Worldwide Business with kathy ireland® interviews Sean Keathley and Gina Bleedorn to discuss ways financial brands can truly connect with their audiences.

In November, Adrenaline’s president Sean Keathley and executive director Gina Bleedorn were interviewed on Worldwide Business with kathy ireland® discussing ways that brands, particularly financial brands, can truly connect with their audiences. In our series, The Art and Science of Reaching Consumers, we are going to take a deeper dive into some of the concepts we discussed with Kathy, to give you a little more insight into what’s working in branding and marketing today and what’s not. 

All brands have to stand for something

Ask any consumer the names of some of their favorite brands, and you’ll come across something interesting: what the brand is selling is usually not the product. We know that can sound crazy, but stay with us here. Sure, having a good product is important; it’s the chief reason you’re in business, and you want to sell more. We understand that. But a good product is not at the heart of consumer’s hearts. Consumers expect your product to be good – that’s a given – but they also expect more.

Trying to hone into what that elusive “more” looks like from the consumer’s vantage is why we spend so much time and energy in our discovery and ideation phases. We take a good, hard look across our client’s industries to see who their competitors are, what they’re saying, and what they stand for. Then we investigate consumer data about what consumers say they want out of a product or service in your category and, and importantly, what they don’t. Finally, we ask our clients probing questions about why they do what they do.

What’s unique and ownable

Often this final phase can take some time, pushing brands to get past thinking about what their competitors are doing, and focused on what truly sets them apart. This is the “why” behind a brand or the big question. What surprises many of our clients is the realization that they’re not competing on the attributes of their product alone. Of course beer has to taste good; cars have to be reliable; and banks have to process transactions quickly and securely. But here’s the rub: as a brand, you can’t corner the market on these things. As Gina likes to say, if you’re branding yourself as seven minute abs, as soon as six minute abs comes out, you’re toast.

True magic happens when brands uncover what makes them unique and they embrace that in their marketing and branding efforts. It’s the intersection of where a brand is in the market compared to their competitors, what consumers say they want from brands in that category and a brand’s “why.” When you’ve uncovered that, you’ve captured magic in a bottle.

Who’s killing it

Now to illustrate our point, let’s take a look at some of today’s best brands and what they stand for.

Urban Outfitters


Brand: Urban Outfitters
Product: Vinyl records, clothing and housewares
What They’re Really Selling: Cool


Second Self Beer


Brand: Second Self
Product: Beer
What They’re Really Selling: Craft




Brand: GoPro
Product: Portable digital cameras
What They’re Really Selling: Adventure 

Let’s keep this conversation going. Use the hashtag #myfavoritebrand and tell us why you love them.

And be sure to stay tuned for our next installment, when we address communication channel disruption and the consumer path to purchase model.