Brands can own sounds? Yeah, that's a thing. Special guest Kevin Perlmutter of Man Made Music joins today, in the first of two episodes, to explain sonic branding. What is it? What does it include? Is it just, like, jingles? (Spoiler: NO.)

Wht th fck, brnds? Creative strategist Natalie Balthrop joins today to talk about brands dropping vowels and picking up a whole lot of obnoxious brand baggage. From the simple dropped "e" in Flickr to vowel-free BHLDN, we dig into the many ways brands give up A, E, I, O, and U (occasionally Y, sure). Help us put an end to the War on Vowels!

Alert! Alert! Interbrand's Best Global Brands list of the top 100 brands in the world is LIVE and that's all we're talking about in this week's episode.

Special guests Nora Geiss and Markus Hutchins join Caitlin to question absolutely everything about this list, from its theme to its methodology to the dollar values attached to these brands...and then we all admit that the list still matters and is important anyway. to see the list and download the report—let us know how you feel about the list!

Today, special guest (and Caitlin's business partner) Paula Pou talks about when brands go too far in service of creating "brand experiences": when they tell their employees, like, how to be a person. From personal hygiene to jaywalking to encouraging criticism of fellow employees, brands try to control how employees look, speak, and behave in ways that create a job on top of their actual job

Lauryn Bennett of Villain Branding drops into The Brand Hole today, to talk about how brands talk. What's a voice based on? Who should use it, and how? And when does it get in the way of clarity?

It’s not even controversial to say that the state of politics today is BAD.  Special guest Anjelica Triola, of Skill Committee and Creative Caucus, joins to talk about how politicians and political groups can use the skill of branding to be clearer, more consistent, and maybe even dabble in being relevant to modern voters (too much to ask?).

Brands are notoriously bad at goofs (see: April Fools' Day). Comedian Zach Broussard is good at them. So he joins Caitlin today to talk about some of the best goofs he's done and if brands listen verrrrrrry closely, they might learn something. 

For more info on Zach's latest goof, check out the New York Sorta Marathon

When a word becomes a buzzword, it's on its way to being meaningless. Comedian and linguist Myq Kaplan joins Caitlin in The Brand Hole today to say goodbye to formerly good words, like "empathy." It's fun!

Also you can hear Caitlin on Myq's podcast talking about very un-brand-y things.

Today, Caitlin and special guest Nora Geiss give the Kardashians far more respect than they deserve. Nora, Beautiful Mind-style, lays out the universe of the Kardashians and the strategic intent behind each member of the Kardashian clan's brand. (If nothing else, we can admit that the Kardashian family knows what they're doing.)

Will you think the Kardashians are good now? Maybe not. Will you ever be able to look at their collection of brands and businesses the same again? Certainly not.

Paula Pou is back! Caitlin and Paula are on the road, doing their real jobs, so a short episode about one of the most polarizing issues in America today: Miracle Whip.

We ask and answer critical questions such as:

  • Why's it called that?
  • Wait, what is it if it's not mayo?
  • They want me to keep an open WHAT?
  • What's wrong with you if you like it?

And more! (But not that much more because we have to go to a meeting.)

Rachel Bernard, VP of verbal strategy at CBX, joins Caitlin to talk about one of the most important parts of brand naming: making sure it's not incredibly offensive. We get into why we check for linguistic issues, what we look for, and, most importantly, we tell tales of all the ridiculous disasters we uncover (or create).

Paula Pou joins Caitlin once again, in an episode that was definitely prepared well in advance and was not in any way a last-minute concept. We review MIT Technology Review's 50 Smartest Companies for 2017, a list that in no way was developed to be judged by brand experts, and we judge it. We judge it hard. 

Nick Horbaczewski, CEO of the Drone Racing League, pops in to tell us about branding something that didn't exist before. Like a Drone Racing League, for instance.

We talk about building a brand and business at the intersection of sports, technology, media, and entertainment. And then Nick tells Caitlin about the future of robot sports and she freaks the hell out and hates it. (Zorlon IS number one, though.)

Paula Pou is back again, and we finish answering your branding questions, such as:

Thought leadership: Barf?

How do you resolve a dispute in the world of branding and advertising? (We won't even make you listen for the answer: It's arm wrestling.)

And where do branding folks go when they get burned out? (We've got a great idea for a farm upstate...)

Everyone is so horny for start-ups these days: What's up with that? In episode 23, we tackle that question with a real-life start-up founder, Jonnie Hallman of Cushion. We talk about starting your start-up without funding, how to exist outside of the bro-y culture of the start-up scene, Employee Larry, and why the hell there is such an obscene definition of success in the start-up world. 

In episode 22, we talk about talent with none other than Hugh Tallents, partner at cg42 and a Very Charming British Man. Why does the business world have so many stereotypes about the people it employs? And why are they all completely true?

We talk about whether to get an MBA, how to hire, why to invest in your junior talent, and which of us can wear zebra pants. 

It's episode 21 and Paula 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 (

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?)