[Podcast] 'Inbound & Down' S07 E13: Brand Strategy + Ideation ft. SmashBrand's Michael Keplinger

Inbound & Down Podcast- Purple text that says S 07 E 13 Brand Strategy and Ideation featuring Michael Keplinger with a photo of Michael Keplinger.jpg

On this episode of 'Inbound & Down,' host Jon Sasala chats with Michael Keplinger, Director of Strategy and Managing Partner for SmashBrand, an Idaho-based agency that designs, tests and optimizes brands and products with real consumers.

Michael and Jon discuss—to use our tagline here—the art and science behind the consumer research and strategy that goes into the branding of products.


You can find Michael Keplinger on LinkedIn and online at smashbrand.com

Show Notes:

Do you have questions about brand strategy? Send them to inbound@moreycreative.com.

Read the episode transcript below.

Sage Levene  0:00

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Brian Halligan  0:22

This is Brian Halligan and you're listening to Inbound & Down from Morey Creative Studios.

SL  0:36

Welcome to Inbound & Down: The Art and Science of Inbound Marketing with Jon Sasala, President of Morey Creative Studios. Hey, it's Sage here! Today we're breaching a new area for Inbound & Down: brand strategy and ideation. 

Our guest is Michael Keplinger Director of strategy and managing partner for SmashBrand, an Idaho based agency that designs, tests and optimizes brands and products with real consumers. Michael and Jon discuss—to use our tagline here—the art and science behind the consumer research and strategy that goes into the branding of products. Michael shares a bunch of really interesting case studies and stories about his time in the industry. You'll laugh and learn a bunch during this episode. Okay, let's throw it to Jon with Michael Keplinger.

Jon Sasala  0:48

All right, joining us today is Michael Keplinger. This is unique for us, you're the first brand strategist that we have had on. We really talk a lot about marketing and a lot about like lead generation but really, I've never spoken with somebody who is such a specialist in brand. So, I'm really excited to have you on the show here and to have this conversation. Michael thank you so much for joining us.

Michael Keplinger  1:36

Thanks Jon, I'm happy to be here, I'm from Boise Idaho. It's so true, marketing is quite a large umbrella and we focus a lot more on the why and the what. We focus on what really drives inside the customer's head. So that all those other things that really are activation of a brand can be so much more impactful and successful.

JS: 1:56

So, your title is the Director of Strategy at SmashBrand. Can you tell me a bit about SmashBrand and how you came to, be the Director of Strategy there.

MK: 2:04

Sure so, I'm also a partner at SmashBrand—founder/partner and my business partner and I've  had a long history and a really kind of different background, neither of us are designers but at heart we're both entrepreneurs and I've been an entrepreneur for over 20 years. We have owned several of our own consumer brands, several of which we actually still own and sell and operate today.

I think that what that brings forward as far as an agency and coming to talk to our clients and what they get from us is just a perspective of kind of walking in their shoes before and really understanding how all these pieces and these decisions that you make when you formulate a strategy come together and really build the whole business because it's quite complicated.

So, I know that a lot of brands too and big agencies out there they have got amazing designers—and we have amazing designers that we have curated throughout the country in kind of our unique model here—but we're not coming through the lens of an art school designer, we're coming through having been through that and so that's what we bring to the table. I think it's a lot of fun just working on different brands and really figuring out those little pieces, that make a brand special and unique in the marketplace.

JS: 3:17

I'd like to get into your history and the products you have owned and the experience you had, but before we do just for our audience, what are the core services that SmashBrand offers their clients? 

MK: 3:26

So we're fairly niche and focus on consumer products. If you have got a product on the shelf we build those brands, we build the strategy and the design of the physical box, label, product on the shelf, so many of those products are in grocery, food and drug, Home Depot, these products that you know still sold some online but primarily are still sold on the shelf. It's critical too, because in today's day and age of marketing, that's the front door to the brand. You can go to the grocery store and throw 100 items in your cart and I bet money that you have never been to the website of 98 of them.

JS: 4:03

When I graduated from art school—I'm a designer by trade—when I graduated from art school or even as I was going through art school, somebody gave me a piece of advice that, "be warned, where you start working is where your career will end up. And if you choose the print route or if you choose the package design route or if you choose the web design route, chances are that's where you're going to spend the next 10, 15, 20 years of your life." Because it's really hard to get into something like package design and then jump to web design because you don't have that in-field experience that's going to make you more and more competitive once you're 10 years into it. 

So, something that I really did contemplate—and I always loved package design because I'd take note of really well-designed packages and point it out, and my parents would be like, "what are you talking about who cares put in the shopping cart," right? Or logo design, I'd always pick up on really great logos, whereas other people found passions in print and they wanted to work for a printer because they really understand how to properly set something up, set files up for print and they're different skill sets in different passions. 

So it's interesting that you, not being a designer, ended up here in this specific space. You had said though that you did own brands you did have your own products. I'm assuming that the products that you had and the process that you went through crafting that brand and positioning that the packaging and whatnot you were probably doing really great work and that's where this specialty kind of arrived or started to emerge. 

Can you tell me what were the products that you had and what was the experience that you kind of went through in the beginning that made you then pivot into, "hey, I could provide this as a service?"

MK: 5:33

Sure, I'm going to back up just a little bit. I will do it rapidly because I think the context always matters, right? My undergrad degree is computer engineering, so I have a very right-brained type mind but Kevin Smith who is my partner at SmashBrand, he is a complete polar opposite. We kind of overlap on about 20% and he is just that kind of really creative type. So when coming out, we launched a nutrition brand and naturally I kind of handled all the operations and the finance of the business and he really ran that innovation on new products and sales, and the marketing side of things, but I always had this vision of going back—I think, it ties into why I ended up being an entrepreneur, just getting more on the business side and going back to school.

So while holding on to my ownership of the company I left and went back to school full time to get my MBA in marketing and at that time brought on a partner who took over all those roles. So fast forward, I really didn't envision it happening that way but I really just kind of caught on board to some consumer marketing classes, particularly consumer surveying and consumer psychology and I liked it so much—in business school you can do a lot of independent studies and I think I did four of them because I applied it to our own businesses. And I was getting other MBA students and we would have an objective we're trying to do and really deconstruct the consumer and what's going on inside of their head and I'd take it back and throw it kind of over the fence into these strategies for our own consumer product brand and so as I came out of there that really led to a rather large repositioning of the entire brand. 

So now Kevin and I are working together and all these kinds of operation side things are taken care of and we're side by side working marketing—you know an engineer brain, with a creative brain and our overlap and just had some really great ideas and had a lot of fun doing it. That led to working very closely with a designer too for those brands, tons and tons of work and that was the inception point of SmashBrand and actually that designer is still with SmashBrand today. 

That's how we started and how I landed here and why that type of work and that research has married up together into what I think is rather unique in a packaging design agency of integrating that testing research strategy, then goes into design and then coming back full circle and sticking that in front of consumers to kind of simulate that buying experience through testing.

JS: 8:09

So, there is more to the positioning of a brand than just the packaging, like the things that you kind of came out of school with and the different testing and sampling. It was more than just, "hey we need to you know, use brighter colors or these colors, let's do a focus group and figure out what colors are going to appeal to people." What are the other things that you were starting to experiment with and consider that you started to find success with?

MK: 8:28

It's an easy thing to wrap your head around because we're all consumers, we all go to the store. So imagine you're walking down any aisle in a store—grocery, drugstore and you're coming down that aisle and everything that's in your head is already applied to what you're looking at. And for the most part, these brands—there are so many, it's over like maybe 48,000 products in the grocery store today and so consumers are bombarded with choice. 

And so to stand out, like you say the colors, those things matter certainly, those matter, but that's just one piece. We like to call it—you know there is a recipe that all these pieces have to come together and do the job of all of the marketing, almost exclusively for a consumer product because that's nine times out of ten, if not more, like we talked about, that's all the consumer is ever going to see.

So the early part of our work is okay, "so, I can be way more effective if I understand what's inside their head as they walk down that aisle and they look at different things," and so certainly through this process too, we want on the initial part—which we're going to really define a strategy from is—look at what's inside their head, what do they expect about this product category and what are all the other players doing? And then we'll tend to look at a lot of examples in parallel industries. 

Our audits almost always include looking at something that's not even necessarily connected and we're trying to find patterns that work and things like this and so that's the part art, part science is taking things that I think most people would find as completely disconnected and finding how they all fit together in the framework of the mind of the consumer, to have that aha moment of really positioning. And after the fact it seems so subtle and simple but to get up to that point is really where a lot of that work is and it's a lot of fun really. Then that really just leads into okay, "now that I know that and that strategy—these colors will work and this kind of positioning will work," and so my work really, to dumb it down. is to make the best design brief for our design team.

JS: 9:57

Do you have some examples of what type of like psychological influences people might have, as they're shopping for a specific product? 

MK: 10:46

Sure, so this happens a lot when we invent a new product category because, going to what I was saying, walking down the aisle you see something that doesn't fit in your mental framework, like, "where does this fit," and so presuming you can get their attention, you have the opportunity—they're going to interpret that through, what they can relate it to. It's human behavior to relate the unknown to the known and so if you're not careful about it, they probably are going to do it in the wrong way. 

So, an example that I have was a fun project we worked on many years ago, a client came to us and they had this invention that they were getting a patent on and it was 100% botanical that you would apply to your skin, this lotion ,and it would warm you up. And so the use cases are your skiing and things like this where the temperature is changing rather radically, you're not wearing 5,000 layers all day long. Or, you're in New York City—you can relate to this—it gets cold in the winter but women still like to dress really nice to go out for dinner and so they don't want to really bundle up and dress well and so that's kind of the use case.

Great idea for a product but he sticks it in front of consumers and the first place their head goes is Bengay, because it's the only thing their brain can relate to of something that's like a lotion that you put on your skin and warms it up. So that work there was rather challenging because we had to interrupt the way consumers were thinking about that and we had to get in front of what can they think about differently so that their head never goes to the Bengay thing. 

And so through kind of exploring ideas and understanding what consumers thought about or this conceptual idea of a product through several rounds of testing consumers and surveying consumers, we came up with this idea and then tested that and it worked really well. We anchored their thoughts to sunscreen and so we recommended that they call the product cold screen, and not only that, but go a step further and invent something called a CPF—a cold protection factor, and so now fast forward and this is on the shelf and you see this product called Euthermic, and it says cold screen and a cold protection factor, you relate it to sunscreen and never ever to Bengay, which is where they don't want to be. 

JS: 12:59

That’s a great example because as you're going through this scenario, in my head I'm like I don't even know where in the store to put this product, to make sure that people are properly connecting it, but it's brilliant to kind of flip it. It's like a sunscreen but for the cold, it's fantastic and you would get to have that level of influence for your clients saying, "maybe we should change the name or maybe we should change what your tag is," you're helping them make those decisions.

Do you also have clients come to you and say, "we have this product and we want to be in grocery stores and here is how we position it," and you say this would not make any sense in a store, this is an exclusively like online e-commerce type product. 

MK: 13:36

For the delivery of it yeah that can happen. Also, sometimes there is such a small amount of space you have to communicate on a label and we really focus on the primary display panel—we call the PDP—and that primary display panel, if you can't get past there it doesn't matter what you put on the back. And so, you know, if a product is so complicated and the price point is higher because consumers would not make an impulse decision on a really high priced item, you may never get off the shelf. 

Those kind of products tend to be a better candidate for launching online. You've got the kick starters and things like this where you can get some traction going and really have an opportunity to explain the product. But even an Amazon product that you know—Amazon is challenging too where you're inventing a product category because it's search driven, right? You're looking for something that you know you're looking for, those can be challenges on new product categories and defining those.

So we're going to look for the connecting pieces, how do we make it a more of a stair step to relate it to the known, so that they quickly grab some conceptual idea of what makes it different and how it compares to it so. You know we're focusing really on and these are such fun projects to work on because with a mindset and a background and really identifying as an entrepreneur that's the most fun because you're really defining something from scratch but we have got clients across the board where they have already got something on the shelf and to big brands like Dura cell that's have a lot of risk to make a lot of change and so there is a different approach to every single project for sure.

JS: 15:11

Do you have products out there, you know really well-established products that are doing things and you're, "like we could do such a better job if we helped reposition them." Like, what are the challenges of taking an established brand and helping them see growth?

MK: 15:23

Yeah, so the biggest challenge is usually their challenge, and to give you kind of an example of how—or kind of color in about where we're today as I see it really, dovetailing what I said about how many products on the shelf, how easy it's to bring a new product to the shelf to the market, Amazon inventing new brands every single day and it really is not expensive and it's a low risk proposition for somebody to go and do that. And so these brands they're able to—sometimes they do it on purpose but more often than not they probably do it on accident.

So you've got 10 ideas that you don't know if they can work at all and we don't hear about the nine that failed, we just hear about that radically new product that's number 10 that's just—now they're killing these big established brands. And I think of our RXBAR, they just kind of turned it upside down and they made the transparency of what's in the product right there on the front label and they were a challenger brand long ago, they started out of someone's garage and you know they had nothing to lose. and here they're a huge contender. 

So kind of coming to your question I think this is the world we live in today, with consumers and the marketplace and the challengers, these challenger brands, we call them and the big brands like the Procter & Gambles of the world and Quaker and Nabisco, they have no choice but to embrace more bold change. But structurally they're not prepared for it and they have a really hard time with it and so what we do—and I think where there is a critical value in the testing—a lot of those big brands do it, there are agencies that test exclusively. Nielsen they're not cheap at all, but you got that mid-level brand that they either don't know about it or they don't think about how they can really fit it into a budget or do it.

And so we can bring a lot of value there because they still have a lot on the line. We have a client called Yucatan, they make guacamole and they have been on the shelf since I think the 60s or 70s and they’re just you know, they compete head to head with some big brands like Sabre and Holy Guacamole and packaged guacamole, and they're a very traditional brand. 

So they came to us wanting to refresh the brand like you need to do to stay relevant, and had really had their head around very incremental change and it wasn't until we put it in front of consumers and tested it and really could show them with data that it would work and like look, this is your design today this is another design we're looking at that I'd consider an incremental change and here's a radically different design. 

And here is why also, I could talk about the why and where that came from but the point is that now they had data to reduce the risk and make that leap of faith and it's been several years now and they're just having tremendous growth and they have openly said they could have never gotten there as an organization without that data and that testing to back it up.

JS: 18:21

So I actually did see Yucatan as an example on your website and first of all I want to say everything that you have is incredibly beautiful, your website is beautiful but the products that you're presenting, the case studies that you have there, you guys do really exceptional incredible work—

MK: 18:36

Well thank you Jon.

JS: 18:37

So Yucatan's on there and I didn't know that it's a legacy brand, it's been around for many years. When you see the branding, I assume this is a disrupter company that has come out and they're doing guacamole different and these other established brands need to look out because Yucatan is now on the market, and that's not the case. They're a legacy brand that's kind of disrupting the market themselves simply by repackaging.

MK: 18:59

Yeah and that was such a fun project to work on because—it's so typical too where they will come to us and say, "hey, you know we're getting these new brands coming and they're kind of biting at our ankles, they're biting at our heels, what can we do about it? We need to refresh and here is who we're." 

Touching a little bit on that research side of things, as we dig in there we had some data too that actually—you know everybody has the discount card at their grocery store and the whole point of that really is so that they can track your behavior and get all that data.

So that shopper data, some key takeaways were that a large percentage of their purchases, this is what a shop average shopping cart would look like coming down the aisle, you got the Yucatan guacamole, a six pack of beer and some chips. Where is that person going? They're on their way to a barbecue or a party. And so what we focused on was, there's this segment of the consumer, the segment of the population and it makes sense right, they're going to grab this thing and go to a party. So, we focused a lot on okay, how can we make a product that I want to take to the party? 

And it actually became their entire brand position, as you can see—you'll see it in some of their—we do not do video but they took what we did to a video company. I was just so impressed by how they put it together too, because they brought the party, the Yucatan party to life and that's really where the branding went that came from that research and that data, and then really testing that.

So what they wanted to do was to attract this millennial audience—well younger people are more likely to go to these parties and things like this. They also care very much about when you change it and you've got a product that's only in your home and now you're taking it to a social setting, the way you think about what you bring is different. You know people are going to judge you by—oh my wife always tells me you got to bring a nice bottle of wine, it can't be the cheap stuff we drink at home right, or whatever the case.

So we focused on several factors about one, does it feel like a party, is it something I'd want to bring to a party, but also because they're an established brand what can we signal is authentic Yucatan, because their name is anchored to Mexico. And also conveying just visually how—going back to what I was saying about that recipe—how is this conveying the sense of authentic guacamole, high quality and taste, so we have all these pieces that come together with different objectives and we're trying to weigh them all on different designs that we can bring in and optimize that to it. So ultimately that's how they got there and it was a lot of fun and I don't think they would have done it without our process.

JS: 21:37

Yeah and I think that's another great example of the value of this, where you look at okay, on average people in their grocery cart, you know where are they heading, they have got their beer, they have got their chips, they have got their guac, you don't want to show up with a drab, packaged guacamole, you want to look like you're ready for a good time. 

Having that data at your disposal really helps you convince them or show them or demonstrate, like, "you haven't really thought about what someone's going to do after they buy your product or before they buy the product," or whatever it might be and the years and years that you have been doing this you have learned some things like that, some tips and tricks and some things might immediately come to mind when you have a new client sitting in front of you but how much of your process is new market research, new case studies, how much iterating do you do? What's the process when working with you guys?

I'd say that the key point and the driver of the upfront research—we do this is a little bit where I turn traditional marketing on its head, because traditionally—and actually even today for many things the brand is always first, right? The brand has to be first, it has to stand for something, has to mean something and you build up, your product is around that brand, but in the consumer space, it's the front door to the brand.

MK: 22:28

I can't tell you how many times that you know, these challenger brands, they get success and they really actually didn't do that thought work of the branding and so we can back into a brand, let's build some meaning behind what your product is. And so to your question, what we want to really focus on is how established is that position, what's that mind space with consumers, as they see the product and some of our clients know it, they already know it and it just needs a little bit of tweaking.

So from there, we want to always get inside the customer's head. So, our initial research is going to focus more on understanding the competitive marketplace and trying to see, interpret what's going on in their head so we can foresee how they might interpret their brand and their positioning. But a bigger project is when a brand, to your point too, earlier, they just told me like, "I don't think that's going to work, I don't think that's differentiated," and I think that there's some white space that we can find in the market, and so that might be a lot bigger, intensive, deep dive into trying to find that positioning for them.

And we might present several new positioning strategies for them, many times they're going to have a brand already. If they don't have a brand, then that brand and that brand position is going to come in conjunction with that product positioning, but ultimately those are kind of two different scenarios of where we're going to do some of that work. And that's a big endeavor and if a brand really can't stretch there, I do think that we can do a lot of really creative ideas, leverage through our experience and looking out at the marketplace and come up with—our designers are great creatives as well and they think beyond just the design but how it conceptually fits inside their heads.

And then, take it to testing, so almost every project we do has at a minim, concept testing. What we're doing—it's kind of, as I translate to the digital world, it's so easy through A/B testing to put a landing page out there and actually simultaneously serving different landing pages to consumers and figuring out what works better—but you can’t do that once it's on the shelf. It becomes static at that point. So we do our best to mimic that buying situation and trying to unpack how the consumer is buying and then we can kind of do a split test and really say okay, "here's your top competitors and here's four different designs and I've got 200 people going down each of those and I have data that shows why," and we dig deep into it but ultimately, what's going to perform on the shelf better.

And in that case they could be very different designs and so if you don't do that upfront work which I still think is valuable, incredibly valuable, we can still get to a product that almost scientifically is going to perform better on the shelf.

JS: 25:34

And you're using a lot of that learning and your thought process there in aisle, right and kind of how you treat a product, but a lot of the people may be listening to this, who are concerned about their own product brand. I'm sure a significant percentage of that's not making it into any store, it's an e-commerce play, you know they're either using Amazon as their selling strategy or they're developing their own website and you mentioned you can do some testing right? Can you can see how a product performs on landing page A versus B versus C and get a lot of great data—do you as an agency, do you contribute to building those landing pages or are you consulting there? Maybe with a web development shop and kind of just giving recommendations. Are you really in the mix doing some of that testing and experimenting?

We tend to keep our testing to the product specific and you know a retail strategy is different from a digital strategy but there are so many products. We're working on a product that actually, they initially plan to launch digital but go into retail and be on the shelf and so we had to devise our strategy, first and foremost towards that retail strategy but of course now there is potential contradictions about what we do because on the shelf it's hard to segment your audience, that you can do digitally.

MK: 26:15

So, what we're going to do and what we've done on that project in particular is really give them some guidelines. We want to create a messaging strategy about the brand and having that consistency there and so coming back to your question, and I fully understand that we've had clients that are launching brands and they don't intend to even launch in the store ever, really they don't have a plan to get there, they don't know how to get there, maybe they never will. 

So much is sold on Amazon and e-commerce and so a lot of what we're doing applies all the same. But at the end of the day you have so much more space to expand upon your value proposition as a product, as a brand—but we all know on Amazon, Amazon sellers too and we're Amazon sellers ourselves of some of our own brands—those images drive everything, they're the most powerful things, they're the front door in and the imaging is your primary display panel.

So everything we're talking about really applies there, so much money is spent after you launch a product on trying to optimize these listings, trying to spend a lot of money to increase your seller rankings through advertising, increasing those conversion rates, when ultimately the best way to increase your conversion rate and overall dramatically compound your performance on Amazon is just make a better product.

So everything we're talking about, it starts with the consumer, it starts with understanding what's going inside of their head, we commonly look on Amazon reviews to try and find where are those pain points, what are things that aren't addressed that people aren't solving for consumers, and how can we take something that actually is no different and just phrase it differently, and then understand that it's actually perceived better by consumers. So it all applies equally well to digital products as it does to consumer products.

JS: 28:06

Yeah, so the experience that you do have making recommendations with how to better improve a presence on Amazon or on somebody's e-commerce site leads me to your website. This might be a bit of a pivot in the conversation but I have an observation. Not only is the work that you do and the case studies and the products that you have on your website exceptional, your website in general is really beautiful. Can you tell me about how important your web presence is to your business?

Sure. So, I believe we're rather unique in the packaging design world, there aren’t a million packaging design agencies but there's a lot and there are some big brands. And as you talk to people that are well versed in that industry, they find it absolutely unfathomable that we get the business that we have, that we get the clients that we have, big well-known brands with zero outbound sales.

MK: 29:07

It's a relationship-based business typically and because we did it on one of our consumer brands very early on and really understood the power of going direct to consumer and doing that through content, maybe even before it was called content marketing. Fast forward to when we were launching SmashBrand, we just really understood that's where we want to focus a lot of our marketing and just answer the questions and create the discussions about the market. So for us, the website is the most important thing to us as an agency, marketing our agency, because our front door is that website and it is our unique story.

And how do we tell that story? Over time we have refined our process and we were doing a lot of these pieces and maybe not even communicating it as well several years ago about how it was all integrated into the end result being a really a better deliverable in our opinion humbly. Today where 100% of our business is generated through inbound, the website is critically important to explain our positioning as a firm.

It's funny too because you get into the weeds of it and that website is actually fairly new, it's about less than a year old, and the site we had before that, I don't think we changed it in five years.So here we're, doing all this really high level thought work and branding and positioning and how critically important it's and it comes back to just eating your own dog food, right? 

So we recently just said you know, it's not up to date but let's do our own process on ourselves here, and just really kind of dove into what the conversations we would have with clients, you know? What challenges they were facing and then also us knowing what the levers are that really move it, and so our content is derived around that, and our website and the message is broken now down into these three pillars of what we do.

Because everything really is integrated between strategy, design and testing and so that's how we landed there. From the design side of things and bringing that to life and color you know I'm going to revert to Kevin, my business partner, the creative guy. One other piece too, which we're starting to bring in is subtle, but I think it's unique too is how we have kind of flipped the view, where all of our portfolio and things are looking down from a tabletop view.

JS: 31:57

So, creatively it's beautiful, it really is exceptional, but the art and science of inbound marketing or of managing a web presence isn't just how great it looks, but does it rank, is it bringing traffic in? And when you say all of your leads are inbound leads, it's because the content that you're producing does resonate with people. Can you tell me about your content strategy? How do you assign out content, who's planning it, who's taking all the credit for the success that you're seeing with that content? 

MK: 32:25

Sure, the content is our thoughts, but we're not the writers and I don't think that's uncommon of course. So typically what we're going to do is focus on some ideas of interest. You know as you look at our case studies too these are the challenges that our clients face and our case studies alone too, our curated list of things that were meant to really be a broad spectrum.

And getting into some of the nitty gritty of inbound marketing, how that works for us, I envision that if I put my hat on for someone looking to hire a packaging agency, they have very different needs. I see that over time of what we're doing here and so how can they find us as someone that can uniquely solve their challenges? We'll clearly show them an example of where we have done it already and so certainly I think that as you talk about our website—which is newer but our content has been around and continues to grow over the last decade—but specifically on those case studies I envision those being entry points.

Many of them are newer on this redesign as being entry points, and so now in the world of content marketing and getting inside the customer's head—and the customer in this particular scenario are my website visitors who have a need and a challenge to solve—understanding them, what's their need and framing it up in the question. 

Down there in the challenge portion is actually the generic version of what that market problem is and then of course how we applied that specifically to that client and I'd envision and hope that these are entry points into discovering and learning SmashBrand because we're answering their question, the question is how do I solve x market problem, oh here is SmashBrand who does that well. 

JS: 33:52

So speaking of your case studies let's actually—before we wrap up here—talk about some things that maybe our listeners can find on your site. I had looked through and there is some really great content ,but do you have a couple specific case studies you want to point people towards, or any other way that people can go to your site to learn more about you?

Sure, I mean we've been talking and kind of touching in on several different projects that we have worked on, and at a higher level each of those or several of those have very different challenges. Duracell's coming to market and they're trying to protect their market share and be ownable and create something that their competitors can't copy them on. And at the other end of the spectrum, as we talked about Euthermic which is not on there but say Sanaia—which recently they were on Shark Tank and they're in Walmart now—they were reinventing a category of applesauce.

MK: 35:10

Coming back to what we said, so what I'd say is apply your product. Let's say you're working, maybe you're already in market and you're facing challenges of competitors, you have these ankle biters coming in and fighting with you, or you're still kind of a young brand and maybe didn't do the best job thinking through positioning and establishing that. Go through our case studies and try and find one that resonates, that's kind of similar there, and use that as an example of how we can  solve that problem. 

The Millennial thing comes up a lot there's several examples in there about what's different, what makes Millennials tick differently than the Gen Xers or the Baby Boomers, because their needs are different.

JS: 35:54

So yeah, I do encourage people to go and find those case studies, or even if you're just a design branding nerd, if you're a fanatic about this stuff go and check out SmashBrand's website. The work they do is exceptional. Michael what's the domain?

MK: 36:05


JS: 36:07

Easy enough. And for you is there any way that you would like people to find you online, social or anywhere else?

MK: 36:13

Yeah, the best way to reach me is LinkedIn—Michael Keplinger, SmashBrand. You search that and you should find me pretty easily. Or, feel free to email me michael@smashbrand.com.

JS: 36:22

Okay perfect, Michael thank you so much for spending this time with us, this has been a pleasure. 

MK: 36:25

Thanks a lot Jon, been a pleasure.

SL: 36:28

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