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.

SXSW 2018 – Storytelling And Tech: A Book By Another Cover

sxsw 2018South By Southwest (SXSW) remains my highlight event of the year in terms of getting inspiration, meeting new people and checking out where the world is in regard to the digital/new tech revolution. And 2018 was another bonanza affair with its unique combination of tech, music and film. It was filled with the by-now-expected list of big names (Elon Musk, Sadiq Khan, Melinda Gates, Mark Hamill, aka Luke Skywalker, Khalid…) as well as hundreds of hard-to-choose-between sessions. There were also several surprise appearances and “mystery” sessions that did nothing to diminish the never-ending sense of FOMO.

AI going mainstream

Among the big recurring themes (outside of the tracks themselves), it’s clear that on the tech side, Artificial Intelligence was the dominant force. If the title of a session didn’t necessarily include AI, the topic would systematically come up one way or another. In terms of tracks and events, there were 22 sessions specifically dedicated to AI, as well as several peripheral events. Outside of the looming ethical questions, it was interesting to see how AI is being used in subjects and fields as different as solving hunger, medicine, space, fashion and design. It’s almost as if AI is the solution for everything… which it surely is not.

Human in Tech

The second big theme I would call Human+Technology. At times, it was about the use of tech for humanity. At other times, it was about the combination of human and tech (for example, with AI). And, otherwise, it was often about how to insert human qualities, such as empathy, emotion and storytelling, into the brand’s marketing mix.

Storytelling evolves

storytelling sxsw 2018Drilling down into the topic of storytelling, naturally, it is an inherent part of SXSW by dint of the Film Festival. Officially, across the three festivals, there were 29 sessions with the word storytelling actually in the title. Of these, about 10 were about immersive storytelling, typically involving Virtual Reality. But if storytelling is all the rage for brands, it was also a topic for the NGOs, media and purpose-led organisations. In the session entitled, “Film and storytelling in a politically charged world,” Chris Albert, EVP of Global Communications at National Geographic, said that the documentary format has been gaining traction as some form of “truth” in a chaotic and fake-news environment. Albert talked about the rising interest in character-driven stories that are more human and relatable (as opposed, for example, to overtly retouched and fantastic stories).

Tech in storytelling

Of the more interesting avenues of discussion was the use of technology as part of storytelling. Undoubtedly, data analytics and artificial intelligence are two major areas of ongoing exploration. There was a good deal of talk around the need for more and cleaner data to understand the audience, curate better stories, and craft more effective headlines. As was said repeatedly, data is the raw material for AI in storytelling. Yet the challenge is not just collecting it, but sorting through and making sense of the deluge of data. I note that data journalism was the headline topic in three separate sessions at this year’s SXSW.

Social media giveth and taketh away….

If there is still much exploration still be done in AI and big data, the new use cases of mobile and social media were also very much present in discussions. In his fireside chat with Sonya Gavankar (Newseum) entitled “Investigative Journalism in the Social Media Age,” Pulitzer Prize-winning David Fahrenthold (WaPo) asserted that social media gave him as much in one year as it took away from him the following year. Fahrenthold explained that the use of the crowd (essentially Twitter) to help source information in a timely manner was spectacular if entirely unpredictable and, therefore, not easily reproducible. Meanwhile, in a session entitled “The World in Your Pocket: How CNN & Great Big Story Go Mobile with Brand Storytelling” (featuring a Facebook marketing executive), we saw the importance of managing the story for the small screen and the role of social media within it.

Storytelling — Beyond content creation

Overall, the nature of storytelling and its role in society is clearly an important subject, especially in these politically charged and changing times. If it may be ironic that much of the conversation revolves around and is conducted through technology, the human component (emotion, empathy, learning and transmission) was very much present. But it doesn’t suffice to tell a great story. In an overcrowded market, the great storytellers not only have to weave their magic while accommodating the new technological opportunities, they also must find ways to seed and get their story heard. And, for this, the “easy” solutions remain at large.

SXSW-Dates-2019Now in its 31st year, SXSW continues to thrive. If you have never been — and even if your interest is nominally in the Interactive part — please do consider making the trip and make sure to include sessions from the Music and Film Festivals, including attending some of the premieres and some of the great concerts on tap around town. Your storytelling prowess will be sure to evolve. Rendez vous March 8-17 2019!

Using social media and crafting the best strategy to drive your business in 2018 with Neal Schaffer (MDE273)

Minter Dialogue with Neal Schaffer

neal schafferNeal Schaffer is an author of multiple books and one of the more well-known thought leaders in marketing, and especially in social media marketing. In this conversation, we discuss what it takes to build up trust, how to work with influencers, as well as the discovery of an interesting platform for publishing your book.

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.

To connect with Neal Schaffer:

Continue reading

Driving the Triple Bottom Why for enhancing your brand’s storytelling and marketing with Marissa Feinberg (MDE272)

Minter Dialogue with Marissa Feinberg

marissa feinbergMarissa Feinberg is an actress, seasoned marketer and a consultant helping companies to drive what she calls the Triple Bottom Why. In essence, it’s about aligning your WHY with your marketing, PR, brand and digital storytelling. In this conversation, we look at how to make that alignment happen, what are some of the keys to making empathic values-based storytelling as well as the challenge of cutting through the noise with content distribution.facebook live marissa feinberg

This interview was initially recorded as a Facebook Live event. If you’re on Facebook and want to see a re-run with video, it’s available here. You’ll need to turn your mobile or laptop on its side (sorry!).

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.

To connect with Marissa Feinberg:

Continue reading

Padding Your Budget For Test & Learn And Making Mistakes

I bet it’s frustrating working in a large organisation and to keep hearing about “test & learn” or “fail fast” or “agile management” when management behaviour contradicts the words. If recent history is any indicator of the future, companies will continue to struggle in any migration to such flexibility and leniency. And ongoing shareholder pressure surely won’t help.

TEST & LEARN board-2450236_960_720

Budgeting for Test & Learn

I remember well the challenges of budgeting out the year ahead in the autumn, well before the year had ended. It always seemed like an exercise in wishful-thinking theory. And if that was the case ten years ago when I last ran the budget gauntlet, the exercise is distinctly harder now. Not only has the pace of change increased, but the amount of exogenous factors — such as a cyber hack, a leaked memo or massive change in market conditions — seems to have mushroomed. ON TOP OF THAT, companies are preaching that experimentation and failure is right and proper. So, how does one budget for that?Tweet This

Changing culture

test and learn schemaI wonder how many CFO’s have developed a specific line that, in fact, means test, fail & learn. Where is the padding in the budget for making mistakes, failing and trying again? My guess is that most of the test & learn mantra is applied to testing the patience of management and shareholders, more than being applied to making great products and services for the customer. Company culture just doesn’t change overnight. Beyond demonstrating that such a Test&Learn attitude is carried at the highest levels of the hierarchy, it takes putting provisions in the Goals & Objectives, end of year interviews and, perhaps even, somewhere in the financial P&L, too.Tweet This

Your thoughts?

The Opportunities and Use Cases of Artificial Intelligence for Business with Rob McCargow @robmccargow (MDE271)

Minter Dialogue with Rob McCargow

rob mccargawRob McCargow is the Artificial Intelligence programme leader at PWC and is a renowned speaker and thought leader on AI. He’s mission-led and has been leading the debate about how AI can do good for the world. In this conversation, Rob and I look at the opportunities for AI in business, why and how businesses should onboard the technology, the need for ethics and data governance, the place for AI in digital transformation, the minefield of legislation and much more.

“In the UK alone, we’re seeing a startup in AI every five days!” @robmccargow from @PWC #AI

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.

To connect with Rob McCargow:

Continue reading

Does Your Brand Pass The Brand Tattoo Test?

The good news seems to be that there is more and more talk about brands needing or having purpose. And I fully believe purpose is a profound force — more than having a great product — in creating long-term value. Yet, the bad news is that, even if many people and conferences talk about it, it is equally evident that few are the brands that are living it.

Some years ago, I came up with this idea that I feel brings to light the true level of purpose of a brand: Can your brand pass the brand tattoo test?

brand tattoo test

Photo Credit: Tanzeel Ur Rehman – Cover Asia Press

What greater sign of loyalty or sense of belonging could a person show? Of course, it’s risky business because, as sure as day will follow night, the brand logo, much less ownership, will change over time. But, when a brand feels like it has integrity and is genuinely striving to be authentic, that should not be an obstacle, because you are subscribing to a longstanding and principles-based philosophy and devotion. In researching this post, I discovered that there is apparently a certain Jason George in India who has (per this article, published in March 2017) sat through the tattooing of 380 brand logos on his body. He claims that each of these brands has contributed to his life in some way. And, contributing to your customer’s life really could be the mission of brands that are serious about thriving long-term.

Apple Think Different Brand Tattoo

I fully admit that I personally don’t do tattoos. But if I did, I absolutely know which brand I would accept to tattoo on myself. The proof is that I still proudly wear t-shirts and caps with the logo emblazoned on it.

Redken passes the brand tattoo test

While I’m at it, perhaps an even more radical question could be: On a scale of 1-10, how likely would you tattoo the name or logo of your brand on your own child?

In the end of the day, this is not an attempt to warrant tattoos. But, it speaks to the attachment and engagement one might feel for a brand/company.

I believe that brands with purpose are necessarily more humanistic. They are striving to do some greater good all the while making profits. And, I tend to think that humanistic brands are sometimes considered in a similar vein to a favourite sports team. And there are certainly plenty of people who tattoo their favourite teams on their body.

What if your C-suite asked: What would it take for your brand to curry such a royal treatment on your body as an employee, much less as a customer?

Meaningful Entrepreneurialism – The 10 Minute Mind with Monique Rhodes (MDE270)

Minter Dialogue with Monique Rhodesmonique rhodes

Monique Rhodes is a singer, songwriter and producer born in New Zealand. She has toured the world performing and composing music. Monique has produced two platinum selling albums in New Zealand, toured Europe twice with Chuck Berry and collaborated on music projects with some of the most well known inspirational teachers in the world including the Dalai Lama. Monique also founded the 10-Minute Mind, a truly wonderful online guided mindfulness programme. I consider her mission meaningful entrepreneurialism. In this interview, recorded at SXSW, Monique shares with us the inspiration and motivation for her work, not only what makes the 10 minute mind work so well, but her driving purpose. A marvelously inspiring person.

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.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” – Pascal Blaise

Pearls of wisdom from Monique:

“Partner yourself smartly with other people.”
Find what you do well and do it.

To connect with Monique Rhodes:


Further resources for the Minter Dialogue Radio Show:

iTunes RSS Minter Dialogue Podcast - Branding Gets Personal

Meanwhile, you can find my other interviews on the Minter Dialogue Radio Show in this podcast tab, on Buzzsprout or via iTunes. Please don’t be shy about rating this podcast on iTunes here!

Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign off music is “Finger Paint,” written and performed by Josh Saxe, produced by Chase Geiser. Here’s a link on iTunes. I invite you to take a spin on Pierre’s podcast or listen to more of Josh’s music!

Continue reading

Making marketers better and how you can get a 79% open rate for your emails with Peter Shankman (MDE269)

Minter Dialogue with Peter Shankman

peter shankman 2Peter Shankman is the author of 5 books, angel investor and speaker with a talent for provoking and driving fresh perspectives in marketing, storytelling, PR and communications. Having started his career at AOL, he pioneered in helping to found the AOL Newsroom. He is best known for founding Help a Reporter Out (HARO) in 2008, a precious resource for journalists that was acquired by Cision in 2010. In this conversation, we talk about marketing, the use of technology to promote your brand, the role of influencers, storytelling and data to drive your marketing.

“Casey Stengel said you win ballgames ‘by hitting the ball where they ain’t.’ It’s the exact opposite in marketing: you hit it to where they are!” @petershankman Tweet This

“We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason, so we listen twice as much as we talk.” @petershankman Tweet This

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 the podcast.

To connect with or Follow Peter Shankman:

Continue reading

Should Your Brand Be Political? Here Is How To Navigate Through Brand Politics

The question of whether your brand should be political is a hot topic these days. There was a great presentation I attended at SXSW 2018 by Latia Curry (from Rally) on the merits of politics in branding and how to get there. The idea of mixing politics and business, though, is hardly new. In the US, one must note that the business of politics + business is enormous, thanks in large part to the powerful lobbies. A tour of OpenSociety’s data on the lobbying business is eye-opening, if not scary. According to this 2014 article in The Nation, American University professor James Thurber estimates the annual size of the industry at around $9 billion, while OpenSociety puts the amount of lobby spend at $3.4B in 2017. Beyond lobbies, it is important to recognize that while some issues seem to be more political or politicized, the subject of politics covers a wide array of areas ranging from ethics and societal issues (down to the local community) up to constitutional questions.

To express political views as a corporation?

The Washington Post published two weeks ago an article entitled, Boycott #NRA: Hertz and Avis are the latest companies to cut ties with gun lobby as movement gains steam, written by Fred Barbash and Lindsey Bever. The article lays out how some companies are choosing to end co-branding relationships with the NRA on the heels of the student-led movement after the Florida school shooting. As much as I am for serious gun control and totally support the students, I think the topic of how businesses and brands should deal with this is a worthy and important topic. On Facebook, Jeremiah Owyang put the topic out there and provoked a good debate about whether brands should or should not be announcing their political colours. As an opening gambit, I believe that brands almost have to have a political viewpoint to the extent many brands need to tend to/observe and/or fight regulations that are legislated. And, in today’s evermore transparent world, the fact is that not having an opinion is also a choice. “If you don’t get in front of [the issues], people will do it for you,” said Curry. “The culture of staying silent needs to be broken,” Curry advocated. As Sandra Steingraber said: ”Silence is the sound of money talking.” But being silent does not exactly mean staying invisible.

The political customer

If customer centricity is all the rage (“the customer is king”), it stands to reason that one would always want to “listen” to what your customer says. But should a brand also tend to its customers’ political opinions and/or politically-charged requests? The First National Bank of Omaha announced that “Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA.” However, should one be catering to customer feedback about political topics? As David Armano at Edelman wrote about the Activist Economy, “On the cultural front—consumers are not only empowered to behave as activists thanks to social media—they are now polarized and motivated to do so and no brand is immune.” Yet, the fact that consumers (i.e. clients and potential clients) are politically charged and able to communicate does not immediately mean that brands should follow suit.

Aligning with stakeholders

Being overtly political as a corporation is a slippery road to take. Listening to customer feedback is only a portion of the input. There are many other key stakeholders, including, importantly, your employee base and the shareholder…. It is my conviction that one ought to take care of and listen to first and foremost your internal employees. Just as with espousing a higher purpose or mission needs first to be believed and lived by the staff, being political has a far deeper relevance and impact on the employee than for a customer.

Activism by shareholders is generally limited to the extraction of financially quantifiable value. Political activism by shareholders or investing with political motivation has generally been reserved to organizations such as university trusts, NGOs, associations and lobbies. However, if/once the stock market starts to believe that companies with an ethical backbone and a political inclination will bear higher returns, then one will surely see far more companies following on. And it’s not out of the world of possibilities since we’ve seen that the world’s largest asset manager, Black Rock, has waded into the fray in its leadership role. (See Reuters article). Moreover, Blackstone Group, one of the investing behemoths wrote an urgent email asking its external fund managers to identify holdings in companies that make or sell guns. (See WSJ article). Not that such a move indicates that Blackstone has suddenly become missionary, but it is part of an evident shift in corporate governance requirements. In the case of the mass shootings in the US and the tendentious issue of gun controls, if a fund has an investment in a gun-related business, this is tantamount to holding a political position. Moreover, being more purpose-led may also be good for the wallet. An HBR article, published in 2013, indicated that brands with purpose (so called “firms of endearment”) provided significantly higher returns than the general stock market. Eighteen of the 28 conscious companies studied were publicly traded, enabling them to compare returns. From 1996-2011, these 18 companies provided 10.5x higher returns versus the S&P500 over the same period. As indicated above, companies will have increasing difficulty hiding from the issue. Even if it is not being vocalized, therein lies a pregnant question: if you don’t directly say you’re against some vile act, you might be considered as silently endorsing it.

Brands going political

brand politics

So, how does a company go about “being” political, especially when it has not had a history of doing so in the past? There are innumerable challenges, including which issues to choose, which side of which issues, what scope and scale? Part of the risk is doing so just because it “sounds good” to do. If your company is essentially local, it is a distinctly different question than a national or internationally distributed brand. In Curry’s presentation, whereas most of the press tends to focus on big companies, she referred to one case of a small company being political. As a local company, it would make sense to weigh in essentially to locally relevant issues. But, whatever path taken, it must be trod with great care and thoughtful preparation for the long-term, all the more so because it will inevitably require being fast to express an opinion whenever the issue boils up. At some level, when fully incarnated, you want the expression to almost be a natural reflex. Political statements that are not backed by substantive actions are more than likely to be negatively perceived as something tantamount to “cause washing.”

The five steps to take

In terms of establishing your political line (e.g. if you have not had one before), I have five steps that I believe need to be taken:

  1. Assuming the brand vision and values are well defined, evaluate which issues – ethical and political – align with your company’s position. It is my strong recommendation not to link with a specific political party as political parties have agendas that cannot and will not faithfully marry with your company’s long-term objectives.
  2. Make sure that the senior team and the wider employee base are on board and craft some policy statements and guidelines that are systematically shared throughout the organization. In general, I believe that the CEO (or failing that, a member of the C-suite) ought to be prepared to communicate personally and widely on these issues.
  3. Start by testing the waters. For example, this can take the form of expressing an opinion in an internal company meeting. This can also be with the next layer of important stakeholders on the front line (e.g. distributors, sales team…).
  4. Pick one or two issues where you are prepared to invest not just time and money, but where you are looking to create impact and, hopefully, encourage, if not instill, change.
  5. At all times, make sure to be extremely attentive to the ongoing climate and how your activities are being appreciated. As Curry stressed, it’s important to develop a voice and avoid being tone deaf to the wider audience’s cares and opinions.

When a company is led by its founder, who also owns a large stake in the company, it tends to be much easier to be political. The founders of Ben & Jerry (the legendary Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield) began their existence on a political platform and started the movement of conscious capitalism. CEO Howard Schultz has been at the helm at Starbucks since the very early days of the founding of the company and has been an outspoken leader. Bezos (Amazon) and Zuckerberg (Facebook) have it in their DNA. A transplanted CEO, even if he/she came up through the ranks, inevitably faces the enormous task of bringing the rest of the organization on board and in justifying his/her position to a nervous shareholder. It is literally change management. And yet, Without finding some grounds to “fight” for, the employee base will forever have a niggling feeling that their company could even be part of the problem. #silenceisnolongeranoption Tweet This

When not to be political?

Certainly, I do not believe all companies and brands must be political. This is because many companies have other areas to fix first. For example, they may (a) be too wrapped in themselves and their authenticity/integrity would be too quickly called into question; (b) have many skeletons in the closet that need to be dealt with first; (c) not have a senior team that is prepared to walk the talk; (d) have other basic issues to fix (e.g. product failures, delivery challenges, etc.); or (e) have yet to work out who they are (i.e. brand mission and values).

In short, I don’t believe that a company must be political or that it is wise to run headfirst into espousing a political agenda. But when your brand is strong and has a de facto set of values, it is not only easier to do so, but it is likely the better course of action. When done with good intention and conviction, it will broaden your company’s purpose beyond shareholder value and help foster greater engagement among the workforce. When well managed, especially with an audience that is currently under 40 years old (e.g. “millennials” and younger), the brand will likely help gain greater advocacy among external stakeholders and customers. But, whatever you do, brand politics must be a long-term play and the playbook will constantly need revisiting.

Your thoughts and reactions are welcome!

The Exciting Potential of Artificial Intelligence by Jeremy Waite, IBM Evangelist and Leader of CMO Programme (MDE268)

Minter Dialogue with Jeremy Waite

jeremy waite ten wordsJeremy Waite is author of Ten Words, evangelist for IBM Watson Customer Engagement and Global Leader of CMO Programmes at IBM. In this podcast, we zoom in on artificial intelligence. We look at the state of the business of AI, the key emerging trends in AI, how companies can best use AI to fit their strategy, the use of AI in storytelling and much 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 the podcast.

To connect with Jeremy Waite:

Site(s) and resources mentioned by Jeremy:

Further resources for the Minter Dialogue Radio Show:

iTunes RSS Minter Dialogue Podcast - Branding Gets Personal

Meanwhile, you can find my other interviews on the Minter Dialogue Radio Show in this podcast tab, on Buzzsprout or via iTunes. Please don’t be shy about rating this podcast on iTunes here!

Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign off music is “Finger Paint,” written and performed by Josh Saxe, produced by Chase Geiser. Here’s a link on iTunes. I invite you to take a spin on Pierre’s podcast or listen to more of Josh’s music!

Continue reading