Marty Neumeier - How to Build a Winning Branding Agency

All branding experts and even creative professionals who dabble in branding tip their hats to this episode’s guest.

Today on the podcast, I speak with one of the most decorated pillars of brand strategy, Marty Neumeier. Marty is a bestselling author, designer, and sought-after brand consultant best known for his books: The Brand Gap (2003), Zag (2006)The Designful Company (2008), Metaskills (2012), The 46 Rules of Genius (2014), and The Brand Flip (2015) which served as the much-awaited sequel to The Brand Gap.

An online presentation of his first book, The Brand Gap, has been viewed more than 22 million times since 2003 while Zagwas included in The 100 Best Business Books of All Time by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten.

Marty currently sits as Director of CEO Branding at Liquid Agency, is a member of the AIGA Board of Directors, and is President of the AIGA Center for Brand Experience where he edited and published The Dictionary of Brand.

We talk about:
  • His latest book: Scramble (2018), what made him want to write it, and why he decided to get into a branding thriller genre
  • His philosophy of writing books that people finish and what he does so his readers can’t stop turning the pages
  • “The 5 Qs of Strategy” and how it relates to design agencies
  • His famous quote saying “Branding is a game of categories” and how the category you choose to compete in and the products and services you sell are key factors to your ability to win
  • Why he thinks companies and firms all look the same to clients and what to do to differentiate yourself successfully
  • His thoughts on brand differentiation and owning a space in the world
  • Dealing with preconceptions of any kind when you’re trying to sell a service, understanding how your customers make their decisions, and working with their thought process instead of contradicting it
  • His big move to Silicon Valley that marked his career progression from Generalist to Specialist and jump-started his career
  • How he was able to quadruple his business in the first year by presenting himself as a Specialist
  • How he went from charging $6k to $60k for the same packaging service in 10 years
  • What he means when he says he isn’t charging by the hour but charging by the success
  • What he thinks is the biggest mistake a startup agency can make and how to avoid this
  • His advice on moving up from servicing SMEs to bigger clients 
  • The career-changing story of getting Apple as a client and how it became his stepping stone to getting to the next level in his business
  • Why he favors testing ideas to get actual consumer preferences over creating work based on textbooks and design history that aren’t grounded on reality
  • How he built his credibility by niching down in software and establishing a history of testing within that niche
  • The epiphany that led him into branding and writing books about it 
  • His advice for designers to tap into branding in order to become more valuable and profitable 
  • Why niching down and specializing in something don’t require you to close your doors to other opportunities
  • What to do if you want or need to accept work that isn’t really part of what you’re trying to get known for
  • Building your portfolio with your specialization of choice in mind and remembering that what you show is the work that you’re going to get
  • His career trajectory, how he began his branding journey, and how his personal branding and content creation has evolved through the years
  • How noticing the gap between what designers are doing and what companies are doing strategically led to writing his first book: The Brand Gap
  • The huge success of The Brand Gap and how it paved the way for his other books and a workshop that was instrumental in him becoming widely popular on Slideshare and online
  • His personal brand philosophy that you can’t build a brand on sameness, build it on difference
  • What he thinks is the secret to building a one-man brand
  • How he stays inspired and what topics he reads about
  • His personal manifesto on how it’s better to be helpful than right


Mentioned in this episode:
Marty Neumeier’s Books:

For more information on his books or how to join his classes, head on over to his
Author Website: www.martyneumeier.com   
Mastermind and Courses Website: https://www.levelc.org/ 

Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed this episode of the podcast, head on over to the following links for more of my work and some valuable resources to get you started on your own branding initiatives. Until the next episode!

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The Brand Design Masters Podcast is targeted to entrepreneurs, designers, creative professionals and anyone interested in brand strategy, business planning, graphic design, personal branding, trends and marketing.

Philip VanDusen is the owner of Verhaal Brand Design, a brand strategy and design agency based in New Jersey. Philip is a highly accomplished creative executive and expert in brand strategy, graphic design, marketing and creative management. Philip provides design, branding, marketing, career and business advice to creative professionals, entrepreneurs and companies on how to build successful brands for themselves and for the clients and customers they serve.

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