Brand Empathy with Chase Friedman and Theresa Rose

Brand Empathy with Chase Friedman and Theresa Rose

The Chris Hood Digital Show
The Chris Hood Digital Show
Brand Empathy with Chase Friedman and Theresa Rose

In today’s intensely competitive business environment, brand empathy is rapidly emerging as a crucial differentiator. It refers to a brand’s ability to understand, share, and reflect its customers’ feelings, needs, and aspirations.

A study conducted by PwC found that “64% of U.S. consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience.” This demonstrates our need to inspire an emotional connection at various decision-making moments.

Joining Chris Hood today is Chase Friedman, founder, and CEO of Vanquish Media Group. Theresa Rose, a public speaker and branding coach, will discuss brand empathy and our ability to craft authentic stories that transform a customer-brand relationship into a powerful, enduring bond.

Brand Empathy in Customer-Centric Organizations

Customer-centric organizations position customers at the center of all decisions and processes. By doing so, they create a platform that inherently promotes brand empathy. This customer-focused approach helps brands deeply understand their customers and tailor their offerings and experiences to address their needs and even delight them. Being customer-centric enables brands to connect more profoundly and emotionally, significantly improving customer loyalty and advocacy.

Yet, embracing customer-centricity involves far more than just implementing customer-focused strategies. It’s about nurturing a deep, comprehensive understanding of who the customer is, what they value, and why they prefer your brand. Herein, personalization plays a key role. A one-size-fits-all approach no longer suffices. Today’s customers crave personalized experiences that affirm their uniqueness and make them feel valued. Brands demonstrating such understanding earn the customer’s emotional trust, laying a solid foundation for brand empathy.

Moreover, establishing a genuinely empathetic, customer-centric brand requires a cultural transformation guided by empathetic leadership. Leaders must instill a value system within their teams that emphasizes empathy, starting with embracing and demonstrating empathetic leadership principles.

Listening as a Leader for Brand Empathy

Active listening stands at the forefront of these principles. Leaders who actively listen to their customers help to foster empathy throughout their organizations. This practice also communicates respect and concern for customers, assuring them that their voice significantly influences the brand’s choices.

“Be a listener first. Somewhere in your process of being a leader throughout an average week, are you not talking and listening to your customers, your team, the industry, your colleagues?” – Theresa Rose

Leading by example is another essential principle. Leaders need to embody empathy in their actions, decisions, and communications. This approach, in turn, instills a culture of empathy within the organization, encouraging employees to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with customers.

“Business growth comes from consumers who are willing to pay more and be more loyal to brands that align with their values. Employees wanna work with value aligned organizations, and investors wanna invest in them.” – Chase Friedman

Open communication is another cornerstone of empathetic leadership. This principle emphasizes the importance of maintaining two-way communication channels with customers, ensuring a fuller understanding of their needs and fostering empathy. Transparent and sincere responses to customer feedback can further cement trust, enriching the brand-customer relationship.

In addition to fostering customer-centric organizations and empathetic leadership, several elements are critical in nurturing brand empathy. Storytelling, for instance, is a potent tool for emotional connection. Brands that share real, relatable stories reflecting the customer’s values and experiences can effectively engender brand empathy.

Brand Empathy for Impact

Furthermore, social responsibility carries significant weight in today’s conscious consumerism era. Brands demonstrating a commitment to causes their customers to care about, such as sustainability or community development, establish a deeper emotional bond beyond their offerings.

Brand authenticity is another crucial facet of brand empathy. Today’s consumers seek authenticity and prefer brands that stay true to their values. Authentic brands resonate more with their customers, and such resonance is instrumental in cultivating brand empathy.

Brand empathy extends beyond merely understanding your customers. It’s about experiencing their feelings alongside them, reacting to their needs genuinely, and consistently offering meaningful solutions. A customer-centric approach, empathetic leadership, elements like authentic storytelling, social responsibility, and brand authenticity all combine to form a compassionate brand that resonates with its customers and partners with them in their journey. Cultivating brand empathy can transform a customer-brand relationship into a powerful, enduring bond.

Chris Hood (00:00):
Hey everyone. Thanks for listening. In today’s intensely competitive business environment, brand empathy is rapidly emerging as a crucial differentiator. It refers to a brand’s ability to understand, share, and reflect the feelings and aspirations of its customers. A study conducted by PWC found that 64% of US consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience. This demonstrates our need to inspire an emotional connection at various decision-making moments. Joining me today is Chase Friedman, founder and c e o of Vanquish Media Group, and Teresa Rose, a public speaker and a business and branding coach to discuss brand empathy and our ability to craft authentic stories that can transform a customer brand relationship into an enduring bond. To support the show, visit chris Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform. Follow us on social media, or you can email me directly, show chris I’m Chris Hood, and let’s get connected.

Voice Over (01:12):
Connecting access. Granted, it’s the Chris Hoods digital show where global business and technology leaders meet to discuss strategy, innovation, and digital acceleration. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Your digital evolution starts. Now, here’s your host, Chris Hood.

Chris Hood (01:44):
Okay, chase, would you mind introducing yourself?

Chase Friedman (01:47):
So I always like to kind of share with my belief, my mantra, right at the top. So I, I believe my belief is in the inherent ability for, for businesses and organizations to do good and do well in the world. You know, I think where that comes from, I’m a storyteller at heart. I spent the first portion of my career as an independent film and, and television filmmaker got wise that that wasn’t gonna be a long tail career for me. But, you know what I, what I identified with is even the most compelling story, whether it’s for a film, a television show, a brand can still kind of ring empty or fall flat up. It’s not reaching and resonating with the right audiences. So I created my agency, vanquish Media Group back in 2016 as a way to champion both great compelling brand identity and story with the digital activation needed to inspire and activate audiences where they are, meet people where they are. You know, I serve as a brand strategist, a fractional C M O, and, you know, our mission as a company, my mission is, is to empower purpose-driven people and brands from nonprofits to SMBs, to Fortune 500 s who are feeling overwhelmed and stuck in their path to scalable growth and also societal impact. They’re not mutually exclusive, right? So for us, we deliver brand clarity, brand strategy, and digital marketing to help people and businesses do good and do well.

Chris Hood (03:06):

Theresa Rose (03:07):
Thank you so much, Chris. I appreciate it. So I have had many permutations of my professional career. The only extent of television that I’ve had, however, is I was on MTV’s remote control when I was a freshman in high in college. So that’s my claim to fame. And I have been lots of things. Right now what I am is a branded business crystallizer and a strategic co-creator. And I created this role to help people crystallize their marketing and their sales specifically around their ideas. I like to work with people who are thought leaders, who are brilliant at what they do, and they are not brilliant at conveying it. And so I am a crystallizer. I get to work with people to digest, distill, and design a one of a kind model based on their unique you know, gifts and talents that they, you can draw on a cocktail napkin.

So, how I’ve learned this amazing skill and understanding how to utilize it as a strategic marketing tool is the fact that I’ve been a professional speaker for a dozen years. I’ve been a coach, I have led a global network of thought leading professionals know their real pain points and have experienced the real pain points myself and to help them really get through the noise. So, among other things that I’ve done in my life you know, being on stage on the page and on the screen is really where I have lived. And now where I, what I do is I focus on seeing other people’s brilliance and being able to be that second voice, being that that strategic observer of their brilliance in a way that I can see it that they can’t.

Chris Hood (04:53):
I think both of you’re gonna bring some fabulous perspective to this conversation today. We’re gonna talk a little bit about brand empathy, and it really is about tying both of your skills together, this storytelling, the ability to develop a message around a specific brand, as you said, to crystallize that in consumer’s minds, branding messages have been around for a long time, but they’ve obviously changed over the course of the last 10 years. What’s your perspective on how we’ve gotten here today?

Chase Friedman (05:26):
For me, I think it’s, it’s a fabulous question. I think the macro view of it is this shift that we’ve seen from more of shareholder driven capitalism to stakeholder driven capitalism, right? Where brands, businesses are being held more accountable and responsible to the needs and values of their customers, their employees, and their communities, right? There’s a more demanding, a more enlightened consumer base that brands need to connect with on a real and authentic level. So, you know, branding, right? It’s a culmination of experiences that your business kind of provides is so essential. Now, whether it’s through the storytelling or really, quite frankly, getting back to your brand purpose, as I like to kind of frame it, knowing your why, your beliefs, why you exist in the world beyond just selling a product, a singular bottom line. You know, we’re moving away due to consumer demand and stakeholder demand from just singular focus on product feature, price driven values.

And you’re seeing this across the board where a commitment to brand purpose is proven to drive business growth from consumers who are willing to pay more and be more loyal to brands that align with their values. Employees wanna work with value aligned organizations, investors wanna invest in it. So again, I think you’re having this more conscious consumer and stakeholder community that is, it’s, it’s exciting to be a part of. And I don’t think this is a trend, it’s a movement. We are snowballing with the millennial and even Gen Z generation leaning more into this as a demand and a priority on behalf of businesses to do good in the world.

Theresa Rose (06:59):
I totally agree. You know, you used a couple of words that I think are, are deeply resonant with the work that I do, and that what I’ve seen in the history, it’s mindful, it’s conscious. And what I’ve seen as far as the, the changes in branding is, at least certainly in the area of my expertise of thought leadership and you know, personal branding is this, originally it was kind of, look at me, look at me, whoever the product was, right? And I’m gonna tell you all the wonderful things about me and use lots and lots and lots of words to do it. And then we shifted to when there were too many look at mes, then we shifted only to just only look at the customer, look at the customer, look at the customer, look at the customer. And now where I think we’re going to is look at us.

What are we doing together? Because we’ve all gone through what we’ve gone through and we continue to go through challenges, chaos, disruption, all of the things. What we’re really finding is that the heart is, has taken over. And so there really is a matter of we all know that we’re great at what we do, and we all know that there’s people that need us. Now, how do we actually transcend the features, benefits, conversation? How do we transcend the customers everything, all the time? And the only thing we should think about to a place of true what I call co-creation collaboration, you know, where we’re really going to go beyond just those mechanics of what branding is to really what the heart of that brand and that company is doing. And can we connect to the hearts of the customers?

Chris Hood (08:31):
If you were to go online right now and do a search for branding, pretty much the number one result would be logo design. How do we get from logo design to this purpose and heart that you’re talking about?

Theresa Rose (08:45):
Yeah. Well, I would like to suggest that what that’s clamoring for when we are looking for a logo is the people’s desire to have a picture. So I specialize in creating pictures of people’s brilliance. Of course, we create the right words off of that picture, but it starts with the picture. And there’s a reason why, because a picture is worth a thousand words. And Alan Weiss says, in Million Dollar Consulting, a metaphor is worth a thousand pictures. I would argue that the right strategic metaphor is priceless, because when you can have the right metaphor that you can actually draw on a cocktail napkin, which is essentially what people want with logos, they want a ton of information to be able to be conveyed about their brand, about their promise, about their hearts, about their messaging, about their value in a, in a logo. So they’re actually asking, in my view, they’re asking for the right thing.

They just are calling it a logo , when it, in reality, it’s a contextual model of their brilliance. It’s a framework that they’re gonna be utilizing. And then of course, you could take that and then, and, and, and do some creative adjustment around that so it becomes a logo eventually. But what they’re really clamoring for is how can I convey my value in the marketplace, my brand promise in a picture, which is why they’re looking for having logo work, which of course, if you just hire someone to do a logo and not really understand the underpinnings of who they are, their why, to your point, chase their why of what’s going on, then you’re just gonna get another fancy graphic design jpeg.

Chase Friedman (10:20):
Yeah, I mean, I mean, amen to that. I think it’s, I think it’s the need for that sort of immediate tangible thing that represents their brand and thinking that the logo is gonna solve that. I mean, for me it’s really, it’s really all about the sequencing, the way we work. I believe in measure twice cut once, you know, no matter where you are in the stage of your business and your journey, you know, for us and my agency, we kind of preach kind of a threesome sequence model. First is discovery. You need to be vulnerable and get clear with who you are, what you stand for, what you believe as a company first and foremost, or else everything else is gonna ring hollow, right? Unless you really get clear in building a found strategic foundation, your brand identity, your brand messaging from there, let that infuse, and it does in our process the inspiration for that beautiful visual thing that you’re gonna showcase to the world, right?

But know internally what that means, first and foremost, you know, from discovery, then hopping into identity, logo, website assets, communication, the outward facing visual collateral that signaled that inherent message motion to the world. And then from there, it’s growth, right? Then the digital marketing tactic. So following that sequence, and not everyone loves it. They want, you know, they come to us saying, give me a a lead gen campaign. Give me a social this, give me a website, and we have to preach, pump the brakes. You know, you can spend a lot of time and money and energy getting these pretty fancy sort of quick fix trending solves that are gonna waste a lot of time and money if you don’t have your core foundation in place first. And that’s where I believe branding starts, right? Is inherently internally within the messaging.

Theresa Rose (11:56):
Totally. And, and I have a similar framework. What I noticed in the course of my career watching hundreds and hundreds of people create and coaching these people, create a, a, a business based on their intellectual property, is that they all chased after monetize. How do I monetize, monetize, monetize. And they would be cannibalizing themselves by offering you know, disparate offers, confusing offers. They would just be noise in the marketplace. And then when they struggle with the monetization, then they push against the grain of what the natural evolution of growth is to amplify. So when they can’t monetize, then they drill down to amplify. I gotta get the word out. I gotta get my name out. I gotta grow my, you know, my lead gen. I gotta do all these different things. And, and they still waste valuable time, money and energy. What I see is the trajectory of success when it comes to leveraging personal brands is clarify, amplify, monetize, clarify, starts from within.

It is who you are, what you do, how you serve that makes you different than everyone else. So you don’t sound like everyone else, which is why there’s such a value of drawing it on a picture. Cuz it, the words can all sound the same and feel the same, but a picture is unique. So clarify, once you are crystal clear that you can draw it on a cocktail napkin, then you can amplify it strategically across all the channels that people take our take in our brilliance. Some will watch us, some will listen to us, some will interact with us, some will read us, right? So if we have that all based on a model of your brilliance, then the messaging is consistent, then comes the monetization. It’s like it attracts the people, it magnetizes people to them as opposed to us having to push it out all the time to the world hoping they’ll notice, clarify, amplify monetize is very similar to what your process is. Chase about, you know, valuing clarity, be clarity above all else,

Chris Hood (13:45):
In our digital world, we are all impatient. We want instant gratification. We want the success monetization tomorrow. And very few people are willing to put in the work and the nurturing of that relationship with the consumer or customers to reach the stage that they need to be at, to be successful. How do we walk people through that? Because collaboration and understanding of consumer needs doesn’t happen overnight. And it’s great to hear these processes that you both have, but how do we get there?

Chase Friedman (14:23):
Well, I think how long it’s dependent on, on any organization and effort, right? Where you are in your lifecycle, but you know, you know, piggybacking on, you know, Teresa, right? You know, clarity, absolutely. But consistency of that message and those efforts is absolutely critical, right? I’ve, I’ve consulted and worked with startups that, you know, they’re akin to these knee jerk pivots. If something doesn’t go right for a quarter, let’s change it all up, right? You know I know this is a platitude, but you’ve gotta trust the process. And, you know, back to brand purpose. I get it. When, when we speak to brands about the reason and and proof behind committing to brand values and purpose, it’s not easy to do those things in a down economy. It when, when your singular bottom line and quarterly kind of benchmarks are at stake here.

But as we’ve talked about, the trajectory is going in that direction, right? And unless you are willing to commit and plant a flag in the sand now and have that clarity and consistency in through line of that messaging, it’s gonna come back to kind of really you know, bite you. Because consumers will see when you are pivoting and adjusting on a dime to what you think they need, but it’s not really resonating authentically with your brand. So again, I can’t give you a specific climb line in place, but once you build that foundational strategy, we do this, we do kind of an immersive brand blueprint, as we call it, where we’re building your identity and your strategy for six, 12, you know, years down the road. I think it’s important to have that playbook for your team, your stakeholders, your organization, so that you’re all running off the same plays. Once you’re siloed and you have different competing interests from the brand, we’ve gotta make, you know, this ROI and on this campaign and this quarter and sales is saying something else, or comms is saying something else. You need to be in coherence, in alignment with that message and that plan so that when things get a little bit lean and a little bit tough, you can still see the long term effects of your efforts.

Theresa Rose (16:18):
I agree. And I also think that it depends on what your process is to gain that clarity and how how disciplined will you be to stick to it based on the decision that you decision making process. So I can crystallize somebody’s brilliance in, in a matter of days when there’s only one or two people involved in the conversation and we can really get to it. The more comp for that. And that’s why I like to only work with people that don’t work in committee because committees and, and fiefdoms and different silos of organizations, the, the more complex that gets, the easier it is for someone to have a, you know, an opinion about it and say, well, I don’t think this is gonna work anymore. And then it derails everything. So the timeframe of how a brand can really adopt this kind of you know, new way of, of crystallizing and and clarifying how they’re sent being sent out as a, as a brand empathy is about how are you doing it internally, right? What’s your organization doing internally? Cuz if you’re a broken organization, it doesn’t matter how great the brand is

Chris Hood (17:31):
When you talk about size of an organization. And I agree, when you start to get into these larger companies who may tend to have a brand strategy already identified, but they still have some growth to go, especially with understanding their customer needs. Do you see any difference when we think about B2B or a B2C type of company?

Chase Friedman (17:56):
Yeah, I mean, I’ll, I’ll give you an example. We work with a lot of large Fortune 500 brands, both on the B2B and B2C side on brand storytelling, right? You know, brands are leaning into this initiative of brand funded, sponsored, subsidized content, you know, short form, long form documentary storytelling that is a departure from your traditional interrupt interruptive ads, right? Which is I think is a great movement for brands to lean in on authentic stories and storytellers. All that said, many of these large organizations and brands that have built in brand story, brand strategy, C S R D E I departments, those have, you know, they were all into it full, full force during, kind of inspired by the pandemic, you know, the great resignation, quiet, quitting. They felt the need and, and the desire from their audience to lean into these more authentic values.

Now that we’re facing this sort of macroeconomic sort of slowdown or plateau recession, dare I call it, these entire departments are getting wiped or their fund or their, or their budgets are being completely slashed. People are losing their jobs. I mean, it’s unfortunate because they were just getting going on the cusp of this great change. And sticking with that is, again, I’m not just saying this as a feel good, the data is there to prove that this is what customers want and demand building brand equity, br brand affinity. And unfortunately, sometimes that’s the changing of the guard at the C-suite that has a different mandate. Hey, we didn’t hit our goals last quarter. We’re bringing somebody in who’s all about singular bottom line versus triple bottom line. I think a lot of these big organizations, they are taking one step forward and sometimes one or two steps back based on macro market conditions. The more lean and stealthy you can be, I think you’re gonna be able to kind of weather those little storms and, and stay the course.

Theresa Rose (19:47):
Exactly. Being lean and being fluid and bla being adaptable because this is the way, it’s, it, it’s shaking out this is not a, a blip. We are in transformative times. And so this idea of how can we bring the humanity into a brand, how can we bring the heart into it? And there’s nothing better than telling stories, right? And so getting in that way and then how, looking at how do we tell the story? Does the story have to be a six month project that’s gonna take millions of dollars for us to put production around? Or can we start telling stories on TikTok for, you know, 30 seconds at a time, right? As long as it’s around that same thing, let’s do it quickly and keep those stories as part of that that you know, that fuel that we’re sending out to the, to the marketplace.

Chase Friedman (20:36):
Spot on, Theresa. I mean, that’s the thing. It’s u it’s easy for a larger organization to allocate hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars towards these, you know, really impressive pieces of work. I mean, last year we transfer, no one really knew the film behind it, but won the Academy War for best short documentary film. It was a, we transfer produced film. They’re putting a lot of time and effort into it, but gosh, we need to democratize that. I mean, everyone knows how to create short form content. Look at social media. You don’t have to be a big brand with big budgets to create good compelling content, right? It should be done at every single level. And the more sort of nimble, agile, low overhead you can be about that will I think allow you to sustain the course.

Chris Hood (21:15):
You know, one of the biggest problems that I see in the B2B space is a lack of understanding of who the customer actually is. Now, we could argue, and a lot of people do this with me, is they argue that the B to B that they are selling to is their customer. And I argue that your customer still has a customer that they have to appeal to. So when we talk about empathy, oftentimes these businesses are solely focused on making the sale, but are not going beyond that to reach the consumer that is ultimately going to buy. They can accomplish that, then they’re ultimately going to be able to generate more equity in their own business because they’re able to then appeal and grow that story beyond the storytelling and the branding that they’re trying to achieve.

Theresa Rose (22:06):
When I do my crystallization work with people, I I create models with the understanding that it’s not only crystallizing their brilliance, but it’s crystallizing their brilliance in a way that’s serving the, the customer’s biggest pain point. Cuz if you don’t, then you’re gonna have a mismatch, right? It has. We we have to. And, and so when I work with them, co-create with them, work the wobble of their model to make it perfect, i I hold the space of the customer. So I’m the brand, I’m the branding person that starts it, you know, with the, with the draft process and that we start working it together. And then I shift to customer, I shift to the customer going, how am I gonna receive what we just created? And are you solving my problem? Right? Because if we can talk from the customer’s perspective and really feel their feel their pain, what are they really, really, and I hate the phrase, what are you staying awake at night?

What’s keeping you up at night? Cuz I don’t wanna put any bad juju out into the world that anybody would have a sleepless night. But what I like to say is, what will inspire you? What would light you up? What would make life just so juicy that you, you know, couldn’t get enough of it? Let’s put our place in that, in our customer’s mind and say, what could we do to ma turn it up to 11 for them right of life? Make it have meaning, and then craft the brand around that, right? Based on whatever the, the client is services are or products are.

Chase Friedman (23:30):
Yeah, I love that you say that you hold space as kind of the end consumer. I think that’s super important to kind of reflect back to the business leaders. And I’m a big fan of, you know, the story brand framework, which, you know, again is based on storytelling models of who is your character, what are their wants, what is their challenge and their problem they’re trying to overcome you as a business are the guide to help guide them through that aspirational transformation, right? To a resolution. And it’s not always one size fits all, right? We have plenty of clients that come to us and well, we have B2B clients, we have b2c, and we have this archetype and this persona, and it’s just difficult to navigate that. And you have to be nuanced around at least grouping those personas into their core needs desires once you know, transformational goals, right?

And so it’s not a singular messaging thread that one size fits all. It’s meeting people where they are, you know, whether it’s through unique messaging channels or platforms or landing pages or micro sites and curating that customer journey accordingly. You know, I think that’s a big part of it, you know, for, for b2b. And I think to your point Chris, it’s interesting. It’s you’re helping your B2B partner do their job better if you’re looking a further step down the road and say, who is your end consumer, right? How can we roll that all up into, into your communications? I think that’s critical of critical importance and you are starting to see more B2B embrace branding where they weren’t before, right? Branding that’s for B2C companies, and we don’t have to kind of tell our story on our mission. Legacy companies been around for 50, a hundred years, Honeywell, and you know, a lot of these different companies leaning into it and it’s paying dividends. You know, you see their partners being inspired saying things like, and I’ve seen this with clients. We didn’t know you provided that or offered this or offered that. It’s giving them a new lens in which to in which to view you as a, as a partner.

Theresa Rose (25:23):
And even what branding is. I mean there, it, it’s, it’s, we, we typically think about it in that way that it’s a b2c and how am I gonna brand that out for the television commercial? But it’s also, what is that company brand? And it’s also increasingly what is your personal brand? I mean, I work with high level attorneys, for example, giving them their practice brand. These are incredibly talented professionals that have outstanding skill and yet they have no personal brand and, and yet they have business development responsibilities. If they’re going to be a senior equity partner, they are going to need to learn how to sell, right? They’re gonna need to know how to sell. So in, in order to sell, they’re gonna need to be clear on their brand. So I think this even notion of branding is starting to get nebulous and people are realizing that everybody is a brand, right? And we need to treat it as such.

Chris Hood (26:16):
The collaboration, Theresa, that you talked about at the beginning. I, I’m curious from your perspective, at what point in time do you start to bring that collaboration into your strategy?

Theresa Rose (26:30):
All the time. Actually it’s interwoven, frankly. It really is because, so it’s always interesting when I have a crystallization that I do because I actually do 95% of it before we get together. I look at their, I look at what they’ve already done. I ana I analyze what they’ve already done through their content and where they shine and what they really are trying to say. And I weed through what I call word salad, thought spaghetti, half baked ideas, add infinitum. I mean, I move through so much content, it’s ridiculous to bring down to something that I can draw on a cocktail napkin then becomes the design thinking when I get together with them and then I reveal this model to them and say, this is how I saw you and we start working collaboratively or co creatively. I say, this isn’t my brand that I gave you, this is us working it together.

And we go back and forth. We ideate, we say what works, what doesn’t work? How do we work the wobble to what I call get to hell yes status. I mean, I wanna be able to have them go like, oh, like it’s so good, right? When they know that the brand is that good, they can feel it, they can feel it. You can, you can see it in them that they have are at hell ya status. When you get there, you can communicate to an entire organization about that mission and about that brand and about what you’re gonna be doing when you get to that level. And you always wanna have that level of collaboration, co-creation I call course correction. And, and, and what I’m a, I’m a refiner and an expander, right? Because I’m out of their i out of their organization. I can see them with really clear eyes. So I refine it down to its essence and at the same time expand what can you do more that you aren’t really doing now? And every brand who really wants to stay sustainable and growing through these transformative times is gonna wanna have a marketing resource, trusted marketing resource that is going to ideate with them and is going to evaluate that and make sure that we can course correct and make it better and better and better. It’s not a one and done thing, it’s a relationship that you wanna establish.

Chase Friedman (28:36):
Yeah. Just to add on to that, I mean, I think one of the biggest things that’s overlooked and undervalued with organizations is looking at your internal team and your internal stakeholders. It’s easy to kind of start with the outside in and doing kind of consumer interviews and test groups and focus groups start within your organization. You know, you, there’s oftentimes this massive sort of, you know, what we consider purpose paradox or communication gap from the C-suite who’s worked on such things like brand communications and that crystallized strategy and the middle and kind of lower, you know, management and teams that are the boots on the ground that have the closest touchpoint with your partners, your end consumers, right? What are they hearing, what are they experiencing, what are they thinking? I mean, they are cl flying close to the sun on your behalf you know, get real sit down with them, hey and stress test your own concepts, right? Hey, I feel hell yes, but does this hell yes for you and you and you, right? I mean is this value aligned with, you know, not just you and why you come to work every day, but what you’re hearing from our customers and what their needs, that’s the ultimate stress test.

Theresa Rose (29:43):
Yep. Exactly. And, and, and to, to move through that process in in waves I have found works well is you get those core decision makers that really have their fingers on the pulse of what the company is and what they, where you wanna go get that crystallization and then start bringing in, of course, first and foremost your marketing team, right? Does your marketing team, every single person who’s actually gonna execute off of this thing, really understand it and are bought in, bought in? Because if they’re not bought in and they’re just going, oh, great, another thing, right? They are not going to put the level of effort. They might do a checking off the box, yes, I did this post, or yes I did this, but it’s not gonna be the same if they don’t really feel it

Chris Hood (30:27):
To demonstrate that. I spent five years at Google developing stories and branding strategies and during that time, the number of times that I asked our own employees to help develop messaging because they’re the frontline workers, they’re the salespeople who have the most experience and we just could not do it.

Theresa Rose (30:47):
You know, I think though that what part of the problem is that we haven’t really created companies that are empathetic to the other departments and what they do. So, you know, to me, even just sales and marketing, you know, are your marketing people understanding the sales process? And are your sales people understanding what the marketing people are doing? Because that is where the, the, the do Remi ends up is when you’ve got great marketing and then the salespeople can close it, right? And they can get what you’re, get the, the revenue, how I feel like the organizations we have, we’ve talked about culturally, let’s make sure that we have inclusive companies and that we are all unified and that everything is, you know, we’re one company, right? One brand. And there are challenges because people don’t really take the time. It, it tends to be in a platitude as opposed to let’s, does everybody really understand how money is actually made in this company?

Chris Hood (31:52):
You’re still dealing with organizational structure that says that’s not your job, so don’t worry about it. Or there’s no recognition for when you do something that’s outside of your role. And as long as that is the culture and the mentality of an organization, there will never be successful opportunities. Not only getting people to participate, but being able to understand what the satisfaction of your employees are is something that is missing. So we talk all the time about, you know, storytelling in sales and marketing ultimately to drive a customer satisfaction score. But can you build a parallel between your CSAT and your employee satisfaction score and those organizations that can actually accomplish that are able to understand and deliver to their customers with more impact than other organizations?

Chase Friedman (32:52):
I think it’s, yeah. It’s, it’s getting them not just as ex executors of this plan, but being invested early on, not just, you know, they starting early and often in the process. If you hand someone down the line this csat you know, paradigm framework that they had no part in curating, developing planning, they’re just, they’re just plugging in numbers and, and reports they don’t feel invested in. Are these the right questions we should be asking? Is this the right process? And again, that’s why it’s so important to get these people at the table as true stakeholders early in the process. So they do feel invested and empowered to share their stories, right? Because there’s not, there’s that trust, there’s not that fear of, well, if I say it went well or it went wrong, there might be some pushback, right? Versus, hey, they invited me to the, to the round table early on in this process cuz they believed in what my role is in this company and they wanna listen not just at the end of the experience, but at all phases.

Theresa Rose (33:58):
I had that happen just recently with one of my corporate clients where I crystallized the brilliance of this association with the ceo, E o who is the, the, you know, board representative essentially, cuz I like to do one-on-one work at the very, very beginning just to get something solid. And then we brought in the marketing team and the head of the marketing department took a look at it and I, you know, ran through it and he, he gave a, a small but essential piece of feedback, essential, this is actually about marketing professionals too, to really be able to sit and listen when, when someone who may not be at the pay grade that you’re expecting them to be at or that wrote the check to you, but they say something that is really important, right? About the brand that you had maybe not seen or just didn’t know, you know, have that exposure when you get that information to take that.

And, and I tweaked, we tweaked the brand, the, the crystallized model of this organization and now it’s what I would call perfect. And so would he, and so would his team because we listened early enough on and not just shoved it down his throat and his team’s throat to say, now go do this. Oh, and by the way, I hope you’re authentic and pa passionate and that you love it, right? So he is passionate and he loves it and he’s, he stands behind it and he is, he is 100% there because he was involved early on in that discussion and contributed meaningfully a small thing, but a meaningful thing that really was critical to its success.

Chris Hood (35:34):
I think leadership participation is essential no matter what you’re trying to do within an organization. And so, since we’re speaking about leadership, what are some of the ways that a leader can implement empathy into their organization today?

Theresa Rose (35:49):
Well, one of the easiest ways is to just strengthen the skill of listening, right? That list being a listener first. So where in your process of being a leader throughout an average week, are you not talking and listening to your customers, your team, the industry, your colleagues? Who are you shutting your mouth and opening your mind and en engaging your ears to actually start to get out of the position of the, the, the central character of the show, right? That you’re not the central character of the show, I think is that, that’s the number one thing.

Chase Friedman (36:28):
Yeah, it’s, it’s certainly, it’s certainly the ability to stop and listen and not be, you know, the only and loudest voice in the room asking the right questions. That is, that to me is something I’m constantly working on, you know for my own self. You know, it’s, it’s easy to think as a founder, c e o leader, that you have to have all the answers all the time, right? Being willing and being able to be vulnerable and relying on people that are around you that might have insights, those nuances, right? That make all the difference in the world. Asking the right questions, you know, what, what do you, you know, what is your take on it? What do you think? Or is this, does this feel good? Does this feel right? If you develop that culture of always having the right answer and always kind of having a retort for someone that comes to you with a problem, people aren’t gonna develop the skillset to think critically about how to solve something, let alone share active feedback that you might be missing. Leaders have blind spots, right? So you’ve gotta be willing to kind of check the ego out the door, ask questions even when it’s uncomfortable. And you’ll be amazed at, at some of the things you hear

Theresa Rose (37:35):
And ask the questions like, you know, what, what are you gonna talk about about this? That after this is over, what, what have I, or what am I missing? What don’t I know what I mean? Really as, as a leader, what you can do in, in addition to just strengthening your listening muscles, your, your, your true deep, deep listening muscles is to also ask those self-deprecating questions that says, talk to me like I’m a six year old. What am I missing? Right? What am I missing? What are you gonna talk about If I, that I, that I did a boneheaded thing today in this meeting, what is it that I’m not seeing? Right? And in, in, instead of just saying, is this okay? Or what do you think? Because they, they’re of course their natural inclination is, yes, boss, yes boss, yes boss. It’s all okay boss. So how can you make it a super safe environment by even asking a question that leads them into, you know, what’s the mistake that I’m making right now by not seeing, we’ll give them a little more con confidence to, to speak up.

Chris Hood (38:33):
I did an episode just a couple weeks ago on psychological safety, so you can go back and check that out. And Jeff Bezos is famous for leaving one seat vacant at every meeting, board meeting, no matter what the size of the event. And it’s designed to bring a customer to the table that one empty seat is for the customer. And I think any individual out there that puts that much obsession to the customer is ultimately going to be able to drive that empathy and build it into the storytelling and branding that we’ve been talking about today. Well, thank you both for joining us. I appreciate your perspective. It’s been a fabulous conversation.

Theresa Rose (39:13):
I would love it if anybody wants to know a little bit more about the crystallization process or just kind of who I am, teresa and if you’re wondering how to spell it, it looks like there’s a

Chase Friedman (39:25):
What a great visual. Love it. Yeah, thanks Teresa. It was wonderful connecting with you. Chris. Thanks for having me again. You can, would love to hear any questions, thoughts, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn. Chase Friedman, f r i e d m a n. I don’t have a really cool, like little is memorable ism for you, but otherwise you could check out our work my [email protected]. Awesome chat with you all today.

Chris Hood (39:51):
And of course, thanks to all of you who are listening. If you like what you heard, please subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform and leave a review. Your feedback helps us improve and grow. And if you have any questions, comments, or ideas for the show, you can connect with us throughout social media and online at Chris Hood Show. And please share this episode with your friends, family, colleagues, or anyone else looking to grow their business and start their own digital evolution. Until next week, take care and stay connected.
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