In this episode of the ROI Online Podcast, host Steve Brown speaks with Patrick Hanlon, author of Primal Branding. Patrick works with a number of large brands, and his unique book has grown in influence over time; the book has a perennial nature, and its popularity grew at a slow burn, rather than exploding onto the marketing scene in a flash and quickly growing obsolete. The book grew out of Patrick’s perception that a number of brands were not representing themselves in as authentic and compelling a way as they could.
In his book, he works through the code that underlies effective branding. This code is common to all kinds of messaging trying to appeal to people, from that of a church to that of any business. The seven components of the code are creation story, ceed, rituals, icons, sacred words, non-believers, and leaders. The code is a strategic brand narrative, and understanding it helps consumers to gain a sense of familiarity and belonging. The goal in working with this code is to fill in the spaces in a consumer’s mind in a way that makes more sense than the last guy did, drawing them into a business by drawing them into the business’s narrative.
Patrick’s work highlights the fact that even brands are communities. In a culture today that prizes authenticity and community, Patrick has seen the primal code broadly and effectively used. He continues to move on to new and exciting projects, such as his current work with IBM, and he even holds Primal live events. Listen to learn how Patrick comments on senses as icons, primal code and its help in acquiring funding, expanding one’s influence as an author, and even the primal code construct applying to veterans returning home.
Learn more about Patrick’s book, Primal Branding.
Read Steve Brown’s book, The Golden Toilet.
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Steve Brown: 0:02
The brands that have picked up these little pieces of the pieces of code and dusted him off and made them obvious... Then it makes it easy for us to discern more than we want to be a part of that or don't want to be a part of that.
Patrick Hanlon: 0:17
Yeah, the part that resonates with me as you go through that description is when you're standing outside the camp while you're waiting, you stand there and wait until you are welcomed in. And if you are inside the circle, already around the campfire, if someone comes in without waiting over or comes flying in there, everyone's messed up. Uncomfortable, yeah.
Steve Brown: 0:42
Hi, everybody. Welcome to The ROI Online podcast where we believe you, the courageous entrepreneurs of our day, are the invisible heroes of our economy. You not only improve our world with your ideas, your grit, and your passion, but you make our world better. I'm Steve Brown, and this is a place where we have great conversations with winners just like you while we laugh and learn together.
Steve Brown: 1:12
Today, I'm really excited to have this conversation with Patrick Hanlon, my friend Patrick Hanlin. He's the author of "Primal branding." And it's an excellent book that I discovered one day and I read it... Actually, I listened to it. Here's where I was. I was on I-40 in my truck, my pickup truck, and I had my Harley Davidson Road King in the back of the truck, and I was taking it all the way to Kentucky to a friend of mine who owned a Harley Davidson dealership to let him sell it for me. I was sending my motorcycle... Her name is Rocinante and I had hung up my shaps as far as the motorcycling career. I can say that. And so I was listening to this audible book called Primal Branding. And the more I listen to it, the more excited I got because it was really connecting with me. Long story short, I reached out Patrick. He came here. We worked with the team a little bit and started to apply thoughts and the processes from "Primal Branding" and became friends. And so, Patrick, I'm just pleased to have you here.
Patrick Hanlon: 2:32
Thanks. Not that you were on that road trip. I know that you told me that, but it didn't stick in my brain But that's awesome, actually.
Steve Brown: 2:39
Yeah, here I am, riding across the Mississippi River, riding... I was driving going into Memphis and was going to eat some barbecue there at Rendezvous, one of the most famous places to eat some barbecue listening to "Primal Branding" on Audible.
Patrick Hanlon: 3:00
Amazing. I can see you doing it.
Steve Brown: 3:04
Yeah, I was doing it. I was hardcore. So for those of you don't know Patrick Hanlon, I do talk about Patrick Hanlon in my book. It's in the most important chapter: the chapter on content and. I introduce as many folks as I can to your book, but I discussed it in there. Patrick is... His book is one of the most original books of its kind ever written. Patrick Hanlon explains how the most powerful brands create a community of believers around a brand, revealing the seven components that will help every company and marketer capture the public imagination and seize a bigger slice of the pie. Patrick works with big bands like the Glenn Miller Band and Daisy... Nah, I'm just, you know, he works with big brands like Google YouTube, Mini Cooper, and Oprah. You can find Patrick. Sometimes you might bump into him in LA, San Francisco, New York, maybe a Walmart or two. And if he's ever in town, you might find him digging through an antique shop looking for old guitars. Welcome, Patrick. I'm perceived.
Patrick Hanlon: 4:27
Thanks, Steve. So what do you want to talk about? The book is required reading at YouTube. I should probably, uh, not bury the headline and say that we're coming out with a new we have come out with... Simon and Schuster agreed to put a new cover on the book after 16, 17 years. Can you believe it?
Steve Brown: 4:45
That's a long time.
Patrick Hanlon: 4:47
The space alien, it will be gone. It's the new covers on the Kindle version right now. And then it will be on the printed books When whenever that happens soon.
Steve Brown: 4:58
So I'm looking at this new cover. It shows Mick Jagger's lips, but open. OK? And it says, "Create belief systems that attract communities." Patrick Hanlon. It's got a unique look to it. And as one might know, that's what you get when Patrick's around. A unique look and personality. So 16 years, Patrick.
Patrick Hanlon: 5:22
It has a mouth, an open mouth as in word of mouth. Not really Mick Jagger thing.
Steve Brown: 5:29
Patrick Hanlon: 5:30
We didn't even think about that until just now. And then on the back, there are a bunch of words, and they're all... They've all been taken from social media comments over the years. Yeah. And reviews.
Steve Brown: 5:45
So this is something... What I love about your book and what I'm what's important for me is that things that I adopt or want to apply, they need to have a perennial nature to it or a universal principle that will always be applicable no matter the time, whether it's in the future, in the past, or now. And that's what I really love about your book. You know, I'm curious. At some point, you had this epiphany where this kind of revealed itself to you is probably there all along. But one day it just really revealed itself. Talk to us about that day.
Patrick Hanlon: 6:31
Yeah, well, um... I want to respond to something you just said, though, first and that is that: Yeah, we got very lucky with the examples that I chose which still are still around most of them. And the thing about the construct, primal construct, is that it was as true 4000 years ago is that will be 4000 years from now. And it's basically... it's based upon human behaviors and rational and emotional stuff. And in the book there are things like Ted Conference to talk about, Shepard Fairey, Wired Magazine and bunch of other things that still exist today and they're just as relevant now as they were then. Which I guess in some ways just occurred to me, kind of proves that out.
Patrick Hanlon: 7:28
But you know, we've talked about this before, Steve, that there are three kinds of people that write books. There are people who are professors in the academy who need to write in order to keep their jobs, or journalists who also need to write about things. But then there are practitioners like you and me, and we don't necessarily need to write a book. But like you, I found this gap out there in the world, and just thought, "Hey, there's a better way of doing this. Or at least a different way of doing this," I thought at the time. And in my case, I was working on a project, a client project, and I just felt that they were being disingenuous. A little bit fake. A little bit artificial. Today, we would say that they were being not being authentic to themselves. And what we didn't articulate that as being authentic, you know, back in 1999, 2000, 2001.
Patrick Hanlon: 8:34
And so the client at the time was Lego, and I was working on... I was one of the... I was in advertising and I was working as one of the executive creative directors on Lego, I assume that there are probably other ones because there were also other agencies at the time. But I was going back and forth between Belen and New York City. Belen is where Lego headquarters is of Denmark, out in the middle of nowhere, between there and New York City. And then I was also going to Legoland in Carlsbad, out in California, north of San Diego. And that's when I learned that you could buy a Mighty Mouse Roller Coaster and put whatever kind of shell you want on it. You could put a Steve Brown shell on there, an ROI Online shell on there. You could have your own roller coaster ride, you know? And that's what Lego is doing. They're taking off the shelf elements and put them on, whereas at the Lego Land Belen headquarters that have been done by the grandfather. And it was like, well... He was their Walt Disney. And it was very there was very heart and soul there, right?
Patrick Hanlon: 9:53
And so, make a long story short, that was a feeling that I had. It was exactly the same time that a McKinsey consultant was working with them. And he told the family that if they continued on where they were going to be out of business in the next two or three years, so there what I felt in my gut was actually in reality happening. And so what I started thinking about is, "Why do we care about some products and service is and not about others?" And the companies that make them and/or the products. And there were the usual ones. But they were also like... Coca Cola and American Express and things like that. But there were also... There was a coffee company that was sweeping the nation at that time called Starbucks and they weren't doing any advertising. And remember, my perspective at the time was in advertising from an advertising point of view. And they weren't advertising, and Google had just started to become popular. They had just been created maybe two years old or something, and they were not advertising. There was no YouTube or Twitter or anything like that yet. Or Facebook.
Patrick Hanlon: 11:05
So there would always be this—and I talked about this in the book a little bit—but there would always be this uncomfortable moment when you're presenting a campaign and you've gone all the way up through the hierarchy of the company, the advertiser, and you'd finally be if the CEO or president and they'd say, "Well, Google and Starbucks don't advertise on. They seem to be doing very well. They're on fire. Why should be spending $30 million on this advertising project?" And there'd be an uncomfortable silence in the room and someone would pull something from the air. And, you know, we move on and you run the advertising. But, they had a point, and there was something there that was outside of advertising that was going on certainly at Starbucks and Google. And people were talking at that time about Nike tribes and the Apple cult and all that, but they didn't know how to create it for themselves other than by imitating Apple and Nike. Which is why I always point to why today we still have Gatorade commercials that run that looked like they're 1990s spots. And so the... And I've been saying that for 10 years, over almost 20 years now, right?
Steve Brown: 12:24
Like they pulled that white label Mickey Mouse version of that ad and just put a Gatorade on it.
Patrick Hanlon: 12:31
And so I started to think about icons. I thought about the Nike swish, and I thought about the cross and I thought about, um, you know, other things like that. And then I thought, "Well, they have icons, and, uh, they all have seem to have a creation story. " Nike, you know, started in a garage in Bill Bowerman's kitchen, making the waffle sole with his wife's waffle iron. And Apple started in the garage and 3M started as a sandpaper company. And IBM started as an office supplies company and, you know, and you just kind of go on from there. HP started by the two guys. Hewlett and Packard winding coils, you know? So they had that.
Patrick Hanlon: 13:22
And then they had all these other things. They had a creed, obviously. Think different. Just do it. So forth. They had icons, rituals that went with the icons. They had a group of special words. Iced grande, skinny decaf latte. They had people who didn't want to go there. Nonbelievers. Pagans, I called them at first. And for all the Starbucks that are out there, they're still people go into Tim Hortons or Dunkin Donuts or these days, you know, Stumptown or Blue Bottle or some other place that they prefer. And then there's a leader. And so once you wrap all those things together, you have you developed what today we call a strategic brand narrative, which came from one of the books... which is nomenclature that came from someone who read the book. And you pull that together and you construct, create, you build what today we feel is a unifying theory that is really a level above social media, digital media, and traditional advertising and experiences and helps drive the content that goes into those.
Steve Brown: 14:38
You know, I think where it started to click with me, Patrick, was when I started thinking of icons. Right now we think of like you said the Nike swoosh or Ralph Lauren or all these logos that were. We just accept and know. But when you think if this is something that is applicable 4000 years ago, that icon would have been some image that identified a tribe. And when you're out with your tribe and you run into another tribe, you knew they weren't from your tribe by the way they were dressed or something iconic about them. And you either knew you were in danger. Or you knew that this was a tribe you could trade or conduct commerce with.
Patrick Hanlon: 15:32
Friend or foe.
Steve Brown: 15:33
Yeah, and immediately that started to click with me and that... Imagine you're in that force. Then you see a tribe around a fire. You didn't just march into camp. You hung out on the perimeter and observed until you knew you were safe or you worked. And what you're talking about with these pieces of code, the same thing is going on when we're observing brands and discerning whether we want to be associated with that brand. And the brands that have picked up these little pieces of the pieces of code and dusted him off and made them obvious... Then it makes it easy for us to discern whether we want to be a part of that or don't want to be a part of that.
Patrick Hanlon: 16:20
Yeah, the part of that resonates with me as you go through that description is when you're standing outside the campfire, you're waiting. You stand there and wait until you are welcomed in. And if you are inside the circle already around the campfire, if someone comes in without waiting without or just comes flying in there. Everyone's messed up. Uncomfortable. Yeah.
Steve Brown: 16:45
I love the way you talk about the lexicon. And it really clicked to me because... Let's say you go to a new church, maybe you're a Methodist and you go to a Baptist church. You don't know the lexicon. You don't know when to stand up. You don't know when... You're an outsider.
Patrick Hanlon: 17:04
Well, you know you're an outsider, right? Yeah. I mean, you feel it severely.
Steve Brown: 17:10
If you were a Baptist and you were in a different town and you went into a Baptist church, you'd feel at home. It's because of these pieces of the primal code that you're familiar with and that you know. You can speak the lingo. You understand the icons. You know who started it. You know what they believe. You know what they don't believe.
Patrick Hanlon: 17:32
Yeah. And for sure, people who go to Comic-Con or Burning Man or even the Consumer Electronics Show. You know, for the first time, Or a Ted Talk, for that matter. People know that you're kind of looking for someone to guide. "You haven't been here before? Here, let me help you out. Go over here and sign up and get your badge and blah, blah, blah." Right? And so we have that same thing happening in stores all the time where people are unfamiliar with the stories. They're walking through the mall, and they walk in and either, you know, instantaneously if you're gonna like it or not. You feel in your gut, right? And if you're with someone else who has been there before, you know they might guide you in. But if your gut says, "Get me outta here," you can't wait until you're done in that store, right? And so the... And that has to do with user experience. It has to do with preferences and all the cues and all that kind of thing.
Patrick Hanlon: 18:33
And when we talk about icons, I've never really thought before about using all the senses as icons. Which, of course, was ridiculous because we always think about the logo and, these days, the website. We do those things and their branding is done right. But there are so many other cues that people have picked up on since I wrote the book, the first one being smell, which Abercrombie, you know, took on a scale of 1 to 10. They took it to 11. Sight. Sound. Abercrombie again, they crank the music up. Sight, sound, smell, taste. You're talking about food and new products and food and so forth. And you're also thinking about textures, which is touch, when you think about food. Some people just don't like the texture of things right. Crispy on the outside or crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, etc. So all of these things come to bear when you're designing new products or you're designing new experiences and they're things that need to be thought through.
Patrick Hanlon: 19:37
I mention this because I was talking recently with someone who's building a theme park in Texas, and I said, "You know, there are all these cues here that you have to be cognisant of," and so we just talked about that. But yeah, I think the thing is, about... Going back to the campfire is that we think of these brands as being one of the time things, but we never think about the fact that as human beings, we are members of all these different communities, right? Whether you belong to church or you belong to a church community. You belong to a work community. If you play cards or gamble or something you belong to that community. If you play sports stuff, whether it's soccer or football or baseball, you belong to those communities. You know, winter sports and summer sports. If you knit or something like that, you know you belong to that community. If you like music, they're all those different communities to belong to. Hundreds of them. And all the favorite restaurants and places that you like to go right.
Patrick Hanlon: 20:37
So we have all of these different communities. They all have their own creation story. They all have their own words that you have to use. If you use soccer words at a baseball game, what would happen to you, right? It would be ridiculous. Yeah, so as human beings, we are hardwired to belong to communities and as marketers or people trying to build communities, whether it's around a product or a place or around a movement or concept, gravity or Bitcoin or something like that, all these pieces need to be filled in. And what you do as you fill them in is you ping both the rational and the emotional parts of our brain, which helps things to make sense for us. And if you make more sense than the person standing next to you, then you win.
Steve Brown: 21:26
When I think about... I'm gonna list off the seven pieces that code here. But it started really to impact me. I got to attend a conference, and they interviewed a series of people, and I started to recognize a pattern in their speech. And when you think about the seven pieces of the code, by the way, are the creation story. The creed are the belief system or the one statement that defines what they believe in or really, it's a declaration or a line in the sand. Rituals are the common experiences that surround that brand or that church or that team or whatever it may be. Of course, icons, as we mentioned, these really concentrated images or smells or...
Patrick Hanlon: 22:23
Don't say concentrated smells.
Steve Brown: 22:35
That's... So I have a dog that has the one piece of primal code that we all laugh about here. That's funny. They have the sacred words, these are words that the insiders know that immediately identify you're an insider or immediately make you feel like an outsider. And then there are the nonbelievers, those that you sure don't want to be, and then the leader at the moment, the leader of the brand or the movement or the team or the coach or whatever that is.
Patrick Hanlon: 23:04
Yeah, so if you're able to string those together, and if you're able to tell someone, "Here's where this idea came from. Here's what it's about. Here's how we talk about it. Here's how you use it. Here's what it is. Here's how it's shaped through color and and so forth. This is what it's not, never wants to become, because in a lot of companies with brand architecture and so forth, you don't want to be stepping on someone else's area. And here's the team that's leading it. " I've just gone through all seven pieces of code and people who have been able to do that just matter of factly have been able to get their funding at big companies like Craft, Johnson and Johnson, Levi's, and lots of others. And they're able to go into these large corporations. They have hundreds of different projects going on and the ones that get funded if you're able to make more sense than the people who were just before you and come after you. Then you get your funding. And so that's what I've been one of the happy side effects of all this, Steve. That is something that was totally unexpected. Not really... Didn't go after that, but I think that it's just a byproduct. A happy by-product of what happens when you construct your narrative like this.
Steve Brown: 24:22
We're gonna take a moment here so I can tell you about a book I believe you need to read. Most every day for the last 10 years, I've worked with business leaders such as you, and there's this common conversation that I've had over and over, and it goes a little like this, "Steve. I see other brands excelling online, and I feel we need to do the same because my customers are expecting it of us. I'm not sure where to start, but I think we need to redo our website. What's the best way to approach this?" And this is why I wrote my book "The Golden Toilet: Stop Flushing Your Marketing Budget into Your Website and Build a System That Grows Your Business." It's a book designed to empower business leaders so that they have the words and the proper expectations to communicate what it is they really need and get what they really need instead of something that's sold to them. It puts them in a position of confidence and clarity. And so to get this book, it's a great read, you can go to Amazon, get it there, or you can go to thegoldentoilet.com and click on "Get Your Copy." Now back to our conversation.
Steve Brown: 25:45
Yeah, you know, I noticed in these interviews I was mentioning before, they would have senators or they would have these owners of these big brands, famous brands, and invariably at some point, the conversation they would state a creed. They would couch it as, "We believe..." And then they would say their creed. And then they would talk about, "When we honor our employees..." and they would mention a ritual. And then, obviously, they had these iconic things that represented their culture and in specific words. And it started to be obvious to me that the leaders that we follow and enjoy, they have these pieces either deliberately but also naturally. They just took the time to deliberately weave this in and to identify them and the nail him on a wall, so to speak, and they started to repeat it. And that's the difference between clarity of a brand and fuzziness of what the brand is.
Patrick Hanlon: 26:55
Yeah, I was called the fog.
Steve Brown: 26:57
Yeah, the fog.
Patrick Hanlon: 26:58
And you know, it's a rhetorical tool. really.
Steve Brown: 27:03
Well, I experienced it. So obviously I wrote a book we're talking about, where I talk about you and your primal code in my book. But during the process of writing the book, I took this tornado of ideas that were swirling around in my head for years and started to get it all dumped out and started to become more succinct over time and become organized. And through that book, several of these things started to reveal themselves, and it made it easier for my team to be more clued into what we believe and why we believe what we do and why our perspective is unique and where the line in this hand is. It was really cool to do that exercise. I've always wondered, what are some of the best ways that you've seen people.... They usually exist, but they're not obvious. What is a process that you take teams through to identify it, to help them like archaeology, a dig, and identify these things, pick them up and dust them off?
Patrick Hanlon: 28:12
Well, yeah, they have to be interesting. The thing that's some people do, is they... Once I lay this down for them, they go, "OK, here's my creation story. I've got that." They say, "Here's my creation story and this is the creed. And yes, here's what we believe in," and they kind of just spell it out for people when people don't really care. You have to take these things... It's like the bones. It's the skeleton of the thing, and you have to flush it out and make it interesting. You know, funny, sad. Bring some human emotion to the thing and make it interesting in some way, which, however you want to do it and whatever is appropriate for what you're doing right. And then it's not enough just to... Because, you know, advice, a lot of YouTubers...
Patrick Hanlon: 28:57
And it's not enough just to lay it down. "OK, I have it now and I've made this funny, and I have icons and appear on the screen and such in such a way in all this, in a Revolutionary War outfit or whatever it is," you then have to continually refresh those things so you don't get boring and dull. That's why things become boring and dull, and you move from being a fad to becoming a one-hit wonder basically. In the world, we call it... In the music business, they called a one-hit-wonder. In the fashion business, it's a fad, and in real life, it's just you're dead in the water. You go away. That's why 80-90% of new products fail is because they either don't do this in the first place and fill in all the blanks so people just don't understand where they're coming from and there's no story there. You started off being meaningless and you wound up being meeting us in the end. So the important thing is to keep them resonant, you have to keep switching them out and so forth. And so someone told me once that they have a chart on the wall with the seven pieces of code up there, and they just look at the wall and they go, "Oh, we talked about nonbelievers last week. Let's talk about our creation story this week," and that's what they do and then they get on with "the other 36 things I have to do that day." And so that's important to know.
Patrick Hanlon: 30:22
And the other thing that's important to know is that some of this... When you read a good story, when you read a good book, when you see a good movie, you can pick out, "Here's where this.." Black Panther or any of them. You go through it and if you're looking for it, you can pick out the creation story and the creed and all of these things because they're all there, because those are the things that helped make it relevant and resonate for us as people as an audience. And so we're just doing the same thing. Really, what I've done is I've gone back and deconstructed successful brands, powerful brands to see what made them tick, and this is what I came out with. And the important thing is that no one... While people were doing this through gut instinct, hiring smart partners who also did it through gut and instinct, and people had enough money to tide them through mistakes and so forth. But you automatically get trust, vision, sense of values, resonance, relevance, and all the things that big companies spend millions or billions of dollars trying to keep going every year, and you can do with zero money.
Patrick Hanlon: 31:37
We did a project with a conservancy in Africa who had zero budget, and all we did was tell their story. The only thing that might have cost money was created a new logo for them. A friend of ours helped us out with that and create the new logo pro bono. And we won... In 2016 or 17, we won the Gold Award for African tourism. So against all the airlines, all the tourist bureaus, all the nations, all the hotel groups, etc, etc, this little conservancy in Kenya called Naboisho won the Gold Award.
Steve Brown: 32:16
Patrick Hanlon: 32:16
And all we did was used that was used the code. So that doesn't mean that you don't need money because they certainly could have used money. We all could've used money at somewhere along the way there. But the point is that you don't need money to do that. Of course, the people with money like the Amazons and Nikes and Apples of the World, those companies are able to take this and they're able to higher really smart people to execute it. Smart, talented people to execute it and, you know, do their Super Bowl spots or whatever they need to feel the need to do. Their Instagram posts, etc. and create the buzzy little moments and to get all those followers does take money because you have to push through the networks, as you know.
Steve Brown: 33:07
So it seems like the writers of Game of Thrones, they sat down with your book and as they...
Patrick Hanlon: 33:14
I don't think they did that. But I think they knew how to do it all on their own.
Steve Brown: 33:18
Right? And so it's kind of a great exercise that exists there.
Patrick Hanlon: 33:24
But yeah, Game of Thrones is one I throw out there as one of the... that has all the pieces, right?
Steve Brown: 33:30
Okay. So over the years, Patrick, has the appreciation for the insights in "Primal Branding as it has... Was it like a big splash in the beginning, or is it even more relevant now? Have you seen a shift in the way that brands are looking at or expectations of marketing?
Patrick Hanlon: 33:50
There has been a shift, yeah. And in the beginning... Well, let's go to today. When I talk about community, everyone goes, "Yeah. So?" And I remember standing on stage after stage after stage in 2001,2,3,4,5, whatever. And talking about brands or communities and people thought I was either talking about church or minorities or movements or something or the neighborhood, my local neighborhood. They did not think of brands as being communities, nor did they especially want to create one. But that has changed, you know. And now we kind of take them for granted and people go, "What else do you have?" So there has been that shift, and I think that that shift happened through... There's a great quote that Max Planck, the physicist, had that I have kind of seized upon and that is that great theories, scientific theories, don't take hold because you finally convinced your peers that it's a great idea. All your peers, old peers die off and the next generation comes up and they go, "Well, of course, that's the way it is." It just makes so much sense. And so that's kind of where I find myself right now.
Patrick Hanlon: 35:10
And it has had success, obviously, but it didn't have immediate success, I wouldn't say, although it did have some immediate success, but it was not... It came out the same years "Blue Ocean Strategies," which was a huge hit. Primal has had more of a slow burn. And actually, when I spoke of Simon and Schuster about changing the cover last year, they said, "Well, you have a champagne problem," and there was static on the line, so I didn't really hear, couldn't hear champagne and I said, "I'm sorry. All I could hear is you have a problem? Static, static, static problem." And I went, "I'm sorry I didn't hear what you're saying." I could just let them keep talking because I thought I'd be able to figure out what the problem was. But I couldn't. And so I said, "I'm sorry. I heard there was a problem. What kind of problem do I have?" And they said again, "You have a champagne problem," and then I'm going, "What the hell is a champagne problem?" And she said, "Well, you've been able to do what every writer tries to do, and that is keep the book alive for more than 3 to 6 months." And I went, "Oh, OK, I guess I can't afford champagne, but I'll go buy some. So, yeah, it's been more of a slow burn. And, I'm grateful, actually, that I think it's better off not being a major hit in the beginning.
Steve Brown: 36:31
There's a book by Ryan Holiday that's called "The Perennial Seller" and it talks about brands like Grateful Dead is one of the examples in there. But over time, these old hits actually sell way more than any of the new hits, and it's because of their perennial nature. That's why you're experiencing that is because your book is talking about a perennial concept that will never change. Yeah, what's been the most fulfilling opportunity that has revealed itself since you published this book?
Patrick Hanlon: 37:14
Going to Amarillo, Texas and having burgers.
Steve Brown: 37:17
At the Golden Light.
Patrick Hanlon: 37:18
Steve Brown: 37:19
Now, folks, we didn't pay him to say that he that was extemporaneous, so.
Patrick Hanlon: 37:25
This was not rehearsed.
Steve Brown: 37:29
No, it wasn't.
Patrick Hanlon: 37:30
That's a really hard question to answer. I mean, people always ask me, "What's my favorite thing that ever worked on?" And I always say my next project. But I think that the one really life sort of thing that has happened is when I was in advertising, I was I had a good position and I was able to travel to Denmark for Lego and around the world basically. So I kind of thought to myself when I started my own thing, I kind of thought, "Well, that's over now." But I've traveled more thanks to "Primal Branding." And I've been in every continent except Antarctica, worked on every continent except Antarctica, and one of our first clients was the Australian Wool Board. And then we went, you know, we've been around the world for a couple of companies and, yeah. Guangzhou, Shanghai Beijing, Mumbai, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Paris, Moscow.
Steve Brown: 38:31
Have you been banned in any of those visits?
Patrick Hanlon: 38:35
Well, don't say that. One of the first places we were invited to was China. We were invited to Beijing the year of the Olympics there. So, I don't know is that 2008?
Steve Brown: 38:47
The year of the Monkey.
Patrick Hanlon: 38:48
Were invited there by Baidu and Huawei. I knew who Baidu was, but they were brand new. They were a startup officially then. But I did not know who Huawei was. And, of course, now they're in the news all the time. But that was fun. They were very nice to us.
Steve Brown: 39:05
That's cool. So what's the future? What's going on? What do you excited about coming up next?
Patrick Hanlon: 39:11
We're trying to create... Since last year, we've been working a little bit with Watson AI with IBM, and Watson... We want to push that forward and because some of the tasks that take place, no human being or even team of human beings can really do so some of this could be replaced by artificial intelligence. So that's something working on. We're also we've tried to do some private live events. You're up the first one and we did another one in Los Angeles and we're trying to do others around the country or world. Might be doing one in Dusseldorf coming up in a month or two and then going into the next thing. We were in Argentina last summer for a really terrific project. For high altitude wine that they make. They're called colome and another one called Amalaya, and that was brilliant. So we get to go to some really exciting places and also going to speak in Africa, Johannesburg, in July.
Steve Brown: 40:17
Quite the rock star. Well, Patrick, this has been excellent. Is there a question that I didn't ask that I should have?
Patrick Hanlon: 40:27
Oh, that's a great question. Also, we spoke in BidCon last year. Last summer, and that's to YouTubers. So that was really special, since my book is required reading by those guys. It was fun to be amongst them even for a little while. And yeah, I think the thing that we didn't cover is that we talk about products and services and we talked a little bit about movements, but the same thing happens when you're in place, trying to design cities and so forth. We use the same construct for that. People, places and things. Things tend to be products and services, and people it could be personality brands. A lot of people have started using it for that purpose in New York and LA. People you've heard off. And that's been interesting.
Patrick Hanlon: 41:18
But you can also do it for yourself. Some people have mentioned that, for example, veterans coming back from the wars and so forth, they've used the same construct to help them redefine who they are and how they fit into the world because they're moving from one society or one culture, the military, and moving into the civilian world which is completely different. Different values... Or that I should say that the values that they held in the military are not... They're giving freedom of choice when they moved back into the civilian world. So they're not told when to get up, what to wear, and so forth. And that's a problem. It's confusing. Let me say that. It's confusing for a lot of people, to be hit all at once with this thing. And we talked about fuzzy brands earlier. There's literally something called, I think they call it the fog, and it lasts for about a year when you get out of the military. And if you have other issues because you were involved in something overseas or even here at home, all those things coming together can be debilitating. And it can also be used for anyone moving from one place to another crew trying to move from one community into the next one.
Steve Brown: 42:38
I'm reading this book. It's called "Atomic Habits." And one thing that...
Patrick Hanlon: 42:45
Steve Brown: 42:46
Atomic habits, yeah. Little habits, little bitty powerful habits that help change... But one of the things that really struck me was that, by changing how you see yourself. by impacting our identity, it helps you make a change or it helps you move towards that identity. And so as I hear you talking about a veteran that's coming back, their identity has been anchored on that military environment, and now they're coming back to a different environment, and their identity is...
Patrick Hanlon: 43:20
Doesn't matter anymore.
Steve Brown: 43:22
Yes, and so by going through this, this process is helping them start to identify this identity for this new time in their life. And that would help them become more stable or help them move towards a more healthy expectation of themselves.
Patrick Hanlon: 43:40
Well, it gives them tools and it buys them time to help them work through it.
Steve Brown: 43:45
That's great. Well, Patrick, this has been awesome. I'm really grateful for you to have this conversation with me.
Patrick Hanlon: 43:54
Hey, congratulations on the book, before I forget.
Steve Brown: 43:57
Thank you so much.
Patrick Hanlon: 44:02
I love it.
Steve Brown: 44:02
That's one little piece of advice from this old wise author to the young little author that just published a book?
Patrick Hanlon: 44:15
I don't know. What do you want to tell me?
Steve Brown: 44:20
I think you're doing good, Patrick. I just stick to the course you're on. Don't listen to me.
Patrick Hanlon: 44:25
Well, there's two factoids that we use metrics that we use, which you've heard before, but I'll repeat him for everyone listening. Edelmann, which is a huge global PR company based out of Manhattan, they came up with a study that's claimed that in the United States Anyway, people need to hear about you from five different places before they even can acknowledge that they think they heard of you. So five different places. If you live in Singapore, it's 17 different places. So that just for starters, that's why it's better to have money than not have money, right? So if they see you and Facebook, they see you on Instagram, that's two. They hear about you on their streaming in the news or something like that, that's another one. They hear about you from a friend. And maybe they see you on the shelf or something. So that's five right there, and that's just to get, " Oh, I think I've heard of them, or I think I saw them somewhere. " So that's one metric, so you have to have the five.
Patrick Hanlon: 45:28
And then the other metric is from two sociologists in Wisconsin. Last year they came up with a study that said, "It takes 100 hours to make a friend." So if you want to be not only noticed (the five things) but also be relevant and a part of people's lives, then you need 100 hours. So add up all your Facebook views and your YouTube views and your Instagram and all of that, as well as a real-life experience, and get 100 hours in there. I mean if you own a restaurant or a bar something and people are in there for 45 minutes, they need 99 more visits before they feel like a friend. So unless something dramatic goes on, so what's that dramatic thing gonna be? How you gonna keep them there? How you gonna... So how do you become their friend?
Patrick Hanlon: 46:29
And so the other thing is that in performance marketing, people are always going for the next sale, and they're ignoring all the people who've already bought into them and totally ignoring the fact... I think that one of the things that has changed in recent years is that people opt-in or they opt-out. And it is so easy to opt-out these days because there are so many hundreds of different kinds of things and so many distractions, so easy to opt-out. So if someone has opted in and either visited your site or purchased you or experienced you in any way, it is incumbent upon you, it's your responsibility to treat them like gold. And to get them to come back and say positive things about you. Because we all live or die on our reviews. It's more important to add an extra star than is to have a Super Bowl spot.
Patrick Hanlon: 47:31
So those were some of the things that have changed in those of the things that we didn't talk about. And those are the things that I think that even small businesses need to be aware of. Actually, we had interns of small businesses... We had a plumber come to the house today and that plumber had GPS thing that told me where they were on the highway, just like uber. I thought, "Well, that's remarkable." And they actually pinned me beforehand to say that he was on his way. That's remarkable. That's compared and contrasted with the other plumber who never got back with me, never even called me back to make an appointment. So guess where I'm going next time.
Steve Brown: 48:14
Yeah, the one without the concentrated smell.
Patrick Hanlon: 48:18
Yeah, exactly it. It's perfect. You made a golden loop there.
Steve Brown: 48:24
So, folks, Patrick Hanlon, it's required reading of everyone that reads it. Not just you guys at YouTube. You guys need to read "Primal Branding," and I encourage you to do it. You heard it from Patrick himself. He's a good guy
Patrick Hanlon: 48:42
Where can they find it?
Steve Brown: 48:43
You know where they can find it? They can find it on bookshelves everywhere. Amazon, in particular, is a great place. Where else, Patrick?
Patrick Hanlon: 48:51
Amazon kindle. You can get Kindle there. There's a Kindle version. There's an audio version there, too.
Steve Brown: 48:57
Thank you, my wise mentor, I've appreciated this time it's valuable for me and for everyone listening. And stay in touch, Patrick.
Patrick Hanlon: 49:08
It was great to be here. Thanks, Steve.
Steve Brown: 49:13
Thanks for listening to another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast. For more, be sure to check out the show notes of this episode and feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, where we can chat and I can help direct you to the resource you're searching for. To learn more about how you can grow your business better be sure to pick up your copy of my book, "The Golden Toilet" at, surprise, thegoldentoilet.com. I'm Steve Brown and we'll see you next week on another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast