HOSU 23 | Global Brands

Kyle Duford – Crafting Outstanding Experiences For Global Brands

How can you create your brand so that you make your customers feel something when they look at it, wear it, buy it, and smell it? Matthew Sullivan’s guest today, Kyle Duford, is an expert at crafting outstanding experiences for global brands. Kyle is the Executive Creative Director at The Brand Leader.

Join in the conversation as Kyle explains that what people want to hear is the spirit of what makes you who you are. Therefore, you need to be clear on your core values and mission statement. Doing so helps you nail your messaging and attract the right customers. Are you excited to hear more branding tips? Tune in!

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Kyle Duford – Crafting Outstanding Experiences For Global Brands

A former magazine editor-turned-digital maestro, Kyle has also written for Outside, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, VeloNews. He is obsessed with all-things online. As an expert in onsite optimization, email marketing, and digital brand growth, Kyle has successfully grown the online divisions of many well-known brands.

I’d like to welcome my reader to this episode with Kyle Duford. Kyle, you are a famous speaker and a deliverer of marketing wisdom. I hate reading these when you get these media packs. It sounds so dull. I’m not saying you’re dull. It’s much better if you explain the magic that you bring to the digital and marketing worlds.

I appreciate that you give me the floor because those marketing and speaker packs are so formatted. You can make anyone sound good.

If someone says, “What do you do? What’s your magic? What makes you Kyle Duford?” What’s your immediate elevator pitch?

HOSU 23 | Global Brands

Global Brands: Understanding your positioning and archetype makes you a solid brand.

Personally, I try to leave businesses, brands and people better than when I met them. A lot of that comes down to what I do for a living, which is creating, leading brands through our business here and helping people position themselves. That could be a personal brand, business brand or anything. I help position themselves in the marketplace, in society and in their local church. How do you get across who you are? What’s unique to you? What’s your value? What’s your proposition? Who are you?

I help people get across what you’re asking me to do about myself. I try to get people to look at their businesses as an entity, their brand as a living, breathing thing and to have it be even bigger and better, sometimes more refined and elevated than I thought it could’ve been. That’s what we do through tools like marketing, digital marketing, design strategy and things like that.

Who would you describe your typical client? Is it a small business? Is it large corporate?

We have a lot of businesses that come through that are small startups. It could be well-funded small startups but maybe getting off the ground as it works or some of our businesses go up to $500 million a year. If you look at it from a revenue standpoint, you think that’s a big breadth and it is but if you look at it from a proposition of how they can get better, typically that narrows it quite a bit. Our sweet spot is CEOs or founder-led businesses that come in and want to understand how they can take it to the next level. That could be typically because you’re entering a new market, adding a new product line, took on some investment, maybe faced some bad PR, maybe hired a CEO for the first time and they used to run their business.

Something that more people are getting eyes on them or maybe they were the first to the brick wall, some competitors are taking notice and they’re starting to gun for them instead. Two other people had changed their position to attack them or fortify their own position. We come in at that moment and help brands deliver on who they said they are. I’m fascinated all the time. It could be a multimillion-dollar business or a startup, people who don’t have clear core values or a clear mission statement and vision statement where they conflate the 2 or omit 1.

They don’t understand how to talk to their customers in a different way than their competitors. They don’t understand their brand archetype. The obvious aesthetic challenges they may or may not have. They started their business in their garage and now it’s a $200 million business. They’ve never looked at how their brand appears to other people. That can be resolved as well. For the most part, we’re helping folks reestablish or establish who they are in the marketplace, primarily from a brand positioning strategically.

Would you say that the most important thing that you bring to your clients is perspective?

That’s a great word for it. I don’t know if I thought about it that way but I think so, for sure.

I can cast my mind back because I’ve been an entrepreneur for decades, which means I haven’t been able to hold down a job for a long time. When you start something, it’s all about the sample of one. “What do I think? This is my design. This is what the customers are.” You do become very disconnected as a business owner, an entrepreneur or a business creator from the difference between what the audience is and what you think the audience is. The question is coming soon. My point is that as business owners, do you find that they start off the conversation with you by saying, “Why on Earth would we take you on? We don’t need marketing and branding. We know what we’re doing.” At the end of the meeting or conversation, it’s like, “Why wouldn’t we take you on?”

Sometimes they come to us because they want a logo and we say, “That’s a thing and a part. It’s dependent of your brand. It’s not your brand.” That’s where the conversation starts. When you then get into the questions that you’re talking about and then we start talking about your positioning, understanding your archetype, maybe even your brand essence and some things that are a little bit more like, “Do I care about that stuff?” The underpinnings of what we think make a solid brand, that’s when they’re like, “We don’t know if we need that,” but when you talk through it and you realize that they don’t have a solid foundation, it’s self-evidentiary at the end of that conversation that they know they need something that they didn’t know before.

I’ll give you a quick example, which is my favorite example as of late. I said this on a couple of different podcasts but we had a group come in. They wanted to go through a full rebrand and through the process, they went, “We don’t know if we need to get this deep. We’re going to huddle ourselves and come back.” When I caught up with them again, they said, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” We said, “Why don’t you come in for an hour and sit down with our team? We’ll talk things through. We’ll see if we can help put you on the right path. If you work with us, great. If you don’t, that’s fine, too. We want to help you out.”

One of the first questions we asked them individually, each in the room separately was, “Describe your business in three adjectives or less.” All three C-Suite members who said this couldn’t have had more disparate. I’m not talking rocket science. We’re talking, “Describe your business in three words alone, not looking at your colleagues, your left or right or the founder necessarily.” They were all so different and dependent on core principles that were so different from one another. They looked at each other almost like, “What the hell are we doing? No wonder our stuff is not working.” We said, “Let’s help you figure out what that is.”

In the resulting weeks, one of the people left and said, “Clearly, I didn’t get it. I was thinking about taking this in a different direction. I was probably the one pulling you in the wrong way and off the course.” The other two folks that were left decided to figure it out together. We may or may not work with them in the future. I’m not sure how that’s going to turn out. The point is that the fundamentals were so key and they were missing it to the person they started the business with. Sometimes it’s a very easy conversation at the end of it. They go, “We weren’t even thinking. What other questions should we be asking ourselves?” In that case then they go, “Maybe we do need to think about this branding thing. Maybe this isn’t just a logo with colors and design on the side of the building. It’s a lot more.”

If you’re not speaking to the right people with the right message at the right time, you’ll lose them.

It’s coming back to what I was talking about. You have done some research but there are some things presumably that leap out of the page when you start looking at a company’s communications, the way that they present themselves. I’m framing this on the basis that what you do is incredibly important but much overlooked by businesses at every stage because they all think that they are marketing experts or that you don’t need marketing. The product will sell itself, run a few ads or, “Why would I get a logo or a design from you when I can get one for $5 online?” Do you have to disavow them of the fact that they are on the road to failure if they cannot figure out how to speak to their clients?

It can be a hard conversation. In a lot of businesses that come in, they think they know what they’re doing. Many of them do. I’m not going to take away from folks who’ve been in the business so long, they understand how to speak to a certain sector, industry or type of persona. That’s going to happen. You said something about everyone thinks that you’re a marketer. I’ll take it one further. Everyone thinks they’re a web designer because they use the internet. I flush my toilet every day. It doesn’t mean I’m a plumber. It’s difficult sometimes to say, “We understand what you’re saying but this is why we do it this way, why we’ve been in the industry and why there’s a trend following this direction. This is technically what Google is looking for when you put a paid search ad up or SEO optimization on your website.”

Some of those fundamentals seem like trite. Maybe the mystery is out of them a little bit because we use them every day, all day long. We have a mini-computer in our pockets and so forth but when it boils down to it, if you’re not speaking to the right people with the right message at the right time, you’re going to lose them. It goes one step before you even start that process. It’s not the right message. It’s what are we even talking about. Are we talking about the product? Is the product any good or not? It might tell itself. It probably doesn’t. What’s the purpose? What’s the why? Why are you trying to get this thing out there? Is it changing people’s lives? Why wouldn’t I go to another competitor who is cheaper or made in the US? There are so many different things. It always comes down to value proposition and position. Always, at the end of the day, that’s where it comes down to. That’s where we start.

Do you think that the way that you communicate these values has changed? I’m sure we can call it a post-COVID environment. Do you see any significant changes? The world has gone through a fairly life-changing sequence of events. Is there more of a move towards personal contact? Is there less interest in emails and the hands-off approach? Are you seeing a resurgence of more old-fashioned values in terms of the way that you communicate messages?

The world has gone bonkers. If you could put a silver lining on that at all, it’s the fact that we’ve all went through something together. I’ve heard people say maybe World War II where we’re all but even that affected different nations in different ways. There were nations that almost nobody was exonerated. It was crazy. For us to have been all in this together, it was quite fascinating. My wife says this all the time. When we’re pressed to the brink, humans act as if we hope we would. We do what I believe God created us to do and that is to be kind to one another and to help one another.

There was flooding in New York City. We saw complete strangers diving into water to try to rescue babies and people. When tornadoes hit, we all go to help one another. Fundamentally, that’s what we’re about. How the pandemic has helped us realize is that we yearned for human connection and to be connected somehow. Marketing has changed because of that. You saw some people try to use it almost like a fake. It’s like, “Let’s pretend we care.”

It’s like the equivalent of greenwashing so COVID-washing is it. We’re green. We disinfect our cameras every time we have a Zoom call so use us.

You probably experienced this yourself. We all get emails every day from a number of brands, maybe some more than others. I remember the first one that came through was, “Here’s what we’re doing to keep you safe.” Then it became another one. They were big brands too. I don’t know exactly the names but let’s say they were Starbucks, Nike, Coca-Cola and Apple stores. Everyone was like, “This is what we’re doing to make you safe. We’re closing down and letting people work from home.” It trickled down. Everyone felt they needed to say something. I even had a look. Before the stay-at-home order happened, I had my local barber who I love to death. He’s a great friend of mine.

He sent something out saying, “Out of the kindness of your heart, can you send us some money? We might not have a job.” This was early on. This was before hotels and restaurants were closing. People were out of jobs and it was awful. It felt like it was another thing that was another noise. I remember in the midst of all of that, I held opening emails. It was so overwhelming. It was like, “I get it. You’re probably sending your workers home and cleaning things.” We all were. In the midst of all of that, I got this one email. We’ve had them on our show, the CEO of Rhone Apparel. His name is Nate Checketts.

He’s an extraordinary young man. He said, “We decided to send something out that said, ‘Here’s some things you can do to help your own mental health.’” It had nothing to do about their business. I loved it because it was like, “No kidding, you’re cleaning your stuff, going to take care of your staff or donating money to the local restaurant association.” It was so refreshing. That’s what people want in those moments. I believe they want to hear the spirit of what makes us who we are. It’s the diving into water to save a baby thing. It’s maybe on a lesser scale.

HOSU 23 | Global Brands

Global Brands: All businesses have the same fundamental issues. But how fast can they understand them and overcome those challenges?

I was having a similar conversation with our social media and design team who are incredibly talented people who see the world in a different way, thank goodness. He brought my attention to Steakums. For those of you not familiar, which I wasn’t, Steakums provides frozen beef sheets. I never had one. It doesn’t sound terribly enticing but their Twitter and their marketing campaign got the blue Twitter tick, which is almost impossible. It’s so engaging.

It’s that combination of smart, intelligent, witty, timely comments. At the bottom it says, “By the way, don’t forget to buy some Steakums.” It’s the fact that it restores faith, that you’re not being bombarded by computer generated messages. Do you see that developing? Is there more of a move towards video? How are we going to get back to that personal contact phase that was so effective?

Years ago, I’ve always wanted to do a TED Talks. This was years before pandemic started. I’ve always wanted to do TED Talks or something about talking to how customer service is the last bastion of human interaction and connection. Unfortunately so many people get it wrong, including jobs that I’ve held before and customer service departments that were in my eCommerce departments or something. We all get it wrong. It’s frustrating to hear people complain and so forth. I venture to bet that for some people who are working from home or alone at home, I was thankful enough to have all of my children but one who was at college. 5 of the 6 were home with us during the quarantine.

My wife and I, we’re together. We were able to work from home. It was great. For all those folks who aren’t privy having a little cluster, a group, a bubble or live alone, I don’t want to take away that at all because it’s very difficult for them mentally and emotionally. It had to be very hard. I don’t know what it was like but I can imagine it was probably not fun. All people want a normal life. They order things online all the time. You could go days without having to speak to a single person. The only person you speak to is somebody on the other end of the line when you call for customer service because you had a bad experience. That person could change your day. They have the power at that moment to change your day.

Why am I bringing this up? In the post-pandemic or whatever stage we’re in, middle, second part pandemic, brands, businesses, humans like you and I are starting to realize that we have that power every day. We can greet people at the door differently. We can speak to people who we present to differently. We cannot take ourselves so seriously. We’re not the best branding agency in the world. There are certain things we do well that no one can do better but by all means, there are other people who do better things at other. Why wouldn’t I share that? I’ve told customers, “We might not be great for this but let me tell you about this other agency that we compete with normally.”

That’s what we’re going to start seeing. It’s the heart of us. How that’s presented through a brand is I believe what we’re going to see. We’re starting to see a lot of businesses do this. You see this give-back campaign like TOMS One for One exists for a long time. There’s a lot of heart in that. I credit the Millennial generation who wants to see transparency in the supply chain, where money is going to, social advocacy, inclusiveness and affirmation of minority groups. You see that happening anyway. We’re starting to see a lot of businesses look at the heart of who they are and how do you speak to somebody authentically from that position.

Going back to what we originally talked about, you can’t do that unless you have a firm understanding of your core values, what you believe as a business, maybe as an individual leading your business and how you’re going to communicate that. Otherwise, it falls short. It seems completely unauthentic and you lose people. What we’re steering toward is this more human connection. The definition of a brand is the emotional connection between somebody and a product or service. It’s getting back to the heart of what we enjoy as people.

Coming back to the COVID issue, one of the many problems with COVID is that even though you would imagine it would bring people together, it almost had the opposite effect. Through the barrage of misinformation that’s flooded social media since the very beginning, you’ve almost got these two divides. The thing that crosses that chasm is this sense of belief in the authenticity of a message. It doesn’t matter who you’re talking to whether they’re A or B, 1 or 2, red or blue. Do you think the thing that is more likely to appeal to that vast cross-section is the sense that someone is talking to me truthfully and authentically? We use horrible words like passion and vulnerability. Do you think they have meaning and use much more so than they would have done years ago?

It’s hard to get away from that. I’m always reminded of when there were days of radio and DJs always felt like and they were told to make it seem that if there’s only one person listening, they felt that the DJ was speaking to them individually and they feel important. There could be millions of people listening. What’s coming out of the back of this for sure is the importance of the consumer or the customer. Not just as the end-user consuming your product and that’s why they’re important to help our bottom line but more as a person and how am I serving them.

I have to ask myself, “How am I serving humanity?” If I can help people not mortgage their house because it helped make their business more successful then we’re helping people but you also always have to ask yourself, “What are we doing for the greater good?” Not everyone does this. There’s always going to be greed. I don’t think it’s attainable for everyone but in the sense that if we can realize that at the end of the day, what we do isn’t that important. People are dying and don’t have health insurance. Some people are getting into arguments with their family about whether they should or shouldn’t get vaccinated. At the end of the day, we’re only here for a short period of time. Let’s make the most of it.

It’s trying to get all that across. It comes back to the conversations with the C-Suite and CEOs. Your challenge is you know all of this because that’s the feedback that you’re getting from the people that are their customers. Your challenge is to distill this into a language that the CEOs and the other business owners understand and can relate to. They can see that if they change their message then ultimately, it will convert to bottom-line results.

I believe that. I’m a capitalist as well. I do want people to earn profits. Whether they keep it or invest it, that’s none of my business but I believe in that fundamental opportunity especially in the US, to do business, make money and make something of yourself. The reasoning behind how you get there is being massaged a little bit. Many people were affected by the last few years. You see this, a CEO whose wife may have owned a restaurant, a beauty parlor or in my case, a friend who has a barbershop or a nail salon.

I’ve been to one once. My wife forced me to get my toenails cut. I’ve been doing this my entire life myself.

What people want is to hear the spirit of what makes you who you are.

The United States is built on the back of small businesses, men and women who have strived for what we’ve always called the American dream. I’ve seen a lot of CEOs whose business was not affected at all. We personally had one of our best years during the pandemic. I believe it’s incumbent upon those who either wrote it out or did better to look at other people for no fault of their own. The government shut your business down. It doesn’t matter how much money you had in savings, you could not have kept that business open legally. What do you do? No fault of their own, they had to figure out a way to help their employees. I know restauranteurs who cut their own salary and sold a business so they can pay all their employees the entire time.

There’s a lot of folks, if they’re able to weather the storm, owe a lot of how they did that to their business. There are lots of small business people who we’re so generous and kind because they realized that they had people they had to care for. Get this back to branding, marketing and how we talk to people. How we go forward whether you learn a lesson from any of this or not whether there’s a way to market your message or your product or how to reopen your business, what we’ve learned is people are valuable in and of themselves.

We need to speak to them in a way in which they’re going to hear your information and let them make a decision for their own. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Super Bowls typically are the litmus test to how we speak to people. You’re seeing brands make light of themselves a little bit like it’s not that big of a deal that we’re around but if you choose our beer over there, it’s great. We’re all in this together. That’s what it’s about. That’s what we see. If we can help craft that message, it’s great.

Changing gears slightly, what led you into this? It’s your genesis or the pathway. Give us a bit of color about what your background is. You need to have experience in real life to be able to understand the validity of the messages. What were the critical reference points that made you get to where you are?

I spent the good part of my life working on the brand side, not the agency side and helping businesses grow in different ways. It’s mostly through eCommerce but getting the message across through digital marketing or some other ways. I was young when I first started in that business. There was no school for eCommerce at the time. This was on the back of people only having Yahoo stores. Amazon had just come out. We’re all trying to figure it out together. Having to be very successful in that lane. I didn’t think that’s what I was going to do but I found that I loved it. What I learned was all businesses have the same fundamental issues. It’s just that what speed they can understand them and overcome those challenges. Whether they’re bigger or smaller, sometimes it doesn’t matter, it’s how you can solve the problem.

When I was in those businesses, I’ve seen how we tried to grow and work with anyone, the distributor, the wholesale people or the people internally from finance to customer relations, whatever it was. I was fortunate enough in my life to have worked with some great brands like Dr. Martens footwear. I was at Nike on a project. I was at KEEN footwear for a while, their sister company, Chrome industries. I was at Speck Products, one of the first folks who made cases for iPhones in particular. I work for great brands but it’s a cool connection you can make with people who love your product and how you can listen to them. You’re in existence so you help make their lives better.

Sometimes you go like, “What is a cell phone case company? How do they make my life better?” I was telling someone that, “Getting real estate on somebody’s personal device is harder than ever because we take these things so personally.” I’ve got everything in this, from my bank account to my children’s photos and my license. It’s personal and it’s important to protect that. You find that people are excitable about what case it is. This was long before colors came into play. This is clear and then you get to colors in that. Speck, we came up with tons of different colors and they were brilliant over there, the people who designed them. You get into printed things.

It was so wild how you can change people’s day by bringing that to them. I learned a lot in that way. When I got into some footwear companies, some men’s fashion, outerwear products and things, they understood that it doesn’t matter what you sell because there’s a consumer who identifies with what you’re trying to get across. If you can meet them where they need to be met then you’ve got something special. That magical handshake deal you have with your customer is so valuable. I was gravitating to that moment of decision or repeat purchase. What makes somebody come back again to buy a pair of Dr. Martens, to run in a pair of Nike’s or throw a Chrome bag on your back? What is that? What is it?

It’s this thread that you can’t articulate but it runs through everything and that’s what we call a brand. It’s how it makes you feel when you look at it, when you wear it, when you buy it, when you smell it. When you smell a brand-new pair of Dr. Martens, you know it’s legit. You want to get that same experience in a bottle when you go to one of their retail stores. You shop online and see an advertisement. It’s at that moment of understanding of like, “That clicks.” It’s like you met your soulmate. That’s what interests me. I was able to understand that if I can help people craft that moment then I might be onto something. That’s what led me into branding

All of these experiences are very consumer-orientated. Do they translate the learning into B2B or other types of industries, which don’t have such a consumer focus?

You’re right. I worked almost exclusively with D2C or what we call B2C companies, direct-to-consumer, business-to-consumer. Almost exclusively, all of our clients are B2B. What I’ve learned is that it’s like riding a bike. It’s the same. You’re still making a decision. You’re either making the decision with somebody else’s money or for your business and how one business can help another versus you trying to get something that might make better your life or something you want. That moment of decision, it’s still the same thing. You still have to connect with them on some level. In many ways, it’s almost a more authentic way because businesses to businesses typically omit a lot of that fluffy marketing stuff.

It’s not very particular fun to talk about what air-conditioning unit you’re going to put on top of your skyscraper because it’s not very sexy but someone’s lasted purchase that unit. We’re talking massive units. In the sense that if you can understand that same feeling of what makes people connect over a product whether it’s a commoditized product, consumable or a business-to-business service then it’s the same thing. It’s very similar. The nuances and messaging might be different but at their core.

Does it boil down to people? If you distill communications and strip out all of the brands, the products and the companies, how good is one company at communicating to another company or another person? Is it almost like you can put the two of them together and if they can’t speak and can’t share views, they’re never going to work? Is your job to act as the universal translator, the beeble fish as it were, the way of communicating or translating what someone wants to say into what someone wants to hear?

It’s an interesting way of looking at it. I don’t know if it’s mastering the art of communication as much as it’s mastering the art of understanding who you are or in this case, who your brand is. Maybe some younger people might not know this but there’s a Leave It to Beaver show, the Eddie Haskell character. Do you have this in England?

We didn’t. We had other things. We had Fawlty Towers with John Cleese. I’m not sure that’s different but that’s better than everything that was ever created.

We had this show in the ‘50s. I didn’t watch it in its first run but most Americans know Eddie Haskell. We all had friends like this growing up. He smooth-talked to the parents and anything. He was a jerk most of the time but the parents thought he was great. He mastered communication but he wasn’t authentic. You can do that. You can have the slickest sales stuff, the best salesmen and stuff but if you’re not at the core of who you say you are, eventually you’re going to get found out.

That is the core. It is authenticity. The fact that you feel as a consumer talking to someone on a one-to-one basis or on a level playing field that you’re not being had by some marketing BS as it were. You’re genuinely interacting with someone.

I can’t control what you might think about how my marketing materials look or if I give something over to a business on behalf of one of our clients and they read it and then they share it with everyone, I can’t control that at that moment of how they’re sharing and how they’re taking it in. All I can control is who we are or in this case, who our clients are. All we can do is say, “This is us. You either jive with us or you don’t.” It’s okay if you don’t but trying to always chase that golden ticket is where businesses get stuck because you’re not going to be the same person for everyone or a one size fits all and that’s okay. Understand your audience.

Talking about digital marketing, you can find the folks who are most likely to purchase because you can find people who look exactly like them through dynamic targeting, retargeting and so forth. Especially in B2B, you can’t just give somebody the same thing and expect everyone to like it. It’s not going to happen. Be authentic with who you are and find the right people that fit that rather than try to fit yourself into everybody else

You must have some fantastic stories where you’ve gone in as a completely independent third party with a different perspective and different point of view. You had that story about the three C-Suites. Are there other occasions that you can remember where you’ve had that real clang as the moment of realization hits the floor as it were where people suddenly get what you’re talking about?

It happens quite a bit. Sometimes it happens in one of my favorite phases when we name a business, when it all comes together and you’re like, “This could be powerful.”

You get those cold winds that brush across your temple.

There’s one brand. I can’t tell you who it is because they haven’t launched yet but a brand-new brand from an existing company that has done other things and they wanted to put this one brand out. While the owner was talking, he was like, “I don’t know. It’s something like this.” He’d done all this research about this. It was how I’m going to get those around. It was something about when the temperature of which hydrogen freezes or something then it emits four different types of colors. Our creative director and I looked at each other and I’m like, “That’s the name of the company? It should be called this.” Our CD went off and quickly created something with how colors matched these things.

We created this entire brand based on the back of this conversation. He’s like, “This is perfect.” I’m like, “You did all this.” It dawned on us at the same time that the synergies are ripe and it happened. It was like this big epiphany for everyone. When those things happen, they’re glorious. It doesn’t make the rest of the process necessarily easy. We’re not one of those businesses or agencies that consume all the information, walk away, come back and present to you. We do it together as a partnership and we like to do that so people aren’t surprised.

Sometimes in those workshop meetings or in those kinds of brainstorm sessions, whiteboard sessions, somebody will say something and we’re like, “Unpack that.” It’s almost like you’re in a therapy session. They’re like, “This is how I’ve always felt.” It could be the secretary who’s been there for 40 years, saw three CEOs come and go. She’s like, “This is what we’re about.” We’re like, “How come no one asked her or him?”

It must be such fun being so creative.

It can be very daunting. We’ve got a great creative team here. Sometimes they come up with things that are brilliant. If we do our job right, all we’re doing is we’re pitching things back to you that you already told us about yourself. We’re just doing it in a different package. It’s like when you finally see the car you always wanted like, “This is me.” You know it when you see it. It’s our job to distill it down and present it back. That’s pretty fun.

I have some questions for you, Kyle, the show Quick-Fire Questionnaire for it is the time. These are tricky questions. Number one, what is your favorite word?

Joie de vivre.

What is your least favorite word?

My least favorite word is the N-word. I hate it. Hopefully, that’s the baseline for everyone so I’ll say moist.

Question number three, what are you most excited about?

HOSU 23 | Global Brands

Global Brands: A brand makes you feel something when you look at it, wear it, buy it, and when you smell it.

No offense to you at all but to get out of here, go home and see my wife.

Number four, what turns you off?

It’s discrimination of any kind. I live in the South and it’s bizarre to me how discrimination is rampant. My wife and I fight hard for marginalized communities. Whether you’re gay, straight, Black, White, it doesn’t matter. Discrimination of any kind irks me. We try to fight against it.

Question number five, what sound or noise do you love?

My wife has this unbelievable little whisk. If I hear that across the room, I smile. I’ve known her for years and it still gets me every time.

Question six, what sound or noise do you hate?

Any type of sad crying. Joyful tears or thankful tears are fine but sad crying like sobbing hurts. I don’t like it.

Question seven, what is your favorite curse word?

Fuck face.

Question number eight, what profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I always thought I’d be a great film director. I’ve always wanted to do that.

Question nine, what profession would you not like to attempt?

If you’re not who you say you are, people will find out.

It’s anything involving cleaning of any kind or backbreaking work. I don’t care if it’s cleaning a transistor on the assembly line or janitor. I don’t mind cleaning my house but cleaning other people’s stuff, drives me crazy. I could not do that.

Hats off to all the cleaners out there for what a fantastic job you’re doing.

For sure because they have a heart of gold.

The final question. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

I’m pretty confident it does exist. I would hope that I heard what they say in the scriptures that you’d hear that Jesus says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” I’d be happy.

HOSU 23 | Global Brands

Global Brands: We pitch things back to you that you already told us about yourself.

Kyle, it has been such a pleasure having you on. Thank you for all of the distilled wisdom that you’ve delivered. How do people get in touch with you? How do they find out more about how they can tap into that enormous expertise experience and talent that you have?

Thanks for saying that. I’m only made good by the people who surrounded me. We’ve got a great bunch of folks here, strategists, designers, copywriters, developers. You can find us at TheBrandLeader.com. You can send us a note at Hello@TheBrandLeader.com. That typically gets forwarded to me at some point. I can answer any questions. We can rattle off some more conversations. People can talk to us about whether it’s alliteration or onomatopoeia.

Thanks once again for being on the show. I look forward to staying in touch.

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