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How We Get to Brand 2030 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 301)

Brand 2030: Man holding futuristic tablet

How We Get to Brand 2030 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 301)

The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago. The second best time is today. Well, today is "ten years ago" for 2030. If you want customers to connect with your brand in ten year’s time, now is when you need to plant that tree. The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud looks at what your business might look like in 2030 and what you can do to make sure you make it there. In other words, how we get to Brand 2030.

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How We Get to Brand 2030 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 301) — Headlines and Show Notes:

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How We Get to Brand 2030 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 301) — Transcript

Show Opening

Well, hello again, everyone. And welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 301 of the Big Show. Welcome to our "fourth century." I don’t know. It’s crazy that we’ve been doing this for as long as we have, that I’ve been doing this for as long as I have. I genuinely appreciate the fact that you tune in. It makes it so worthwhile for me. So thanks so much. I think we have a really cool show fo you this week. There is a lot to talk about.

How We Get to Brand 2030: Introduction

In last week’s episode, I talked about, you know, looking to the future. That, yeah, we’re in some crappy times right now, you know, there’s no two ways about it that the situation we’re in at the moment is not great.

Fine. Let’s acknowledge that. And let’s talk about how do we move forward. And just for today or today, anyway, I want to talk well forward. I want to talk about 2030 and what it means to be a brand in 2030 and what it might look like and why you need to start thinking about it now.

You know, the simple fact is COVID won’t last forever. Yes, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck now. I get it. It just means that someday all of this will be behind us. And we know that’s true. We got through 2008. Just about anybody who’s listening to the show remembers 2008-2009, at least to some degree. We got through the dotcom crash. Some of us have been around long enough that we’ve got through what happened in 1991 and the recession there.

But if you look at historically, we got through the Great Depression. We got through World War Two. We got through the flu pandemic of 1918. The simple fact is, we muddle through. It’s kind of what we do. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t pain along the way. And I don’t want to be flip about anyone who is struggling right now.

It just means that tough times, never last as the old quote goes. And there’s another old quote that I’ve used on the show many times. I always attributed to Bill Gates — I don’t know if that’s exactly correct. But the quote says we always overestimate the change we will see in the next two years. And we underestimate the change we will see in the next 10.

The Changes We’ll See in 10 Years Time

And we’re going to see extraordinary change in the next 10 that we know is true. If you think about the advancements we’ve seen in artificial intelligence and machine learning in just the last five years, let alone 10 years. And if you go back 10 years ago, 3G phones were the norm 10 years ago. 4G phones had only just been introduced, you know, 2008-2009, somewhere in there. But you know, the iPhone, when it came out in 2007 was a 3G phone. Well, in 10 years time, we’ll be looking at 6G in mobile.

Seriously. Each generation of telecom lasts by design for about 10 years 5G is in its early days now. 10 years from now, it will be a on its way out. That’s the reality of how it works. And to think about all the change we’ve seen in the last 10 years, in terms of the ways customers interact, we’d be foolish to assume we aren’t going to see comparable change as we go forward.

And yet given that, the correct reaction is not to start worrying about all the things that will change, because we can’t predict as many of them as we’d like to. There’s just no way to know. We can make some good guesses and we can set ourselves up to adapt quickly. But our success should not depend on making every prediction perfectly. It depends on making sure we put ourselves in a position to adapt as needed.

What’s far more interesting and what’s far more worthwhile to draw on one more quote is the Jeff Bezos one about "ask what won’t change." And that’s really where I want to put the remainder of the show. Not because I’m going to talk about all of the things that aren’t going to change. But because I’m going to talk about one specific one that won’t change. And that’s the power of your brand.

And I don’t care if you’re a Fortune 100 company, a Global 100 company, or if you’re a mom and pop shop, trying to figure out how you get through the current crisis. The reality is brand matters and it always will. Always, always, always. And let me explain what I mean by this.

Why Some Brands Don’t Last

It doesn’t mean every brand will matter. It just means the power of brands matters. If you think about the most valuable brands in the world — and there are lots of different ways of calculating this, you know? We can look at Fortune 500 companies. We can look at market cap. We can look at polls of marketing experts or the like to say, "What are the most valuable brands?" If you asked if I asked every single one of you, what are the most valuable brands in the world, regardless of how you get there, there’s going to be a list where we’re going to see a lot of the same names right now. And some of them are going to be our old friends Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft. All five are in the Fortune 50, not just the Fortune 500. But they’re all in the top 50 companies in the world. And there are plenty of others. You know, you can pick your favorites who are out there.

But if you think about the most valuable brands, many weren’t that valuable a decade ago. Facebook has only been on the Fortune 500 for seven years. Google’s been there for about 14. But think about how young that makes those companies.
According to the American Enterprise Institute, the average tenure on the S&P 500 is somewhere between 15 to 20 years. It’s expected by 2026 the average duration will be about 14 years.
So here’s the thing. What makes you think these giants will remain giants 10 years from now? Just this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped its oldest member from the list: ExxonMobil. It’s been on the list since 1928. Brands sometimes fade.

Of course, you’ve also got to ask what makes you think that those brands don’t know that. One of the reasons gatekeepers gonna gate, one of the reasons they are such fierce competitors, is that they feel threatened. Since I’ve been breaking out old quote after old quote, during this show, you know, there’s another old one that says it’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get to you.

Why Brands Still Will Always Matter

Now, you’re probably listening to this and saying, "Wait, didn’t you just say a minute ago, that one of the things that won’t change is that brands will remain powerful?" And here I am talking about all these brands that may not be as powerful in 10 years time. And I want to make a clear distinction here between the power of an individual brand, any individual brand, and the power of brand generally, how powerful is is for your business.
One of the big reasons I don’t like Google is because that’s where your competition lives. If someone does a search for a solution that you offer, not by name, but by category, they might find you. If you do a really good job in search, you might rank there. They might also find someone else who does a comparable or competitive substitution thing. And that’s bad for your business.

Wouldn’t it be better if that customer simply typed your name into their browser, or simply asked Google to take you, take them directly? It’d be better if they just came to your site or opened your app or opened the messages that you’ve sent them, regardless of the platform it was delivered on. If we’re talking about where we’re going to be in 10 years, who knows, we may not be carrying phones. We may be walking around with earbuds in constantly that we can talk to or talking to our watch. But what we want customers to do is ask for us by name, because that’s always going to be better. Because then they’re not going to ask a gatekeeper, "Hey, show me all of the people who compete in this space." Because when the gatekeepers do that, sometimes the person they choose, sometimes the company they choose is going to be not you. And that’s why I think it’s so important to talk about brand 2030 today.

Best Time to Plant a Tree

Because what you want to start thinking about is how did these big powerful brands get there. And I’m going to recite one more of these old quotes I seem to be throwing out today. People always say this the best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago. The second best time is today. Well, right now is 10 years ago for brand 2030, whatever your brand happens to be, this is your time to plant that tree.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re a huge company or a small company. And it doesn’t matter if your ambition is to become a huge or company or just get by, just live your life. That’s okay. You need to plant that tree today.

Focus on Customer Experience

And how did these companies get there? Well, at least early on, they had a relentless focus on customer experience. And this is something I’ve talked about in a number of shows lately, but they listen to customers. They take care of customers. Peter Drucker once said the first job of a business is to create a customer. You cannot create a customer if you don’t know what they need.

When we think about brand, I have a very simple definition of it. It’s not your logo. It’s not your colors. It’s not your font. It’s not your advertising. Your brand is the sum of experiences your customers have with you. It’s not just what you say. It’s what they experience. It’s what they live. And when you put all that together, that’s what builds a powerful brand. And when what you say and what you deliver come together perfectly, that’s when you build a truly great brand.

Great Customer Experiences Market Themselves

Another thing that you must do is you must let the product market itself. Think about the brands that have sprung up in just the last handful of years that everybody can name, you know, Uber, Airbnb, DoorDash, Lululemon. Where’d they all come from? They didn’t have lots of television commercials, generally speaking. They didn’t have lots of radio commercials. They didn’t have lots of banner ads necessarily. They let their customers tell a story on their behalf. They engaged what I always call the secret sales force. In many cases, if you think about Lululemon, or you think about Uber or you think about Lyft, you think about DoorDash ,every time you used the product, anybody you were with saw you use the product. The people who live in your neighborhood saw you use the product. See you use the product. So it’s great marketing.

Plus customers have a great experience with it — because you focus on customer experience — and they want to tell their friends about, "oh my gosh, this cool new thing I used. Or this great new place I went." It’s really simple playbook. It doesn’t mean that you don’t do the other kinds of marketing. It doesn’t mean that we won’t adapt to new devices and new search techniques or new social techniques or things like that. But the fact is it will always come back to let’s have a really strong brand based on customer experience and customer advocacy.

Yahoo and the Peanut Butter Manifesto

If you look at companies that have failed in the last 10 years, it’s usually because they got away from this. My favorite story about this, it actually makes me kind of sad, but my, one of the best case studies I know about this is Yahoo. Very, very famously, one of their senior vice presidents in 2006, wrote a memo that became known as the Peanut Butter Manifesto. It was an internal document and he wrote all about how the company had lost their way, they’d lost their focus. It was called the Peanut Butter Manifesto because he said they spread their resources too thinly rather than being good at anything, they did a thin layer across a ton of things. They spread themselves like peanut butter. And they were terrible at pretty much all of them, which is why Yahoo doesn’t exist any longer in the way that it once did.

Plant a Thousand Seeds to Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom

Now, the last thing you need to do is you need to let a thousand flowers bloom. Try different stuff. Test. Do a little bit in a couple of different areas and see what works.

Now it might sound like I’m contradicting myself. I just said, don’t spread yourself too thin and don’t spread yourself like peanut butter — and also let a thousand flowers bloom. How can those both be true?

Well, it doesn’t mean that you keep watering a thousand flowers. It means that you test. Seeds, the things we grow flowers from, are cheap. To go from a flower to a garden or to a greenhouse requires pruning and getting rid of anything that shades your most beautiful, best growing opportunities.

So you plant a thousand seeds, you see what comes up and what’s got the best opportunity to grow. And then you get rid of the stuff that isn’t going to take you where you want to get to. And that’s how you avoid spreading yourself too thin, like peanut butter.

Companies Launched During the 2008 "Great Recession"

And if you think right now that it can’t be done because we’re living through the middle of this ridiculousness that is COVID, there are ton of success stories of companies that were founded in 2008, for instance, you know, Act-on and Bitly and Tealium and Waze and ZenDesk, which was actually founded in 2007. But in some ways that might be worse because they were founded right before everything went to hell in a hand basket.

Conclusion: How We Get to Brand 2030 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 301)

You can do this. I know it may seem weird to be talking about where you’re going to be 10 years from now when you’re not even sure how you can get through the next 10 months. There is a path that you can follow. You just need to think about where you want to be in two years time. Think about where you want to be in 10 years time. Look at where you are today. Look at what your customers’ needs are. Think about what gets between those situations, where you want to be and where you are, and then start outlining the plan for how you go from point A to point B.

I’m also going to put in a shameless plug, listen to some of our past episodes. You know, I’ve put together a guide to the best of Thinks Out Loud that you can download. I’ll make sure it’s in the show notes and there’s a whole set of fairly recent episodes that can help you go through this. And you can subscribe to the podcast as well.

But listen to your customers, focus on customer experience. Focus on creating a great brand experience so that people will come to you directly and tell their friends and family and fans and followers about you. That’s how you get to Brand 2030. That’s how you get to live 2030. And that’s how you create a brand that will truly last and get to experience the power of brand for yourself and for your business.

Show Outro: How We Get to Brand 2030 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 301)

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week, but I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode, as well as an archive of all past episodes. By going to Again, that’s Just look for episode 301.

As I mentioned a moment ago, you can subscribe in any of the episodes you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week. You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Radio, Overcast, wherever fine podcasts are found. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud or Thinks Out Loud, we should show up for any of those.

As I’ve said before, I would also very much appreciate it if you could provide us a positive rating or review while you’re on your favorite podcatcher. It helps new listeners find us, helps us show up better in their search engines and it helps new listeners understand what the show is all about just a little bit better. It makes a big difference to the podcast. It means a ton to me, and I would really appreciate it.

You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter. And of course you can email me by sending an email to Again, that’s

I’d also like to thank our sponsor, SoloSegment. SoloSegment uses machine learning and anonymous behavioral data to automatically connect website visitors to the content they need to achieve their goals. They do this in way to ensure privacy compliance, address the needs of your website, visitor and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your marketing team. You can learn more by going to Again, that’s

With that. I want to say once again, how much I appreciate you tuning in today and for the other 300-plus episodes we have behind us now. It means so much to me. It’s just really gratifying that you choose to tune in week after week.
I hope you have a great rest of the week, wherever you are, wherever you may be. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. And I look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then please be well, be safe and as ever take care of everybody.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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