The Power of Shared Symbols

Once upon a time I held the noble and endearing job of being a sixth-grade teacher. 

One of my students, we’ll call him Brady, definitely qualified as a 1% for Nike. Every backpack, hat and every visible piece of clothing he wore, bore the Nike Swoosh.

At one point I asked him what the symbol stood for and he was unable to say. However, this question led Brady through a relentless, self-imposed, research project to learn more about the emblem. We even persuaded the school to pay for the charges so he could interview someone in the marketing department up in Beaverton, OR.

In her book Monster Loyalty, Jackie Huba talks about this sort of drive and the connective power individuals sense when they embrace a brand’s symbol. For Brady, his embossed daily wardrobe and school gear helped him feel part of all things Nike.

Shared symbols are everywhere. This week I looked around my home and work and found a fistful of examples.

Here you can see Susan Yule, CEO of ConsultNet, sporting the company’s newest t-shirts.

photo (6)At SoulSalt Academy, coaches in training learn how to ask powerful coaching questions. This emblem supports one of the main points in a specific module.

don't ask why

Racer’s in X-terra events find temp tattoos in their SWAG at sign-in.  The intention is to foster unity among the athletes on the course during races.

photo (7)

And speaking of tattos, Jackie Huba committed her left ankle to the Pittsburg Steelers logo.

photo (10)

Now before you decide on the symbol your tribe will share, do your research. Experiment with logos, emblems, icons, and even mascots. Find out what attracts and unifies your client base.

You may even start to notice the symbols your 1%’s are sending you. The following is a collection of items that we have been given. We can’t say yet what role they will play in becoming a future SoulSalt Inc. shared symbol. However, those of you who know me can see these drawings are on to something. Even if all they do is capture and mirror back to us aspects that are near and dear to my heart such as: my collection of eyewear, my favorite belt buckle and of course, my love for wearing a tie now and then.


Creating Customer Evangelism Tenet #1: Customer + Delta

You have to believe that when a customer tells you
what’s not working, that’s as much of a customer
evangelist as one who tells you what is working.
Because if they care enough to tell you what to fix,
they’re evangelists – evangelists are people who take
their own time to help you make your business better.

In this audio clip, Jackie Huba and her former business
partner Ben McConnell explain to Lyn Christian the value
of listening to your complaining customers and tell
what “passionate persuasion” is.





Creating Customer Evangelists

The main marketing strategy used in my coaching practice is WOM (word of mouth marketing). I learned about this concept from Ben and Jackie when their first book Creating Customer Evangelists came out. I trust them and their blog to keep me informed on the latest information about WOM marketing.

If you are creating yourself into a unique “brand” within a larger organization, if you own a small business or if you are thinking about starting one you may also be interested in our HeadTrip Audio program downloadable tracks on the subject of creating your own Customer Evangelists (Disc 4).

Here is a sample from one of the tracks where Ben and Jackie and I were discussing this very topic:

5 surprising things about word of mouth marketing         Diverted from


Social media marketing is still all the rage, but an important new book out from Ed Keller and Bray Fay reminds marketers where and how customers are actually talking about brands,services and companies. From their book, “The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace,” here’s 5 important things you need to know before putting that integrated marketing plan together:

  1. 90% of all conversations about brands happens offline. Ed and Brad’s company Keller Fay has been tracking Americans’ conversations, a new sample of 700 people every week since 2006, and have found that the majority of brand conversations happen offline: face-to-face (76%) and on the phone (14%). Online conversations only make up 8% of total conversations.
  2. Online conversations and offline conversations are not the same.Research shows that the people who talk about brands offline are different than the people who talk about brands online, especially in age. Also the types of brands dictate where most conversations happen: Brands that get the most online WOM skew toward those that offer uniqueness, and thus encourage people to express opinions as a way of signaling their own uniqueness and social status. Offline sharing had more to do with expressing emotions like satisfaction and excitement.
  3. It doesn’t take high-tech, innovative products to get people talking. Keller Fay’s TalkTrack research shows that products that consumers use in their everyday lives are the brands that get the most talk-value. Apple might have the coolest products but Coke products are the most ubiquitous.
    Kelly Fay Blog post.001
  4. Traditional marketing methods still matter.The TalkTrack study finds that about 25% of all consumer conversations about brands involve one consumer telling another about an advertisement that he or she has seen. Another 30% of of conversations mention retail displays, coupons, direct mail and public relations. Pretty old school, huh?
  5. Most word of mouth is positive. Keller Group’s research shows that overall, only 8% of brand conversations are truly negative, and 66% of brand conversations are truly positive. Another 11% is neutral, and 15% is a mix of positive and negative. Also, positive WOM is more credible than negative WOM. When people hear something positive about a brand, 66% of them assign a high credibility rating to it, rating it 9 or 10 on a scale of 0-10. Only 47% of people give the same credibility rating to negative opinions about brands.



Marketooning – Kony 2012

I rarely repost other blogs. However I follow what Ben and Jackie post and this one I had to share for a few reasons. Instead of telling those reasons to you, I have three things to say:
  • If you haven’t seen the Kony 2012 video, do.
  • If you have seen it, watch it again in terms of observation – take notes and notice how brilliant the marketing effort was behind this video.
  • If you are one of my clients who is working on reinventing the way you earn a living and make a contribution, notice the title “marketoonist”…now that isn’t something you hear everyday.
This Cartoon from our friend Tom Fishburne, “marketoonist” extordinaire, was perfectly timed this week. With Kony 2012 video becoming the most viral video of all time –100 million views in 6 days — I’m wondering if it has renewed demands by the C-suite that their team get the a viral video ASAP.
Smart marketers know that producing a video that spreads like Kony 2012 is like catching lighting in a bottle. You can try it, but the odds are stacked against you.”
– Jackie Huba,