Marketing and branding can be silly. But we give them a ton of power to shape how we see the world.
So we made a podcast to talk about how this stuff really works (how do businesses become “brands”?), make fun of the super stupid stuff (like when brands get “woke”), and trash the really ugly stuff that businesses use their brands to hide.
And we’ll try to understand the biggest question of all...
What are the world's biggest brands horny for?
Join us in The Brand Hole to find out.
It's episode 21 andPaula Pou is BACK in The Brand Hole. We are answering your best and worst questions about branding: how to charge for your work, how to travel for business, and whether it's possible to work in this world and enjoy work-life balance (if you think the answer is yes, please life coach us).
We talk about how Paula calls her eyebrows "Scowlers," and Caitlin once again apologizes for doing something that approximates singing.
Episode 20 is a shortie of an episode with a special guest this week—Chris Barrett, A.K.A. Chris Barrett Design A.K.A. Goodnewsbarrett. Not only is she Caitlin's mom, she's also an interior designer who helps businesses make their places of business...good. How do you create a space that makes people want to stay? How can you get them in and out? And why is that chair from Caitlin's childhood in this restaurant's bathroom?
In episode 19, special guest Asterios Kokkinos joins to talk about advertising. Well, sort of. Caitlin and Asterios enter a dark part of The Brand Hole and debate what advertising should and shouldn't be allowed to do.
Also, was Mad Men about advertising, or was it a show about crazy rich people? (It was definitely a show about rich crazy people.)
In episode 18, special guest Mike Preston joins to talk logos: Why do we need them? What makes them good? What makes them bad? And why do SO many of them look like buttholes?
Caitlin talks about how she was once the worst client ever, and Mike explains the ten levels of illuminati that designers go through to be empowered with the ability manipulate consumers via symbols.
In episode 17, photographer Nick D'Emilio tries to teach Caitlin to be comfortable with photography. Doesn't happen. But she does learn a lot along the way about how to brief, work with, and not piss off a photographer.
In episode 16, Caitlin's business partner, Paula Pou, drops into The Brand Hole. We talk about how and why we left the big-agency world to start our own tiny-agency life. Before you ask, yes, it involves chainsaws and axes.
We get into some of the realities of starting a business that, as brand people, we weren't ready for, like doing math and paying for our own Post-Its. And why it's hard, but very very worth it, to run a business with your best friend.
In episode 15, author and namer Courtney Maum joins Caitlin in The Brand Hole to talk about the holy grail of business—a breakthrough. We dig into the themes in her new book, Touch, that are extremely relevant to today's brands. How DOES a thing become a thing?
Then we nerd out about naming things. Have you every heard of a Verbal Disaster Squad? You're about to.
Caitlin is speaking on a panel at the launch of Courtney's new book, Touch. Get your tickets and come say hello!
In episode 14, we get to know what Gen Z thinks is cool. Actually, we get to know what Google thinks Gen Z thinks is cool. Spoiler: They love Google.
We review Google's Gen Z research study called It's Lit: A Guide to What Teens Think Is Cool. Page by page, we discover that we know nothing about today's youth--and we suspect Google doesn't either.
In episode 13, we look at brand apologies, from sort-of-good ones to really really bad ones. What can a brand do to win back customers when it's caused serious harm?
Soylent. Taco Bell. Dole. We go deep on brands that have caused major gastrointestinal distress (why do people keep taking cruises?) and break down the must-haves for apologizing when your brand trends on Twitter for all the wrong reasons.
In episode 12, we treat ourselves the musical snack of brands: the jingle. Where did they come from? What makes them good? What makes them really, really bad? And why don't we make them that often anymore?
We cover it all, from the Wheaties Quartet's OG club banger to Tab's soothing-yet-sexist jingle of the 70s to the earnest Juicy Fruit tunes of the 80s (take a sniff! pull it out!) all the way to the Hamburger Helper rap mixtapes of today. We made a playlist of all the jingles.
Caitlin apologizes for singing.
In episode 11, Patrick Coffee, senior editor at Adweek and editor of Agency Spy, joins us to tell the story of William Grizack, a.k.a. The Griz: branding's most notorious criminal. This story has it all: $269 million worth of fraud, burner phones, an Audi Q7, and, of course, brands.
We talk about how he got caught, and, more importantly, how he got away with it for so long. What are the weaknesses of the agency system that he was able to exploit? What did it take to pull off this con—over and over, at agencies across the country?
In episode 10, special guest co-host Robert Dean joins Caitlin in The Brand Hole. We get so deep into personal branding—what it is, how to think about your own—that we accidentally rebrand Robert Dean from a regular standup into Cobert Tween, the Tween Comedian. Follow our advice at your own risk.
We also talk about Tyra Banks teaching personal branding to Stanford MBA students, Caitlin takes a 5-week personal branding course in a single day and learns nothing, and Robert Dean pitches his hotel's tagline: "If you don't murder me, I won't murder you."
In episode 9, we give brands a pep talk they didn't ask for (but one they could probably use) about how to do good in the world. Will it be easy? No. Will they have to change a lot about themselves to do it right? Sure will!
We discuss Nike's brand of girl power, and how it doesn't always line up with how the women making their stuff are treated. We talk about how Guy Fieri is bringing diversity to Flavortown. And we talk about how TOMS, a very ugly shoe brand, has been able to get popular by doing good.
In episode 8, we talk about naming (brand) names: When and why we do it, when and why we don’t, and why it means so much to your favorite brands that you mention them. (Who DOESN'T get off a Delta flight raving about their selection of Coca-Cola products?)
In the age of digital assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Bixby, we talk about what it means to call out brands by name—both for you, and for the brands who want their names in your mouth. And it turns out Mike is friends with Siri, so he drops her name (her name is Susan).
In episode 7, we learn that Caitlin's mom doesn't know how to spell Caitlin's last name (or her own). Then we haul young person and social-media expert Joey Burtoni into The Brand Hole, who teaches us about hashtags, and whether they are good. (They can be good, but there are a lot of ways to use them wrong.)
Then we explore why hashtags aren't trademarks, and wonder why brands are trying to own them as trademarks anyway. Listen, brands, don't bogart your hashtags. You have plenty of intellectual property. And celebrities, while we're talking, maybe chill with trying to trademark your kids' weird names. That's not how trademarks work.
P.S. Caitlin says REI's hashtag is #getoutside and it's really #optoutside and we regret the error ::fart sounds::
In episode 6, we paint our faces with the blood of slain brands and get DISRUPTIVE. (We don't talk about the blood on the podcast, but you're free to picture it.) We talk about businesses that are (maybe?) real disruptors, meet some mini disruptors (like Warby Parker, Casper, Seamless, and Uber), and then poke at a bunch of fakers.
We spend way too much time talking about a copycat brand called GHOST BED, reveal which deodorant brands disrupt our sweaty bodies, and Caitlin makes Mike admit she's both the strongest and most allergic woman he knows. Superlatives matter. Speaking of superlatives, we find a disruptor who calls himself the "Top Tosser." That is worth the price of the episode alone (the episode is free).
In episode 5, we talk about brands’ favorite culture: Employee culture. Caitlin shares some dark moments from her time at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and leads Mike in the Walmart cheer...butt shimmy and all. Then we talk about Chick-Fil-A, In-N-Out, and finding religion at the bottom of a fry bag. Oh, and about treating workers with basic respect (and providing decent compensation) before pursuing a big ol’ juicy employer brand.
In episode 4, we look at the math-y and mysterious world of brand valuation. How do these lists get made? How come some brands are better than others? (Spoiler: it's cuz they have more brand points). And who the hell is actually going to buy just your brand, Apple? It's definitely not us; Mike's still living on fried Slim Jims.
We also talk about the time the Where's Waldo? empire challenged Mike's right to party via a cease & desist letter, and Caitlin gives out an insider comedy ranking exclusive courtesy of good-guy Zach Broussard (top1000comedians.com).
In episode 3, Caitlin confronts Mike about protecting his own name. Then we dive into the world of ~*~visions~*~, and why brands get all out of breath for their own. Have you ever wondered what Chili's brand vision is? Probably not, but you're about to find out how lame it is anyway. Same goes for Tyson, Hormel, Amazon, Uber, and Rite Aid. Then we read some bizarre futuristic fiction from Siemens, and wonder what Tesla's recent name change really means to Vision Lord Elon Musk.
In episode 2, expert namer Caitlin Barrett forgets how words work, and then comedian Mike Albanese gets incredibly serious about how brands should (and shouldn't) use comedy and how brands can (and should!) work with professional comedians to get those sweet, sweet laughs they're after. We talk about McDonald's and Brookside, whose job it is to make a brand funny, and whether or not brands can make fun of themselves.
In our first episode, we introduce you to our completely NSFW brand-and-business podcast that asks, what are the world's biggest brands horny for?
We talk about what brands are, and how brands and businesses are horny for different things. Then, we get INTO IT, and talk about how horny brands are to be authentic. (Hey, Uber, Lyft, Starbucks, AirBnB—maybe don't feel like you need to jump into conversations because the opportunity presents itself?)