What does it mean to be an iconic brand?


And how can marketing teams help an iconic brand evolve over time?


Ian Stewart, a CMO with marketing leadership experience at iconic brands like Coca-Cola, MTV, and Nike, is here to share his expertise.


He’ll cover:

  • How to nurture iconic brands
  • Establishing your brand DNA
  • The meaning of “product first”
  • Knowing your audience
  • And more


Mentioned in this episode:



Voiceover: This is Performance Delivered, Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success with Steffen Horst and Dave Antil.


Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they build successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host Steffen Horst. In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about what it means to be an iconic brand and how to nurture icons to make them grow. 


Here to speak with me is Ian Stewart who is the CMO at Wedge Brand, a private equity firm that builds, buys, and grows brands. Wedge Brands provide sales and marketing leadership to companies they invest in. Ian’s experience spans iconic brands such as Coca-Cola, MTV, Nike, and Surfrider. Ian, welcome to the show.


Ian Stewart: Thank you for having me, Steffen. I’m super happy to be here.


Steffen: Now, before we dive into today’s topic, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself. How did you get started in your career? And what led an Aussie to Santa Barbara?


Ian: That’s a good question. Yes, you’ve uncovered me already. I am an Australian. Recently made an American citizen. Because I’ve been here for some time now. But I’m an Australian living in the US. And an interesting fact about me is I’ve never worked in my home country. I went to undergrad business school and wanted to get a bit of experience overseas. Asia was the place to get that. So, I went up to a job that I had lined up in Hong Kong, ended up stopping in Bangkok and getting a job there. And not coming home. 


I have been home to visit but I haven’t actually gone back to live and work in Australia. So, I’m a true, I don’t want to use the word expat. I’m certainly a global executive now. And as a marketer, we can get into this, it makes me more curious, I think, than the average because I’m always in a foreign country. Everything’s always amazing. But yeah, I mean, that’s the high-level stuff. 30 years of marketing. The other interesting fact is I’ve lived in 11 countries. 


And we can talk a bit about that in more detail later on. But I’ve always had great opportunities come my way, by nature of the job that I was in at the time, and it’s allowed me to move on. And it’s also allowed me to move to different countries. So, I started in Bangkok, I went from there to Indonesia, and up to Hong Kong, down to Singapore, back up to Bangkok, back down to Singapore, up to Shanghai over to Boston. And now in Santa Barbara. 


One of the things I found is, and we’re going to talk today about iconic brands, I’ve always taken the opportunity to work for iconic brands. So, if an opportunity came my way, and we can talk about the brands I’ve worked for, I’ve always taken it. But I think more importantly, and this is something I always love to leave with people, particularly younger marketers, to start, you know, moving through the beginnings of their careers, don’t let mobility hold you back in the early stage of your career. 


And you can use that philosophy domestically, like if an opportunity comes up a different city, that’s a great job, don’t hold yourself back in the beginnings of your career, because it’s the opportunity that you want to be chasing. And in my case, I actually moved countries rather than cities. Which is not easy. You move in countries, you have to reestablish yourself, then you get married, then you got to bring a partner, then you have kids, and you got to bring kids. You know, it’s not easy to do. 


But what it does is gives you amazing experiences. But it also when one door opens leads to another 10 doors. So that’s been my journey. I’ve moved around a lot. I definitely haven’t been on the run. But I found that it has served me well, learning the world, living in great countries and cultures, working for great brands, and hopefully making me a better marketer.


Steffen: I can just second to what you just said in regards to taking opportunities, moving around, and kind of maybe also even pushing the comfort zone a little bit. I mean, I went from Germany to study in Maine, as part of my, as part of my studies in Germany. And then from there, went to the UK from Germany, and now here to LA, you know, and I think it’s great, you’d have different cultures that you have to kind of, you know, get to know different people, different backgrounds. And it just enriches you.


Ian: It does, it does. And sometimes it is hard. Like I’ve always I spent a big chunk of my time, 23 years in Asia, bouncing around those different cities working in regional roles. So one key part of my career in all of that time, was being able to watch China open up and evolve, because I’m talking about from the early 90s. I was in and out of China, you know, way over 100, if not 200 times, and it’s a really great place to visit. It’s got its challenges, particularly, you know, with language and culture and whatnot. 


And I always thought to myself, I don’t think I could live here as much as I was going in and out and had a lot of friends and knew all the cities. I’d been to so many. But an opportunity came up to move and live in China with Nike. But it was one of those things where my heart said don’t go personally. But my heart also said, go for it from a career opportunity and, you know, packed up the family. And it had its hardships, but it had its massive rewards. 


You know, it got me into a global CMO role and etc, etc. So sometimes it can be really hard in the comfort zone. But I think it’s worth it. And particularly for a lot of your audience right now, listing from the US. You know, as I said, domestically moving cities early in your career is great. But gosh, being given the chance to go to a different part of the world is hard but go for it.


Steffen: Now you already mentioned Nike, a second go. So, you’ve worked for some of the iconic brands that I mentioned earlier. Can you tell us a bit more about your journey as you moved from one iconic brand to the next one?


Ian: Yeah, I was heading to work for a great brand in Hong Kong as a graduate and I ended up getting a job with an Australian I met in Bangkok, who owned market research agency. And it’s a really interesting start to my career, because I spent five years with that agency in Bangkok, Jakarta, Hong Kong. And I always wanted to be a marketer, it was one of those get in the door. And what it taught me was the power of insights and data and consumer knowledge and understanding it, and also helped me be curious. 


But it built me a foundation, as a marketer of understanding that, you know, the consumer doesn’t always know what they want, but they often can tell you what’s good or bad. So I did that for five years with an agency, great learning. My key client through that whole journey was Coca Cola. I got very close to their company. They were reopening up their brand into China and Vietnam and all sorts of interesting places they got to travel to, and eventually my key contact at Coke regional was moved to a different position. And they offered me the role. So it was one of those opportunities to again move. 


But to go client side, and I stuck at research and insights at Coke. I was the trend manager for Asia, which was a fascinating job. I was looking beyond three years out into what the landscape was going to look like, potentially look like 3, 5, 10 years out. So, I can tell you some great stories of what we achieved with that. But from there, I did insights. I was doing some really interesting stuff with some amazing people back then, in the early days of insight collection in the late 90s. And MTV came to Asia. 


They set up first in Hong Kong, that didn’t work with the government in China. So, they moved to Singapore, building a team and they tapped me on the shoulder and said you want to come and be part of the original founding MTV Asia crew in an insights role that evolved to taking on some marketing. And it was amazing this MTV when it was the hottest thing ever, it was one of the coolest brands in popular culture because it’s how you discovered new music. It was the only real way to discover new music. 


It was a great company to work for. We were growing like crazy, opening channels, working out localization strategies, working out revenue streams and all that stuff. So, it just a phenomenal experience. I was with them by and large for 10 years. I was with them I left for a while to start by an agency which I then sold. But MTV was a key client of mine through that agency journey. Sold the agency came back to MTV, continued on. And through that 10-year arc with MTV, I sort of added marketing with insights. 


And then I released insights and went full scale marketing. MTV led me to what I just mentioned before being tapped on the shoulder by Nike when they bought Converse and were building teams around the world to bring the Converse brand back to life. And interestingly, for Nike, they didn’t only want Nike folks to do it. They wanted to have some external talent to balance out the Nike approach in market experience and the knowledge. 


And surprisingly, one of the profiles that were looking for people who’d come from FMCG brands like Coke, tick, and media brands like MTV, tick. I was given that opportunity. So, I went up to Nike Converse Shanghai Regional Marketing head. And then at the Converse CMO at the time, still a friend of mine, Geoff Cottrill, said, look, you can be the Asian guy forever. And that’s awesome. And you’ve got a wealth of Asian experience. 


Good luck to you or come and get some global experience because you’ve never worked out of Europe and Latin America and obviously the US market. So, he’s stay in Asia, you’ve always got a job in Nike, come to US, take on a global role and potentially take over for me as CMO you know, as Head of Marketing at Converse. Another big decision. I’m an Australian with a wealth of Asian experience and very comfortable in the regions and spoke a bunch of languages. 


The thought of coming to the US was challenging, right and bringing family and kids into high school and all that sort of stuff. But I did it and had an incredible journey at Converse. We grew that brand from 600 million ish to way over 3 billion ish. And that’s where I got a lot of playbook on iconic brands. Like how to be truly understanding what the brand represents. Be truly understanding of what the brand can be to the consumer. 


Coming up with a playbook at an executional approach, and then sticking to it for many years. I was there for seven, eight years and we didn’t really change the playbook. So, Converse timed out for me because they wanted me to move to Portland with kids at the end of high school. So, I jumped ship sadly, but also happily. Family first. Spent my year noncompete working for free for a nonprofit Surfrider. 


And then ended up bouncing to Santa Barbara with Deckers where I did the help be part of the UGG turnaround. And then from there, a turnaround opportunity came to do the turnaround for TOMS Shoes, which I then did two years. So, a couple of brand turnarounds using the Converse playbook. What do we learn about brands that are successful? Let’s restart those brands that were successful, bring them back to what was important about them, getting them back up on their feet. 


And then now I’ve joined a private equity boutique with some friends who where our vision and goal is to buy iconic brands that may have lost their way, particularly coming out through COVID. And bringing them back to greatness and growing them. So, 30 years in, I’m now advising over all the things that I’ve learned through that journey.


Steffen: That is great. Now, what are some of the things you’ve learned that make a brand iconic?


Ian: Yes, yes, yes. You know, I used to say that it was a long heritage, that Converse’s 100 year and the Hunter Boots, 150 years, and the Levi’s, but I think that can come in time. I think that in this rapid digital age, I don’t think you need to wait 100 years to be an icon. I look at brands like Yeti that are doing it in short order. You know, they’ve established themselves with a very clear product identity and a very clear brand DNA and a very clear idea of who they call consumers. And they are growing. 


I just saw their earnings report, they’re growing incredibly well. So, you can do it faster. But those three things are very important. Like product first. What is our product? What are we famous for? What do we want to be famous for? And the answer to that question isn’t 100 things. The answer to that question is usually a small handful of iconic products that you love and truly believe in and you tell the consumer you love and truly believe in them and help them to love and truly believe in. 


And again, look at Yeti, we might use that as a contemporary example. But they’re really just coolers, and they’re expensive. And they’re heavy. And they don’t fit as much stuff as other coolers. But they’ve established themselves as a premium product. And they’re growing because of it. So, starting with product is important. I think secondly, knowing what your brand identity is, your brand DNA. And once you stick, once you establish that you can tinker with it, but don’t change it. 


Because the ever-changing brand identity is the thing that drives the consumer crazy. I think be true and authentic to your brand DNA, and then evolve it over time. But really stick to that. And then finally know who you’re selling to. And the core consumer doesn’t have to be the commercial consumer. I think knowing your core consumer is who you tell stories about that doesn’t mean you have to tell only those stories to those people. 


You want to inspire the noncore to come in. And brands like Patagonia do a great job of that. They have photographs of people surfing big waves and climbing cool mountains. The bulk of their customers are not surfing the waves or climbing big mountains, but you’re inspired by those images. So, know your core consumer and be true and authentic to that person and you will sell to that person because you’ll be speaking directly to them. And use that story to inspire a wider audience. 


The minute you get distracted and start speaking to the commercial target, who don’t actually know they want inspiration. They don’t want to be spoken to directly they want to be inspired by, I think that’s where you go sideways. So again, we can get back into any of those three, but know your product, know your brand, know your core consumer. Lock it in, stick to it, tinker and evolve it over time to change with the times but don’t do a radical change.


Steffen: So, the iconic brands that you talked about Converse, obviously. The iconic brands that kind of lost their way, from your perspective, it’s that they attempted to change their brand identity. And then basically that’s where they kind of went off the road.


Ian: It’s probably one of any of those three. I think there are, I don’t want to name too many names in case people are listening from those brands. But I think there are many brands that forget what their hero product is. So, at Converse, Chuck Taylor high-top and if you want to get specific it’s the black high top. So, you got to make sure that you’re celebrating the core of the core product that you have and make sure that people know that you’re proud of that and that it’s your most important silhouette. 


Yes, you can have other products and yes you can extend into other categories adjacent ideally or non-adjacent. But the minute you start talking about all the categories you have instead of talking about the thing you’re famous for, then you’re distracted, the consumer gets confused and I think you lose your way. So, knowing your hero product I think is critical and again there are many brands that get distracted. You know they are winter brand, they want to be a summer brand. 


They’re a women’s brand they want to be a men’s brand. They’re a shoe brand they want to be a jeans brand. Like yes, you can extend appropriately but if that’s your only strategy, I think it generally fails. The second one is the brand identity. I think if you try and be too many things to too many people, I don’t think you’ll win. And you have to be prepared to not please everybody. I use Vans as a great example, that it’s not always successful with their strategy, but they stand for California surf and skate. 


You know, they’ve had mixed success expanding into Asia and Europe, with its California surf and position, but at least they haven’t deviated. They haven’t then suddenly said, oh, well, Europeans ski, and we are Asian wakeboarder. They haven’t bent their DNA. They’ve said this is who we are. And it works for them sometimes. 


And sometimes it doesn’t, you know, to be honest, but they’re very focused on who their brand is, which I think is critically important. And then finally, the core consumer, as I said before. I think brands like Patagonia, who focus on the core, even though we know not everybody buying them as scaling mountains, is being true to what their inner belief is, as their core consumer.


Steffen: It’s also what a brand stands for. Right? I mean, there’s a lot of news around Patagonia about the way how the owner kind of thinks about it, the brand and what they’re doing from a more outside of the business perspective, and that obviously, you know, motivates people that kind of gets peoples’ support.


Ian: Yeah, it’s another whole podcast to talk about the role of sustainability or, or social purpose with brands, you know, at the moment. Or particularly, maybe less so now, because I think depending on like, between, you know, I e.g. the Bud Light example. But I think that the pendulum was swinging towards brands needing to be socially responsible. And I think that that’s true. But brands exist to be profitable. 


So, and there are nonprofits out there serving the community with social responsibility. So as long as the social cause supports the brand, doesn’t lead the brand, as long as they execute that profitably, and don’t get distracted, then yeah, for sure. And Patagonia, cuts their company into the product teams and the sustainability teams. And I think one leads the other sometimes and vice versa. But long story short, they’re profitable because of it. That’s success.


Steffen: So, you kind of, we talked about what it means to be iconic. How do you nurture an icon? I mean, we’ve already talked about the fact that don’t kind of deviate too much don’t kind of almost give up on your hero that made you who you are. But taking that, and then how do you make a company grow? 


Again, you talked about Converse, you said, you know, you took them over, there were at 600 million, kind of when you left there were at I think you said 3 billion, you know, in revenues. That’s a massive growth right? There was a reason why the brand itself didn’t work or didn’t attract customers. And then when you and others came on, you kind of changed things, maybe focused back on what Converse is in order to generate revenue.


Ian: Yeah, I mean Converse before Nike took it over was a licensing business. So, people were sending their orders from around the world to the catalog and received the sneakers and there was no integrated global brand story, it was just a sneaker brand. That also had come through a couple of decades where skinny jeans and tight sneakers weren’t the rage. It was baggy pants and big skate shoes. 


So, trends were in Converse’s favor. People talk about that switch in fashion trends that commerce then was able to pick up on. But that alone isn’t going to make it happen. I think we came in to find the brand around some key cultural pillars, music, art, and skate and some key core consumers and really articulated them well. And then we chased those core consumers who were already using the product in their niche tribes and communities around those pillars authentically. 


And believed that doing that authentically would ripple into the community. So, we didn’t chase the mass market. We chased those core. We used those core music, art, and skate. And again, it was it was the pendulum swung in Converse’s favor and we were able to leverage music, art, and skate in the Converse way to grow awareness, and whatever. And I think to answer your question, then that’s the place to start for all brands. 


Know your core consumer, they are your most loyal. They’ve been with you hopefully for a while and will be with you for a while and they buy a lot of you but also they are your brand advocates to not just in terms of how people see them using your brand, but also how they speak about your brand. Brands that forget the core consumer and from a retention strategy and just think about acquisition all the time, miss out. 


Because I think mass marketing can come from niche marketing. And that’s a big important part of where I think iconic brands do it so well, is that they really understand who it is at the heart of their brand and celebrate them. So that’s, you know, that’s what we’re trying to do now with the brands that we bought and are turning around is we the first thing we did is we went through what are we famous for? What product. Which wasn’t obvious. 


We may have, the brands may have gone into sort of evolution of wanting to constantly launch new but we brought it back to what are we famous for? What’s the brand’s sort of architecture? What have we been most known to be about? Whether we had drifted or not? And then thirdly, who has stuck with us through thick and thin? What can we learn from them? And how many of those can we replicate out there? So, it’s those three same questions.


Steffen: Yeah. You just literally answered the next question I had, which was, where do you start when you take a brand on right, that struggles. That has kind of lost its way. And I think that’s a great point.


Ian: I wouldn’t mind answering that question, though. Because I think that when you start, when you see a brand that’s lost its way, and it may be in decline, and it may not be profitable. And it may be filled with a lot of people who remember the glory days. And memories, brands surviving off the memories of what it was, the place that you start, is, you strip it back. And that includes people. 


Because often the people holding on to the legacy aren’t necessarily the ones that are going to bring you into a new era and a new day. So, I think there’s a really difficult period of understanding what you need to bring it forward. And sometimes, like the Nike example of Converse, bringing some Nike people across, but also bring in fresh from brands like Coke and MTV. 


I’ve learned in the UGGS and the Toms and now in the brands, we’re doing, having fresh eyes with experience on the subject matter of iconic brands, brand turnarounds, how do you get things kick started, can often come from new, not from old because of the legacy. So starting with people I think is really important. And then it’s going through that exercise with the right new eyes that aren’t going to say, but it worked before, because it doesn’t always work the same, is then getting that playbook out. 


And getting people excited about bringing the best of the past forward. And shedding the past that doesn’t make sense anymore. And I’ve got so many examples of that, to make it relevant for today. Because I think if you just sell to the customer that loved you 25 years ago, and who may now be 50 years old, you’re not regenerating a brand for the future. You need to bring the elements forward, but in a modern interpretation.


Steffen: Now, you know, obviously, over the last couple of years, the markets have been kind of rattled by a number of things. Also, marketing in general has changed. We’ve seen kind of brick-and-mortar businesses were pushed into ecommerce, because you know, no one went into stores, you know, so they needed to find a new place where they can sell. 


But there’s also, we talked about this before we started recording this notion that I don’t know, 15, 20 years ago, there was a lot of talk about brand advertising. And it was just spending money, not much measurement. Then the period of performance happened and everyone wanted to measure everything. 


And it was more about, you know, let’s scrape the bottom of the barrel until there literally is nothing left. And then what are we doing now? And now it kind of feels like we are we going into a phase where it’s not either or it’s actually both that have to work together. And everything needs to and should be and can be measurable. What are your thoughts on that?


Ian: Yeah, I’m really fascinated by this. Because probably like you, I’ve lived through many of the eras of marketing in my 30 years. And then because I started my career in market research, I was on the coalface of measurement, and first on behalf of clients, and then as you know, as a jump to Coke and became the client. And really, back then, the two things we had to measure anything other than dipstick research was tracking and sales data. 


So you had to make sure you had really good tracking tools that were measuring behavior and attitude so that you could be measuring what’s happening now with the behavior and what could happen in the future with attitude. And then you kind of correlate that. There was all sorts of fancy mathematic exercises done to forecast potential future market share and whatnot. But that’s what we had. 


And then, as the world became more digital, everybody got more and more excited about the ability to see things in real time. And really, I think it’s been only the last five or six years that everything got so sophisticated with everything’s mostly digital, or the digital tools or the digital metrics, the ability to pull client side from dashboard. So suddenly the client was in control of the data and you could look at it in real time. 


And you have CFOs asking what was the conversion rate five minutes ago. And you know, what’s the ROIs from last week and all that sort of stuff. And I think that the fixation on the ability all of us, of being able to see all this data is great was great. It has been amazing. But I’ve always sat on the sideline having spent a lot of time building brands and brand storytelling and brand heat and brand loyalty and the excitement of just brand stories that I saw that being lost a lot in the performance marketing era, particularly as we chased in the COVID. 


And oh, the irony that one of the things that COVID gave us was more ecomms and more data. And then suddenly in the middle of COVID, you know, higher CPM. And so it was costing more of the people that were throwing so much money at it because you could because there was so much demand. And then suddenly, Apple pulls the rug out of Facebook with privacy and you lose half your audience and everybody’s scrambling and having to rewrite playbooks, Facebook included. 


And we’ve kind of come back out of all that everything’s reset all, you know, Google’s got new platforms. Now Meta’s got new platforms. Everybody’s kind of like resettled down into stuff. And I think that’s been an interesting period. It was like accelerated performance marketing, like on turbo charge. And everybody was, who had who had their act together, we’re doing really, really well. 


It’s interesting conversations we’re all having right now, with brands and ourselves is, every conversation now starts with comping pre COVID. Like, what was the 2019 number? There’s so many anomalies through 2020, 21, 22 that you can’t even average them. It’s like don’t even bother, because there was all the supply chain stuff. And do you have inventory? You didn’t have inventory. Were you on sale? Weren’t you on sale? All that stuff. 


So everyone’s like, referencing what was your pre COVID 2019 number as the benchmark. But I also think people are like settling back down into what’s the bigger picture? And as you mentioned, where are we heading? If we were with brand only, and then where we got to was performance only because the data and then where could we be going? Interestingly, just to come into this podcast, I happen to see that the Harvard Business Review, this this issue, so the May-June issue has a fantastic article, which I will be able to read you in real time, because I can change my screen. 


Harvard Business Review, May-June issue, how brand building and performance marketing can work together, perfect. Couldn’t have answered the question better if I tried. But a 20-page article. What it says in a nutshell is, performance is perceived as being true data, in the short term for actual performance. And brand building is seen as being the future and unmeasurable for future performance. 


And therefore you should only do performance marketing. And actually, what they’re saying is none of that’s true. Not all, performance marketing data is true. And I believe that truly because as an example, just because you don’t click on a Facebook ad doesn’t mean that ad doesn’t work. So, the click through rate, the ROIs, whatever you want to look at. That ad is doing, is playing a role in traditional marketing of awareness building, and storing up the ability propensity to have you in the consideration set to buy later. 


You don’t have to click on an ad to make it successful. So, but that in performance marketing is heresy, right? So, they’re saying not all performance marketing is actually working based on data. And not all performance marketing is immediate, like, as I said, the Facebook ad might store you up for a purchase in three week’s time. Secondly, it’s false to say that brand marketing is not measurable. 


And I know that because back in early in my career, we were measuring attitude versus behavior and saying, we have more people who liked this brand that are buying it. So it’s indicating we have the chance to grow the brand. We’ve lost a lot of those measures. But we’ve lost a lot of those attitudinal measures that we used to only use because that’s all we had, because conversion, ROIs, traffic, AOV are all too immediate and black and white. 


So bring that back. And also saying that brand building has an immediate and long-term effect. Like if I see something that’s really exciting on Instagram, from either a brand I know or brand that I don’t, there’s a high chance that I’m going to click on it to learn more. And I may actually buy something. 


So throwing the paradigm out that one does this and one does that and re blending it into what this article talks about, which is a new blended approach to the role both feed each other in the short and the long term. And that you can actually measure both. I’m so excited about that. Because that’s not what we’ve been able to convince the CFO for the last five or six years. 


I think that’s where we need to get to where the CFO is able to say, let’s look at the totality. And as you and I talked about at the beginning of the podcast, people talk about upper, middle, lower funnel and actually think that’s only half the funnel. I think the upper funnel that we talk about is only halfway up the true funnel. 


Above that is all of the word of mouth and seeing it on the street and seeing it in press and on PR and seeding and you know gifting and retention and all that sort of stuff. There’s stuff that’s going on that we always knew above the funnel that we need to bring back into the marketing equation.


Steffen: Now, with that being said, so there needs to be a mixture of the both. The next question I always hear from when I talk to clients or peers is like, but then what’s the right balance between brand and performance? And does the balance shift? So, for example, to kind of connect it back to what we’re talking about in beginning you know, iconic brands or brands in general that lost their ways and where you have to start kind of reviving them. 


I would assume you probably spent a little bit more on brand advertising in the beginning because you want to communicate they’re still out there and then kind of focus on exactly what the brand really stands for and not the noise that is not really so relevant. You know, but then as you draw more people in there’s going to be a shift where you probably flip it a little bit. And more comes in a performance area because you have more people that actually are interested in a product or service and want to get it. What are your thoughts on that?


Ian: Absolutely. I think budgets have been tight for various reasons over the last bunch of years. But imagine a world where your marketing budget was 12% of revenue, but you stuck seven or 8% of that into digital, so you had all the rest of play with for other stuff, and you didn’t have a CFO that was wanting every single dollar to be accountable. And so you could relax. You would spend more on PR, you would spend more on seeding to the right, the influential people. 


You’d spend more on content that told deep stories that added backstory to the digital ads that you’re sending out. You might do some events, maybe, maybe not. I love outdoor. I think outdoor is a really, done well, like particularly street level outdoor like transit media and bus stops, lots of stuff. We don’t do any of that anymore, because it’s not measurable. And it’s expensive. 


And when budgets are tight, you’re only spending 7% of your revenue on marketing, and all that can be packed into performance, because you can then give a complete direct ROI and a conversion. And that’s where I want to, I’d love to see us relax back into is, let’s do some outdoor. Let’s to just spend more with our PR agency. 


And let’s do some great gifting and seeding and let’s do some incredible content that tells great stories. And let’s get really good with our performance. Let’s drive our conversion to 5%. Let’s increase our AOV, let’s get really great qualified traffic that’s going to be with us for years. Like let’s do all those things and all that other stuff that we only used to do before.


Steffen: Well, Ian, I think we could continue to talk about this for quite a while. It’s another big topic that probably deserves its own episode. You know, unfortunately, we’ve come to the end of today’s podcast episode. Thank you so much for joining me on the Performance Delivered podcast and sharing your thoughts on you know, what makes a brand iconic, how to grow them. 


And obviously also now in the end where we talked about, you know, what is the future of advertising look like? Is it brand, is it performance or is it a mixture, and how is that going to look like? Now if people want to find out more about you, about Wedge Brands, how can they get in touch?


Ian: LinkedIn is the ultimate tool. So, you can find me on LinkedIn. Ian Stewart Wedge Brands or any of the below, Converse MTV, Coca Cola, all roads will lead to me. And I’d be happy to meet anybody that says I heard you on the podcast. I’d love to talk about this some more and I’ll jump in.


Steffen: Perfect. Well as always, we’ll leave that information in the show notes. Now thanks everyone for listening. If you like the Performance Delivered podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. You want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at symphonicdigital.com or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.


Voiceover: Performance Delivered is sponsored by Symphonic Digital. Discover audience-focused and data-driven digital marketing solutions for small and medium businesses at symphonicdigital.com.