my daughters when I did, and that my life intersected with Peppa Pig. There is some very funny, subtle Humor through that show for the adults watching the accents are all magnificent and you just can't help but love. They've captured the innocence of [00:26:00] childhood with the clumsy things that Pepper gets herself into.

Are you a Pepper Pig fan?

David Olney: I like peppered pork, but I really was unfamiliar with Pepper Pig. Wow. To me, the big thing is here, you're talking about why you love it. And that's the key thing. I think to write best, what does it really mean? Nothing. This is the best. Well, why? And that's what people ask, and why is why people look.

But it's also the reason why a lot of us would just go, Oh, I'm not reading another best this, best that article. Even though it has such a huge impact on us, because social status is so important, and knowing where things fit, or what things are more highly valued is so important to our species. I think if you want to write something like this, write, Why I Love.

Banana splits? Well, I love Peppa Pig. That's a more interesting thing, because at least you're acknowledging, he may not be the best, but you love it. And that is more personal, more real, will probably annoy less people, because no one's being asked to agree with [00:27:00] you. They're just going, well, I could find out why someone loves this.

And to me, that is a more neutral and engaging experience than going over there already in a grumbly mood going, Why does this person think Banana Splits is the best kids show? Mumble, mumble, grumble.

Steve Davis: Okay, well I was going to ask you what you thought the best TV show was, but let me change that. What's a show that you really loved a lot?

David Olney: I really loved Red Dwarf, and it's not a children's show. I discovered it in the early 90s, sitting on a beanbag one Sunday afternoon, Sunday afternoon on the ABC, and all of a sudden there was this cool theme music. And then strange English comedy, and I actually stopped playing guitar, it was so entertaining, and became a fan for life.

Steve Davis: Tim, let's have a listen to the Red Dwarf theme.[00:28:00]

Right, so I was just picturing you on your beanbag as I was listening to that.

David Olney: Yep, but the thing I would say is I know that Red Dwarf is not the best sci fi comedy ever. It's just quirky and weird and was made on a tiny budget like early Doctor Who and with a really strange cast and some pretty out there writing.

But if [00:29:00] You know, if it entertained people and people stuck around for all 10 series, they loved it.

Steve Davis: And I think you just nailed something there, which is what I bring when I do my theatre reviewing, is I review for an audience with a particular mindset. And I name that in my reviews. So if you like, I don't know what an example.

Opera based punk science fiction, for example, then in this show, what you'll notice is XYZ. And now we have the context and then we get appreciation. It's like when people first learn to like or enjoy whiskey or wine or one of those more complex foodstuffs. Having someone explain what to taste for is actually a lovely way of humans, imparting different experiences and knowledge, giving ourselves a hand up, if you like, into something different.

So I think our takeaway from the perspicacity segment is in fact that yes, every now and then used sparingly go out all guns blazing with the best, but more often than not, try and bring people. into our [00:30:00] world with intrigue and wonder and curiosity, which of course we talked about in the last series of Talking About marketing.

Caitlin Davis: Thank you for listening to Talking About Marketing. If you enjoyed it, please leave a rating or a review in your favorite podcast app. And if you found it helpful, please share it with others. Steve and David always welcome your comments and questions, so send them to [email protected]. And finally, the last word to Oscar Wilde.

There's only one thing worse than being talked about and that's not being talked about.

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