A product or a service becomes a powerful tool to a client when they can clearly see the good it can do for them and their business. Entrepreneurs tend to tell clients what they think and tell these clients what they want. Greg Logan turns this around and tells investors to be good listeners for their clients. To define your business brand helps once this is established because it will give the client a clear idea of the service and experience they can get. Learn more of Greg’s genius way of copywriting a business model and turning it into a valuable brand.
Our guest is Greg Logan, the Founder of TheDefinery.biz which is a consulting firm that helps businesses of any size become brands. He has an amazing ability to hone in on what your pitch should be, what your brand should be and he gives examples of what it looks like of what he does when you look at Apple. He even coaches me on how to hone in my own particular pitch. He has so much experience from working literally around the world as a creative director on big brands. He quotes Leo Burnett who he worked for, one of the big agencies, and he says, “Don’t tell me how good you make it. Tell me how good it makes me when I use it.” He said, “The key to winning pitches is to become a good listener.” Find out how he does that and more. Enjoy the episode.
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Turn Your Business Into A Brand and Define Your Business Brand with Greg Logan
Our guest is Greg Logan. Greg started as a copywriter at Leo Burnett at the age of nineteen. He worked for seventeen years for Leo Burnett from Sydney to Milan where he was a creative director at a young age of 25. Then he started and sold his own agency, McMann & Tate. That’s the one Darrin Stephens used to work for, for those of you who are big Bewitched fans like I am. He has literally created some of the most award-winning and popular advertising over the last twenty years, such as United Airlines, Qantas, Kellogg’s, Fiat, Procter & Gamble. It just goes on and on. He’s been the executive creative director of large branding agencies and he also writes reality TV shows. He would be one of the few people in the world to win these awards across advertising, film and TV. It’s like an actor winning the Emmy, the Oscar and the Tony Award. He’s an Australian. Now, he lives in LA. I’ve heard him speak. I couldn’t wait to get him on the show. He now has an agency consulting firm called The Definery which helps small and medium businesses become the all-important brands. Greg, welcome to the show.
Thank you, John.
It’s always so wonderful for me when I actually get to hear someone like you tell their story and then bring that incredible career and insights to The Successful Pitch. One of the stories I always love to ask people is, what’s your story of origin? I just started to give people the sense of it. At a very young age, you were working for one of the big ad agencies in the world. Paint us a picture of that. Were you inspired by Bewitched?
At the age of ten, I wanted to get into advertising because of Darrin Stephens. Up until the age of ten, I wanted to be an actor. My mom’s twin brother was an actor. I was pretty good at it. It was in my DNA. Every year at the school play, I was cast as the lead. Then when I was ten I said to mom, “Why does Uncle Peter give us really cheap Christmas presents?” She said, “Actors don’t make very much money.” I was like, “Are you serious?” That was the end of that career at the age of ten. I never thought about it again. I used to love Bewitched and I loved D’s office. I loved the briefs he got. I loved his sloppy desk where he had created the stuff. I loved how he presented and pitched. I said, “What does he do?” She said, “He’s a creative in advertising.” I said, “Does he make a lot of money?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “That is what I want to do.” I never changed from then all through high school. When people leave high school, they’re wondering, “What am I going to do with my life?” I already knew. I left school. The next year, I was working at Leo Burnett and I was working on huge jobs. It was so clear. Darrin Stephens plays a big role in my life. After seventeen years at Leo Burnett, I left and started my own agency. I said to myself, “If ever I have my own agency, I’m going to call it McMann & Tate.” I did.
Two questions that beg, the first one is, do you now give good Christmas presents to your relatives?
Yes, I do. Uncle Peter still gives us really cheap Christmas presents.
The second question is, having worked in advertising myself and selling advertising for Condé Nast for a number of years, I’m very well aware of Leo Burnett. I come from Chicago and that’s a big office for them. They have a reputation for having really fresh, shiny red apples in the lobby. That’s their branding. Tell us the story behind that.
It’s actually a really beautiful story and very few people know it, even people who work at Leo Burnett. Leo Burnett spends millions of dollars not only putting the apples in, but there are some countries that they don’t grow apples and they even import them from countries that do so that every office in the world has a bowl of fresh apples in reception. In the Sydney office, I know the couriers used to love coming here and they would always take an apple. The reason it exists is Leo Burnett started his advertising agency straight after The Depression and people said to him, “Are you crazy? No one wants advertising. No one has any money. Very soon, you’re going to be standing on this corner selling apples.” Leo put a bowl of apples in reception to remind him and also all his staff what they could be doing if they weren’t doing what they loved.
It was just one of those things that was a gentle reminder of, “We’ve got to work harder and we have to do the right thing.” If anyone just Googles Leo Burnett quotes, you’ll see he was quite a wise man and a good man. He was a bit of a grumpy old thing too. He was not dissimilar to Winston Churchill not only in his eloquence, in his quotes, but also in his look and manner as well. Outside my office was a quote that said, “If you reach for the stars, you may not grab one but you won’t come up with a lump of mud either.” It’s just such a simple thing. It’s not saying, “You may not grab one. We may not always get to where we want, but actually if you try and achieve it and you try and reach for it, you’re going to do a hell a lot better than if you don’t.” He had so many incredible quotes. Just that apples at the reception is a beautiful statement.
For me, it’s not only a gentle reminder to do what you love but also to be grateful that you get to do what you love. That’s my big takeaway. That’s what really resonates with me. One of the other quotes from Leo Burnett that you showed in your wonderful keynote was, “Don’t tell me how good you make it. Tell me how good it makes me when I use it.” Tell us how we can incorporate that mindset into our marketing messages when we’re trying to get people to join our team or get people to become clients.
I think it’s tapped into something I really, really believed in and something that he, from his grave, taught me. We have this desire as humans to tell people what we think and tell people what we want. In advertising is, “Isn’t my product great? Look what it does.” Actually, a person wants to feel better. A person wants to look sexier. They want to look trimmer. They want to have healthier hair. They want to be smarter. If you start feeding the audience with how good they could be with the product, it’s far more powerful. He also said another quote which was, “If you can’t turn yourself into a consumer, you probably shouldn’t be in this business.”
That’s just one of my favorite things ever that I talk about all the time on The Successful Pitch, which is you must show empathy. Whether you’re giving a keynote talk, you have to show the audience that you have been in their shoes. Whether you’re getting someone to potentially hire you to be a client, you have to give them examples of you understand where they are and where they want to get to and possibly you’ve helped other people just like them. It all starts with the empathy factor that builds your likeability.
You have to put yourself in their shoes. It is something that people never, ever do and it’s so simple. Before anything, not just a pitch, anytime you send an email to someone, if you’re having a fight with your partner, if you’re having a disagreement with your neighbor or the work they’re doing in their yard, rather than just going out and blurting out what you want and what’s in your head, before you do you go, “What’s going on in their mind? I’m going to put myself in their shoes. What are they thinking?” Then you can tailor what you have to say that’s going to address what they want, what they want to hear. If you go back to that quote that Leo said, “If you can’t turn yourself into a consumer, you probably shouldn’t be in this business,” I take that a step further and also go, “If you can’t turn yourself into a client, you probably won’t be successful in this business.” I have a pretty good strike rate in pitches. People think, “It’s because you’re such a good presenter.” Those things help. It’s because I’m a good listener that is why I win pitches. It’s such a simple thing that people don’t do. When we’re asked to pitch that’s loaded with all this other stuff of, “I’m giving a presentation and someone wants to know what I have to offer and what I’m going to bring to the table.” People take that of, “How am I going to impress them? I’m going to create this and that.” Then you go off in tangents and go, “This is a really good idea. They’ll love this.” It’s actually you love that. You could be lucky and you blow them away, but it’s not probably what they’ve asked for.
Your consulting agency is called Definery. One of my favorite things to do as part of the story of origin when I’m working with clients is how did you come up with that name? What does it mean? How does it define what you do?
I’m helping small to medium businesses become brands. That’s what I’m doing with The Definery. I’m taking everything that I’ve learnt from helping really big, rich companies get richer and I’m distilling it down to the most important stuff. I used to have big arguments not only with my advertising agency but after advertising, I worked for some huge branding agencies as well. I used to say, “We are spending all this time and effort on all this stuff.” Everyone out there would have heard about big hairy audacious goals and mission statements and purpose and goals and personality and values and SWOT analysis and this and that. What happens is you deliver this book of, “Here’s your brand,” and it’s so long and it’s so complicated that you hand it down to your agencies and people in your company and no one can actually use it because it’s just too much stuff. It becomes blah, blah, blah. I took everything that I knew and I just took the stuff that really made a difference. What The Definery does is it starts with your business definition.
What I do is I start with a business definition. Most agencies won’t do that. They’ll just hear what the business is and then tell them what the brand is off that. Whereas I’d rather start with, “Why are you in business that’s going to make money? What is the most potent thing about your business and why it’s going to succeed?” What I do is I’ll turn it into something in a way that the business has never heard about it before. I always use an example that I did for Apple. They didn’t pay me. This is me just in myself. If I look at Apple I go, “Their business idea is computers for people who don’t like computers.” You’ll never see that written anywhere of what Apple is. It will be a very rational statement about technology. You look at that and you go, “That’s going to make money. That’s why they’re successful.” Off that business definition you go, “What is the human benefit of that? What is the consumer going to experience?” For Apple, that would be revolution. Everything that they do and you feel is revolutionary from the advertising to the design of the products, to the store design and the experience. We define a brand idea then off that, everything a brand does, whether it’s the website or your logo or your name, comes from those two things.
The other thing I’ve started to do is a verbal definition because more and more, people need to quickly define and tell people what their business or their idea or their startup or whatever it is, is. I said, “I listen very well.” The other difference with The Definery is instead of me going away and coming back a month later and saying, “This is what I think,” I create these things in the room with the people who run and own the business. All I do is I listen to them and I pull out and I basically copywrite what their business is, but in the best way they’ve ever heard it.
I love that Apple example because if you look back at the history of their advertising, it started off with a Super Bowl commercial about going up against IBM. Then it evolved into the Think Different campaign. It’s still about revolutionary, not going with the norm and there are other people who are iconic. If you see yourself as a Picasso kind of person, reinventing and disrupting things, then this is the computer brand for you. I think you’ve carried that through really well. I’ve never seen anybody else do it. I think for people listening, they really can have some great takeaways here going, “What is my business definition? How do I define my brand?” It’s so important to have a good brand because that defines your culture. Don’t you think, Greg?
Yeah. The brand ideas I come up with businesses, it’s amazing how many owners say, “I’m going to employ people based on that brand idea.” I want them to embody our brand. It’s because the brand idea isn’t something that I’ve just made up. It is the human benefit of what their business is all about. That’s what I do is I inextricably link the business and what’s great about the business to why consumers are going to fall in love with that business and come back again and again and again.
You’re someone who I know can think on their feet and be creative. I’ve seen you do it. Do you want to play a little bit and just give people an example of me using these three models and I’ll say something, then you can tweak it and say, “See how much better that is?” I think it’s one thing if you’re looking at Apple and you’re like, “I’m not Apple.” You really specialize in small and medium businesses even if it’s just a solopreneur or whatever it is. Business definition for me is, “I’m The Pitch Whisperer and I help people go from invisible to irresistible.” That brand definition for me is forget selling and tell stories instead. That separates you from everybody else out there trying to push their message in because when you become a storyteller, you pull them in as opposed to pushing. Then the brand expression of that is once you can tell great stories, Plato said, “Storytellers rule the world,” then that allows you to take that skill and apply it to everything else that you’re doing in your life to pitch to get people join your team and get new clients and anything else you want to do in your life.
Your line, “from invisible to irresistible” is really powerful. I think that’s your business idea. You’re a Pitch Whisperer, you would say, “My business is I turn the invisible into the irresistible. That’s what I do.” Then your brand idea is, what is the human benefit of being irresistible? That acquire confidence, its success, people trust you, it’s magnetic. I think your brand idea is magnetic because you are going to draw people to your clients. What you instill in them just makes them magnetic. Everything you then do with your brand would embody that magnetism. You’re a pretty easy one. You know this stuff better than most. As a brand the idea is, “I turn people from invisible to irresistible.” If someone sees that, it’s like, “That’s going to be successful. Give me some of that.” The only tweak I would make is just make your brand idea magnetic.
That’s the perfect word and that’s the whole concept. A magnet pulls people in. That’s brilliant. Not everybody can do that. We hadn’t rehearsed this. That’s what I love is because now people can really see if you could do that for me and not just a theoretical Apple then the contrast is no matter where you are, and even with someone who’s got some thought put into it, you take something good and make it great, Greg. That’s what you do. That’s why I wanted to have you on the show to really show that skill off because that’s your genius. I don’t use that word lightly but it really is. It’s your gift. It’s your skill. It’s been honed over years and it’s just a huge gift to everyone that gets to work with you.
It has been fine-tuned over the years. When you work in advertising, your degree of difficulty is so high. In 30 seconds or a billboard, you have so many mandatories that the client wants you to do and sometimes they’re budgetary and sometimes it’s proof points of the product. You have to then make it sing and make people actually want it and get excited about it. You then have to also create this with all the other jobs you’re doing in a short time as well. Your brain gets problem-solving fit. The thing that has been the biggest factor in success in my career is I listen. The amount of pitches I’ve won and afterward it’s always great to ask, “Why did we win the business?” The thing I’ve heard again and again is, “You really listened to us.”
That’s the number one reason why clients lose clients too. I’ve worked with a lot of people helping them win back a client they lost. The number one reason isn’t the competition, it isn’t the pricing. It’s, “You weren’t listening to me. I told you I needed this, you gave me that. I told you I was worried about this deadline not being met. You said, “Don’t worry.” The deadline didn’t get met. Whatever it is, you didn’t listen.” Behind that is sometimes they won’t come out and say, “You’ve got the business because you listened.” They might say, “You’ve got the business because we felt like you’ve got us, you understand us,” which is just another way of saying, “You listened really well.” I just wanted to point that out to everybody is it may not come in that exact wording but it comes in other ways, so recognize it when you hear it in terms of, “You understood us or you get us.” This applies to dating too, “You get me.” That’s everything. You’ve worked on both United and Qantas. I’m fascinated by that because most agencies only have exclusivity within an industry like that. Tell us a little bit about the differences between those two brands when you were working on them.
Actually, that was just a couple I’ve put in my bio. I’ve actually worked on Cathay Pacific, United Airlines, Qantas and Virgin.
I’m a big airplane buff. I used to work for TWA when it was around. I’ve worked with Gensler on helping them with their pitches to build airports, so this is going to be really interesting to me and hopefully everyone else. You’re starting off with what can be perceived as a commodity. You buy your ticket. Is it only based on price? They each have different positions of, “Fly the friendly skies,” or whatever the tagline is. How do you help different airlines separate themselves in a sea of what could be perceived as, “I’m just going to buy the cheapest ticket?” Is there really a difference?
United was the trickiest to work for because they really see themselves as the big main brand and I don’t think they have a lot of personality. Inherently in their brand is very little personality. When trouble happens like we saw recently, consumers really give them backlash because all they have to talk about is a big company. I’m not even saying brand. It’s a big company that treats me like a commodity. Whereas with Qantas, I’ve worked very closely with Qantas on their brand and I created their tone of voice. For people who don’t know what that is, it’s the unique way a brand writes and speaks. The fact that Qantas is even interested in doing that says a lot about them. They want to talk to people from their own unique point of view. Just like I do with The Definery in defining what a business is about, I do the same thing with tone of voice. Instead of lots of rules and regulations in a big bible that no one does is I take the personality traits of a brand, in this case an airline, and I translate that into ways that people would speak. Then I go, “If someone spoke like this, this would be the essence of them.” For instance, for a big online betting company, it was cheeky and whatever. It was, “We speak with a wink.” You know exactly how that speaks. With Qantas it was, “When we speak, it feels like home.” For people who fly Qantas, Qantas is so inextricably linked to the Australian spirit and psyche. Wherever you are in the world, you step on that plane and there is an attitude that is so Australian and you get on and you go, “That feels like home.”
I would say even more so than British Airways does for London. I know I’m on a British flight but it doesn’t have the same for me. This is strictly my opinion.
They’ve become a bit United, whereas Qantas could easily do that. Qantas is the biggest Australian airline and they could very much go, “We’re number one.” British Airways has. In fact, you get on a Virgin and you feel more like Britain than on British Airways because they express their personality. I think with those airlines like Qantas and Virgin, they play a lot of importance on expressing their unique personality. It draws people in and makes people feel good about it, whereas United and BA do not.
It’s interesting you said you worked on Cathay Pacific and I imagine their competitors would be Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines which, for me really you feel like you’re in the country already no matter where you get on the plane. Singapore in particular is really known for that incredible service. How does Cathay Pacific, since it’s not one specific country, how did you help them?
Cathay is interesting. If you’re a plane buff, you would know that airlines really embody the culture of the place they’re from. Cathay is from Hong Kong and Hong Kong is really confused about what it is because it’s Chinese, but they don’t want to be Chinese. They’re torn between being English and Chinese. I think with Cathay, there is that little confusion of, “Who we are.” That said, the combination of the British and the Chinese, you have a very efficient airline. It always runs on time. The planes are good. The entertainment is good. It’s always in the top ten airlines in the world. You just don’t understand their personality as well as Singapore, and that’s because I think the people themselves in Hong Kong are confused.
I knew this would be interesting because you really see each thing has its own brand and you’re the expert at helping people figure out the tone of voice and to get that emotional connection at the end of the day. That’s really what it’s about.
Consumers never see the stuff I’ve been talking to you about, but they feel it. That’s what a brand idea is all about.
Nobody does it better than you, Greg. I really mean that. I’ve been in advertising myself for over twenty years and seen a lot of people doing it. I think anybody who gets to work with you is really fortunate. Do you have a Twitter handle you want people to follow you on?
No. My life is too busy to get into that. My website is TheDefinery.biz or if you want to send me an email, Greg@TheDefinery.biz. I really love helping people. I loved all my time in advertising, working for huge brands but after a while, the satisfaction of just helping rich companies get richer gets a little shallow. When I’m working directly with people and even just how excited you got about magnetic, that happens every time when I tell someone what their business idea is. Some people cry. I had a guy here and I told him what his business was even though he’s been involved with it for many years. I said, “This is why your business is great.” I told him his business idea and he started crying because they inherently know that there’s something great about what they’re doing, but they’re unable to tell people in the most potent way. That’s what I’m able to do and I really love doing it.
Thank you so much for being a guest. I thoroughly enjoyed all of it from spontaneous branding to seeing what Apple is doing right so that we can incorporate those skills to your expertise in the differentiation. If you want to win more pitches no matter what it is you’re pitching, become a better listener and show some empathy. Thanks so much, Greg.
Pleasure, John. Thank you.
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