KoAnn Skrzyniarz has been making a strong case for building Sustainable Brands in global conversations with some of the world’s biggest advertisers. It’s all about the business value of environmental and social purpose. And the data is on her side.
In time for Earth Month, or any time, in Epi 28 KoAnn (frequently known by just her first name) shares not just the “whys”, but some recent “hows”: how sustainability has moved the needle for leading brands and how to be resilient in a “VUCA” world. A what?
Listen; she’ll explain, and we also discuss:
The impetus for creating Sustainable Brands – and if its mission has changed more than 15 years later?
What kind of changes has she seen in the brand and media marketplace in terms of embracing brand purpose
“Twenty years ago it was not recognized that companies that understood how to innovate for environmental and social benefit were going to be the companies that survived and thrived in the 21st century.”
Is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) a good description? (Hint: KoAnn explains why it’s more a “business opportunity” and why the ANA [Association of National Advertisers] uses he notion of ‘good growth’. )
How companies should integrate their brand marketers and strategists, the product and service positioning teams AND the sustainability/procurement/diversity teams
Is our current focus on brand purpose just another trend? How does it compare to the green rush of the 2007 timeframe or rallying around Hurricane Katrina? Have companies evolved in their mission-driven work?
The data supportive of sales driven by environmental and social value propositions; What kinds of brand transformation are happening — and at which companies?
How have companies like Clorox and P&G navigated the road to sustainability? And what is a Brand Transformation Roadmap?
How has Sustainable Brands itself pivoted during the pandemic to salvage — and even grow — their world-class conferences in a VUCA world! (There it is again!)
When Robyn Streisand went from the client side to her own marketing agency, The Mixx, the opportunity to certify as a woman-owned or LBGT-owned business did not exist. 25 years later, she has helped both brands as well as other agency owners to leverage DEI — Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — in media and marketing. Part of that help came about through her creation of Titanium Worldwide, billed as “the world’s first collective of certified-diverse independent agencies,” to help make DEI more easily “front and center” for clients.
Given today’s times with its heightened sensibilities, she couldn’t have been a better move if she’d had a crystal ball. After all, marketing comes down to “People… People Who Need People” to buy things… And embracing people of all stripes and varieties to drive business opportunities is what Streisand does flawlessly.
The value of certifications — for business owners to the brands who are seeking diverse suppliers — from WBENC, which certifies businesses as woman-owned and operated, to NGLCC (the ‘LBGT Chamber of Commerce’), to the NMSDC, which has the largest number of certified minority-run businesses;
“Now I have a certificate that says I’m woman-owned or I’m gay owned and all of a sudden, it’s a new day. It gave us an opportunity to register our company in these portals that help diverse suppliers get found [by Fortune 1000 companies.]”
How the rise in both consumer demand and procurement department mandates that purpose be built into marketing created a bit of a COVID silver lining for The Mixx and Titanium
Examples of brands embracing DEI — and how the anniversary of Stonewall sparked the start of more and more inclusive marketing efforts around more and more groups
How pressure from the streets is being matched by pressure from The Street — Wall Street!
The added pressure to recognize the power of Gen Z which “is coming like a bat outta hell!”
The essential need to communicate authentic brand purpose
“The benchmarks of success around purpose “must be front and center on brand websites: ‘We see you. We appreciate you. We embrace you. We stand for gender parity, transgender, equality’…all of it. Like, now’s not the time to be living in Alabama.”
Where brands are focusing their dollars — or not
Advice and caveats for the future, which include:
“I think it’s like ripping the band-aid off. You have to start somewhere. But this is a long game. This is about doing the right thing now for the long haul. Invest in diversity, equity and inclusion training programs. Invest in what matters to the broader audience. Talk to people in their voice, and be consistent and authentic about it. It’s not about how much you do, it’s that you do it, do it well, and do it consistently.”
Why Streisand describes work around sustainability as the 2.0 of DEI.
And don’t miss the answer to the big question: Will I actually dare to sing to a member of the Streisand clan?
Please listen, and follow anywhere you like to get your podcasts. And if your business needs help from THIS woman-run business, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for help building a podcast for your business!
Heidi Zak has been in finance, in retail and in tech. Like most women, she’s also been in plenty of dressing rooms trying to find the right bra, leading her to build ThirdLove, one of the largest online bra and underwear companies in America.
Close encounters with the NOT ThirdLove kind of shopping experiences, meaning the universal ick-factor of cold hands and awkward measurement moments with in-store underwear salespeople, were part of Zak’s a-ha moment. So, putting all of her professional and personal experience together, she created a brand that disrupted an entire industry — to the great relief of uncomfortable women everywhere.
Her first-to-market service as a DTC bra retailer hit some, ah, curves, along the journey but Zak has been named everything from Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs to a Fortune “40 Under 40”, and more.
Part of the accolades stem from how Zak has embraced not just brand marketing but brand purpose. Inclusivity at ThirdLove means being the only brand to offer more than 80 bra sizes, including their unique half cup sizing – and donating over $40 million worth of products to women in need. It has also helped evolve an old school industry previously defined by a narrow concept of beauty with a focus on inclusivity.
“We didn’t want to look like any other bra brand which mostly photographed skinny, generally white women with small boobs and generally did it in a really sexy way. So, we set out to build something radically different from scratch…. Back then there were barely any plus size models.”
Further iterating on inclusivity, ThirdLove launched a new initiative during COVID-challenged 2020: The TL Effect, to support entrepreneurial women of color.
“…Brand purpose has to be authentic, true to who you are and what you stand for, and what you’re building. Otherwise it can fall flat, or a consumer sees through it.”
While Zak and I commiserated about finding a proper fitting and comfortable bra I was a bit discomfited to discover that this rock star CEO/mom of two has managed to use her homebound pandemic time to also hyper-organize her home, when I haven’t even organized my sock drawer. In a conversation perfectly apropos Women’s History Month, hear how, in addition to organizing her home, this efficient CEO/co-founder has organized her company for success through adapting to the changes of the pandemic.
Envy aside, we discussed:
Her path from small town Main Street to Wall Street, Herald Square to Silicon Valley
How an encounter with the founders of Lyft drove her to solve another consumer problem, one bra at a time
“In 2012, if you look at what had existed [for bra shopping] at that time, there were department stores, Victoria’s Secret and some big box stores. There certainly weren’t online bra brands at the time. And that was the idea: better brand, better product, better online shopping experience for women.”
Zak on disruption and her definition of DTC, and why it was important for ThirdLove to “have a direct way to speak to our customer, to educate her, to bring her along the journey, to make her feel really comfortable.”
The product evolution — from one bestselling bra to their recently launched Fit Finder — and the pivot required by pandemic-era marketing
Navigating manufacturing and funding, especially as a woman seeking financing from primarily men (Note: McKinsey reports women are still only 21% of the C-suite and of those are mostly white women.)
Early-stage ThirdLove marketing tactics and positioning
How their innovative “try before you buy” program along with ads that asked if women were ‘Ready to graduate from Victoria’s Secret?’ drove 1 million new customers
How and why they leveraged podcasting as one of their main ad vehicles in 2015, baffling some investors
The pros and cons of linear and OTT TV
How ThirdLove spans Black History Month to Women’s History Month and beyond by uplifting women, in all senses of the word
“We were trying to figure out how ThirdLove was going to help support and impact change in the broader community. The TL Effect helps give female founders of color a little more of a voice in a crowded marketplace. We launched in June and picked our first recipient, Arra Simms, founder of Kewtie Nails.”
How ThirdLove keeps the conversation going with unconscious bias training required for all employees
The value of brand purpose to the bottom line
Aside from having Katie Couric in the ThirdLove influencer camp, Zak describes her use of micro-influencers: “real women who act as an advocate or a friend to the people who follow them.”
We wrapped with Zak projecting which industry, just as she disrupted one, could be ripe for a revision next. Whatever it is I am certain Zak will be first to leverage the next new thing.
For those who caught my mid-episode mention of my podcast and content marketing services please reach out for help with podcasting to grow your brand. Click here to request a copy of my Seven Steps to Setting Up a B2B Podcast.
Thanks to Los Angeles-based agency RPA, “We Are Farmers, buh bi dum dum dum dum dum” has become a bit of a jingle earworm. Great awareness and brand recognition for the insurance company. Joe Baratelli, EVP and Chief Creative Officer of the agency that’s been his home for almost 35 years, walked me through that and other creative concepts and their business results. It starts, he suggests, with the mantra of the organization: People, Relationships and Results.
(Note: You can also read a summary of this conversation in the new publication, The Continuum.)
Now, in an era of ubiquitous focus on health, though, the AOR of Farmers and Honda wants to expand its portfolio to include more healthcare clientele. Joe also explained how RPA has started to accomplish that — and did well by doing good for UNICEF and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. It’s heartwarming work and their pillars of focusing on people and relationships definitely shine through.
If you’re in advertising or #marketing, this is one to save as a download.
Joe and I talk about:
How respecting your co-workers AND the audience for the campaigns yields results
How they applied that to the UNICEF #VaccinesWork campaign and leveraged our inclination to protect our kids from danger to drive inoculations that protect them from dangers we can’t see. Brilliant!
The elements that went into a worldwide campaign and its efficacy in changing minds
How marketing #vaccines is similar to…or different from… marketing other clients like Apartments.com, Honda, or Farmers, for example.
How DID they evolve their Farmers campaign as times have changed over 10 years on the account?
What behavioral scientists can tell you about human nature…to inform creative campaigns
How pro bono work, such as for PBTF and the stunning collection of compelling animations they did to ease kids into understanding their diagnosis led to a healthy set of new clients…
Oh, and yes, I managed to sing the Farmers jingle.
Arra Yerganian thinks healthcare has always been a little upside down, controlled by physicians instead of the the patients. Ya think? But I misspeak – at least while speaking with Yerganian: he actually banned the word “patients” when he was CMO at both Sutter Health and One Medical. He explained that the word comes from Latin for “‘a place of suffering’ and that should be a temporary state at best.” Instead, he said, “We used the person’s name, so it wasn’t a dehumanizing experience to come into the doctor’s office.”
I liked this guy immediately. But there’s more to marketing healthcare than nomenclature. Yerganian is on a mission to raise awareness of the biggest issues impacting health for all of us: our Social Determinants of Health — or SDOH. Basically, if my zip code is wealthier than yours the overall population is likely healthier. I likely am more informed about and have better access to healthier foods or fitness facilities, I might have access to more parks for fresh air, and of course the income to afford anything from childcare to catch up on sleep and even infant mortality rates and so on. So how can we democratize health? For Yerganian, it’s awareness, it’s education, it’s communication. He also notes that, apropos our recent civic dis-ease and disease, “beyond the pandemic, the great challenge that we’ll have is the behavioral health crisis that’s affecting our country.”
He shares the details of best practices and how to get on a healthier collective path overall in this Episode 22 of Insider Interviews.(Hint: stand up more for healthy behavior in every sense of the meaning.)
NOTE: I’m proud to be Editor in Chief of The Continuum, about awareness and performance marketing. In Issue 2 posting in late January you can also read this interview along with the POVs and suggestions from other notables in the health and wellness marketing space. But, dear listeners, you get the advance insights here when you catch the full conversation with Arra Yerganian.
He and I discuss:
What are the social determinants of health, and how do they fit this into the world of marketing?
How can we track and thus help modify the exposure to environmental ills
What are some new approaches in brand marketing and health and wellness, such as driving uptake of tele-health?
How can promoting value-based programs reward healthcare providers with incentive payments?
How can products or brands, like a sleep aid or gym facility or a yoga mat or bicycle manufacturer, leverage some healthcare data and apply that to their marketing
How do you market against patients deferring to Google for diagnosing themselves?
And how do you conduct business meetings standing up?!
Here’s to a happier, HEALTHIER New Year to you all, with my sincere appreciation for listening, sharing and subscribing wherever you like to listen to Podcasts.
Shelly Palmer:It was fascinating to me to see the speed with which people were willing to adopt bad lighting, accept it, bad camera, angles, bad makeup hair, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Everybody’s fine with it. And I think it’s fantastic because the most important thing is that we all get together.
Erica Keswin:From a brand perspective, how are you going to be remembered during this time in terms of what you did, what you said, what you supported and how you brought your human to work?
Claude Silver:Let’s not deny the fact that you and I are talking through a screen rather than in person and call it what it is, but also communicate trust, empathy and vulnerability.
Those are just some of the takeaways from three past episodes of Insider Interviews and as a special little bonus edition for Thanksgiving I am sharing back some of these words of wisdom from Shelly Palmer, Erica Keswin, and Claude Silver, who each happened to talk about how we can create connection and how that helps brands and employees thrive. Especially in tough times like this pandemic.
Highlights of the highlights:
Palmer: “People are quickly adapting to and evolving into good citizens in video chat. It’s fantastic. …And the other thing I love about what’s happening right now is formality has gone out the window.
…They’ve been willing, accepting of technical glitches that you would never have accepted before. It really reminds me dramatically reminds me of the change in video grammar in 1980, oddly enough.
…And I think what is most important thing is that we all get together; that we figure out how to be social animals in a time when, when coronavirus is making us forcing us to be less social.”
Keswin: Think about communication along a continuum: you have instant message and texts and Slack and email and picking up the phone. We used to be able to walk across the hall or visit people. …Now, from a societal perspective, many of us are defaulting to that technological end of the spectrum during this COVID-19 quarantine. How can you …pick up the phone, turn on the camera…and speak in that human voice, across all mediums of communication.
…”If you’re running the meeting make sure you say to your people, ‘you need to take some time to turn it off.’…It really is up to the leaders to model and to push people, to make sure that they’re taking care of themselves.
…From a brand perspective, how are you going to be remembered during this time in terms of, you know, what you did, what you said, what you supported and how you brought your human to work?”
Silver: I believe in people and I think that pretty much anything is accomplishable with vulnerability, with people showing up to be big and authentic and not building walls, but really finding ways to bond with one another and connect.
…You know, when you’re on a screen, everyone has the same size square. It has leveled the playing field. And I definitely think that while we have to work a little bit harder to create this connection
…On one hand, I do think that brands have a very big responsibility to be as authentic as possible today and not try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes because we are all reading the same news. We are all in the same climate. We’re in a sea of sameness right now. We’re all in this world together. So don’t try to fluff that. … I don’t think we need to be cotton, candy and Illy gooey. But I also don’t think we need to be showing things that are not attainable today…. Let’s get real about that.
I think that there is resiliency, authenticity. I think there’s fine to have a little bit of levity, which we see in these memes on Instagram and everywhere. …like me going to the refrigerator 20 times in one hour, because it’s there. Those are things that I think are they capture human emotion and that’s what it’s about. That’s what it’s always been about.
…I would like to think every brand would be mindful of the fact that we are all in this world together. … I would show more ads connecting people together, coming together on a zoom or a squad cast or a hangout, let’s not deny the fact that you and I are talking to a screen rather than in-person but also communicate trust and vulnerability.
Again, my thanks to everyone for listening and to all of the 20 interviewees that I’ve spoken to thus far.
And if you’d like help with building your own podcast or any content marketing, please reach out to me at email@example.com.
I look forward to sharing more in the very near future.