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David Aaker got religion on the power of stories

He's been called "The Father of Modern Branding." If you've ever read anything about branding or brand strategy, my guest today requires no introduction. I'm talking to David Aaker, author of over a dozen books and hundreds of articles about marketing and branding, Professor Emeritus at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, and Vice-Chair at Prophet, a global marketing and branding consultancy. Given this season is about positioning and brand platforms, I couldn't pass up the opportunity...


Tim Riches builds bridges held up by brand pillars

Today's guest is Tim Riches, Group Strategy Director at Principals in Melbourne. I met Tim in Singapore, at FutureBrand. When I joined FutureBrand's strategy team in 2011, Tim was running the Singapore office and serving as Chief Growth Officer for all of Asia Pacific. He left shortly after I arrived, but in the few months we overlapped, Tim made a big impression on me. He's a fast-talking, no bullshit, powerhouse thinker who often seems to be offering solutions before anyone else in the...


Miriam Stone uses the sticky note method

This week's guest is Miriam Stone, an independent strategist who works with agencies around the Bay Area, including lifestyle branding agency Noise 13, where she's Strategy Director. In addition to her brand consulting work, Miriam's helped create and develop brands from inside the organization, as a Co-Founder of Swing Left, a national political movement, and previously as VP of Business Development for VisionSpring. Miriam and I first met at Interbrand San Francisco in 2012. Since then,...


Allen Adamson thinks Jerry Seinfeld would be a great brand manager

This week's guest is Allen Adamson, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Metaforce, a boutique, hybrid marketing services firm focused on growth strategies. Allen was previously Chairman, North America of Landor Associates, and has written four books: BrandSimpleBrandDigitalThe EdgeShift Ahead We started the conversation by talking about the importance of simplicity-the premise of his first book. Allen says he likes to think of your brand as your story and asks, "When someone hears your name,...


Erminio Putignano connects big ideas and tiny details

Erminio Putignano is founding partner and managing director of PUSH, a brand strategy and design firm based in Melbourne, Australia. He's also an adjunct professor at the School of Economics, Finance, and Marketing at RMIT University. When I met Erminio, we were both working for FutureBrand, where he was managing director of Australian operations and I was strategy director for Southeast Asia. We met in Vietnam, where Erminio was giving a series of presentations to a client. I was...


Adam Morgan asks clients what they hate most about their category

When Adam Morgan wrote Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders in 1999, he introduced a new term to the marketing, advertising, and branding worlds: "challenger brand." Avis, with their "When you're only No. 2, you try harder" campaign from the 60s, is the most commonly cited example of this concept. But Adam, also the founder of a brand consultancy named eatbigfish, is quick to point out challenger brands need not be No. 2 in their category. Instead, he...


Gareth Kay believes brands should show, not just tell

Gareth Kay believes brands should show, not just tell Gareth Kay is cofounder of Chapter, a San Francisco-based creative studio. Before Chapter, he was Chief Strategy Officer at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, the advertising agency known for work such as 1993's iconic "Got Milk?" campaign for the California Milk Processors Board. I was excited to talk to Gareth because, while he's a strategist, he doesn't come from the world of traditional brand consulting that I come from (and so many of my...


Laura Ries has six brand positioning principles

The concept of brand positioning was introduced to the marketing and advertising world in the 70s and 80s by Al Ries and Jack Trout in a series of Ad Age articles and a subsequent book titled Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. (If you haven't read it, Positioning is definitely recommended reading for anyone in the branding world.) Today's episode features Laura Ries. Laura is Al Ries's daughter, and has been his business partner for 25 years at their consulting firm, Ries & Ries,...


Marty Neumeier wrote a business thriller

Within the branding community, Marty Neumeier needs no introduction. But just for good measure, here’s a quick rundown: - Director of Transformation for the Liquid Agency - Author of The Brand Gap, hailed as one of the best 100 Business Books of All Time - Also wrote Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands, and Brand A-Z Marty and I kicked things off talking about his latest book Scramble: A Business Thriller, which launches today on Amazon. What makes Scramble...


Wrapping up season one: Tips for the naming process

Today’s episode marks the end of season one, but certainly not the end of this podcast. Plans for season two are already underway, and I’m very excited about some of the guests who’ve already signed on. But I won’t be ready to release those episodes for a little while, so…to make sure you’re the first to know when they’re available, please make sure you’ve signed up for the newsletter at And between now and season two, we’ll still be posting new articles and...


Eli Altman started freelance naming at age sixteen

Eli Altman runs A Hundred Monkeys, a naming and branding agency in Berkeley, California. A Hundred Monkeys was founded by Eli's dad, Danny Altman, in 1990. Eli grew up helping his dad come up with name ideas, and the second he was old enough to sound like an adult on the phone, he was taking on freelance naming projects. In addition to running A Hundred Monkeys, Eli wrote the Amazon bestselling naming workbook, Don’t Call it That. He has a new book coming out soon called Run Studio Run, all...


Scott Milano does sprints in the morning

Scott Milano is Founder and Managing Director of Tanj, a boutique brand language firm specializing in names, taglines, stories, messaging and voice strategies, and copy. Scott has over 15 years of experience in verbal identity and has worked on names like Scott's worked on some big brand names, like Nintendo Wii, Ally Bank, Sony Bravia, and Film Struck, among many others. Scott and I talked about the naming guides Tanj makes available online, the naming process, tools he uses (like stock...


Laurel Sutton could talk about linguistics all day

Laurel Sutton is a co-founder of Catchword, a Bay Area naming firm behind names like Asana, Vudu, and many of the activity trackers from Fitbit, like Zip, One, Flex, and Force. She is also the Information Officer for the American Name Society; but Laurel's not only a naming expert. She's also a trained linguist, with a Master's Degree in linguistics from UC Berkeley. Laurel's expertise in naming and linguistics make her perfectly suited for her current role: She now runs Sutton Strategy,...


Jonathan Bell starts with coffee and a sheet of paper

Jonathan Bell is Managing Director of Want Branding, a brand consultancy with offices in Miami, Denver, and New York, and clients like Bose, Royal Caribbean, and Call of Duty. Jonathan has about 30 years of experience in the branding industry, during which he's completed over 800 projects and worked with over a third of the companies in the Fortune 100—companies like Google, Apple, Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, and Disney. He's also a visiting professor at Wharton and a frequent conference...


Amanda Peterson considers CamelCase a crime

On this episode, I spoke with Amanda Peterson, formerly the Head of Naming and Leader of Brand Management at Google. While there, she helped establish Alphabet, Google's parent company, as well as sister companies like Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car company. Before Google, Amanda headed up naming at HP—before I held that role—and also worked at Logitech and Landor. She recently left Silicon Valley and is now Head of Marketing and Communications at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Amanda and I...


Steven Price says "go," "maybe," and "maybe not"

Steven Price runs Tessera Trademark Screening, which specializes in preliminary trademark screening, a critical step in any naming process. Steve is the go-to guy for preliminary trademark screening. He does it for just about every independent naming consultant I can think of, many of the big brand consulting firms, and directly for clients of his own. Through the years, he's worked with Microsoft, Intel, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and others, and brand names like BlackBerry, Dasani,...


Clive Chafer has a wonderful thesaurus

Listen now: Clive Chafer has been a namer for almost as long as naming has been a profession. In 1987, he started at the firm now known as Lexicon, where he helped develop a few names you definitely know, like PowerBook for Apple and Outback for Subaru. He went on to eventually become creative director at Master-McNeil in Berkeley, California, and he now runs his own firm: Namebrand. Clive also does freelance naming work. Clive and I dove right into a conversation about his process for...


Shannon DeJong is a hummingbird and a drill

Listen now: Shannon DeJong is the CEO of House of Who, an art house and agency based in Oakland, California, whose clients include Google, among others. Outside of her naming expertise, Shannon is an artist, speaker, and podcast host: she hosts ArtistCEO, where she uses her story to talk about how business and art can work together. Shannon's also worked at Salt, an independent branding agency in San Francisco. She's worked at Logitech, and also HP, where she was global naming...


Anthony Shore's naming partner is a neural network

Listen now: Anthony Shore is one of the most experienced namers out there. He has over 25 years of experience in naming and has introduced more than 200 product and company names to the world. Some of the names he’s created include Lytro, Yum! Brands, Fitbit Ionic, Qualcomm Snapdragon, and Photoshop Lightroom. In 2015, he was featured in a New York Times Magazine article titled “The Weird Science of Naming New Products,” which tells the story of Jaunt, a VR company he named. And a BBC...


This is_ How Brands Are Built

How Brands Are Built is a blog and podcast where branding professionals get into the details of what they do—and more importantly, how they do it. I'm your host, Rob Meyerson. In each episode, I'll interview other strategists, designers, writers, researchers—anyone who’s part of the world of branding. In this first season, I’ll mostly be talking to namers. I’ve been lucky enough to meet and work with some of the best out there, and I’m excited to hear what they have to say about the...