Brand Now – Book Interview

Heidi Cohen Interviews Nick Westergaard

New book: Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for readers looking to improve their marketing?

A: Stop and think.
This sounds incredibly simple but too many of us are distracted by all of the shiny new things in marketing today. You can’t forget that your brand is an asset that transcends any particular social network, channel, or touchpoint.

Q: What was the inspiration for Brand Now?

A: It actually started as a chapter in Get Scrappy but it got too big for that book so it became a framework for this book.

I also teach branding and marketing at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business. Besides that early chapter of Get Scrappy, another source of inspiration for Brand Now was being asked to take over the branding courses for a semester while a colleague was on sabbatical. As Heidi knows, teaching is a way to crystalize your thinking and your approach to a specific topic.

Q: What is the key concept behind your book?

A: Here’re a couple of illustrations that explain the concept:

Q: What do you want readers to take away from your book

A: That branding many different things — all at the same time. It is an art and a science. It’s little things and big things. But more than anything it’s the big idea that unifies everything behind who you are and what you do.

Q: How do you describe yourself professionally?

A: I help people tell their stories — both individuals communicating professionally and organizations communicating who they are and what they stand for.

Q: What are 1-3 books that inspired your work/career?

A: 

  • Blink by Malcolm Gladwell — love it better than the tipping point. A great investigation on why snap judgements matter.
  • To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink — Pink is my favorite nonfiction writer. I love his blend of science and style. In this book he tracks down and interviews the last Fuller Brush Salesman.
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott — The single best book on what it means to be a writer. Hands down.

Q: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

A: The biggest challenge was my own thinking. Specifically, believing that there was a perfect linear career path. As our mutual friend Mitch Joel says, careers look more like squiggles and less like graphs going up and to the right. Especially marketing careers! Embrace the different directions life takes you.

Q: What’s something unusual or fun that most people don’t know about you?

A: I have five kids! That means I know a lot about taking care of the needs of different constituencies and how to bring about some order from the chaos. Believe it or not, these are valuable skills to possess as a marketer.

Q: Is there a piece of content, a social media campaign or a marketing campaign that you worked on that you’re particularly proud of?

I tell a story in the book about helping President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness brand an initiative to develop skilled talent in advanced manufacturing. The program was called Right Skills Now.

Nick-Westergaard-683x1024Contact information

Thanks, Nick.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

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