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Podcasts > Tea Time With Tech Marketing Leaders

The Challenges of Differentiation in Branding & Visual Storytelling

Kerry Guard • Wednesday, June 28, 2023 • 62 minutes to listen

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Dave Corlett

Dave Corlett leads business development for Shaped By, a creative studio based in the UK. We help B2B tech firms dominate their categories through creative communications that set them apart from their competitors.


Hello, I'm Kerry guard and Welcome to Tea Time and tech marketing leaders.

Welcome back to the show I am I am just a few episodes away from being completely live, our all my shows will be officially live. So this episode four. Four more episodes, and then we hit my live recording. So you're gonna hear a shift in the universe where I will open up every show going, "We're live," because I will be live.

I went live with Tara Pollack, a few weeks ago, it was awesome. She was so great. It was such a great show, you can actually head on over to LinkedIn and not wait. The beauty of things being live sort of fabulous and scary at the same time, is that you no longer have to wait for me to produce and drop each episode week by week.

I booked my recording times with my hosts with my guests when they're available. And then we go live. And then the episodes, it's there. It's there on LinkedIn and ready for you. If you are subscribed, on Spotify, on Apple, wherever you listen to podcasts, have no fear, we are still cutting those Live episodes into audio for your listening ears. As you're going for a walk or making dinner. You will still have the audio and that will still be dropping weekly, it's just gonna sound a bit different because my intros are no longer going to be this. Me talking to you and telling you about the episode who's on with me, I'm going to do that all live with my guest. As I let people know who we're talking who I'm talking to. It's a whole new format. It's been super fun. The engagement has been overwhelming. And so cool. That's the beauty of being live is when people join live, they can ask questions, and they can get answers in real time. And it's so much more engaging. So yes, please make sure we're connected on LinkedIn. Please make sure you can see when the next live event is going to drop. And so you can tune in I have a show actually.

I have another one tomorrow I with with a woman called Deanna is going to be awesome. Talking about how to make your digital marketing footprint your next best SDR. Right, so good. So just a little heads up, got five more episodes here, and then you're gonna hear you're gonna hear things sound a little different. I'm here for it. I'm excited.

In this episode, I actually am talking to one of our partners. I don't do these very often because I'm very, very cognizant, and intentional around making this podcast for marketers, by marketers, and being very careful and thoughtful to not sell and bring on vendors. I believe this should be a place where if I was to really bring on vendors, they probably more from a sponsorship standpoint, I hope to get there someday. But from a guest standpoint, I've been very, very intentional on keeping vendors out. I've turned many vendors away to say that's not what the show is about. And I fully wholeheartedly agree with that.

The reason why I brought on a partner is because I think that when you're doing digital advertising in particular, if you don't have the right messaging, aligned with the right visual assets, you're gonna get lost in the sauce, especially in cyber, it's getting so crowded right now. And so making sure that you have very succinct clear to the point intentional messaging aligned with your audience around the benefits and solving the problems that they're facing with very cool, very cool creative will help build your brand. When we're talking about demand gen in particular, and we're talking about brand awareness.

Investing in your creative assets will dramatically change how your full funnel performs. And so I brought Dave on.

Dave is the Business Director at Shaped-by. He's been there for about three years Shaped-by is a creative studio based in the UK. They helped b2b tech firms dominate their categories through creative communication and set them apart from their competitors. I particularly work with shaped by because they particularly worked with cybersecurity companies. And so we're very much aligned in who we all want to work with. We're also really aligned in our values as taking care of our of our people, taking care of our customers and taking care of our customers customers.

So from a very people first orient orientation, we are aligned to there, we also got started in a very similar way in terms of how we broke into tech. So that was a really fun comparison in terms of the story. And how we grew organically over time through a chain of, of similar events was very cool. They're, they're a wonderful group of people.

Dave is lovely, they also have a podcast that you can check out.

Dave comes on to talk to me about how to break through the noise from a creative standpoint, how to tell the story, how to have the right messaging in place. And one of the things I really love about shape by two is their animation. Like they're very much about movement, and catching people's eye, and not just through banner ads, but really telling the story through any sort of assets, to really bring it to life and make it engaging, engaging, right, people aren't sitting down and reading depth thick, white papers anymore. They want to feel like they can skim it and then dig into it as they want to and sort of go on their own factfinding journey. And and that's what Shaped-by does. It's really beautiful.

So here is my conversation with Dave correlates.


Kerry: Hello, Dave, thank you for joining me on Tea Time with tech marketing leaders.

Dave Corlett: Hey, Kerry, great to be here. How you doing? Good. Thank you.

Kerry: So excited to have you. Before we dive into our topic, which I'm so excited to I've talked a lot about content on this show, but haven't talked about it in a way that's been as visually compelling as what we're going to dive into. So stay tuned, folks, it's gonna be a good one. Before we get there, Dave, why don't you tell us your story? What do you do? And how did you get there?

Dave Corlett: Yeah, so what I do first of all, so I'm the Business Development Director at a creative agency called shaped by we're based in the lovely, very sunny at the moment, City of Bristol in the southwest of England. As an agency, we've been going for 18 years now, specializing in working with technology based businesses, on the creative aspects of their brand building storytelling, creative content, and everything in between how it got here, I suppose, I'll give it there's a long version, the short version, I guess I'll give you the medium sized version. I mean, I've always been interested in the visual element of branding for literally, as long as I can remember, you know, I used to when I was a kid, I used to draw football, soccer shirts, you know, kind of imagine what my team's kind of kit would be the following season. And the fun part for me was looking at who the manufacturer would be and who the sponsor would be and figuring out some kind of cool branding on that side of things. So that was my earliest memory of that. And then going through school and college and university, I knew that I wanted to get into it in some way, shape or form, but wasn't quite sure how so I did Media Studies at college, then joined the world of advertising sales, just to kind of get a foot in the door. And then was introduced to the world of agencies, marketing agencies, creative agencies, by some friends who were kind of already in that world. And they told me a how great it was, you know, really, really fun places to be and spend your time and work in for lots and lots of different reasons. And but also, you know, kind of alluding to the fact that they might play for my strengths as a sale from a sales point of view. I've spent four years in the world of sales and, and I was introduced to something that I had no idea about, which was business development for agencies is effectively helping them to win new clients grow their existing accounts, have really really cool conversations with potential clients and existing clients about things that are on their mind things that they're working on and whether we could help so I joined an agency in Bristol back in 2008. This is how long ago it was. They were called hyper launch new media. So new media was actually a term that agencies were using to describe themselves. It's not quite so new anymore. So I was there for a couple of years. We had some really cool clients, the BBC a few book publishers, some really cool music labels. So it was a great baptism into it. To the industry, and then I moved to London or work for a few agencies in London, an experiential agency that I spent five years on was absolutely fantastic. And then a branding agency that some of you might know called Dixon paxi, again, a really, really cool insight into the world of branding and brand development and then moved back to the southwest. I work for an agency and bath and then moved here to shape by three and a half years ago now. So I've been here three and a half years. And as as I said, before, we've been going for 18 years. But actually, we are more of a kind of women's fit like an 18 year old startup in a way, because we rebranded two and a half years ago, the focus solely on serving the tech industry. That's been a real experience actually working here and kind of effectively starting again from scratch. But it's been really, really cool. And I think we've got to a point now where we really know ourselves inside out now. And what we do, as I said, which is brand content campaigns in motion for tech firms of all different sizes, really, but kind of, to two strands, really pre IPO, to growing companies that are growing fast, have relatively small creative teams, need to outsource a lot of that creative work. And then larger kind of public tech companies that we work with individual teams, whether it's kind of demand generation, content marketing, to bring their content and campaigns to life from a visual point of view. So that's the that's the medium size story.

Kerry: I love the medium sized story. I love what you're doing from a tech standpoint. And actually, what's interesting about your your tech story is very similar to our tech story, which is fascinating. And even more fascinating is that we are in the same niche so in, in my wanting to really focus on the cybersecurity industry and the challenges that I have going on, because I think it's very unique to certain extent, especially and given the audience that they're trying to reach. That's how we sort of got hooked up was that you you've also sort of made this leap into the cybersecurity world. You have a ton of case studies on your website, as we speak, that are talking about the great work you've done for cyber, how I know that you do service other industries within the tech. But how did you specifically get into the cybersecurity marketplace was happenstance did you go after it? What sort of brought you into this industry? Specifically?

Dave Corlett: Yeah, it probably was happenstance to be honest with you. We've been working with a client of ours called rubric for a year or two. They originally started out as a kind of data backup management company. But actually two things happened one day kind of won more and more businesses that wanted to really use the backup side of things as a security product effectively, to make sure that they always had a clone of their data, and that nobody could get into that so that if they were ever hacked, then rubric would effectively be able to get them back up and running really quickly. And then obviously, the other thing was that cybersecurity as an industry, obviously, has always been around been around for a long time. But people started taking a lot more seriously over the past few years. And rubric really wanted to kind of capitalize on that and start to own a portion of that space. So effectively kind of repositioned as a cybersecurity company. And we helped them with that. Off the back of that we started working with a couple more security cybersecurity companies. And actually, you know, as you as you well know, the last couple of years, especially, Ben, I didn't know the word really quite incredible. From a cybersecurity point of view. It's an industry that's so so pivotal to the way that we live our lives, both in terms of work, home life, whatever you want to, you know, whatever that kind of digital existence may be there's, there's there's a danger and a threat from cybersecurity. I read a crazy stat, not too long ago, which was that there are at the end of 2021, there were three times more cybersecurity firms on the market than there were in 2018. And from our point of view, that's led to a lot of inquiries and a lot of work that we did to actually help cybersecurity companies to stand out in a crowded space. Which is really difficult. Certainly, from a kind of differentiation point of view, you can't really be different, as a cybersecurity firm are two different anyway. But you can definitely be a little bit distinct in the way that you build your brand on that front. So that's led to some really interesting challenges and some really interesting projects from my point of view. And I've got to say, you know, it's it's a fascinating industry to be part of, for those reasons that I mentioned before, you know, so, so pivotal. The challenges that occupy the day to day life of a chief information security officer, are, I think, quite different to a lot of other C suite or C level kind of leaders within the tech space. The stress levels are probably a little bit higher. And there's a lot more at stake if things go wrong, both to them personally and to their businesses as a whole. So just to be involved. volved in and with companies that helping with those challenges is really rewarding as much as anything. But yeah, it kind of happened by accident. But it was a it was a very happy accident, from our point of view.

Kerry: Very happy. I totally agree. In terms of before we get into the heart of our conversation today, which is going to tie both of these things beautifully together, in terms of storytelling and visualization, as well as specifically for the cybersecurity industry, because it is everything you're saying a unique circumstance and how fast it's growing, the specific audience they talk to, and how pivotal it is to pretty much everybody. I mean, to the point where North Dakota actually put a law in place that says all children, this will become part of curriculum, and learning about cybersecurity. So it, it is becoming much more of a focus around the world, and to the point where everybody started to take it incredibly seriously, which I don't think is going to slow the industry down by any stretch of the imagination. And so I really am excited about this conversation and pulling these two things together. Before we get there, though, and you mentioned this a little bit in terms of you mentioned challenges throughout the conversation. But I'd love to know a specific challenge that you're facing right now. Because life is hard. And what we do is hard. And so for you specifically they what's what's one thing that's been exceptionally hard lately.

Dave Corlett: There's a few things I guess, to be honest, it's the turbulent world that we live in. I think the main challenge for me and the colleagues that I work with here, it's shaped by at the moment, and it has been the case for a little while now is really just building what is still quite a new agency brand. In a competitive market, really. So as I mentioned to, you know, when I joined the agency, we weren't called shaped by we were called Work brands. As I said, we've been around for kind of 1669 years as a kind of a b2b agency that morphed into an agency that did a little bit of everything for anyone, really, we needed to kind of get back on track a little bit, we realized that the work that we were doing for our tech clients was was by far and away the most rewarding work that we've that we've done in a long, long time. So we kind of went all out pivoted, completely rebranded. But that meant we had to really start again, in a lot of ways, you know, clients in the tech space, some of the knew who we were, and we had a bit of a leg up from, from some clients that we knew really well to help us kind of build a bit of a profile and a brand within that space, but even two years on, it's, it's something that it's still a real real challenge, to kind of make ourselves known for the work that we want to be known for, and the work that we're doing, and the clients that we want to service when there are so many other agencies out there. Freelancers, consultants, you know, you name it, there are agencies that kind of are fully remote that will pull in kind of, you know, freelance creative support from anywhere and everywhere. So we're kind of up against a few of those guys, as well, which, again, is is perfectly fine. You know, any competition is good competition. But it just means that we have to kind of really double down on on our niche and what we stand for and what we specialize in. But it's a good challenge to have, you know, I think it's, it's something that we can definitely succeed at, I think, as an agency and as a group of individuals, given the chance and again, you know, we are already and thanks to yourself, but for opportunities like this to kind of come on the podcast and talk a little bit, I don't want to make this the whole podcast about shaped by obviously, for very obvious reasons, you know, certainly not going to be a sales pitch of any kind. But I think just Yeah, to that point, it's definitely a challenge for us to be able to build our brand in a new space for what we want to be known for, as well. An ever ongoing challenge.

Kerry: Brand is hard. I mean by for our Friday, writing company branding is just trying to, like even right now, we're trying to write our mission statement. And it's been years just trying to get this right. And I think we finally, I think I may have finally put something together that makes sense. But I mean, just from a simple statement of like, why you exist, and what your purpose is, like, is so hard to like boil it down. copywriting is no, it's not easy to do. And I swear I didn't have to catch up to because No, I know I still haven't figured that out yet. But it was very much me writing it. It's it's hard. It's hard to brand it's hard to boil it down. It's hard to differentiate at the same time, you have to accomplish a lot in a small amount of space, whether that's your logo, whether that's a name, whether that's your tone of voice and how you show up through your content. It's yeah, it's it's so tough for anybody. I Yeah, yeah. I feel Yeah.

Dave Corlett: We, you know, we put ourselves under a lot of pressure as well because branding and brown design and content design and campaign design is what we do for a living for our own clients. You know, we really, we feel like we always have to be at the top of our game, whenever we put anything out, or whether we wherever we show up in the world, it has to be absolutely flawless. You know, sometimes that can be a little bit of a burden, because you need things done quickly, sometimes slightly digitally. You know, so we have to get over that hurdle ourselves. So yeah, we put a little bit of extra pressure on ourselves to make sure that, that that side of things is on point, because there's always this feeling that it could be seen as a little bit of a weakness, if it's not, you know, absolutely on point. As a creative agency, we have to be creative in what we do. So yeah, some extra challenges there. But again, good challenges to have.

Kerry: But it's so much easier to do the work for other companies than for ourselves to.

Dave Corlett: Oh, for sure, absolutely. Yeah, definitely. And also, you know, because as an agency, you know, we have these capabilities in house. So, you know, other agencies, other businesses come and find an agency like us to do to do some of that work, we do it ourselves. But sometimes it has to take a backseat, because our studios really busy on client stuff. So another another little hurdle there, but we are when we can, when we can immerse ourselves in our own brand. You know, good things, do you have fun?

Kerry: It's true. It's true. So fun. Let's talk about visual storytelling. So storytelling is a big topic in the branding world in general, and how we show up in telling stories, before we get to the visual side of it, let's just break down what storytelling means to you.

Dave Corlett: Yeah, so I think, I mean, the obvious place to start is what is a story? You know, the simple fact is that, you know, there are so many examples of great storytelling out there, you know, from everything from the world of fiction, from word of corporate branding from wherever you want to call it, but ultimately, you know, we're talking about a chain of events, a narrative that has a beginning, a middle and an end. Quite often, it may even have a hero. And a lot of companies make the mistake when they're looking at their own storytelling, of thinking that their, that their company should be the hero, but actually, you know, I think we all know that the hero of your story really should be your customer, and the way that they go about becoming the hero, you know, something is facilitated by you. So I think that's a really important point to make within that kind of narrative structure. But I think it's become so so important for especially content marketing, within the world that we live in, because there is so much content out there in the world. And it's so so hard to break through with a piece of content or something that you need to get your point across. But people people buy into stories, stories resonate with people, especially when there is that hero, and you know, and the customer realizes that actually, either consciously or subconsciously, you're making them the hero. So I think it's really found its place, especially in content marketing. And for good reason, you know, I think that's exactly the point. You know, it can help to build those relationships with customers with potential customers, around the things that mattered to them. And do it in an entertaining way quite often as well, which is what you know, so much of storytelling outside of the corporate world, you know, whether you look at films, books, whatever you want to call it, you know, that's the goal is to entertain people. And I think more and more content marketing, especially in the world that we inhabit as well, is looking to those slightly more entertaining factors to drive that narrative home and build those relationships.

Kerry: Entertaining. sounds counterintuitive when you're talking about business, so can you give us some examples? Or what do you mean by entertaining people while they're trying to find a b2b product to get a job done?

Dave Corlett: I think just making it engaging, really, I mean, if you want a specific example, I literally saw on yesterday, the company are rafts. Again, forgive me for not knowing this in too much detail, but they're kind of SEO specialists, Link specialists and they've got an amazing YouTube series that kind of completely flips that it takes the insights that they want to push out to people and just delivers it in a really entertaining way through the presenters that they use for the narratives through the visual structures through the kind of the way that their stories are told in video. And you know, in their very simplest they're very pleasant to watch you know, you enjoy watching them you enjoy you know, they're delivering insights D that help you in your role and in the work that you want to do and in what you want to accomplish. But actually, they're doing it in a way that actually makes you not just kind of sit back and think actually, yeah, this This is pretty cool, I'm quite enjoying this. But it makes you want to go back for more. And I think there's there's overall arching narratives and arcs of kind of, you know, the entertainment world make you want to go back for more. And in so much of the content that we put out there, that's the aim as much as anything really is to keep people coming back, you know that these content pieces don't necessarily live in isolation, they're part of a bigger story, they're part of a bigger narrative, and they're part of a bigger attempt to engage audiences over a long period of time. So I think if you can kind of, and it's not right for everyone, don't get me wrong, you know, I don't, I'm not suddenly suggesting that kind of you, every cybersecurity company should start kind of be trying to position themselves as Netflix. But there is a rise and there is a trend at the moment within, again, content coming back to content marketing, again, or content marketing functions within businesses to start to kind of think a little bit more like media kind of organizations in the way that they are not with and drive and support and put out their editorial content. And kind of taking cues from from the world of media and entertainment in the way that they do that. And I think, you know, that's partly driven by the fact that, you know, it needs to mature as an industry content marketing, you know, there is a next step for it, I think it also comes down to the fact that, you know, again, people are much more comfortable engaging with certain areas of entertainment. So you kind of, if you think a bit more like a Netflix or a Washington Post or whatever, then you're kind of making people a bit more familiar with the content that they engage with, on a personal level, time and time again. But I think part of it is, yeah, it's also down to the fact that that we do crave certain types of content, and if you can kind of, you know, seeding those those ideas into your into your business content, your kind of commercial content, then obviously, it's got a great chance of cutting through in this, you know, incredibly cluttered world that we that we live in, and we try and drive a little bit of attention within given how cluttered, it's it's gotten, and to your point around this shift into editorial, and I quickly looked up a Trump's YouTube channel. And it just, and obviously, I'm very familiar with, shaped by his work as well. And I when I look in scrolling on LinkedIn, the bar seems to be higher these days in terms of what content marketing is, and I, I feel like as consumers of content, we have higher expectations these days, as well. And so it is very cluttered. But I do feel like there are plenty of brands who are leaning into knowing that bar is higher, and what that needs, and how we all need to adjust to reach that bar which feels very, it feels like something you gotta really leap forward.

Kerry: Do you feel like that's now that like Traci Beatty and more contents being produced more willy nilly and a bit faster, that people are trying to really define, design, and be more clever and creative and how they write so that there's a different tone. And so you know, who, like you know, who you're reading, you know, where this content is coming from? It, it feels like the brands who have gone out of their way to really define a standard, very high standard are starting to pop a lot easier. Are you finding that too?

Dave Corlett: Yeah. I think so. I think so I think from a kind of tone of voice and copy point of view. I think, you know, going back to what you were saying just about chat, GPT. And tools like that, I think becoming the sort of anti chap GPT is definitely one thing. And I think definitely the moment obviously, it's quite a pertinent topic in terms of rising above that slightly formulaic approach to copywriting. But I think in the world that we inhabit, and again, this probably come on to something that I think you wanted to talk about in a little bit of detail. The creativity from a content point of view, excuse me, is coming from the visual side of things as well. So it's one thing to look at your tone of voice and the way that you deliver your content from a narrative point of view, and try and be different and stand out from the crowd a little bit from that point of view. But I think what we're really seeing is a really, really clear appetite for companies to use this kind of visual storytelling element to stand out from the crowd as well and be more recognizable, be more distinct, carve out a niche for themselves within that category within their sector. That is, it doesn't necessary really have to be completely unique because if you look at cybersecurity, for example, as I said before, you know, there are hundreds, potentially 1000s of vendors and other organizations out there within that world. But it definitely has to be distinct in some way. So it has to have that own that, that that style in some capacity that makes people as soon as they see a piece of your content go, right, that is, Palo Alto network. So that's rubric. Because again, you know, the way that we consume content at the moment isn't just a one off, you know, happens time and time again, especially if we decide that you know, a brand or a business is worthy of a follow on social media or whatever it may be, then you're gonna start seeing that content pop up time and time again. And if it doesn't have a recognizable distinct, visual and narrative style to it, that you can instantly encode associated with with that brand, it's going to stand less of a chance of sticking, especially if you're, if you're, if your audience starts to build a rapport with you, they're going to come back time and time again. And that's going to build what we call mental availability, which is a term that's taken from Byron sharp, he's quite, he's a renowned academic, when it comes to branding. He's written a couple of books, how brands grow, being one of them. And he talks a lot about this concept of mental availability, which is, you know, for the majority of the time your audience 95% of your audience, there are there abouts in b2b is out of market, you know, they might be ready to buy in the future, but they're not ready to buy now. And there are ways and means in which by using kind of branding, by using distinct visual identities within the content and the campaigns that you put out, you just kind of you turn the needle every every ever so slightly, every time someone sees that, that that that branding, repeated amount of times, and it means that when they become a buyer or a potential buyer, when they enter that buying situation, when they're ready to buy, then you become instantly memorable to them. Because you know, they've engaged with you, they understand who you are what you're about, they understand that you occupy this this distinct position in the market, and they're able to make a judgment call. But more importantly, they're able to include you in that initial consideration set of brands that they go, actually, you know, what I'm ready to buy, now, I've engaged with these guys are buying into who they are, and what they're all about. And I buy into the brand, and that's gonna make me consider them. So I think that's definitely something and it comes. And the storytelling element is built into that too. So, you know, it builds that story over time, it builds that narrative of who you are, what you do, what you stand for, why you're different, why you're unique, and why you're relevant to that particular person, built it in over time. And then, you know, again, if we're talking about from a kind of Prospect Point of View, or potential client point of view, you're more able to occupy a position that considerations that when they become ready to buy.

Kerry: Let's talk about the visual element of it, you've made that leap for me, which I am very grateful for, makes the transition much nicer. Um, the story has to exist first. And, and so figuring out what that story is, sounds like step number one, right? Like, okay, you need to know what you want to talk about. And then you and then you can make it visual. So before we get to the visual elements of it, let's just, let's just round out the storytelling piece to say, how do you even find the thing you should say? What sort of your approach or your company's approach in even knowing what you should talk about?

Dave Corlett: It's an interesting one, mainly, because I would say that, it's, it's not always an area that we tend to get so involved in. As an agency as a creative agency, more often than not, our clients will come to us with the kind of the idea of the story or at least the kind of fit their objectives and how they want to achieve them through a kind of storytelling approach. And our main goal will be to kind of bring it to life from a visual point of view. So it's not necessarily always our forte, but I think it just comes back to that. I mean, it's quite often it's quite a basic premise, and quite a basic approach. Really, you know, who is your audience? What do they care about? What are their pain points? How does How do your solutions help to alleviate those? How do they do it in a way that's different from your competitors? And then, you know, I guess the storytelling element comes into in the sense of, okay, if this was a story, you know, a hero's journey, the customer is the story, the customer is the hero. What does that narrative start to look like and build it in in a really, really simple way. So I don't think it's necessarily rocket science from that point of view. But again, you know, in my, in our relatively limited experience, you know, there the really, really important parts, I think, is making sure that the customer is always the hero. You know, the product is talked about a benefit level and ideally, an emotional benefit level. So what are the emotional benefits that this is going to bring to you? Is it going to make you happier? Is it going to make you more productive? Is it going to make you look great in front of your boss, not necessarily, the feature does this, you know, and the benefit is this or whatever. But actually really making sure that those kind of emotional benefits come through as much as possible. There's always a time to talk about features, of course. And I think if we're talking about storytelling narrative, I think, emotion is something that a is a really, really important part. And B is so often underserved and underused in b2b marketing, you know, we sometimes think that it's a bit of a dirty word always, because, you know, boards and buyers and decision makers don't necessarily necessarily care about some of the slightly more fluffy side of what you might call branding. But actually, you know, there people were people, we always, you know, identify with emotional stories. Even if we think that we maybe don't we think that our audience won't. So I think that's a really, really important point to mention as well how do we build emotion into it in a way that makes people sit up and identify with the problem that you're solving and the joy or the happiness or the you know, efficiency or whatever that it's going to bring to your day to day life?

Kerry: It's a it is a feeling like even for you know, a great example as I full disclosure, our audience MKT actually partners with shaped by for our clients to bring the creative to life. We're really excited about one of the programs are about to kick off, but I, you know, it was up to me to choose the agency we worked with from a creative standpoint, and I chose you all because I don't wanna say purely emotion was a purely emotion. It was first about okay, what do we have in common? Right? First of all, first, it was your visuals like, Okay, this is clearly a company knows what they're doing. It's very clean. It's very elegant design, it's tells the story really well, I had all those things, right, as most companies should do, what are you looking for create shots. But we were in alignment in terms of values, in terms of how we got started, in terms of the industries we're trying to go after, right? So when I was thinking about partnering with you all, it was very emotional, right? Those are very tactical things. But the end of the day, I was like, this is just going to feel like a really great partnership. And so that's, that's how people ultimately by me, if you think about any decisions we've made in the past, we're trying to choose a partner, especially from a service line standpoint, like it's got a, there's got to be a feeling to it that goes with hiring like, I'm looking at hiring people right now. And I'm like, this just, I can just feel you being part of our organization and feeling really good about it. And if it doesn't feel good, which is weird, and gut instinct, and hard and like squishy. But we got to follow that gut. There's a reason why we're having those squishy feelings. And we need to trust that which is hard to, you know, but the data says this. So we should probably do this, even though I'm feeling this way. It's like when you need both, you really do and the data should lead to the feeling at the end of it. And I think really what I love, I love what you're saying it does need to strike up a motion. I I think this it doesn't happen overnight, though. Right? So when you're telling a story, and you're creating a visualization for that story, it's not a one time thing right when you're building a brand it takes time. I know you don't want to hear this tech folks, I know you want everything yesterday, but it does it takes time to build that relationship in that report to take up that mind space to then get them to buy in time. But yeah, I I love everything you're saying and I love the part about emotion. I think that's so key. And and it takes time.

Dave Corlett: Yeah, it does. And you know, I'll give you an example of a brand that you know, as much as I love the brand. I don't think they necessarily get that part completely right and sent it through gritted teeth as well as HubSpot. So. I we were not HubSpot. You As an agency, for a couple of different reasons, but you know, I could see as potentially being used as in future, and every time that I engage with a piece of their content online, I really, really, you know, I buy into it, I buy into how they're telling me the story of how it can change my life and changed things for the better. But then, when we've had interactions with some of their salespeople, they haven't lived and breathed those values, they feel a little bit colder than the brand does, from a content engagement point of view. And I feel there's a slight disconnect sometimes there and maybe it's because we might not necessarily the profiler company that we are, we might not necessarily be their biggest and best customer. So they, they kind of maybe look at us with a little bit of disdain, or kind of don't really give us as much kind of value and appreciation is as if they were trying to close a multi million pound deal. But it comes through, and there's a good example of where everything that you do as a brand, and a business has to be completely joined up. And it has to align itself with those values, you know, if you're looking to drive positive emotion, through your storytelling, it has to come through in the way that you sell to people as well. And there are a lot of companies that do get that right. And certainly hearing anecdotally as well. But you know, as you said, you know, when when you come to buy, you have to have those feelings, those, they have to kind of flow through you from from everything that that company does. And if they don't get it right, then then there's more work to do.

Kerry: The validation is key, you do have to back it up, through, you know, not just the brand isn't just something that lives online, it lives even even once you did become like a HubSpot user that when you're doing customer service, or you're dealing with anybody internally billing, even, right, you need that brand, that brand feeling to come through, you need everybody on board to a lot. That's why values are so important and should be part of your brain and should be on your website as part of that identity. I imagine those things, you know, we're talking about sort of the nuts and bolts of a brand, from mission to values to, you know, even sales scripts, from a visual standpoint. Do you take those elements and have it inspire? How, how you should visually show up in terms of look and feel? Or they have to tidy?

Dave Corlett: Absolutely, yeah, of course, and usually, it's the starting point of where we go with with our work. And sometimes that can be helping a company to, to figure those out, you know, so we do a lot of workshops, especially with kind of source started with the scale of businesses, you know, fast growing companies, they've kind of got to a and they really needed to get to be, but they were the way they got to a was maybe slightly cobbled together because they needed to kind of, you know, attract a certain type of investor or whatever that may be. Other times, you know, if it's a slightly more mature company, they have that that stuff figured out, but they just don't necessarily know how to bring it to life from a visual point of view. And again, our team are really skilled and adept at taking that information, looking at the competitive set, looking at the market and understanding what is going to resonate and what's going to cut through in a way that does make them make them distinct. And again, I'm using that word, as opposed to different because it's not always, you know, you're not I was able to be different, you know, I was able to truly differentiate, especially from a branding point of view, but but you can certainly be distinct from that point of view. So yeah, it's definitely something that we get involved in a lot and, and it's just so so important, you know, I would encourage even any founders or you know, founders or businesses that still kind of, you know, early stage to be thinking about this stuff as you're building your business as you're hiring your first employees you know, as you get in you're even even if it's just angel funding, seed funding, whatever it may be, if you have a brand and use that term, very broadly, you know, a brand incorporates everything from your vision, your mission, your values, your employer brand. And then obviously, the visual elements to investors will look on the more favorably than if you if you don't, or if you have something that doesn't feel like a brand, because brand and product to them quite often go hand in hand and they can see the potential of that brand to become a bigger brand and a better brand. So I'd say it's really really important finding a creative partner whether it's an agency whether it's a really good freelancer you know there's so many of them around anyone that specializes in working with businesses at your stage to help you help me do all that is is gold dust. I think.

Kerry: I think the right partner matters to another example. I have this as I'm I'm hoping to work with a energy company and I needed A writer. And I could have used a company that I had met with that produces really lovely work. And I think they would have done a really great job. But I had met somebody who was actually my podcast, and she is really into the energy, green energy space. And she knows it really well. And she talks about from such a place of heart and passion. And so when I was thinking about this brand, and the content, the tone that they want, that I think that they could really use, she just popped, right. So finding that really taking the time to explore. And picking those right people who are going to bring that brand to life in a way that embodies what it is you're trying to do, I think is key because it it's how you first show up, it's that first impression, and then it's got to carry. It's everything we've been saying it's got to carry through. And it's so important. It's just, it's so important to find people that you really connect with in terms of visualization, and bringing these stories, you know, these stories to life. Let's talk for a second about one of the key areas to visualization and storytelling that I think it's becoming more prevalent is data. And rooting these stories and backing it up, especially when you're talking to an audience like a CSO, right? They, they very much what no holds bar, they want to get right to the point. They also want to know you know what you're talking about. And the more data you can use to back it up without scaring people into trying to buy the thing that you sell. But allowing them to make a very thoughtful, informed decision. It sounds like there's a there's a natural way of using data visualization and storytelling here, that seems like a no brainer, but I'm not sure people are really doing it to the way that they could be doing it. Are you also seeing data visualization playing a role in the storytelling piece of how brands in tech and specifically cyber showing up?

Dave Corelett: Definitely, yeah, and especially around the thought leadership side of content. So you know, I think everybody wants to be a thought leader these days, especially when you're trying to get, you know, bend the ear or get the eye of a really, really busy seaso or CIO or, you know, anyone in the C suite or sea level minus one, you know, whoever that may be, if you can build that credibility and authenticity as a thought leader, then you know, you can really start to break down those walls. But if everybody's doing it, if everyone's an expert, you know, is anyone really an expert? So we get, we're having more and more clients reach out to us to help them create thought leadership that is distinct and sets them apart within the market. And a lot of that is down to the visualization of, of their content, but also have their their data as well. So a good example would be something that you and I have talked about a little bit quite recently, which is a project that we ran for rubric, guys I mentioned before. So it's really impressive the way they've gone about this actually, they've hired an amazing guy called Steve stone. Steve was on my podcast, actually, we just released his episode. So I've got a podcast called the changemakers. It's all about creativity in b2b tech marketing. And Steve was my last guest, though he had an interesting career, let's just say that. He used to be work for the US Air Force, protecting nuclear security on kind of nuclear facilities as part of that security team. Then he moved into terrorist interrogation, I think he's done something like over 1200 terrorist interrogations, something crazy like that. He kind of stayed in that world for a little bit, then moved into commercial cybersecurity, and then became basically an expert in kind of convincing boards to take cybersecurity seriously for Mandiant and IBM and a couple of other firms. So real kind of a guy who knows anything there is to know about cyber they rubric brought him in to head up something that they called rubric zero Labs, which is their attempt to become a really credible thought leader around the state of data security, you know, even to the point where they're sort of pitching that as being vendor agnostic, really. So the most important thing from their point of view is educating security leaders on the current threats that are really prevalent and producing these amazing reports. But again, you know, they came to us and said, Look, you know, we've got all this stuff, we got to do this But it can't look and feel like every other cybersecurity piece of thought leadership on the market, you know, dark blue background, little shady webs of data points, you know, hooded figures, all this kind of cliched imagery. So the kind of the brief to us really was, it has to engage, it has to be digestible, and engaging and interactive enough for people to want to engage with it. And these are busy people as well. And it has to look really, really distinct. So we released the first report just before Christmas. And a major way that this all came to life is through making the data move and animate, and kind of finding fun ways to break down to, you know, look at a percentage of this does this and the kind of percentage of the of the whatever visually looking at kind of breaks away and falls down. So if it's like 30%, and 30%, this block just kind of crumbles as you're reading through it and finding other ways to kind of pull out percentage points and stats and stuff that again, as you're scrolling through this page, and it's telling you the story of the state of data security, the data is changing and morphing before your eyes. And it had amazing feedback. And it still is getting amazing feedback. We're just about to release the second report. And again, a big part of that brief was look, you know, this has got such a good reaction, how can we build on this and make this and take this to the next level and make it even more engaging. So I think that, you know, the thing that slightly irritates me is when I see companies put a huge amount of effort into their thought leadership content, you know, this is something that is so pivotal to their efforts to engage a really senior audience. But it's a boring static PDF that just kind of is largely word based, and has a few rubbish kind of graphs and charts and pie charts and things like that. And there's no effort to actually make it something that people want to engage with almost feel like they're forced to kind of, you know, spend half an hour reading through this quite laborious copy. So I think that it's, especially with the way that we consume information these days, you know, our smartphones or tablets, you know, these high definition screens, they're built for new ways of visualizing this content. And, and it's something that again, yeah, we're getting a lot of challenges thrown our way. But how to do that, and make it distinct to make it visually engaging as visually engaging as possible. That also helps to, it helps to build your brand at the same time, right? You know, it, it delivers the content in a cool way. But actually, it delivers it in a way that has your brand at its heart. And again, that helps to build that kind of that those associations with your brand in a positive way as well. So yeah, massively important right now for sure. Oh, well,

Kerry: I would love to get away from PDFs, I think everything's, I think it's really helpful now that things are being updated more often, where you don't have to register all the time to download X, Y, or Z. And making things more readily available is going to it sounds like it's changing the landscape a bit in terms of how people are showing up with these types of reports and making them more dynamic. Are you seeing sort of conscious interrupts on that point?

Dave Corelett: Absolutely. Just gonna say sorry, on that point, I do apologize for interrupting. But I think it's important point to make, which is that we are also being asked, or we have been asked in the past, to kind of if, if, if there's a bit of a budget at play here. So we can't necessarily afford to do an all singing or dancing kind of interactive piece. We have we have a rib, kind of PDF report that's gated. But how do we kind of how do we get attention for that? How do we how do we create kind of little social animations? How do we take that to the landing page where there's just a couple of kind of bits of data being brought to life as you kind of engage with that, and really compel people to say, actually, I'm going to kind of dive into this and find out a bit more there are ways and means to do that, that don't necessarily rely on on something that is, you know, fully animated, visualized, whatever, but can still have that have that impact. So and again, I think that's something that's quite prevalent at the moment, too.

Kerry: Yeah, and you're seeing it on I'm seeing it a lot on LinkedIn, too. As you know, now that LinkedIn offers the carousels, where you upload a PDF, and then you have these, you know, blocks. Some people are doing some really creative way creative things in storytelling, that way to take you on this journey, this visual journey through these these colored blocks, essentially. And so I think there are ways to make the PDFs more compelling and then being able to upload them that way and bring the story to life to it's been fascinating watching how people have been using that. I love that things are getting more and more colorful, too.

Dave Corelett: Yep, that's visual storytelling. That's another great example, actually, of something that is that people are embracing as a method of visual storytelling, you know, and I really liked that LinkedIn actually ramps it quite highly in terms of content. I think I might be wrong in saying that. Every click, you know to kind of scroll through a carousel is As LinkedIn uses that as the equivalent of a light, or a reaction to a post, and yeah, and it's great to see people using those in really innovative ways as well. Although I didn't see one today, that was 75 pages, I wasn't quite ready to scroll through that amount of that of slides on a carousel. But I think succinctness is probably the order of the day on that front. But yeah, definitely, really, really good point on that.

Kerry: I've been having a lot of fun, taking my podcasts and grouping them by subject matter, and then using the PDF element to showcase each person. So that's one very easy way of doing it. But it again, I feel like you know, the last point I want to come with come to you with Dave is in regards to the visualization, everything's starting to feel more color, like the ones that are standing out to me and that catch my attention. seem to be more colorful these days, there's this vibrancy that sort of showing up on social media. I don't know how it's happened. I don't know if it's just people trying to break away from them, you know, trying to find that distinct element, but these really colorful, I had to go rebrand my podcast so that I'm not colorful. Are you fighting that to like the color palettes that are being used these really bright, vibrant color palettes? Is that a trend that you're seeing on your end as well?

Dave Corelett: Yeah, definitely, I think but again, you know, there's an argument to suggest that if everyone's going slightly bolder and more expressive, then there might be a, you know, an opportunity to cut through by kind of breaking away from that. So it really depends on on, you know, your thought process, as far as that's concerned. One of my favorite b2b brands at the moment and have been for a long time is a company called drip. I don't know if you're aware of them. They are very social commerce. Yeah, exactly. And, and the reason for that is, is exactly that, really, you know, every time I follow drift for a while now, every time I see a piece of their content, I instantly know it's theirs. It's the font choice. It's the kind of little kind of, you know, graphic devices that they use. It's obviously it's the color palette, it's so bright yellows and pinks, and really, really expressive, and even in a world of, as you say, you know, brighter, bolder, fella palettes there's cuts through because there's a magic combination that they've got going on that just that works for them. So, yeah, I think I think definitely, and it's really welcome as well from from a b2b world that has historically been quite stoic and a little bit reserved in the way that it builds its brands, I think it's great to finally see, not just drift, but you know, Zendesk, Pegasystems. pega is another brand that they've actually won quite a lot of awards for the way that they bring their content to life, from a visual point of view. So yes, it's really welcome to see but again, I would say that, you know, sooner or later, they'll come a time where being slightly more reserved is the way to differentiate and be a bit more distinct. So it goes in cycles, I guess. It does,

Kerry: and it's gonna make sense for your brand. As always, of course, Brandon Davis was glorious. I love this car. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I I know I didn't quite stick to the scratch but and I went on some tangents and I appreciate you joining, joining the ride. Before we go. Quick question for you. Because you're more than a marketer, you're more than a business development representative there. Tell me, have you picked up any new hobbies in the last few years given the change of all the things from you know, having been in lockdown for so long to the world opening up again, and that that journey in and of itself, I picked up a new hobbies.

Dave Corelett: I really don't want to bore your listeners too much. But golf is, is my big hobby stroke pain point. At the moment of my friends, a lot of my friends have played golf for a long time. I've always resisted because I wasn't a massive fan didn't really like golf growing up now because we've all got kids and you can basically spend you know four hours on a golf course in a lovely surrounding. You know, without children hanging off your leg, and then have a pint at the end of it suddenly is a lot more appealing. So I'm trying I'm trying to learn to play golf. But I'm finding it way harder than I ever thought it possibly be. I didn't think it could be this hard, but it's so it's a labor of love at the moment, but it's it's also my main main hobby. And yeah, I'd say it's going okay, I played golf for the weekend with some friends. They were quite complimentary. I was close to snapping my clubs in half, getting frustrated. But yeah, yeah. And again, I mean, it's a great sport because you know, it's something that you can you can do that until you're barely able to walk. You know, you're into your old age, whereas some of the sports are played in the past football, cricket things like that. Definitely got a shelf life to them. So minute for the long haul, but it doesn't mean it's any less frustrating.

Kerry: I love it. So yeah, my business partner plays so maybe I'll, I'll ship it out to you and you guys can go, go hang around. It'd be awesome.

Dave Corelett: That sounds good.

Kerry: Yeah. Dave, so good. Thank you so much for joining me.

Dave Corelett: Thanks, Kerry. Thank you so much. Really, really enjoyed it. Thank you


That was my conversation with Dave Colett. If you'd like to learn more from Dave in particular about how he's thinking about creative and the shaped by team, be sure to reach out the link to their company page and Dave are in the shownotes let them know I sent you tell them I said hello.

Thank you again for tuning into this episode of Tea Time with tech marketing leaders.

As I mentioned, things are gonna get a little different over here. We are also launching on YouTube. So if you prefer to listen on YouTube that is coming soon, coming soon. It's exciting, exciting, new in this for four years. keep iterating and growing and and flexing with the with the market. It's it's awesome. Absolutely love podcasting. It's been such a whirlwind journey.

I'm grateful for you. I wouldn't have a show without you. So thank you again for listening.

This episode is brought to you by MKG Marketing the digital marketing agency that helps complex tech companies like cybersecurity, grow their businesses and fuel their mission through SEO, digital ads, and analytics.

Hosted by Kerry Guard, CEO co-founder MKG Marketing. Music Mix and mastering done by Austin Ellis.

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