Customer Engagement By Building Community Video

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Customer Engagement Created by Building Community


Leading brands create customer engagement by building community. Brand innovation expert Kyle Hermans has helped dozens of global and local brands create evolution and change for the future of their business. Kyle Hermans has a fascinating, and entertaining take on how to use community in brand building by creating customer engagement. Since the advent of social media, building community and customer engagement based upon the ideas, and suggestions of passionate members of the brand community can lead to sustained growth and consumer loyalty.

Branding was originally about visual identify. Now it’s moving into some interesting places of also What does it sound like?” “What are the words, what is the music? What are those jingles? What is the tonality? And of course, deep down it’s also needed to connect on a very deep level to the emotional system, Can I emotionally connect to what this company is saying and doing? Do I emotionally connect to how this company makes me feel when I think about it, when I watch those commercials, or interact with their products?”  

Customer engagement in the brand evolution and brand innovation process is now essential.

In This Episode, Cheryl and Kyle Discuss:

  • The 21st century meaning “brand” and how branding has broadened to include customer participation in brand innovation.
  • The pressures of building a brand in the digital age.
  • Branding is a means of building community and connection.
  • Kyle’s work in bringing different aspects of an organization together to create collective problem-solving.
  • Disruptive innovation begins with envisioning a solution to a collective problem or need for change.

Key Takeaways:

  • Branding includes building community and customer involvement, resulting in currency in the form of customer engagement.
  • Currency is the trade agreement you make with your customers which is at the heart of your brand.
  • Winning brands offer tremendous free value before asking for the sale.
  • Focus on helping one small, niche group in order to get very clear on your brand positioning and direction.

Brands need to build a different type of currency and connection point in order to create that community aspect around them.Kyle Hermans

Connect with Kyle Hermans


Today on the Brandaide Podcast:

Kyle Hermans [0:03]

I think if anyone listening meditates on this a little bit, the way that you resolve the complexity is by simplifying. The way that you resolve the complexity is actually by taking a stand. You've got to start to think about, "what am I trying to create in the world?" not "what am I trying to chase?"


Cheryl Hodgson [0:43]

Hi, this is Cheryl Hodgson. I'd like to welcome you to the Brandaide Podcast. We have a very special guest today, Kyle Hermans. Kyle is not only a friend, but he's someone I've admired for many years and I'm thrilled to be able to have him on as a guest today. Kyle has one of the most interesting backgrounds of anyone in the world of branding and brands. Kyle is the founder and the CEO of Be Courageous. It's a global growth platform helping leaders and organizations create their future through courageous Breakthroughs in culture, strategy, and innovation. That sounds like a mouthful. Kyle does have the goods though. He has collectively advised, facilitated, trained and keynoted over 2,500 sessions, to more than 1,000 organizations, including 50% of the Fortune 500 companies in over 20 countries, across a broad range of industries and culture. Kyle is an adjunct faculty with Singularity University. He has held positions as the Head of Employee Experience at Old Navy Global and Senior Director of Innovation and Organizational Effectiveness at Gap. And he's also the principal and head of West Coast division of Synecticsworld which is where we met along the way. And I want to welcome Kyle to the Brandaide Podcast. Nice to have you Kyle.

Kyle Hermans [2:14]

Thank you so much, Cheryl. It's great to be here. Thank you for having me.

Cheryl Hodgson [2:18]

Yes. It's been a while since we've had an opportunity to chat, and now they've got you in the hot seat, I intend to make the most of it for our listeners today.

Kyle Hermans [2:27]

Yeah, we've both been incredibly busy, so I'm so so grateful that we got to reconnect. It's been a wild ride for both of us.

Cheryl Hodgson [2:33]

Yes. But actually, I think the last time I saw you was at your wedding.

Kyle Hermans [2:36]

That's right. That's right. That was an amazing night.

Cheryl Hodgson [2:41]

It was a beautiful wedding. It was a wonderful, wonderful wedding.

Kyle Hermans [2:45]

I'll have to send you a copy of the book. We have a wonderful book, and I think your beautiful pictures are in there.

Cheryl Hodgson [2:51]

Oh, great. Well, then I look forward to that. Better late than never as the saying goes. And I did want to share something, and that is to share something most people might never know about you. I could ask you, and I could also come up with at least one of my own. Kyle is smiling. The thing that I find that is, not out of character, It's actually in character. But it's that you're also a drummer in a band, right

Kyle Hermans [3:19]

That is correct.

Cheryl Hodgson [3:21]

So that's your therapy outside of....

Kyle Hermans [3:23]

It's a happy place.

Cheryl Hodgson [3:25]

It's a happy place, right?

Kyle Hermans [3:27]

Actually, when we're recording this podcast, last night, I actually got to play at The Blue Note in Napa with Peter Harper, which was a fantastic show and a whole bunch of great musicians. Some world-renowned cellists from a group called The Dirty Cellos, as well as a couple of very accomplished vocalists and musicians. We all got together and created a performance at The Blue Note in Napa. So it's one of my therapies, but it's also one of my ways to actually stay in the unpredictable and the unknown. Writing music and creating music with people on the fly is one of the greatest skills you could learn for ad-lib and for spontaneity and improv, but at the same time, putting your creativity out in front of people is a great, great test for when you come back into your corporate environment or your work environments and you need to share ideas, or share outcomes or, get people on board or create better rapport. So for me, apart from just a hobby and a passion and an absolute love, I learned so much from that world that I can apply, and also learned so much from my business world that I can apply it back into my music world too, which just allows me to be an overall better person and better performer.

Cheryl Hodgson [4:41]

Awesome. So let's jump right in Kyle because I think this is such a fascinating topic. And for our audience, I want them to know that you and I have had these chats before. And it's a little dangerous when we get going because it can go on for hours. But we do have a limited time today, but we'll just see how far we get. One of the things you and I shared with you briefly, and I think this is may be a good jumping-off point, is the notion that "what really is a brand?" and the three words that I've come up with to try to kind of dive into to dispel some of all the confusion around what a brand really means. Because who knows what it really means really? It's whatever you want it to mean in some respect. But the three words are creating the "Connection”, “Community", resulting in "Currency". And so I wanted to check with you because I know you from the innovation aspect of your career where you've led and facilitated Breakthroughs for other companies. And it's an amazing experience to watch you do that because you're a master at that technique. But, we were talking a little bit about the notion of Currency and how that relates to being a brand, and the notion of building a brand. So maybe you could share with us a little bit about that.

Kyle Hermans [5:59]

Yes, definitely. And I think you're spot on the idea of "Connection, Community and Currency" are very strong aspects. I think the future for any individual company is on the strength of their brand and I think the brand has gone through many different evolutions over time. I believe right now, we used to equate brand more to identity. "What is my brand identity? What is my logo asset? What is that image that people can resonate with and connect to? What are those graphics or icons?" And I think over time it started to adapt across the different systems of us as human beings. First, it was something you had to visually identify, and now it's moving into some interesting places of also "what does it sound like?" “What are the words, what is the music? What are those jingles? What is the tonality?" And of course, deep down it's also needed to connect on a very deep level to the emotional system, "can I emotionally connect to what this company is saying and doing? Do I emotionally connect to how this company makes me feel when I think about it, when I watch those commercials, or interact with their products?"

Cheryl Hodgson [7:17]

It's the relationship with the consumer, "how do you reach their hearts and minds?" The words I use are, "building a brand that connects to the hearts and minds of those you serve."

Kyle Hermans [7:32]

Absolutely. And now what's interesting is that we have this new layer. As we all evolve, as life evolves, brand evolves, we're constantly facing new paradigms, new channels, new verticals. But with social media, with digital, with the invention of the internet, with that move to this idea of "what is the digital version of your brand?" Before I think brands were becoming very clear on how to target and connect with their audiences because we were quite guaranteed to be showing up in certain places. We'll show up at an event, we'll show up and watch TV at this time, we will tune into the radio at this time, we will go to the store at this time, we have a lot of habits and rituals and patterns that brands would be able to really track and then position themselves in a way to place the brand at these very important emotional trigger points and connection points. Now with the internet, it's kind of like the Wild West, in some way algorithms and artificial intelligence are helping people predict a little better, but there's still an unpredictability. We don't know where the eyeballs are going to be. We don't necessarily know what are the moods and attitudes or how people are connecting or even on what device they're connecting. And I think there's a very new type of pressure that's being placed on "how do we brand build in the modern age? How do we brand build in a digital era?" And that third piece that you mentioned, which was part of the original question, this idea of Currency, is I think one of the things that's at the heart of how we start to draw and drive traffic towards our brand, which is, "What is that Currency? What is the thing that will pull our customers to them?" Because we've been using a very push model. We'll push out all of our advertising, we'll push out our information to a customer because we push it out to the points that we know they're going to be. But if we don't know where they're going to be, we have to start figuring out how to reverse the system. And start pulling them into our gravitational pull, we have to figure out how to get them. And I think Currency is at the heart of that, which is this piece of, "well, what is the Currency that I gained?” And I don't just mean monetary transactions and money exchanging but I mean, like, the Currency that if I interact with you, or if you interact with me, this is what we're trading. We're trading loyalty, we're trading empowerment, we're trading knowledge, we're trading skill. And I think that there's a piece now where if brands start to think about "what is the currency of their brand, what is it that's at the heart of them?” it starts to get them engaging differently. It starts getting them to question about their purpose, their intention, it starts to get them a lot more into a position of empathy with their customer, and to start stepping more into their shoes and say, "Well, if I can't predict where you're going to be and what you're feeling at this particular day and time, I have to build a better relationship with you, I have to build a relationship with you in a way that will say like if you're having one of your days, so I wanna go and connect with this person." You can imagine if we have a bad day, and we've got a great relationship with somebody, or if you're having a good day, and we have a great relationship with somebody, we want to tell that person, we want to connect with them, we want to share our news and information with them. I think this is the future. Brands need to build a different type of Currency and connection point in order to create that community aspect around them and that Currency is at the heart of them. "What are we really trading here that's outside of just the monetary transaction? What are we really connected on?"

Cheryl Hodgson [11:04]

So how do you Connection in that Community? Doesn't it start with, to some extent, the company culture and the team? Because in my experience when I experience a brand, it's usually the customer service person on the other end of the line, either how they resolved my problem, their attitude towards me, and do they really seem to care?

Kyle Hermans [11:30]

Yeah, I think you're hitting it there. I think that the way that you build for this new future is less about "what can this customer give me," but "what can I give that customer?" And this is a change, although it seems kind of obvious because a lot of people are reciting those words, very few are actually doing it for what it means. And what I mean by that is, "what can I give is..." that if you're going to create a system, I'm sure you've been hearing the term Platform like in the digital realm, the concept of creating a Platform is probably one of the key attributes to how you start to draw customers into you, how you pull them in, rather than push information out. How you get them to come to you. But on a singular transaction, customers are pretty promiscuous right now. They're very unloyal. They're very unfaithful. And I don't mean that negatively. I just mean, there are a lot of amazing options out there. There are things that are cheaper, faster, quicker, more efficient. There are so many different choices, and we have the freedom to go and garner that knowledge. So how do I keep your attention? How do I get you connected to me? And one of the things that I need to provide for you is to understand your needs and your unmet needs. And if I can create a system or a platform, think of it as your table, if you keep coming to my kitchen, and I have all the right things at your disposal when you need them, you will keep returning to my kitchen table. You'll keep returning to my platform. But that's about what I can give you without expectation which is quite tough because that's a completely contradictory way of doing marketing. Although you start seeing now, more free things, more, "Hey, what can I give you first before I try to get something from you?", But the brands that are winning, are the ones that are actually creating bigger systems of, "I'm going to provide you a lot of free resources or a lot of nurturing for this one thing that that I would require maybe from you, if you you do this one thing, I'm going to give you a whole lot of value." Because when you get that value and a whole bunch more things, and someone's looking at you, you're not really going to move away as quickly because you're going to say, "Well, I'm kind of getting everything here. They're also providing a lot for me." And it's actually quite a minimal cost, whether it's a subscription or something along those lines.

Cheryl Hodgson [13:46]

But I see that a lot in the informational marketing world where, digital marketing people who are offering courses and stuff, the ones who are succeeding are overall providing tremendous value before they really try to make a sale. And it goes back to the old, "Know, Like, and Trust someone". Someone has to get to know you and like you and trust you and not everybody's gonna relate to everyone. Especially with a services experience.

Kyle Hermans [14:13]

I'm a huge fan of Seth Godin. I'm sure that's a name that many of these listeners know. But he asks a couple simple questions early on, of any person that's sort of interacting with him and how he is providing marketing assets, which is, "what change are you trying to make? And who are you trying to change?" And when you think about what change you're trying to make, and who you trying to change, what is it then that you could provide them ahead of them needing to come to you that already starts to provide value towards helping them transform towards the thing that they want, or is providing valuable tools and simplicity for them to make the change that they are struggling to make? And it's a very interesting set of questions because that puts you into the heart and mind of your customer. And when you do that, it's less about "what can I get from that?" it's more like well, if I'm going to give those things to that, customer, that market, or that, that area, it actually helps you as a company because it starts to get you thinking differently about how you show up, how you position, how you brand, how you communicate the words you use, the narrative that you use, all with the intention of, "I really want to help this person. I really want to help this person succeed."

Cheryl Hodgson [15:29]

Oh, that's fabulous. Well, we talked about in terms of brands, how complicated it is these days for a younger brand, even a major brand, of course with resources. Everyone has to be everywhere, all the time. 24 seven, it used to be the traditional model was, you put the box of cereal on the store shelf in the grocery store and the young MBA became the brand manager for that product line. Those days are not over, but they certainly are somewhat long gone. So, nowadays how does a brand manage the messaging and the Currency and the Community across social media, tv print, that's a question, I guess or comment.

Kyle Hermans [16:26]

The complexity is real. I think the complexity is real. It's super tough. And for a young company, I think, especially the companies we help work with, who are the young, it's interesting when we work with executives who leave major positions that they're in to start new things. There's been the freedom and luxury of, "freedom and luxury" loosely, but they've had a lot of resources in the larger organizational system, so they can rely on things that are really well established. When for the younger companies, they're needing to kind of figure when you when you start that new thing, you kind of have to do all these different things, or find the right players, which I know when you and I've talked offline about this, that is a hard enough thing in itself to find the right fit for your system and your company to help you progress forward. But then on top of that, you've got the complexity. "Where do I position? Who do I market to? What am I solving? There are so many options out there for different things, how do I cut through that noise? How do I resonate and connect to the customer?" And I think what we are learning is in this complex world, and this may be a super obvious answer, but I think if anyone listening meditates on this a little bit, the way that you resolve the complexity is by simplifying. The way that you resolve the complexity is actually by taking a stand. You've got to start to think about, "what am I trying to create in the world," not "what am I trying to chase? What am I trying to defend or who am I trying to beat or compete against", but "what am I trying to create?" It's actually starting to try and be confident about your lane. It's about being very simplistic by, again back to the thing, "What change am I trying to make? Who am I trying to change? How will I know that I've got there? How will I know that that value that I'm trying to provide has actually been reached?" Because what ends up happening is, the less I compare to everything else, you'll notice that's one layer of complexity that starts to disappear. When I'm trying to compete, or I'm trying to change what someone else is doing and just stick to, "I imagine this future I'm trying to visualize and really create this future." You'll notice that that complexity simplifies even more. And then if you start picking, "what is the smallest audience? Who are the key people, if I just started with just a few key people, if I could start there and service them as perfectly as possible to the best of my ability," You'll realize that that simplifies things even more right now. We're trying to do too much to too many because it's overwhelming. The audience is everywhere, there's so much to do. I've got one other example that I borrowed from a master, which is Richard Branson. And I don't know whether people ever saw this or heard this. It was an interview that he was on, and he went through this very quickly, it kind of flew by, but it was a fascinating system. When somebody said to him, "how do you pick where to make your impact, how do you actually choose who you're going to help and how you're going to help?" He said, "Well, I started like this, I took my family and I drew their names on the page and drew a circle around them. And I said, I'm only going to work very clearly and to all of those people within the circle, I've helped in some way. I've helped to make sure that they are efficient and self-sufficient and successful and that they are supported and they're up and running and doing really well. Then I started to look at my extra people outside of my community and drew my circle a bit bigger. And then I focused on those people. And then I drew my circle even bigger, and I was like, okay, if I focus on England, how can I help my country? How can I then help this particular group of people?" And as he drew a circle around it, I was fascinated by this, because what he was doing is actually helping to zone in. "If I just think about this one group, if I think about this one group very clearly, and I want to empower everyone in that group," you'll be busy for a while. But it also helps you to get super, super clear on your focus, on your positioning. And it actually starts to reduce complexity because you get less confused. And I think the biggest reason why there's all this complexity and confusion is that there are too many choices. So it's up to us to start taking a stand, and especially to anyone listening, that's building a company: start smaller, start super focused, and draw that circle around the community that you really want to empower, help, and improve. And you'll notice that will actually help you get a lot clearer on the next step to take.

Cheryl Hodgson [20:45]

I'd like to follow up on that with a question really, based on my own experience with, you were with Synecticsworld and put together this, I think was a five day workshop? In Los Angeles. And you brought in a number of different stakeholders and companies, everything from, coincidentally, a client of mine that I didn't know was going to be there, Marisa Stowe. I was facilitating an issue with her album. And then there were some people who are in independent film, and some other companies. And we were divided into groups. And I bring that up, because I'd like you to give us an example of, out of the thousands of different facilitations you've done, of how this process of Breakthrough comes through and maybe tie it to the Simplification model of what you're talking about, of simplifying for a brand, and getting that focus.

Kyle Hermans [21:38]

Good question. Thanks for that Cheryl. So that particular program, and we've evolved that since then, because, we've had a couple years of continual testing like i think, your beautiful intro that you made for me, and thank you so much for that, what we're doing with all those sessions that we've run that we've mentioned is, we are constantly testing and learning. When it comes to human dynamics and human behavior if we can bring as many combinations of people that don't work as frequently together, as well as some that work frequently together, think of intact teams versus nonintact teams. "What are the conditions that have to be present amongst those people in order to be able to result in a Breakthrough?” If you're working on a particular type of meaning, as problem-solving, or I'm trying to drive a new strategy, or bringing people together to make a collective decision about the future. What are the conditions that have to be present in order to help them achieve that Breakthrough? What are some of the conditions that will stand in the way of making that successful? What are some of the conditions and attributes that will make it very successful?" And so we've been tracking that and saying, "Let's observe those behaviors for years and years and years, through all the sessions" and then we are extracting the tools and the methodologies, the frameworks, and the systems to be able to advise, guide, coach, train other people to recreate those conditions to get the Breakthrough. So that of course you were on, those five days, were strategically set up that the first two days are really around you tuning into yourself. Getting back to know you. "How do I show up in my world? In my environment? What is my relationship to my own personal creativity? What is my communication style? How do I show up with strangers? How do I interact? Am I trusting or not trusting? How much energy do I give to a shared creative problem-solving situation? How much do I keep to myself?" All of that is based on our relationship to self and relationship to the environment. Then as we progress through that day, we start adding in the team dynamic. "Okay, so how do I show up with the group?" And then through those, we also start to unpack, because you may remember that, I think one of our first exercises, where we got this group that didn't know each other to work on a problem, and we filmed that and then played you back the video because the video doesn't lie. And you kind of see yourself how you show up in these stressful and under pressure situations. And then we are able to analyze that and pick that apart and say, "Okay, so here are a couple of ingredients. So let's show you what we've learned across observing groups about what does work in certain scenarios when you're in these conditions." And we started to unpack those tools to self-empower and practice. So by the second day, you're actually getting up in front of a group and working on something with them, practicing some of these things which are already in evolution. Then those next few days that you guys did was to go much deeper into challenges. And so the thing that we found is that we work very well together as people when we're going after a shared cause. When we have something that we're aligned on to solve for. If I have to work on your challenge, but it doesn't mean anything to me, I'm going to maybe show up half or even less than half in terms of my energy. But if it's something that means something to me, if the Breakthrough on the other side affects me very deeply, I will really participate. And so what we had been sharing with people, to your question is, "if we can find a challenge in an organization with a team or even a disparate group of people, if we can find a challenge that we share together, we will show up very differently to do that." And so those extra couple days of that course, was actually showing people how to find that challenge, how to get aligned, how to communicate it effectively, how do we pull the resources around ourselves to be able to go off to this almost impossibility of this difficult thing that we haven't yet solved together? Applying those first few days, tools and techniques. And then that final day when you had those clients come in, that was the situation where we say, "All right, let's just not take you to this transformed place and then send you back to an untransformed environment in your world, because people won't be with you, your colleagues or your company weren't with you on this journey. How do we make sure that you are empowered with a few quick wins and learnings that allow you to go back and transport back into this environment with the right tools to be able to integrate this?" So that final day was where you get a real life client that has not been through these techniques. And you have to stand up and give them a Breakthrough, after having done this for four days. And everybody nailed it. I think that film, by the way, that movie that we got to work on, those folks that came in for some Breakthroughs, I think they ended up winning the Sundance festival, they got the Film of the Year award. And they went on to create two more in the series, which was phenomenal. Just as one example. So the Breakthroughs that happened there were very, very powerful. So that process in terms of helping people who are listening here understand is that taking time to get clear on who you are and your relationship to the changes and the Breakthroughs that you're trying to make. Then starting to build the community around you where you can share openly and bring in creative minds to help you get that challenge. But then most importantly, it's like, "what are we actually solving for? What's the thing by which if I solve this," and that almost comes back to your Currency piece, which is, "if we solve this, we create a lot of Currency together. One, we've had a Breakthrough. Two, we're creating Impacts. Three, I've learned skills and tools. And four I've helped somebody else solve something." You create a different type of Currency bond through that when you are solving creative challenges together.

Cheryl Hodgson [27:15]

I appreciate your sharing that because I remember the idea that you even bring in people or stakeholders who weren't necessarily involved in a specific project to get an independent perspective, but then, applying that to the whole topic of brands and branding, one of my passions and reasons for even launching the podcast is the fact that I always felt like I was existing in an aspect of the world of brands in a silo, which is, I was over on the legal protection side for many years. And I'm like, "yeah, but why don't we communicate with the marketing people more? Why am I getting a phone call from a bean counter, the CFO in a company, as opposed to helping them use the brand names correctly, being interacting?" And I hear this a lot even with major companies where the marketing people feel like the legal teams on the brand side are maybe putting down what their ideas are, or they're not communicating really well. So, I perceive that a lot of things about brands, even though there are so many different aspects to building a brand, exist in silos, and we were talking a little bit about that. And you were mentioning a webinar you did. How do you address this crossing or dismantling silos and this notion you talked about altitude? If you could share a little bit about that. There's a lot there. I know.

Kyle Hermans [28:50]

I'll break that down. But that's what I see. I mean silos is in some way to some degree an epidemic, we were incredibly surprised, we put out this free webinar about how to break the patterns that cause siloing inside of organizations, and we had an overwhelming I think over 3000 people signed up for this webinar. And for us, of course it was amazing just to see the response, but at the same time, what that really helped us understand is just how many organizations have this as one of the top priorities on their agenda to resolve inside of an organization and I'll tell you why that is. At the rate of change and the speed of change and disruption that's happening in the world, siloing is one of the most difficult aspects to resolve because it slows everything down. And if you think that the rate of change is almost doubling on itself, every now five to six months or something, just the rate of Breakthroughs, the rate of evolution, the speed at which companies are growing and adapting and changing, the pace of the market and the rate of speed of technology. All of those things are putting incredible pressure back on an organization whether you're big or small. And the way that traditional organizations have been built, if you look at an org chart, are hierarchical and we have containers. We've got boxes. You're the marketing person, you are the PR person, you are the tech person, you're the HR person, you're the finance, you're the strategy, this is leadership, over here is this, over here is that. It's important because everybody needs to know their roles and to mobilize when the time is right, but that was when we had more linear predictable structure. Okay, these things are coming down the pipe, this is going to go to you, this is going to go to you, this is happening here. It's happening at this speed. Now, so much of that is being disrupted. So the speed of that has been disrupted. The system of that has been disrupted. And, and now what is happening is that we're also under that pressure, human nature is to almost recede and become a little more isolated and introverted, become more silent when we are under pressure. "Well, I don't want to mess up, so I have to figure out how to do this by myself." That kind of creates even more division while we have all this disruption, pressure on us. And so what that's mounting inside, what's that's kind of like magnifying at a high rate inside of organizations, is the feeling that things are separate. And so one of the ways that we've found to combat that, again, is that there's this great thing that phrasing is to say, "if your problem is hard if you're dealing with a really hard problem, and you're almost unable to solve that problem, you're really struggling to find a way to bring people together, to solve their problem. Make your problem harder, actually make your problem harder. Don't make it easier, try to simplify it. Make it more difficult." What that does is it goes up in altitude, you're raising the level of the stakes, you're forcing it to be up into perspective to say, "well, we're not solving it at this altitude, we're solving at a much higher, much more difficult system, we take you on something bigger." What that requires us to do internally, is to kind of almost step out of the containers that we are in, because we really don't know how to do this, and step up and try to find the alignment on how we would go after solving it together. And so what that actually creates by making something more difficult is a community aspect, which is like, "I can't do this alone. Cheryl, I need you to come in. Could you bring your team?" You get cross-functionality, and if we can come together earlier at the stage of trying to solve something, not just wait till, "oh, this is a Marketing problem. Let's wait till they figure it out. Then they'll hand it off to I.T., and then they'll hand it off to Strategy." It's actually saying "no, we've got something bigger. That if we solve this, we all get to win. So let's get together at the front end of this problem." And then, of course, it may go back into our different areas like, "Hey, this is the phase that Marketing should really own this." But because we've been at these key touchpoints along the way, it actually reduces silos and creates more camaraderie and more community, which means that instead of throwing something over the fence without context, you actually have the next team waiting, saying "I was at the birth of this with you, I know you're working on this piece. We are so ready to catch you and help you so we can move this forward."

Cheryl Hodgson [33:12]

They're invested in what's happening because you've created the desired outcome together.
Kyle Hermans [33:18]

Absolutely. And it's something at a level that doesn't just get us to rely solely on our functional expertise, we all actually have to step up and out to learn something new. We all have to step up to the uncomfortable zone to gather. But when we do it together, we're less alone, and we actually start to turn to each other and rely on each other. When we only are trying to solve things from deep within our function and our expertise, if it's a marketing thing, I'm not really going to look to another department or another functional area, another type of expertise to solve a challenge that I should be totally able to solve on any day basis, I will become more introverted. So to push up an elevated altitude means that we are solving for something bigger. And that actually requires us to all elevate our thinking and in order to elevate the unknown, which is like, I might have to put up my hand and say, "I don't know the answer. You don't know the answer. We all don't know the answer." So instead of simply one person out, which is all this protection stuff we do, trying to protect our ego and trying to protect our value in our position. If we all put our hand up and say we don't know, then we will rise together to try and solve that together. That breaks down silos. It breaks those patterns and it allows us to start actually solving something bigger together.

Cheryl Hodgson [34:37]

Oh, that's fabulous. Well, Kyle, there's so much more we could talk about. And we could go on for hours. But given the time frame, perhaps we will just have to have you back and continue the discussion. Because there are several things we did not get to talk about, which I'd like to talk a little bit more about the innovation part and sustainability part of the brand. So perhaps you could...

Kyle Hermans [35:01]

Yeah, let's pick up that on the next one. It'll be fascinating. Of course, it'll be interesting to ask your listeners and your audience what they resonated with here, and if they have questions, and especially with the with sustainability and the innovation piece, I put that into the bucket of "what are we making," and “how do we make that sustainable," and often when we know what we want to make, it's often because we've figured out what change we're trying to make. And we've also tried to figure out who we are trying to help and so it'll be very interesting, I think, to see if people get to apply some of the strategies and things we're talking about. The natural next step is, if I've kind of figured out a little bit of my positioning, I've figured out a bit of my bigger meaning and purpose. I've got some strong communication with my teams,.now how do we harness that power, and go and make something that's impactful and sustainable? So I think it'll be a great next conversation.

Cheryl Hodgson [35:57]

Well, maybe we'll put it out there right now, if any of the listeners have any thoughts or questions or things they'd like to hear on that aspect to share it with me. And you can always do that by contacting me at And before we go, I think you mentioned you might have something you'd like to share with the audience, a free gift, and maybe you could tell us a little bit and maybe how they could obtain that, we will also post it in the show notes where people can look it up, but it's always nice to have a verbal for those people listening.

Kyle Hermans [36:31]

Yes, so for you guys that are listening. If you go to the website, you will have there is, I believe it'll be a copy of this recording, for the future just so you can trackback to the context of our conversations. But then there will also be a self-guided workbook for you to be able to create your best year yet. And it will be agnostic for a year. What it is, is a multiple chapter guide for you to take stock on the year you've just had, what worked, what didn't, how you can start setting ambitions and goals for the year forward, and then it will guide you through from a level of vision all the way through those altitudes. From a level of vision and purpose, really helping you understand you and your passion points right down to annual goals. Quarterly, monthly, daily, weekly, daily. So what it's doing is it's breaking it down into bite sizes so that you can go after and achieve your best year yet. I hope you enjoy it, you're welcome to get in touch and leave us some comments as well. But this is there for you to be self-empowered and for you to create the future that you want.

Cheryl Hodgson [37:43]

Thank you so much, Kyle. It's such a delight and I look forward to having you back again and we will take on part two of the World of Innovation. Thank you everyone for joining us and we look forward to having you on the next episode of the Brandaide Podcast please make sure to subscribe at iTunes. And to go to you can also reach us at the page where you will find an opportunity to subscribe and to listen to various episodes. Thank you and until next time, be well.

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