Ron Vandenberg On The Business of Brand Building + Innovation
Today's guest, Ron Vandenberg, is a multi-Clio Award-winning brand consultant and creative director and is recognized for his expertise in brand thinking, communication, design and experience. Ron is currently in the middle of launching a brand-smart business transformation company, Blulab, and we kick off the show by hearing details about his new venture.
“We are combining business innovation and brand innovation into one consultancy. And the real trigger for this is that one of the things that I have observed over the past couple of decades is that a lot of times when organizations decide to engage in innovation or hire innovation consultancies, there’s a business need, there’s a drop in revenue. There's some sort of triggering event that needs immediate attention. And lot of times the innovation recommendations are more targeted at solving short-term problems and not really aligned with the long-term brand prospects. So, what you have is a situation where you’re successful in stimulating short-term revenue but a lot of the times it comes at the expense of brand equity.” — Ron Vandenberg [0:06:27.0]
Brand identity is a big business. From consumer products to startups and even political parties, if people identify with your message, they may join your cause.
Ron shares why he wants to be able to offer both business and brand innovation services so that companies see long-term gains. We talk about innovation generally, where Ron shares the struggles he has seen when companies are not able to innovate. He also debunks some of the misconceptions around innovating, and why it's vital to trust the iterative process. Having started in the brand industry as an outsider, Ron understands the power of innovation firsthand, and he talks about how he launched his first agency from scratch.
The conversation then turns to Indivisible 2020, in which Ron is a participating artist. We hear about what indivisibility means to him, his take on the current political climate, and why political parties could benefit from thinking about their branding more. We wrap the show up with a look into the future, and Ron leaves us with a final message of hope that if we look to understand rather than vilify one another, we can come together once again.
“Brand innovation starts with the consumer or the customer and looks at how the brand is performing and then looks for ways to refresh the brand or empower the brand, accelerate the brand, expand the brand that go beyond just marketing communications. ” — Ron Vandenberg [0:08:44.0]
Key Points From Our Ron Vandenberg Episode:
- The new agency Ron is launching – how they look to combine business and brand innovation.
- The impetus for starting Blulab and why Ron calls it a ‘business transformation company.’
- Business innovation versus brand innovation: What they are and how they are different.
- Why it is so difficult for businesses to truly innovate on the brand or business front.
- The companies that come to mind when we think of innovation.
- Where businesses go wrong when they are trying to innovate.
- • Innovation comes from many iterations; Ron uses the example of the automotive industry.
- How Ron has been able to innovate in the corporate brand industry.
- The story of how FutureBrand worked with Nelson Mandela to change the South African Airlines branding after Apartheid.
- Winning three Clio Awards on one campaign; Ron shares this success.
- What Ron embarked on once he moved back to the West Coast
- The important qualities that stand out to Ron when looking for employees and collaborators.
- Creatives don’t get to make the final decision when it comes to branding; business people do.
- How Ron’s marriage and business relationship with his wife have enabled his success.
- What indivisibility means to Ron, and why he, as an immigrant, was drawn to the U.S.
- The roles that brands can play in fostering political unity.
- It is possible to find common interests and still hang onto our political beliefs.
- How Ron is staying hopeful in this time: A belief that we can manifest our destiny.
- The importance of moving away from judgment and to a place of understanding.
- What we can learn from why Donald Trump was elected in the first place.
- Understanding politics from a marketing point of view; what we can take away.
“The best innovation comes from the deepest customer knowledge and customer empathy.” — Ron Vandenberg [0:13:30.0]
“The difficult thing for creative people – in any endeavor that has to make money – is learning that creative people don’t make the final decisions. The business people make the final decisions, and that’s a tough pill to swallow.” — Ron Vandenberg [0:34:26.0]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
- Ron Vandenberg on LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/ronvandenbergmerchant/
- Blulab — http://blulab.co/
- Clio Awards — https://clios.com/awards
- NPR Podcasts — https://www.npr.org/podcasts/
- Making Sense — https://samharris.org/podcast/
- Olga Trusova — https://www.linkedin.com/in/odotter/
- Elon Musk — https://twitter.com/elonmusk
- FutureBrand — https://www.futurebrand.com/
- Air Canada — https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home.html
- South African Airways — https://www.flysaa.com/
- Nelson Mandela — https://www.nelsonmandela.org/
- Pete Harleman — https://www.linkedin.com/in/peter-harleman-80884412/
- Indivisible 2020 — https://creweststudio.com/indivisible-2020/
- Karen Fiorito — https://karenfiorito.wixsite.com/buddhacat
- Karen Fiorito on Twitter — https://twitter.com/buddhacatpress?lang=en
- Bernard Tyson — https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2019/11/10/kaiser-ceo-tyson-dies-unexpectedly-here-is-his-impact/
- Man One — http://www.manone.com/
- Man One on Twitter — https://twitter.com/ManOneArt
- Scott “Sourdough” Power — https://www.instagram.com/sourdoughpower/
- Not Real Art — https://notrealart.com/
- Not Real Art School — https://school.notrealart.com/
- Not Real Art on Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/notrealartworld/
- Sugar Press Art — https://sugarpressart.com/
“If you look at brands and how you build them and what they stand for, there’s a great opportunity for brands to be launched into the political landscape that we all find ourselves in.” — Ron Vandenberg [0:51:37.0]
“You can either be divisive or you can come out of this thing and try to build bridges and understand what’s happening on the other side of the issue.” — Ron Vandenberg [1:03:49.0]