Updated: Jun 9
Some philosophical questions to get us thinking:
What does it take to build a trust-worthy brand?
How long does it take to build a trust-worthy brand?
How does one humanize a brand?
These are questions I ask myself when I work with my podcast clients. Over the years, I’ve worked in and studied politics, environmental communications, tech sales (or “evangelism”), immersive experiential (live event) marketing, and most recently video, audio and social media marketing. At one point, I worked for a branding and storytelling firm that did a re-brand for Greenpeace International. Working there, I learned how important it is to integrate the values and the brand story of an organization through every piece of external content. I also learned that, eventually, the truth of an organization will come out and that the culture of a company truly does start at the top.
I only want to work with people and businesses I believe in and trust.
My reasoning is two fold:
1. I’m not good at lying. (I tried selling a product I didn’t believe in and I failed.)
2. It’s much easier to build a brand for people and products that are genuinely trying to do right by people and planet.
At the end of the day, business is just a bunch of people interacting. Brands represent groups of people and their reputation based on their actions over time.
Once I’ve found a client I truly believe in, I set about helping them build trust with the rest of the world. In my observation and experience, businesses thrive and grow (and can get through major obstacles) if they have enough support from other people - whether those people be VC’s, customers, journalists and even their competition. I immediately think of Elon Musk and Telsa. Telsa ran out of money and almost closed down several times. Innovation is expensive and risky. But because Elon’s investors trusted him and his vision for electrifying cars (and making sexy, desirable cars) he got the support he needed to keep the company alive and make it through. Elon also did an effective job of sharing his hopes and dreams for the future, which potential customers could latch on to as well. No, I don’t think Elon Musk is a perfect person. He’s said and done some very questionable things, especially lately, but he has yet to lose my trust in the areas that count to me - that he prioritizes the safety and environmental impact of his cars.
No solution is perfect, no person is perfect, and certainly no product is perfect. I think, in our hearts, we all know this and are ready to accept this if we want to see progress and innovation. “Progress, not perfection” that’s my motto.
This is what I encourage my clients to remember when we are getting ready to record a podcast episode or video of them speaking about themselves and their business. It’s scary to put yourself out there! Especially these days.
What I love about podcasting is it’s long form content. It’s contextual by nature. It allows people to get into the weeds about why they are making the decisions they are making. This brings the audience (a potential VC, customer, or news outlet) into the mindset of the founder. It allows the audience to really get to know the founder, follow their journey of thought, and their vision for their business. All great stories involve evolution and change. Podcasting allows founders to bring the audience into their journey, their evolution, as a business leader and a human. Over time, with honesty of pursuit, this builds empathy and trust.
Forbes writer and Forbes Business Council member Andrew Ellenberg agrees in his article “How to Use Podcasts To Elevate Your Brand And Connect With Audiences”
“When creating a marketing plan, companies often miss relationship building. Branding is the understanding that you’re not just selling a product or service. Instead, you’re working on a relationship between yourself, your brand and your consumer. Podcasts provide an intimate setting to establish that relationship.
They (podcasts) are an excellent method of personalizing you and your business. For example, when someone listens to your podcast, you can converse directly with an audience and tell your story."
- Andrew Ellenberg
Of course, some people won’t take the time to listen to the podcast. But it’s there. It’s available if someone wants to take a deep dive into the business and understand its purpose and values more deeply. This seems especially relevant to leaders of innovative businesses. This ability to disseminate longer form, context based, conversation to the public - it’s a bridge of connection that would not exist otherwise between the two.
Lately, I’ve had the honor of working with Aston Labs Co. to produce an initial 10 episode season about the problems they are looking to address with their company. This initial podcast season is about building community around their work in the future evolution of earth + people friendly energy infrastructure and finance.
I’m so happy to have these conversations between Greg (the founder) and his contemporaries as they dive into the technical and philosophical aspects of building a disruptive business like this. We also like to have fun. As a previous performer and lover of all things fun and funny - this makes him an ideal client for me. After 8 months working together, it’s clear to me that Greg is someone who cares deeply about the climate, equity and technology. He’s willing to learn and change his mind about things as he goes - something I think we all want in our leaders.
So far, it sounds like the podcast is helping Aston Labs build trust and alignment with potential partners. I hope the show continues to be a great foundation for the Aston Labs Co. brand.
As a small business owner, I’ve been trying to find my place in the marketing and storytelling world. I’m hoping to producer more shows similar to The World Changing Podcast - making science and technology personal and.. dare I say.. fun and entertaining.
Check out the show and let me know what you think!