Branding Bullsh*t
The BS Show
#5: Do We Really Need Marketing? Yes. Even Tesla.

#5: Do We Really Need Marketing? Yes. Even Tesla.

Stef and Austin debunk the idea that brands can grow significantly without paid marketing. We also discuss the startup and branding community's misunderstanding of marketing that fuels this myth.

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“Advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service.”

-Jeff Bezos


A few thoughts:

  • Why is Amazon one of the biggest paid advertisers in the world today? Does that mean they are suddenly unremarkable?

  • Almost every seller on Amazon has always advertised their products, even if Amazon themselves didn’t invest in paid advertising once upon a time.

  • Amazon created its own sub-category, like Netflix, Uber, and Airbnb. These brands are the extremely rare exception, not the rule. The rest of us have to compete in sub-categories with hundreds of competitors at least. Once Amazon, Netflix, Uber, and Airbnb succeeded without paid advertising, Walmart online, Hulu, Lyft, and Vrbo came along and spoiled their fun. So now they have no choice but to invest heavily in paid advertising to maintain their market share.

  • This quote completely ignores the fact that marketing involves much more than advertising. Amazon might not have paid for advertising early on. Still, they certainly paid to widen their distribution and broaden their services, invest in distinctive packaging, dramatically reduce their pricing to outcompete every other retailer (without even being profitable for over 20 years by wooing the stock market), and make the customer experience as smooth and convenient as possible. All of these are tactics and strategies that fall under marketing (Product, Place, Price, and Promotion).

Stef and Austin discuss Amazon, Tesla, Tony’s Chocolonely, Apple, Chris Do, Seth Godin, Gary Vee, and other examples of brands and people who have found success through paid marketing. Even while simultaneously preaching that brands can grow without.

Relevant Visuals for Listeners:

Tony’s Chocoloney:

Tony’s packaging
Inside Tony’s wrapper
Tony’s PR stunt

Ridiculous Branding and Marketing comparisons:

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Branding Bullsh*t
The BS Show
Brand Strategists Stef Hamerlinck and Austin Franke discuss the BS and myths that run rampant in the brand design, advertising, and marketing industries.