Companies need to focus on becoming “passion brands” instead of just flooding consumers with advertisements, co-author Jeff Rosenblum told Glenn Thursday on radio. The latest generation of consumers is comfortable with social media and loves to interact, so they are the best advocates for the brands they like.
In his book Friction: Passion Brands in the Age of Disruption, Rosenblum explored this phenomenon of “passion brands,” or companies and products that people love enough to share with everyone by tweeting, wearing a T-shirt and telling friends through word of mouth.
“They’re like walking billboards, and they’re actively proselytizing for brands,” Rosenblum said, describing this key type of consumer.
One of his favorite examples is the brand Yeti Coolers, which sells a particularly rugged type of cooler intended for camping, fishing and other outdoor trips. Instead of traditional ads, Yeti focuses on creating short videos about people going on incredible adventures. It’s more about image than anything else. Even if people don’t really need a cooler that can weather the elements, they’ll be drawn to the vision of adventure.
“They tell these stories about people who are going on bigger and bolder adventures than most people ever will,” Rosenblum said.
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: The whole world is changing. And really in an exciting and dynamic way, if you understand that the bull crap of yesterday, which Washington hasn’t figured out yet. The bull crap of yesterday, the lies of yesterday, and the systems that create friction and make your life complicated just don’t work anymore. Nobody wants them. Don’t prop them up. Get out of that and find passion. Passion brands and friction. We’re going to talk about that with a guy who knows it quite well. Beginning right now.
Name of the book that I’ve been telling you about for weeks, and I’m thrilled to have Jeff Rosenbloom. He’s one of the co-authors of the book “Friction” passion brands in the age of disruption. It is one of those books that you read, and you’re, like, jeez. How could I not know that? How did I not think that? How is this all of a sudden — it’s one of those things that somebody invents something, and you’re, like, of course. How come I didn’t invent that?
I want you to know that Jeff is not here to sell books. I highly recommend you buy his book, but he’s not taking any of the money from it. It’s actually going to something called special spectators, which we hope to talk about a little bit later. He will also be with us on The Blaze TV for a special episode tonight at 5:00, so he’s not here to make any money. He’s here to change some lives, and you have dramatically impacted my thinking since I picked up your book, so it’s great to have you here, Jeff.
JEFF: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
GLENN: So tell me. I guess we just need to start at, you know, the brands of the past and the brands now. Passion brands. What is it?
JEFF: , well, passion brands are the brands that absolutely dominate the competition; right? They don’t have just customers. They have an army of evangelists. These are the folks that are at the bars, at the restaurants, at the dinner table, they sit around the campfire, grew up on their social media channels, they’ve got the T-shirts, they’ve got the hats, they’re like walking billboards, and they’re actively proselytizing for brands.
GLENN: So you talk about one passion brand that has really boggled my mind until I read your book, but I want to ask you some questions about it. And that is Yeti. Coolers. Great coolers.
JEFF: The best.
GLENN: But — what is it? Four times the price of a good cooler?
GLENN: And I’ve often wondered. People who buy this, they become evangelists, and it’s a cooler. And I wonder how much of that is because it truly is absolutely great and how much of that is to soothe the cognitive dissidents in their head of I just paid fours times as much and everybody who doesn’t have one says “What the hell is wrong with you.”
Does that play a role in that at all?
JEFF: Absolutely. To dial it back, and then we’ll talk about Yeti. Passion brands are built by fighting friction. Friction is anything that gets in the way of what you want to accomplish in life. It’s anything that gets in the way of your hopes, dreams, aspirations, on even your mundane day to day goals.
So when you think about Yeti, it’s a cooler for outdoors. So by definition, if you’re using it, you’re going on some sort of outdoor adventure. So they fight friction in two ways. The first is this cooler is fundamentally better than any other cooler out there. It’s literally certified Grizzly bear proof. Now, the chances of anyone actually needed that type of technology — fairly negligable.
GLENN: Right. I would like a cooler that I can pick up and throw at the grizzly bear.
JEFF: That’s the next product.
But it’s nice to know if you’re going on that adventure, that product that you’re buying can go further and deeper and bigger on an adventure. But to your point, it’s not just about the cooler, it’s about the totality of the experience. And what they’ve done that I love is rather than relying on a bunch of interruptive ads, they’ve created these incredible videos. Each of these videos are about eight minutes long, and there are dozens of them. And they’ve been watched millions of times over. And what they do is they tell these stories about people who are going on bigger and bolder adventures than most people ever will. The world’s greatest fly fisherman, the world’s greatest ski guide, the world’s greatest barbecue pit master who happens to be an 89-year-old woman named Tutsi. It’s not, like, we’re Yeti, and we make coolers. Yeti doesn’t even appear in these videos. But what happens is they give us a vision. A bigger and bolder vision of ourselves. We all wake up in the morning wanting to be better we were than the day before. It’s at the heart of the human experience. It’s what drives capital I am. So these great videos help us envision that.
And, by the way, I’ve watched hours of them. Most people will watch a few of them. The typical interactive ad experience is 1.6 seconds. Compare that to an eight-minute video.
GLENN: I watched the fly fishing one. It’s 22 minutes.
GLENN: I watched it. Every second of it. And here’s what I do. I hear from the guys because I’m not a sports guy. But I hear from the guys on sports every — every Monday, I hear ugh, and I know they’re on ESPN just trying to get the six-second clip, and they have to sit through the commercial. That’s not 22 minutes. And it’s just in the way of getting to their six seconds.
JEFF: Yeah. Prerolls. You know, the advertising industry, we keep making ads and the audience keeps running away.
Now, to be clear, this is not about the death of advertising. That false eulogy has been written before. We’re just asking advertising to do too much. We can still do incredible things with advertising, but increasingly those traditional interruptive ads are being ignored and avoided.
GLENN: In fact, just removing the friction from your product will do more than any ad. If you make a truly great product, and you make it frictionless and not only — I mean, let’s go into the passion brands a little bit. Of finding that group of people — and let me ask you. Do you need — to really have an authentic brand, does that need to come from the founders that are, like, what you know? I wanted this. I know this is great, and I don’t care if anybody buys it. Or does it come from a group of people who are just scanning the horizon and saying, yeah, these people over there. Let’s come up with something for their — does it matter?
JEFF: Well, I think it comes from both. But most passion brands that we see, and they can be big brands like Under Armour or big brands like Amazon or some of them are smaller startups, they tend to be run by the founders because they have a strong vision, and they don’t want to waver from that vision. But it can be from large, established corporations.
One of the interesting things that we found is that really the key is to take all of your efforts and instead of first focusing it outward at messaging, focus it inward at your own behaviors. And a piece of research we found is what’s called the power score. And they looked at 9 million different data points. They interviewed 20 self-made billionaires and CEOs and army generals. What they found is only 1 percent. Only 1 percent of leaders are great at what they call the power score, which is establishing your priorities, staffing effectively, and building internal communication cadence. So if you can have great leadership, then you can build a great passion brand. And ironically, you can create great ads. But you have to focus inward before outward.
GLENN: Some amazing things that I just didn’t know, for instance, some stats in your book. Let me just run through a few of them. 90 percent of all of the data in the world has been collected in the last two years. That’s astounding. 40 minutes in nature every week will lower AD/HD by 50 percent. Don’t put your smartphone or your iPad next to your bed. Take that on.
JEFF: That is interesting because so many people loved it, and we weren’t sure if that actually fits in the book. But what we tried to do with the book is look at industrial friction, organizational friction, and personal friction. And in that example, we found this great story about Keith Richards. The world’s greatest guitar player or one of them. And one night, he’s out doing the one thing in this world better than play guitar. He’s partying like a Rockstar, and he passes out cold, and he wakes up the next day, and he has a song in his head. And his guitar is literally lying in bed lovingly with him. He grabs his guitar, rolls over, presses record on his tape recorder, lays down a few notes, passes out cold again. Wakes up a couple hours later, presses play, and he finds the guitar riff for satisfaction is waiting for him. Of course, then it’s followed by the sound of him snoring. He’s not even conscious enough to press stop on the recorder.
Paul McCartney had a similar experience. He woke one day, and he has a song scrambled eggs in his head. Can’t stop. He’s turning to all of his band mates and friends and be, like, what song have I ripped off here? And they’re, like, dude, you didn’t. It’s your song, it’s your original. And he went to John Lennon and turned it from scrambled eggs to yesterday.
Not quite as catchy when talking about breakfast; right? And it knowledge only happens to rock stars. The guy who figured out the periodic table of elements, the guy who figured out the double helix of DNA. All of this happened first thing in the morning when people woke up. And what happens in your brain, you’ve got something called alpha waves. It’s the most powerful form of cognitive creativity that you have. This is where you can think of some big, bold, break through ideas. It’s the same thing you get if you’re in a hot shower, hot bath, you’re in traffic for a while, your alpha waves start kicking in, and you ignore all of that crap in your head.
Now, the issue is 72 percent of us go to bed with their cell phone lying next to us. 50 percent of us, the very first thing that we do is we check it. One third of women before they even go to the bathroom, they check social media. The problem is when you do that, you completely shut off those alpha waves. You lose that opportunity to have that cognitive creativity.
GLENN: And why is that.
JEFF: Because it kicks in your fight or flight system, which is something we learned about in high school; right? It’s when the blood flow changes. It used to be something that kept us from getting eaten by woolly mammoths, now it keeps us from getting run over by a car; right? Your subconscious takes over, you have different chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol in there. Your buddy on Facebook who just went on a better vacation than you’ll ever go on. That’s stressful; right? The server that’s on fire, the contract that didn’t get signed. Whatever it is on e-mail, that’s all stress. So you’re turning off that creativity, and you’re creating stress.
Now, here’s the interesting point. They used to think that your brain was your brain, and that’s all you got. It turns out that there’s a high degree of plasticity in your brain, which means it can change just like that cheap analogy that says your brain is like a muffle, you have to work it. It turns out it’s true. You can actually change the size and shape of certain areas of your brain, and it happens very quickly. So when you go to your mobile device first thing in the morning, you turn off the creativity, you turn on the fight or flight. For the rest of the day, you’re not going to be as creative.
So with a 90 million bits of information, 90 percent of the data that’s been collected the past two years, everybody has unprecedented access to data and technology. Creativity is the ultimate competitive advantage, and you have to feed your creativity just like you have to work out your body at the gym.
GLENN: When we come back, I want you to talk about —
STU: All about the gym. You’re talking to a good crew.
JEFF: That’s why I went there.
GLENN: So you’re speaking our language. When we come back, I want you to talk about monkeys and how this relates to monkeys and then back to us. In just a second.
GLENN: A game-changing book in your thinking is “Friction: Passion Brands in the Age of Disruption.” There is so much friction in our lives from chaos, from just — just from the news trying to understand the political — it’s all friction. And being able to reduce that and navigate through that is really hard. And I think people are getting really frustrated in some ways with life, and they’re just tuning out. They’re just stopping. And that’s really because the media or politicians or party or whatever you’re dealing with just are not changing. They’re holding onto the old system.
GLENN: And it doesn’t work. I was blown away — where did you get the monkey thing, and then explain the monkey thing.
JEFF: Yeah, it was interesting. When I was writing the book, we set up a research team, thousands of pages of research. I’m a numb nut. I barely graduated college; right? But I’m hanging out with my really smart friend, he’s a Ph.D. at Stanford, a neuroscientist, and he’s telling me about this study that they conduct all the time. And what happens is when you go to get your Ph.D., they often give you this experiment where they take an electric probe, and they put it into a monkey’s brain to read what’s going on inside that brain. And then what they do is play this loud, blaring, obnoxious sound in the monkey’s ear. And what you see on the readout is not surprising. When you play that awful sound, you get a very strong and very negative reaction from the monkey’s brain. So then they repeat the experiment. They play that loud, blaring, obnoxious sound. And what you find, again, is not surprising. They have a very strong and very negative reaction.
But what it was absolutely shocking to me is that if you repeat the experiment a few times over, and then you look at the readout, the reaction looks like the side of a cliff. The monkey’s brain literally stops reacting to this awful sound because the monkey at a structural level knows that it needs to focus on other things in life. Food, water, shelter, fornication; right? If it continues to respond so strongly to that stimulus, it literally can’t survive. It’s called repetition suppression.
GLENN: So are we in — before we go into this on the decisions that we make and every day. But are we seeing this — is this one of the reasons why we are just tuning so many things out in Washington? We’re tuning principles out. We’re tuning all kinds of stuff out because we just can’t do anything about it, and we keep hearing it shouted over and over and over again, and we focus on other things? Am I reading that right?
JEFF: That’s exactly right. The human brain is exposed to 400 billion bits of information every second. We make 35,000 conscious decisions per day. We ran an experiment —
GLENN: That’s 35,000 yes or no decisions.
JEFF: It could be more complicated than yes or no. These are outright conscious decisions per day. So brands, politicians, we’re all trying to enter this stream. We expose people to 5,000 branded messages per day. The previous generation was only 2,000. Already, that was too much. So what we have to do is focus less on interruptions, and more on empowerment. Another way of looking at it is magnets over megaphones. We have to create content and experiences that are so powerful, people go out of their way to participate in them. And then, share them with others. And that’s the secret ingredient to brands like Yeti.
GLENN: Patagonia you think is the pinnacle of a passion brand?
JEFF: Patagonia is one of them.
JEFF: Well, I fell in love with this guys because, first of all, they recognize that there’s friction in the category. And what they to is they focus all their efforts on fighting that friction. So the friction is this:
If you want to enjoy their outdoor gear and apparel, you need a healthy outdoors. And ironically when they create their products, it actually damages the outdoors; right? Create manufacturing by-products, your old jackets make garbage; right? So everything they do, they fight friction by empowering people.
GLENN: Okay. So when we come back, listen to the ad campaign that they came up with, and it’s brilliant. Brilliant. Patagonia “Friction” is the name of the book. Jeff Rosenbloom joins us again in a few minutes. “Friction: Passion Brands in the Age of Disruption”. Back in a minute.
GLENN: I will tell you. If you really want to see the world in a different way, especially if you’re an entrepreneur or a leader of any sort, you really want to see the future and whether what you’re doing will survive or not. You need to read the book “Friction: Passion Brands in the Age of Disruption”.
Jeff Rosenbloom is with us, and you were giving us the example of Patagonia. Patagonia making outdoor clothing, and they really are dedicated to, you know, save the planet and everything else, and so that’s where their people are. And the friction that they had internally was, you know, all of the stuff that we make the chemicals and everything, the garbage, that’s actually hurting. So how are we helping, exactly?
So talk about the campaign that they ran with a coat.
JEFF: Yeah, so you hit on a really important point. For their target audience, making the environment healthier is absolutely paramount.
JEFF: Right. So the campaign that I love, I came across not when I was doing research, but we actually created this documentary called the naked brand. And we looked at one of their campaigns called the footprint chronicles where you know if you got the surfer board shorts, and you go surfing, and you come back on the beach, and they dry, like, 45 seconds later? Well, guess what? Mother nature didn’t make those shorts. We made them. We manufactured them. They’re manufacturing by-products, so you can actually follow the manufacturer of their products around the globe, see the supply chain, they’re not saying look how great we are. They’re literally talking about the damage they do. It’s really counterintuitive. I find it fascinating, and I fell in love with the brand. And I wanted to buy this blue Patagonia jacket. I had a perfect vision of it in my mind’s eye.
And I’m literally shopping on Black Friday. The number one shopping day of the year. Brands sell more on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving than in months combined. And I went to Patagonia.com and on the home page, like, they read my mind, I can’t exaggerate this. There’s the blue jacket that I wanted to buy. And then right next to it on the home page in a giant font, don’t buy this jacket. What the heck is going on here? And then there’s a button, like, direct response principles click on it. Learn more. So I click. And their point is this. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Reduce is number one. So if you want to buy that jacket, we’re happy to sell it to you. But we’re going to damage the environment from the manufacturing, from the garbage of your old jacket. Maybe, you don’t need that jacket. Maybe you should buy less.
So I’m Jewish, I’m from New York, I felt guilty, I didn’t buy the jacket. They lost the sale. But here’s what they gained. They gained my unwavering loyalty. And they gained my evangelism. So here we are on your show talking about Patagonia. But more influential than me are the people who are truly influential. The guys; right? These are the guides leading hiking and biking and fly fishing and surfing adventures all around the world. And in definition, guides are influential, and they’re covered head to tow in Patagonia gear because Patagonia is empathetic and empowers people about the one thing that is most important to those guides. And when you talk about evangelists, they are 12 times or more trusted than paid advertising ever will be.
PAT: Wow. And also, their competition is similar in that way; right? They try to reduce — north face, they reduce friction for their customers as well.
JEFF: Yeah, it’s a great point. Thanks for bringing it up because we can’t just all jump on the environmental bandwagon. We can’t jump on what other brands are doing.
PAT: That would look really disingenuous.
JEFF: Totally. People don’t wake up in the morning and want to hug the trees and save the manatees; right? It works for some brands. North face took a different tact, which is if you want to enjoy outdoor sports and apparel, we’re going to help you become a better athlete. So they created what they call the mountain series; right? And it’s a bunch of instructional videos and information and articles and events that help people become better athletes. So I fell in love with this video series. It was from some of the best rock climbers and skiers, and they were shown very specific exercises to help me become a better skier. What’s interesting is I don’t think it worked all that well for them because they made less of those videos and became less prominent. But they stick to this platform. They’re always empowering and always educating with different events and different information to help people become better athletes. You don’t see the edge or you do see the ads and say, hey, we’re north face, these are great products. But more importantly, they create content and experiences. So the ads are only part of that brand-building system. It’s not the totality of it.
STU: You go through a lot of this stuff, obviously, in the book “Friction.” And I have a friend who goes to Soul Cycle, which is a cycling spin class place.
JEFF: Bordering on a cult.
STU: The number one people say to her is shut up about Soul Sycle.
GLENN: It’s like orange theory.
GLENN: Orange theory is, like, okay. Stop with the bumper stickers. It’s a gym, man. Let go.
STU: So the question I want to ask you is how do I get her to shut up about Soul Cycle? But separately — because I look at their business model, and I see a huge friction point, which is they’re charging people $31 to come in and ride a bike in their establishment for an hour.
STU: And, to me, that sounds completely insane. Yeti, they have more evangelists percentage-wise probably than any company I’ve ever seen. How do you cross over a huge friction point like that and bring your point along?
JEFF: Great point. Great brand. I should have included them in my book. I was scared to death to go in there. You guys selling salad? We’ll do that.
GLENN: Salad? I like the part on Cadbury, for the love of god.
JEFF: Here’s the interesting point that you just amongst is these passion brands, they don’t get there by talking about discounts and promotions. And once brands go there, it becomes really addictive. They actually charge a premium price. Patagonia, Yeti, Soul Cycle, sweet green, all of this stuff is quite a bit more expensive than the competition.
GLENN: And it has to be worth it first. It has to be worth — if you’re buying a dozen eggs, you better get 14 and great farm fresh eggs if you’re charging —
PAT: Or at least you’re better than whatever else.
GLENN: Yeah, you’ve got to be. You have to be that first. There’s none of this, you know, hey, Fred Flynn stone is saying, you know, that doctors say smoking is healthy. It has got to actually be accurate; right?
JEFF: There’s a great poster I saw. No amount of advertising can get me to buy your crappy pizza; right? And the truth and the matter is it actually can. It can get you to buy that crappy pizza once. But it’s not going to get loyalty and evangelism. So you’re hitting on a key point with Yeti is that the product has to be better than the competition. It doesn’t have to be two or three times better. But it has to be 10, 20, 30, 40 percent better.
But to your point, that relationship that people have with Soul Cycle is irrational; right?
STU: Yes. Yeah, I can confirm that. Yes.
JEFF: The reason it’s irrational is that it’s emotional. Most brands have a transactional relationship; right? They make a good product, they charge a fair price, they have some pretty good advertising, people comparison shop, and then they buy.
Soul Cycle and other brands have an emotional relationship where people pay more for the product. They ignore the competition. They buy all of that Soul Cycle and gear, and they turn themselves into walking billboards. And they do that, they create that irrational relationship through irrational behavior.
Think about that Patagonia example. Running a campaign that says don’t buy this jacket, that’s irrational.
GLENN: So Starbucks, really, was kind of a pioneer in this kind of area, weren’t they? Where everybody was going to Dunkin’ Donuts and getting your coffee at a normal price. And then all of a sudden here comes Starbucks charging money out the nose. But it became more than a coffee place.
JEFF: Yeah, well, it went from transactional. I like Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m from the northeast. But it’s transactional. You’re in, you’re out, you move on. Howard Schultz was, like, wait a second. Let’s make this experiential. Let’s look at what’s going on in Europe. Let’s sell them the cup of coffee and then give them a place to hang out. And then all of a sudden almost like Soul Cycle, it’s almost coltish in the language that they’re using, and they’re becoming part of a tribe and tribes are extraordinarily powerful. We don’t just want customers. If you want to be a passion brand, you have to build a tribe.
GLENN: So is that do you know where Y they use things like venti? They change the language to make it even more of a badge to be a part of this tribe. Is that what’s going on?
JEFF: That’s exactly right; right? And I don’t know, like, I’m not that gifted creatively to figure those types of things out. But, yeah, Howard or somebody on his team figured out long ago let’s create that badge. Let’s create those shortcuts.
GLENN: The name of the book is friction. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve never done this with any book before. I insisted everybody on the staff read this book, so we’re responsible for about 249 companies being sold.
JEFF: Thank you very much.
GLENN: And everybody has read it. I also for the first time I’ve never done this. We’re asking all of our Dallas employees to come down to the studio floor today. There’s about 90 here just in this building. They’re coming to listen to you at 5:00 for the show at 5:00 today TheBlaze.com, and I just want you to talk about how to find the customer, how to reduce friction, how to — I mean, I’m convinced — everything in your book, I’ve known instinctively. And if I boil it down, I always thought that capitalism was the greatest charity brand ever, if it’s done right. And meaning if I love a group of people, I’ll say how can I serve them? How can I make their life better, easier? And by serving them, what they need in a really easy way, I could become rich. It is capitalism. It’s not charity. It’s capitalism. And that’s really kind of the thing. If you know who your target is, you know who you’re serving, and you actually love them, listen to them, and help make their life easier, that’s it, isn’t it?
JEFF: It’s interesting you bring it up because I’m leaving this very blue region of New York City, and I’m entering this red region of Texas. And I’m looking out the window of this wonderful, amazing, beautiful country of ours. And I was thinking about the fact that we just can’t seem to agree very much lately. And then I realize, wait a second. There is one thing that we can all agree upon. Which is corporations have incredible power. And they should use that power to improve people’s lives one small step at a time. And this is not for altruistic reasons, this is not for idealistic reasons because that is not sustainable. It’s because when brands improve people’s lives, they get rewarded. Not just by shifting customers or, say, prospects to customers, but by shifting customers into evangelists, and that’s what fighting friction is all about.
GLENN: Unless you go to the Harvard school of business, and you are assigned both wealth of nations and moral sentiments, which is imperative that you read both Adam Smith books, you’re not going to get this. This is a new really kind of Adam Smith look at how capitalism should work, “Friction” passion brands. We will you on The Blaze TV today at 5:00.
JEFF: Thank you.
GLENN: I want to talk really quick before you go. The proceeds as we’re telling people to buy your book. The proceeds are not going to you. Where are the proceeds going?
JEFF: From July 15th to August 15th, all of the proceeds, not Amazon, not the publisher. I can’t control those guys. Goes to special spectators.
GLENN: Which is what?
JEFF: Takes kids with life-threatening illnesses, and takes them to exclusive college sports experiences. So they’ll get on the field at, like, Alabama, and they’ll get into the locker room, they’ll meet the coaches, and there’s all different games going around the country. And what they found with these, because I’m on the board of make a wish, and we saw it there also. It’s not just about giving these guys a moment of happiness, but it’s also part of a healing process; right? It literally heals kids when they’re fighting these diseases to actually have a moment of happiness in their life.
GLENN: Thank you very much, Jeff. We’ll talk to you later this afternoon.
JEFF: Thank you.
GLENN: By the way, if you have any questions, go ahead and tweet them, and I’ll have the staff look at them this afternoon before we go on the air. You can just tweet them @glennbeck, and we’ll try to get your questions in as well.