Bernhard Schroeder: The Truth Behind Great Branding & Storytelling for Business

Listen to our exclusive interview with Bernhard Schroeder:


Branding and storytelling are deeply misunderstood today by most entrepreneurs. So, what does it mean to your business and should it be a priority? We had the honor to talk to a branding legend, a guy that helped create Amazon, Yahoo! and created an agency valued at $1 billion – Bernhard Schroeder

More About Bernie (from him)

Yesteryear, I was born in Austria. Today, I am the director at the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center and teach entrepreneurship courses at San Diego State University. In February, 2015, my book, Fail Fast or Win Big!, was published for anyone that aspires to be an entrepreneur but needs a road map. And, every now and then, I remake, launch or revitalize a brand. I was not born to do any of this.

I have no destination. Just a crazy journey that as far as I can see, still has miles to go. I worked hard early in my career and became a pretty good marketer. That ultimately led me to my future partners and we built CKS|Partners into the world’s first and best integrated marketing agency powerhouse with more than 25 offices and 2,500 employees. I became a brand expert in that endeavor launching amazing brands offline and online like Yahoo! and Amazon.

After that, I landed in the San Diego community and turned around four companies in eight years as a Chief Marketing or Operating Officer. That was fun, challenging and ultimately tiring. That’s when I came to San Diego State University. By far, the most fun I have ever had is to be on a college campus. The energy, the ideas, the spirit of the students and staff is infectious. In February of 2015, I launched my first book, Fail Fast or Win Big.

My second book, Simply Brilliant came out in September of 2016. It’s about creativity and innovation and how everyone can be more creative. My third book is, Brands and Bulls**t, Excel at the Former, Avoid the Latter. A Branding Primer for Millennial Marketers in a Digital Age. The book was released by Tired Coast Publishing in October 2017.

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Transcription of Interview

(Transcribed by, there may be errors)

Adam G. Force 0:03
Welcome to the Change Creator podcast where entrepreneurs come to learn how to live their truth, get rich and make a massive difference in the world. I’m your host, Adam Force co founder, Change Creator and co creator of the captivate method. Each week we talk to experts about leadership, digital marketing and sales strategies that you can implement in your business and life to go big, visit us at to grab awesome resources that will help drive your business forward. Hey, what’s going on everybody? Welcome back to the Change Creator podcast show. This is your host, Adam force. I’m really excited for the conversation today, it’s gonna be a treat for you, somebody that I’ve been following for a long time. And he’s got a ton of great books. But even more importantly, he is so well versed in the branding world that he built an agency that was valued at, I think, a billion dollars, he helped build the Amazon brand all the way back from the beginning, Yahoo, and all kinds of other brands. All right, so we’re gonna get into a lot of great conversation about what really branding means to your business, right? This just couldn’t be more important. And I think it’s undervalued by a lot of entrepreneurs today. And this is an area that you know, we are focused and we love so storytelling, branding, how they really kind of tie together. So hang in there, we’re gonna jump into this conversation with Bernard Schroeder. And it’s gonna be really fun. So if you missed the last episode, it was with Trey Llewellyn. If you don’t know, Trey, he is a guy. I think they I can’t remember if they made up to 50 million now. 100 million. But you know, he’s done so much in the e commerce world. He wanted to find out how is he picking great products, right? How is he finding so many opportunities that sell so well, like he had a survival flashlight, which really was one of the early items that he picked up, out from China and stuff. They went over there, and they got this survivalist flashlight, and it became his first sales funnel that hit like $30 million. It’s crazy, right? So we’re gonna get into a lot of good conversation there. So that if you missed that go back. And we get into a lot of good stuffs that you will benefit from, especially if you’re an e commerce world. But even if you’re not, you’re going to get a lot of good ideas on just marketing and how to think about your sales funnels and things like that. Okay, so if you haven’t gone to Change in a while, check us out over there, we got some new fresh updates and things like that, if you guys are looking for support, building your brand and mapping those things out. So you can you know, we want people to fall in love with your brand, right? So that’s what we want to help you do to create that feeling. make it memorable, build trust. This is how we get loyal customers, right? People fall in love with brands, not just the products, right? Brands always win over products. And we’re going to talk about that with Bernard. So that’s it, guys, anything. If you’re not following us on Facebook, always check us out over there. And of course, we always appreciate your reviews on iTunes and things like that. So if you get a second pop on in, and outside of that we’re gonna get into this conversation with a Bernard. Okay, show me the heat. Hey, Bernard, welcome to the Change Creator podcast. How are we doing today? Man?

Bernhard Schroeder 3:28
I’m doing awesome. How are you?

Adam G. Force 3:29
I’m doing great, doing great. I really appreciate you taking the time, as I’ve mentioned, big fan of your book. And we’ll get into some of the books that you have and all that kind of stuff. But as somebody who is really passionate about branding and storytelling, I wanted to bring your expertise to our audience because you come from such a rich background. So maybe just in a nutshell, just let people know kind of where you’re coming from and what you’re all about.

Bernhard Schroeder 3:57
You know, I like to tell my students, I don’t think I’m anybody extraordinary. I just was someone who leaned in hard into branding once I started in marketing, and I determined that that once I learned that I liked marketing, then I wanted to be an expert. I was like, who are the experts in this world. So I spent a few years becoming an expert. And then I tested that expertise out, you know, on brands like Mercedes and apple and when I was convinced that my work was good, and my thinking was good. Then I created my own shop with some other co founders in Silicon Valley. And and that was an incredible run. And today, I run the Entrepreneurship Center at San Diego State. And I teach entrepreneurship and creativity courses at the business school.

Adam G. Force 4:42
You know, and I love hearing that just because he you know, I talked to a lot of different entrepreneurs and they well I went to university and what my teacher who is teaching entrepreneurship or whatever aspect of business never actually ran their own business. You know, it’s, I always found a little bit baffling. So it’s great to hear that you know, you’re coming from a place where You worked with world class brands and helped create them and built your own agency. And now you’re sharing that knowledge with people, which I think is, is pretty awesome. So let’s just kind of kick off by getting everybody acclimated. So everybody listening, you know, here at Change Creator, we talk a lot about branding and storytelling. And so Bernard is an expert in space. And I’d like to just define listeners, give a definition and start grounding people, and what branding and storytelling mean, to you and the work that you’ve done.

Bernhard Schroeder 5:28
You know, this is a tough one, I mean, you can go to any party, and run into anybody and and talk to six different people and ask them for their definition of branding, you might get six different answers. My definition of branding is, it’s an internal feeling, it took me years, years to understand what that was, because it’s not something you can touch, it’s this emotion, it’s this, this thing that you can create inside of each individual that makes them more loyal to that product than any other. And that’s the toughest part, people have understanding, they want to point to something physical, that is the evidence or the result of their branding. And while you can ultimately measure that in a lot of different ways, you can’t pinpoint it, you know, on the spot. And so it’s this if I tell marketers, you need to create a feeling and your customers that are like feeling what’s what’s a feeling, you know, that they don’t understand what that means. And so then when you look at that, and you look at the value of it, if you believe in it, then behind every brand I’ve ever worked with, there’s a story. And it has to be authentic, you can’t be some made up bullshit story that you say, this will really sound good, like I was dangling from a cliff. And I couldn’t find the right carabiner. So I decided to create one, you know, most stories are so authentically simple. It’s awesome. And when you combine a good story that gives meaning to the brand, in other words, I first want to create emotion in you, then I want you to check out the brand. And now I want you to connect that emotion to meaning. And now the two of them will separate you from the commodity. Right. And so, yeah, I don’t know of a brand that’s worth talking about that doesn’t have a story.

Adam G. Force 7:17
Yeah. And so the story, Would you say that’s usually grounded in the founders like the the values they have, like, where is the story normally coming from?

Bernhard Schroeder 7:29
No, I don’t think it’s initially in the values. It can be like when I think about Patagonia, for example, and I think about the two people that started that company, and they talked about how they wanted to do it, right. I had a recent conversation with John Wilson at Stance. And him and his four co founders spent five months, five months, who does this? talking about the values that they believed in, that would guide their hiring principles of the talent, they were going to bring on board very, very purposeful. And they had a story as well, usually nine times out of 10, it comes from the founders, the only time it doesn’t, is when like oil meets water, or to alchemists meet. And it was it’s a meeting that created, you know, spontaneous combustion. And there isn’t a great story there. But there’s individual stories of those two founders, and they decided to come together. But more often than not, I would say 90% of the time, the story is related to the founders.

Adam G. Force 8:29
Right. And I think it’s a misconception sometimes. So storytelling is obviously I feel like when we’re creating that story that does give a lot of energy towards the direction that the brand is developed. Is that Do you agree with that?

Bernhard Schroeder 8:45
That’s a good question. First of all, you can’t create you can’t develop a story. The story is there. It’s already there.

Adam G. Force 8:52
Yeah, it’s already there.

Bernhard Schroeder 8:53
So in other words, when like when I was working with Pura Vida, and they just had come back from a surf trip to Costa Rica. And they came to my office, one of them did and said, Hey, we’re selling these bracelets to pay for our trip. And then we’re gonna go get real jobs. And I was like, where’d you get the bracelets? This guy named Jesus. Where? On the beach in Costa Rica. What does Pura Vida mean? Oh, that’s something they say down there. It means have good life. So without them realizing it, the story was already done. And so years later, when the brand started to take off, and they just fine tune that story, but it was the same story.

Adam G. Force 9:30
Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, I love that. And, you know, I think a lot of people miss the boat on that. And you will go to many of these sites and they don’t have the story anywhere. I mean, there’s the written story, but I feel like that it gets doesn’t that get kind of injected across like, everything that they’re doing, like it kind of feeds the engine a little bit.

Bernhard Schroeder 9:50
It can and it also cannot. In other words, if the original founders are gone, I believe the story starts to get lost because the current leadership team may or may not care about the story. They’re executing on metrics and KPIs. And they’re like, who cares about a story of these two guys in the 50s. This is 2021. Like, we need to be rock and roll. And I think you need to keep thin links to that story. I think it grounds the brand. I see some people try to hide the story over time as they believe their company transforms, I believe your story should just get louder over time. Because it’s going to be the, it’s the one thing you authentically hold, and that no one can take away, you just need to make sure that the story is told in a relevant way. That’s all.

Adam G. Force 10:39
Yeah, that makes sense. And so So what you’re saying is there becomes a point of differentiation, for people that are interested in the in whatever you’re offering, right? So if you’re gonna compare to…

Bernhard Schroeder 10:50
Exactly. Let’s use IBM as an example. Yeah, you know, if some people would believe that IBM may or may not be as creative or innovative as it is today, right? And you might say, Well, why should we talk about Tom Watson, you know, one of the founders of IBM, like it’s not relevant. But what Tom Watson was doing in his time is super innovative, right? So you would bring that innovation alive and say, it’s always been in our DNA. It’s not so much about more about Tom, it’s more about the initial Spark, and that innovation is still there. And it’s so deep in our, in our company in our culture, that that, you know, we’re just a great company because of it. And if you’re a customer of ours, you’ll see it. Yeah, yeah. But if you listen to IBM today, like, honestly, if you said to me for a million dollars, what do you think separates IBM from their competition today? I have no clue. I’m not saying they’re not a good company. Yeah. But I don’t know what differentiates them anymore.

Adam G. Force 11:54
Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good, that’s a good point. What does differentiate them and, you know, when we’re thinking about those stories, I always found that I think you made a great point that the stories we tell will demonstrate something, it’s not necessarily about that person. But it’s about the demonstration of a meaning or a point that came comes out of it, right? That is an expression people can emotionally link to

Bernhard Schroeder 12:18
Well, in a motional link to the brand, you don’t want to like have a founder of IBM be the brand you want to have what that person did or didn’t do, or how they did it, you know, and that thing internalized itself into the brand. And then it gets externalized through the marketing messaging, right. Yeah, I mean, I’ve watched people that could be telling amazing stories about their brand, not even use the story, not even talk about, you know, kind of the DNA, their brand. They’re like, you know, let’s just our products in the right place at the right time. Let’s just hammer the marketing home. Let’s outspend everybody else, and it works for a while until there’s competition. Right. And everybody always assumes there’s never going to be like crazy competition. Like if you’re in a narrow market, and you think you’ve, you know, got relationships with all the suppliers. Nobody can come in all all Apple has to do is buy someone. Yeah, and you’re like, row, you know, now all of a sudden, you you don’t have, you know, a $50 million competitor, you have $100 billion competitor with deep pockets that can say I want your market. And at that point, it’s too big to build a brand.

Adam G. Force 13:31
Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, I spoke to a team, founder of a company called love his project. And within our first two years, they sell bracelets that say love. That’s it just like your probiota bracelets, right? And she made a mil over a million dollars in the first two years. Then she got into Oprah’s magazine, all the stuff. She was traveling the world. She’s a traveler, she went to different cultures and asked What does love mean to you? And she built this brand. And the story was about what love means to people around the world. So she was like, Adam, we’re basically a media company that tells stories, and we just happened to sell bracelets, you know, and the whole thing is consistent with their everything they do. And you can just see the power of like, people fall in love with the idea and the story that she’s sharing.

Bernhard Schroeder 14:20
And they just consistently keep it alive. And what they’re what they’re doing is they’re absolutely leveraging the emotion that people might have not about love for their brand, but love for other people love for other things. And so it’s a very clever twist, not saying it’s right. I’m not saying it’s wrong. But I’ve seen entrepreneurs with really, really good products, not make it because they can’t figure out how to tell a story in an emotional and strong way that separates them from the competition and eventually they meet tons of competition and they go away. I’m thinking to myself, wow, that person is lights out. They didn’t make it nice While I have two guys over here that created a brand on a surf trip out of threatened bracelets, no disrespect. But that’s $100 million company today. Is the universe crazy?

Adam G. Force 15:13
I think you made just an incredible point right there is that brands who are transactional and data driven, great. But if we’re not getting in touch and connecting with people through the stories, and provoking some kind of emotion for the brand, that sooner or later, we’re going to fade out in the competition.

Bernhard Schroeder 15:32
Well, sooner or later, it’s possible. The worst place for a company is when they get into a position of either commodity or price. And if you don’t have a strong brand, then you’re just going to be nickeled and dimed to death, when you’re going to hear things from companies like, well, we need to now do free shipping, or we need to lower our prices by x or, or whatever it might be, or we need to bundle those are conversations of brand never has When was the last time you bought an iPad, or a MacBook from Apple and it was on sale.

Adam G. Force 16:05
They don’t do that.

Bernhard Schroeder 16:06
They don’t do it. Every now and then they might throw you some error airbags or the inferior products, or they might throw you something but they will not discount the price period. And I just think that’s genius.

Adam G. Force 16:17
I agree. I mean, I love that confidence. And I know they obviously they’re easy to talk about because they built a brand that people just you know, adore. And I like to kind of just transition a little bit of this conversation into, you know, obviously brand new spires off many different signals that represent how it feels like to create that feeling from people, right? You got the visual, we got contextual we got all these things. They’re grounded in these stories and stuff. I think the tough part for a tough spot for people is two things. One, how narrow do we go on a target audience when we’re considering our brand and to how we’re occupying what space we’re occupying in someone’s mind. So the positioning. So I just want to touch on those two things at a at a high level and get your insights on how you approach that with people.

Bernhard Schroeder 17:05
Let’s talk about positioning first. I mean, I remember reading, Reese’s and Trollocs book on positioning. And before I read that I didn’t, as a marketer, understand that there were limited, there was limited mine from a consumer I, the whole idea of, of three top brands on the ladder have never occurred to me, it was like, I’m going to take this money, I’m going to go into the marketplace, and I’m going to be number one or number two, and then I was like row, if I can’t be number one or number two or number three, I can’t get me on that ladder. And if I can’t be on that ladder, can I create a new ladder? Right? I mean, that’s what vitaminwater and it was genius at the time. Everybody was like vitamins and water. That’s so stupid. But the water category was insane. And it was genius. They said, well, we’re not going to be a top brand and just water. How many Vitamin Water brands are there? No. All right. Let’s grab that niche. Let’s initially and this goes back to your first question. Let’s say Nisha, initially only focused on health conscious, athletic person for vitamin water. I mean, that’s what their original positioning was. They got like Daniel Thompson, football player, and they focused on such a narrow niche. If you’re successful in a narrow niche of a large industry, then you can almost look at the consecutive other niches you will go to like, I used to tell purebeta get 16 to 20 to get young females 16 to 22 for the bracelets, when we got them, then we’ll go after the moms but through that, then we’ll go after the boyfriends then we’ll go after the uncles and the birthdays and Mother’s Day, eventually we’ll have the whole market, which you can’t have the whole market in the first year to three, your niche. And so every like when I have students that come into my office when they used to come into my office and they will again in the fall. They’d be like yeah, I want to talk to you about a startup I have I go great, who he focused on they go everybody, and I go Okay, I’m gonna ask you one more time. And if you don’t answer this question appropriately, you’re gonna have to get out. I go, who are you first 1000 customers. And you know, focus, focus, focus. If you’re good brand, then eventually you can spread out, but you got to own your niche first. You know, it’s funny, I’m mentoring someone right now who’s doing in the commercial electric vehicle space. And I remember when when we were so narrow, Adam, it was commercial electric vehicles only for airports. And that level of focus in just three years has gotten him to over 50 million in real revenue. And all he focused on were airports

Adam G. Force 19:50
Just airports. And as long I mean, and I love hearing that because I have these conversations with people a lot where there’s a lot of fear of going narrow because it’s like this FOMO missing out on the market when they don’t realize that the more specialized that the the better off, you’re going to be especially. And I like what you said, like you’re not stuck there forever, you can always expand to new segments. But does that work for a service company as well. So if you’re an agency and you’re running, you know, you’re doing something specific for the medical industry, all of a sudden on your website, that’s great. They say you specialize in the medical industry, you don’t want to suddenly be like, Why do this, this, this and this? So how do you expand markets in that sense?

Bernhard Schroeder 20:31
You know, when you said service industry, the first word, or the first thought that jumped into my head was accountants, you know, I don’t know why I wasn’t thinking agencies. And I was like, well, let’s say I’m an accountant, and I specialize. If I’m an accountant, and I specialize in medical companies, I’m just making that up. Yeah, then I get an expertise, I get passed around. But I can pretty much easily segue, if I’m a marketing agency, and I’ve specialized in medical companies, I’ve got to be really careful. But I can start doing outliers. In other words, I’ve watched someone who worked with medical device companies. And then they looked at companies in their space. And they were like, what company is innovating, and they picked on dexcom. And dexcom was making software and wearable consumer devices for diabetes for the first time. So they purposely then chased dexcom in the medical space, but because they knew they were evolving into software, or evolving into consumer, so they were like, this is going to be our bridge as well. So as an agency, you can select the client, and that client can take you into the next segment. And there’ll be a client from your current sale.

Adam G. Force 21:40
Yeah, that’s an interesting thought. I like that. So I mean, there’s just some creative thinking, basically, like how you’re looking at the market and finding your path forward, basically, right.

Bernhard Schroeder 21:51
Oh, it’s so strategic, like when we started our agency, you know, we were in Silicon Valley, we’re in like, a little tiny office space. There’s only like five of us. We’re all pretty good at what we do. But you know, there’s nothing as humbling as leaving a big company or big agency and being in a small space, with like, a third of the budget, and it’s on you like their eight, it’s on you. And I remember, you know, talking to my other partners and saying, Well, you know, who we got to focus on, and they were like, well, let’s, we all love tech. So let’s focus on all the emerging tech. So we started calling on Adobe, Borland, Logitech. And these were all startups at the time. And we were a startup agency. So we were like, you know what, nobody’s going to believe that we can do consumer, we’re in Silicon Valley, let’s go get emerging tech, and let’s build their brands. They got nothing to lose, they got no money, they got very little money, we’re not going to make a lot of money. But we’re going to build our credit. And we want it to be seen as a tech agency, not just only to do tech, but we wanted to have kind of a cat image behind us. Like, we’re using technical infrastructure. We’re doing 3d modeling, you know, like, we’re doing this crazy tech, and we have tech clients. So it was believable. And that honestly, I’ll be honest with you. That’s what allowed us as one of the first agencies as an integrated shop to go public. Why would a marketing agency go public out of Silicon Valley in 1995? Makes no sense. No sense. Unless you looked at our the infrastructure we are running the agency on and all the software we were using, we are paperless, most agencies are not paperless. We were distributed. We had no central headquarters. And so you know, the analysts and Goldman and Sequoia, they were like, this is the agency of the future. You know, and that was actually an adage story. And was it? I don’t know, do we use technology to run the shop? Yes. Did we use technology to collarbones? Yes. But it was only so that we could get to William Sonoma, United McDonald’s, all these other consumer brands. And it was funny because all it took was one account. We had 19 tech clients, and we purposely chased to bust it out. We chased United Airlines hard to redo the entire brand. And because of a personal relationship with one of the founders of all the top agencies in the world, we got it. And I remember you know what that did for us like it just told that world… we’re coming. We’re coming to consumer. Interesting.

Adam G. Force 24:36
Yeah. So having the tech image you think helped bridge your…

Bernhard Schroeder 24:41
Dude, If you look up past articles on CPS partners, you will be shocked at Wired covered, Ad Agent and it was all like tech agency, the agency of the future, the interactive agency, the future it totally positioned our brand to have an edge and allow us to run into consumer because you know what the consumer brands spot These guys are so deep in tech. They know what the future is going to look like they know how to distribute digital assets. So when super came running at us, yeah, Adam, we never ran an ad. We went to a 2 billion in revenue, not funny media money, a billion in hard revenue. That’s incredible.

Adam G. Force 25:22
And did you plant seeds for that story to get around?

Bernhard Schroeder 25:27
Once we saw that this tech edge was separating us, because we used to tell people like we’re the first integrated marketing agency, and people would be like, well, I don’t give a shit like advertising is going to rock forever, integrating stupid. As soon as we add tech to our integrated story. It just changed for us. We were now seen as a futurist. You know, we were right up there. At that time period, people would come people would pay us to come in and sit with their CEO, and say, What does the next five years look like?

Adam G. Force 26:03
Wow, that’s really interesting. Yeah.

Bernhard Schroeder 26:07
I think that’s one of the reasons why we grew so fast, is because we believe so radically changed. We were telling CEOs in 9596 that someday your media spend is going to be 80%. Digital, and some of them would look at us like we were high. Other agencies would say you are definitely high. And it took a little longer, but we’re now approaching What 60% 65%?

Adam G. Force 26:33
I mean, I think that’s going to continue. I mean, yeah, there’s marketing all around. But I think that digital ad spend is going to start being the bulk of it. And when it does, you’re gonna see all the small players on Facebook and YouTube, they’re gonna get crushed on prices, because all the big players are gonna eat up the inventory. Yeah, I can see that coming down the pipeline. So Wow, that’s interesting. Now you did work with, you know, Amazon and Yahoo, right. I really? Yeah. So the Yahoo story was quite interesting.

Bernhard Schroeder 27:02
There was such a mess. I mean, one of the partners called me and said, Will you take a meeting at Yahoo. I go what? I didn’t even know what he said. I thought he misspoke. So he goes that Yahoo, I go, what’s a Yahoo? And he goes, it’s these two guys doing this web kind of index at Stanford. And I was like, Why are you calling me? I’m up in Portland, you got two offices in Silicon Valley? Well, they won’t take the meeting. Everybody’s busy, you know, blah, blah. So I decided to do it. I go down there. Go to a meeting. It’s these two guys, David and Jerry. And there’s no strategy. There’s no revenue, there’s no business model. And they’re like, we have 50,000 daily visitors. And I’m like, What are you trying to sell? Nothing, you know. And we went round and round, we eventually developed their logo, we develop redevelop their website to make it more clear. We started giving them ideas on business models, we were like, you know, you should be doing advertising, you should create a great over here on the right, you know, you should create better search search sucks. Right now you’ve written a search return to terrible and at the time, there was probably about 40 search companies in 9095 96. And it was so hard working with them, they were so ill prepared for to work with professionals that after about six months, I just called my partner up and said, Look, we’ve taken they couldn’t even pay us. So we took shares, which by the way, that paid off later. And I can’t work with him anymore. And he was like, come on, and I go No, I’m done. I go, every meeting I go to is like a CI. And they’re arguing they’re yelling at each other. They’re yelling at us, we’re yelling at them. I go, they’re not prepared. They needed that, you know, and that’s I think that’s about the time their first CEO came into Google. And he was actually good for them. But I couldn’t take any more ad creatives that were like we’re quitting.

Adam G. Force 28:55
Yeah, forget it.

Bernhard Schroeder 28:55
They were really good creatives. And I’ll tell you, when you have great creatives, and you’re doing good work, you let the client go.

Adam G. Force 29:04
Yeah, I can I can understand that.

Bernhard Schroeder 29:06
Yeah, I never let a creative go. If I had an issue. I’m not talking about like, you know, an attitude issue I’m talking about you look at the work, and it’s spot on and the client shitting on it. It’s like, you got to question the client, you got to say, wait a minute, this is spot on. It’s strategically perfect. And the client saying I don’t like blue, like, you know, and so I let I let I’ve let lots of clients go. I’ve only been fired like twice in my entire career, but I have let about 40 clients go.

Adam G. Force 29:39
Yeah, that’s good. I mean, cuz you know, what you stand for, and you know, the work that you do, so it’s to be able to walk away.

Bernhard Schroeder 29:46
It’s not arrogance. It’s not arrogance, so you put up with a ton of pain. I mean, I put up with three years of pain on one particular client that was so big, it was actually funding our Northwest expansion. But when it but after almost three years, I had a hollowed out creative team that when I sat down with them one day they looked at, I mean, they were just like, you know, we’re just getting our ass handed to us all the time. And on that particular day, I landed another client, and that that really stabilized us in Northwest. And I turned to my creative director, and I said, when we go to that meeting tomorrow, he’s like, yeah, I go, we’re resigning. And he was like, Really? I go, Yeah, he goes, That’s awesome. And so we went to the meeting the next day of clients walking us through all this crap. And at one point, I just raised my hand and said, Hey, you know, we’re actually resigning the account. They were like, What? You’re like the best agency we’ve ever had I go, you’ve literally just almost destroyed us. And now I understand why you’ve grown through all these other agencies. And why we’ll do a good transition. We wish you the best we can no longer work with you. Yeah, audios.

Adam G. Force 30:57
Yeah, that takes a lot of guts. I know you’re tight on time. So we’ll I want to be respectful of that. We’re gonna wrap up this and where can people learn more about your books, guys, he has tons of great books, several several of them the latest being Brands and Bullshit.

Bernhard Schroeder 31:11
Actually the latest one came out last year, which was a book on culture, which a lot of founders don’t read startup culture mindset. Bernie you can find them there, you can find the four of them on Amazon. But if you want to learn more about me and how I think, and how I look at the world, I would go to I put a lot of my honest thinking there on several different topics. And then they can choose to do whatever after that.

Adam G. Force 31:39
Yeah, and one last thing to wrap up, I’m always like, I find that the positioning is such an important part of a process. Do you use any particular tools or have any tips on that might help people kind of really… not master…but at least get more clarity on that positioning

Bernhard Schroeder 31:58
I’ll tell you. It’s not even branding. It’s just good strategic marketing. There’s two tools that I use pretty consistently. And obviously, I’m doing a competitive analysis of a marketplace first, right? I use two tools. My first tool is actually a simple marketplace quadrant tool. It’s got four boxes, and it just shows the whole marketplace, right? And I use what I think, are two words or two attributes that are most important to the consumer. Is it price, is it quality? Is it luxury, is it basic, and then I take the entire competition, and I put them in the marketplace? And then I look for gaps. I look for gaps in the marketplace and say, is there an opportunity to go there? Do we want to go there? The second thing I do when I’ve completed that analysis, from a positioning perspective, I say, Okay, if we’re going to go into that area, who has the lead in that area on a ladder today? Who has the perception? Or is there an opportunity for me to create a new ladder? And if it’s a new ladder, what do I call it? And would it be relevant to the market? So those are the first two things that kind of popped into my head? What’s the marketplace quadrant? Are there any gaps? Because you can’t just run in the marketplace and go on doing wheat cereal? And thinking nobody gives a shit? You got a grid it out simply, it’s in the brands and bullshit bunk. And then I just do a simple analysis of Can I get into the top three on an existing ladder? Or in a good way? Can I be like a chobani? And can I disrupt the yogurt out of Greek? You know, and then I create a new letter called Greek. And I own it, you know, and those are the only two things I look at initially.

Adam G. Force 33:43
Yeah, no, that’s great. Really appreciate it. So again, thank you for your time. I appreciate you being here and sharing everything love all your experience and stuff. So thanks again.

Bernhard Schroeder 33:53
No, Adam. Thanks for reaching out and doing it and let me know when you push it live.

Adam G. Force 34:00
Absolutely. Alright. Appreciate it.

Bernhard Schroeder 34:03
Have a great day

Adam G. Force 34:05
Thanks for tuning into the Change Creator podcast visit us at Change Creator comm forward slash go big to get access to free downloads and other great resources that will drive your business forward.

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