Brand Yourself or You Risk Being Branded by Others

deb gabor

“It’s brand or be branded.” That’s the ultimatum that Deb Gabor presented this week on the On Brand podcast. The founder and CEO of Sol Marketing and author of the new bestselling book Branding Is Sex explained that if you aren’t talking to your customers, finding out what’s important to them, and making that a part of your brand story, you run the risk of being branded by them. She discussed all of this on the On Brand podcast.

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About Deb Gabor

Deb Gabor is the founder and CEO of Sol Marketing. Deb Gabor was born to brand. Deb is a brand dominatrix and investor pitch whisperer with legendarily bad travel karma. In her capacity as Sol’s strategic and spiritual leader, Deb has led research engagements and brand strategy development for organizations ranging from international household names like Dell, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft and NBC Universal, to digital winners like Allrecipes, Cheezburger and Rentpath, to well-loved Austin icons like Austin Ventures, KUT/KUTX, ZACH Theatre, HomeAway, RetailMeNot, The University of Texas at Austin and St. Edward’s University. Deb is author of the bestselling book, Branding is Sex. Get Your Customer Laid and Sell the Hell Out of Anything.

Before starting Sol Marketing in 2003, Deb was Senior Vice President at Citigate Cunningham, a strategic communication firm serving technology digital media and financial brands around the world. Prior to that, Deb was the managing director of brand research and strategy at IntelliQuest. Before crossing the chasm to agency work, Deb worked in house as a brand manager and marketing manager at several high tech companies in the Chicago area. Deb is a proud member of the Austin chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organization and serves on the board as Learning Chair. Additionally, she has served on the board of directors of the Jewish Community Association of Austin and Austin Children’s Theatre, and on the ZACH Theater board’s marketing committee.

Episode Highlights

So what does it mean to be ‘born to brand’? “The legendary basketball coach John Wooden said that he was ‘born to coach.’ He ‘couldn’t not coach.’ That’s how he sees the world. Brands are how I see the world. They exist in the hearts and minds of our customers.”

Deb’s definition of a brand? “It’s the sum total of all relationships, connections, and emotions around a person or organization.”

The Deb Gabor Mini MBA in Branding. “It comes down to three questions — (1) What does using your brand or your product allow the customer to say about themselves? (2) What single thing do you do better than anyone else? (3) How do you make your customer the hero of your story? Brands that do this — that make people feel — will win today.”

Brand storytelling vs. the story of your brand. Deb reminded us that while brand storytelling — an extension of content marketing — is very big right now, it’s not the same thing as telling the story of your brand. “The story of your brand is one that your customer is the hero of.” Deb shared how Zappos does this masterfully.

Beware of the ‘-ers’ and ‘-ity.’ These word extensions can be dangerous as they focus less on emotions and more on attributes that can ultimately be copied. Smaller, faster, lighter. You have to be more than this as a brand.

What brand has made Deb smile recently? As someone with “legendarily bad travel karma,” Deb notes that her recent experiences with Jet Blue have made her smile recently.

To learn more about Deb, check out Sol Marketing, Branding Is Sex (the book’s website), and follow Deb on Twitter.

As We Wrap …

Before we go, I want to flip the microphone around to our community … Recently Josh Krakauer of Sculpt right here in Iowa City gave a shoutout to our episode featuring Daryl Weber, author of Brand Seduction. Thanks for listening Molly!

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

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