At our October 8, 2019 luncheon, Brent Niemuth, President & Chief Creative Officer at J.Schmid & Assoc. Inc, shared a stunning statistic: Consumers say that 80% of brands don’t matter to them.

The implications of this statistic are clear. Your customers can leave you behind. Over the course of our luncheon, Brent shared research and expertise on how to be sure your brand is within the 20% that matter. 

Brands that Matter

It doesn’t take complex statistical analysis to understand what the brands that mattered had in common. The bottom line was alarmingly simple. The best brands act more human. Brands act human in a number of ways: through showing empathy, engaging in social causes or even recognizing that they are selling to humans, not simply a demographic. 

Evolution of branding

We know that branding has evolved. Brent walked us through some clear examples of its progression. 

    • Early marketing focused on features and what the product has. Think Coke in the 1920s.
    • Branding then evolved to show benefits and what the product does. See Tide in the 1950s.
    • Starbucks revolutionized coffee in America in the 1980s, making us feel more connected to the experience of drinking coffee. 


  • Apple innovated branding and advertising around 2000 with its “I’m a Mac” ads. The campaign led us to identify with our purchase. Branding started increasingly focusing on who we are.
  • Today, with companies like Toms, marketing has turned to value, and what you believe. 


In short, consumers are telling companies that It’s not what you sell, it’s what you stand for.

Client case study:

Brent presented a case study that brought this idea to life. Mary Myers, is a fourth-generation family business selling some of the best quality stuffed animals and baby products on the market. But their sales were lagging.

After reviewing their marketing efforts, it was clear that while the products were phenomenal, their messaging needed work. Their marketing message was focused almost solely on the product quality. Missing in their message was the connection their customers have with the products, like the emotional connection kids have with their favorite stuffed animal. 

Mary Myers began to overhaul their brand messaging. They began with developing brand manifesto highlighting their core beliefs. They revamped their photography to include people. Cute, adorable little humans who use the product. Capturing the moment where a child is with her toy replaced simple shots of the products. In the pages of their catalog, for example, the brand was able to elicit emotion by communicating its story alongside powerful images. 

With this example, Brent also reminded us of the crucial role print marketing plays. Print has more emotional pull for consumers than digital. The brain deeply registers print and the tactile interaction with the piece. “The act of touching the message makes people want it more.” 

How to Humanize Your Brand

Brent left us with some key takeaways for rethinking your branding approach:

  • Get to know your customers better. Treat them like real people. 
  • Define your brand’s personality as if you were describing an actual person. 
  • Let them see you the real you. Be authentic.
  • It begins and ends with company culture. It all starts inside. 
  • You will be judged on your behavior. How you act – the things you do – are what’s important.
  • Who oversees your brand? One person should be calling the shots. 
  • Show more people. Feature people, your brain responds better. You look at the faces first. 

When 95% percent of the buying decisions we make have to do with emotion versus only logic, it’s critical we develop marketing plans as such.