About Minter Dial

Minter Dial is an international professional speaker & consultant on Branding and Digital Strategy. After a long and successful international career at L’Oreal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots to create first The Myndset Company and then Digitalproof Consultancy Ltd. Working in partnership with a select group of associates, Minter has spent ten years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. Minter has worked with world-class organizations to help activate their brand strategies, and to integrate new technologies and digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyze a change in mindset and dialling up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He is co-author of Futureproof (Pearson Sep 2017) and The Last Ring Home (Myndset Nov 2016), a book and award-winning documentary film.

Building A Unique And Successful Brand In A Crowded Market: Madison Reed by Amy Errett (MDE282)

Minter Dialogue with Amy Errett

Amy-ErrettAmy Errett is an unique businesswoman who has worked in big business, led a VC, operated on many boards and has also started multiple entrepreneurial outfits. Her latest is Madison Reed, launched it in 2014, manufacturing and selling hair products in the US. And Madison Reed is clearly disrupting the hair colour business. In this conversation, we look at the early lessons learned, the trifecta of ingredients that has contributed to Madison Reed’s success, their effective way of using tech to drive the business and a good deal more.

Below, you’ll find the show notes and, of course, you are invited to comment. If you liked the podcast, please take a moment to go over to iTunes to rate it.

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The Biggest Brand Disruption In Two Words

What’s causing the most disruption of your brand? Some will point to social media, the mobile phone or other technologies. But it’s not the technologies themselves that are disrupting brands, it’s how they are being used. Moreover, when you look at the onslaught of ‘new’ technologies, many have actually been around now for a while, so you could argue that we’ve had plenty time to think about their impact on our brands and our business. Yet, brands continue to fall short and/or fail. What’s needed, as I will address at the bottom of the article, is a focus on two words.

Let’s start with a history of how and when some of these “new” technologies surfaced.

Smartphones – smart since 1992

  • brand disruption IBM-Simon-1994_-c_3007865k1992 – the first official phone that connects to the internet: Simon Personal Communicator from IBM
  • 1995 – the term smartphone comes into the vernacular
  • 2000 – the first mobile phone marketed as a smartphone: Ericsson R380
  • 2007 – the first iPhone

Artificial Intelligence – since 1950’s

  • 1950 is the seminal year for machine intelligence, with Alan Turing’s creation of the Turing Test, measuring a machine’s intelligence; and Isaac Asimov publishes Three Laws of Robotics
  • The term “artificial intelligence” is coined in 1955 by John McCarthy
  • LISP (“list processing”) programming language that is still widely used for AI, is invented by McCarthy in 1958
  • ELIZA, developed out of the MIT AI Lab, is a machine created in the mid-1960s that is able to conduct conversation via text with users
  • In 1993, Vernor Vinge publishes “The Coming Technological Singularity,” predicting the arrival of superhuman computers
  • In 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue beats Garry Kasparov, reining world chess champion.
  • In 2016, Google DeepMind AlphaGo beats Lee Sedol, world champion, at Go

Data creation, analytics & Visualisation Since Way Back…

  • 1600 – First empirical data tables
  • 1644 – First data graph
  • 1801 – First data visualisation by William Playfair with the creation of a pie chart
  •  1905 – Lorenz Curve (cumulative distribution by rank order)
  • 1992 – Categorical data graphics
  • 1996 – Cartographic Data Visualiser

Social media sites started out as forums

  • 1973 – PLATO system (University of Illinois) has a basic message-forum application
  • c 1980 – Bulletin board systems and Internet Relay Chat
  • 1997 – Six Degrees
  • 1999 – Blogging site, Blogger, launches
  • 2002 – Friendster launches
  • 2003 – MySpace launches
  • 2004 – TheFacebook launches

All in all, much of the “new tech” has been around in some form or other for quite a long time. Innovation in the form of scientific breakthroughs, new approaches and usages, reinvented business models and a shifting context have contributed to a fast-evolving playing field. We have seen consolidation in some of these ‘new’ technologies, but we’re bound to see much more over the next decade. With such moving tectonic plates, it can be a confusing world in branding. I would like to offer a simple answer to the question: what are the two biggest brand disruptions?


The Biggest brand disruption LIES in Data

brand disruption dataWithout beating the drum of the need for hyper personalisation, the mushrooming of data sources (mobile devices, web browsers, social media, IoT…), the sheer volume as well as the velocity of data production is typically overwhelming, especially if you are embarking on a genuine customer centric approach. Data storage is now radically cheaper and easier (the cloud), and computing power and analytical capabilities (AI) are bounding ahead. To compound the challenges of collating and analysing ‘big’ data are the ethical questions surrounding privacy, topped off with the threats of cyber security. All in all, the mixture may be algorithmically exciting or catastrophically paralysing.

The consequent brand disruption in communication

brand disruption communication socialWith the deluge in data, the challenge then turns to what to do with it in terms of communication. With the widespread democratisation of the smartphone and web, the context and timeliness of communicating with customers has been rendered dramatically more complex. And, thanks in large part to the spread of social media, the concept of controlling the message has been thrown out the window. Underscoring the communication challenge for brands, though, is the burgeoning sense of mistrust that consumers have for institutional messages, and even of celebrity endorsements.

So what?

There are two important guiding principles that I advise brands to take on board:

  1. Aside from generating a single customer view, adopt the following attitude: Make sure that you obsessively use the data to give material and perceptible value to the recipients.
  2. Make sure that your brand’s internal communication policies and procedures are aligned with what you are wishing to achieve externally with your customers.

In a world of changing paradigms and evermore fickle consumers, it is my conviction that brands ought to focus first on developing internal trust and employee engagement in order to circumnavigate this crazy world we’re living in. Being more customer centric means using the data wisely and communicating effectively. And since staff are the ones manning the keyboards and call centres, ensuring they are fully engaged is the most effective way to drive customer centricity.

Sources for above

How to Tackle Disruption, Ask Better Questions and Adapt to Survive with Jack Uldrich, Futurist and Best-Selling Author (MDE281)

Minter Dialogue with Jack Uldrich

jack uldrichJack Uldrich is an acclaimed global futurist, keynote (including TEDx) speaker, and best-selling author. In this conversation, we discuss why business executives need to unlearn and embrace ambiguity in order better to lead, how leaders should be asking better questions, how change comes about, the most exciting prospective new technologies as well as those that keep Jack up at night.

Below, you’ll find the show notes and, of course, you are invited to comment. If you liked the podcast, please take a moment to go over to iTunes to rate it.

Anthony de Mello

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Getting Engagement – How Does Your Brand Fare On The Moist Eye Index?

In considering a brand’s ability to garner greater employee commitment and customer engagement, it’s obligatory to talk about the power of emotion. Yet, so many company executives shun the topic and/or hide behind a wall of “utter” professionalism. In an article penned by Dev Patnaik, CEO of Jump Associates, “Innovation Starts with Empathy“, he described how “we’ve created a corporate world that strives to eliminate the most human elements of business. Companies systematically dull the natural power that each of us has to connect with other people.” The new Khyber Pass of branding is knowing how to mix personal with the professional.

Don’t take it personally?

There’s little more silly in business than to couch criticism of an employee’s work with the words: “Don’t take this personally...” Employee engagement comes from personal conviction and involvement. Tweet This Moreover, it’s the emotional connections to a brand that drive brand equity. Marketing’s magic resides in the intangible attachments of customer to brand, driven by subconscious recall and feelings, powered by the thrill of the unexpected and the non-binding association with a de facto value system.

Prioritising Emotion and Employee Engagement

Brands (companies) that are geared toward shareholder returns are bound to seek better and better efficiencies. And we all agree that we want profitability. In the short-term oriented and supremely rational world of business, the analytical mind is will not accept initiatives bereft of a decisive ROI. Inevitably, the “loosey goosey” elements of marketing that pander to the emotions get short-changed. It is not that such “rational” strategies don’t work. It is just that, in my opinion, they do not provide a sustainable model. It’s akin to squeezing out all the juice from a fruit. As evidence, I refer to the speed with which companies in the S&P500 are churning over. A 2018 Innosight study anticipates that the lifespan will decrease from 24 years in 2016 to 12 years by the year 2027 (noting that would be a strong reversal from recent trend as it’s actually been on the rise in the last few years).


Innosight 2018

Customer loyalty without employee loyalty?

It’s remarkable to see how companies often wish a certain behaviour from their customers that is not mirrored by their employees. Specifically, in today’s experience economy, the employee is, more often than not, responsible for the customer experience. Leadership needs to ask itself regularly: What is the fundamental reason getting the employee out of bed? Is it out fear, greed or habit? Or is it for some higher purpose that, without exaggeration, one might tear up if the brand disappeared? I call this the brand’s Moist Eye Index. The ability for the brand to make those involved shed a tear.

Moist Eye Index

All companies can create that powerful, happy moment. A bank that approves your first loan. Shazam that finds that long-lost song you couldn’t put an artist’s name to. Lyft that hurries your pregnant wife to the hospital. Your insurance company that overlooks the small print to do the right thing… and reimburse you appropriately. As companies grow, they seem ineluctably to forget their main mission, thereby drying up the well.

Motivation via meaningfulness

Meaningfulness is the ultimate motivator. I believe that this holds true for all forms of business. Sure, working for a winning enterprise and making lots of money is exciting, but over time, it can become an empty quest. In the financial services industry, for example, I observe how often bankers and brokers jump from one company to another, chasing higher pay checks and/or a less horrid work environment. Their job has little meaning other than the quest for a bigger material gain. All too often, these individuals wake up late in life to the fact that their contributions are ephemeral and the company for which they work does not have a strong purpose. The implicit conclusion: I spent my career doing something unimportant to the grand scheme of things. Worse, one can see how, over and again, financially driven companies regularly put shareholder profits ahead of customer benefits, much less employee satisfaction. Yet, I feel that companies will gain longer-term if they know how to put more priority on upping emotion and investing in legitimate employee engagement.

Finding a genuine purpose

Many companies that you would think could have a legitimate and strong mission get blown off course. In a recent Freakonomics podcast, I was interested to hear that the pharmaceutical industry is not only the most hated and mistrusted industry of all, it is also the most charitable. As if, by allocating some resources to ESG or CSR, pharma companies are mitigating some of their poor practices. To the extent, pharma is there to improve our health, its status as MOST HATED attests to the corruption of short-term profits. Pharma, among other industries, needs to revamp its model to return to a more genuine purpose. Otherwise, employees will always have the gnawing feeling within, far down on the moist eye index.

How many people work for a company that, when they describe what they do, they risk tearing up because it is so important and/or moving? I call this the moist eye index. Not that I suggest all companies need convert into philanthropic enterprises; however, companies that can create a purpose that gets your emotional juices flowing are likely to find their employees significantly more engaged and motivated. And that will materially contribute to creating a better customer experience.


Discover the Pragmatist’s Guide to Life and a new approach to finding purpose with Simone and Malcolm Collins (MDE280)

Minter Dialogue with Simone and Malcolm Collins

simone and malcom collins pragmatist's guide to lifeSimone and Malcolm Collins are wedded entrepreneurs, authors and travellers. Working with Malcolm, Simone is the CEO of Travelmax, selling wholesale travel tickets to boutique agencies and providing white-glove travel management services to celebs. Malcolm is a neuroscientist by training and co-founded with Simone, the art commission marketplace ArtCorgi. Together, they also founded the Pragmatist Foundation and are the authors of the Pragmatist’s Guide to Life, a best-selling kindle book that elaborates a new way of looking at life. In this podcast we examine some of the most intriguing tenets of their book, the notion of finding one’s objective function and the implications for you and me.

Below, you’ll find the show notes and, of course, you are invited to comment. If you liked the podcast, please take a moment to go over to iTunes to rate it.

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Getting Engagement From Your Customer – Through the looking glass of GDPR and permission marketing

GDPR_emailsNow that May 25th — the date when the European regulation GDPR officially took effect — has come and gone, the barrage of GDPR-related messages has subsided. At one point, opt-in requests and privacy setting announcements seemed to be ALL I was getting (see my mobile screen grab). It was just a constant and rather ludicrous stream of last-minuteness. Through all the mails, I did note some recurrent themes that reveal where we sit as marketers around the globe.

Asking to Opt-in again!

Among the major companies with serious email lists and, to varying degrees, BIG data to worry about, the vast majority seemed to play the conservative (and legal) route of asking its subscribers to re-opt in under the new conditions. It’s a request that is fraught with significant risk for the business. Either by not replying or not reading the mail, accounts will have to be deleted. Without the re-opt in, the company is bound to remove that subscriber from the list (although the temptation to keep the person’s information is huge all the same). How many email lists were radically depleted as a result? How many people were eliminated but actually would have preferred to stay subscribed?

Forcing an opt out

Some companies were a bit cheeky and preferred to ask: “If you really don’t want our mails, please do unsubscribe.” It’s a very meek way of validating your subscriber list. To make that a viable route, this would assume that they believe that their subscribers had fully opted in previously.

Privacy policy update … only

Some companies decided to side-step the re-opt in and just to tell their subscribers to check out their new privacy policy that follows the GDPR guidelines. This altogether skirted the risk of subscribers not wishing to stay on board. It’s a rather low brow approach. But, I’d say it’s taking a measured gamble. We’ll have to see when and how the regulators judge each of the companies.

The impact on business

GDPR permission marketing

There were several businesses that sent multiple messages, essentially imploring me to re-opt in. Very few remarkably tried to justify why I would want to stay subscribed. Perhaps they didn’t know how to express their value? Perhaps they realised that they don’t actually provide a bona fide value? I enjoyed one individual who sent out a set of three messages that built up in crescendo, where the final message was a rather somber, almost threatening, au revoir!

Goodbye Forever – Have a nice life! (by Nigel Cliffe, LinkedIn training expert)

In the same vein, but a little less dramatic:

“I guess this is goodbye …” (BOC Global Events Group)

Here’s another effort, a bit menacing (from Web Summit and Collision):

SUBJECT: DELETION NOTICE. Don’t blame us if you don’t hear about ticket offers, exclusive events and speaker updates!

Permission needs to be earned

As was shared by Seth Godin on the podcast I recorded with him, GDPR is merely the legal code of permission marketing. Many companies are going to suffer for having failed to create loyal followers in a trustworthy manner over time. I saw one mail from a SME literally begging for me to stay on her mailing list, in realization of how costly the fallout would be if the subscribers don’t officially accept to remain. Whatever one thinks of it, the GDPR initiative has certainly provided a new way to spring clean our email inboxes. Unfortunately, it probably won’t mean much as far penalising the unsolicited spammers who will continue to pollute our mailboxes, regardless of the legislation.

Doing the right thing, is good in the long run

GDPR permission marketingOne of the interesting things about such an event as the implementation date of GDPR is that it’s hard to do a practice run. It’s not like we have ever had the same situation happen before. I wonder how many companies chose to do some A/B testing? Someone will surely be plowing through the data to see who was more or less successful in re-opting in its subscriber base. But, far more important than those statistics, the KEY component – that’s so much harder to gauge — is about having the right mindset in what you’re trying to achieve:

As far as I’m concerned, the fundamental lesson of the GDPR legislation is that marketers need to think in advance of the consequences of their methods, and to cast an ethical eye, that takes into consideration the subscribers’ perspective .

Update: I would add that a large number of media companies in the US (as far as I can recognise) have opted merely to close down access to their sites for those of us identified as being in Europe… for example: the Baltimore Sun:

GDPR Baltimore Sun

When AI Is About Artificial Interruptions – An Example of Voice Recognition and AI for Evil in an Automated Spam Call

You know those pestering calls you get where someone informs you, often with a foreign accent, that you’ve been in a car accident and are due some compensation…? It seems that these calls just continue to come despite the evermore unfriendly reactions that people (including myself) around the world are giving to these poor mules. Well, I wonder if some of these malevolent teams didn’t get inspired by the recent Google Duplex demonstration and create an automation process, complete with um’s and er’s, to render the process automated and seemingly human… thereby eliminating some of the regular abuse the mules are receiving as soon as you recognise the miserable intent of the call.

Automated Spam Call…

A recent call in the UK erred and the automated spam message went to my voice mail, so I was able to record how it works. Here it is (just 20 seconds long):

The intonations, the non word, the gaps… and the inevitable use of voice recognition and AI for evil, don’t you think?

If only it meant something, but here’s their number if you feel like calling them back: +447100568264. If only that did some good!

Behind the scenes with the successful Somnai Experience in London with Andrew McGuinness (MDE279)

Minter Dialogue with Andrew McGuinness

Andrew McGuinness is the CEO of Ellipsis Entertainment and founder of the BMB and Seven Dials PR agency. Through DotDotDot London, part of Ellipsis, Andrew partnered with a couple of agencies to create an innovative and provocative entertainment experience in the heart of Clerkenwell London. It’s an immersive multi-reality 60-minute experience that is well worth the visit. In this conversation, we look behind the scenes at the making of the experience, the challenges and surprises as well as the future plans.

Below, you’ll find the show notes and, of course, you are invited to comment. If you liked the podcast, please take a moment to go over to iTunes to rate it.

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Get Your Undies Served In Seconds – Under the Cover With The Undiz Machine

I checked out the way Etam’s Undiz Machine works while in Paris last week and wanted to report on the experience. The Undiz Machine was first installed in 2015 in Toulouse and then was rolled out in a select number of Etam stores around France. The fact that the concept is still running three years later is as good an indication as any that the system seems to be working for Etam. In Paris, the “flagship” Undiz store is on the Rue de Rivoli. I chose to visit the Etam-Undiz store on the Champs Elysees. The Undiz Machine section is ensconced on the right some 10 metres inside the store (figure 1). I was met by a jovial Etam employee who introduced me to the Undiz Machine and showed me the ropes.

The Digitail Experience at Undiz

So, the basic premise is that you can check out the physical Undiz items individually displayed in the Undiz zone (see figure 2). Once you find an item of interest, you input on the screen (there are six in this store – figure 3) your desire sizes and quantities. Of course, you can also browse via the screen. Once you have selected your item, it then sends the message down to the stockroom. They promise a maximum of 2 minutes to get the item up to the retail floor. In my case, the tube came whizzing back within about 60 seconds (figure 4). I think this was more about the lack of traffic at the time of my experiment.

Undiz Machine Etam Champs Elysees

Figure 1

Human & Machine

The first and, in my opinion, most important element that Etam got right here is that the ‘human’ element was integral and appropriate. The young woman was very patient, keen to explain and not pushy (BTW she’s salaried, so no performance pressure per se).

Secondly, the system was totally bug free, a rare feat when bringing digital into a retail store. And that was all the more impressive in that the Undiz Machine is mostly machine and part human, all the same. Where does the human element come to play? First, in the sherpa mode that the young woman took on, helping the retail customer figure out the digital interface. Secondly, once the order has been sent, a human being has to run around in the warehouse behind the scenes and load the right item into the canister.

Ultimately, what I like about this Undiz Machine system is that it demonstrates the use of technology (broadly speaking digital) to augment the customer experience both upfront and with the back office elements (logistics in this case).

Measuring the digitail performance at Undiz Machine?

What I’d be curious about is how Etam actually measures the ROI. On the hand there’s the space allocation (rent, etc) and personnel, on the other hand there’s the traffic and conversion rates, etc. In terms of customer satisfaction, meanwhile, I was duly impressed and went away with a new underwear.

Undiz Machine

Figure 2


Undiz Machine

Figure 3

Undiz Machine

Figure 4

Understanding and Leveraging Cryptocurrencies and the Blockchain with Peter McCormack (MDE278)

Minter Dialogue with Peter McCormack

Peter McCormack is one of the pioneers in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Having literally fallen into the space, Peter is now an experienced cryptocurrency trader, miner, blogger, podcaster and advisor, cruising the world and advocating cryptocurrencies. In this podcast, we discuss the world of cryptocurrencies, why you might want to get involved, how companies could or should be viewing the bitcoin/cryptocurrency/blockchain opportunity, the investment opportunities for individuals, the problem with Ethereum as well as a host of great resources to learn more.

Below, you’ll find the show notes and, of course, you are invited to comment. If you liked the podcast, please take a moment to go over to iTunes to rate it.

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