Brand Driven Digital Podcast

Brands as Building Blocks of Our Personal Identity with David Lemley

“The brand has changed from goods and services to a building block of personal identity.” David Lemley knows this first hand. Twenty years ago he led the team that helped Starbucks grow from a boutique coffee shop to a brand many have cited on this show as one that makes them smile consistently. Today, at his company Retail Voodoo, he helps food and beverage brands stand out while also standing for something in the hearts and minds of those they serve. We discussed all of this and more on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

Episode Highlights

Building the Starbucks brand. Twenty years ago, David led the brand team that helped transform Starbucks into a brand most interact with daily. His challenge: how does Starbucks plug into everyday life? “We started with the words, concepts, and rituals.” Today, they’re still using the toolbox David helped define. He also shared this touching story on how Starbucks continues to make a difference today.

Usable tools are critical to building standout brands …

“We want to write the first version of the song but we want to teach everyone to sing it. And we want everyone to scat with it.” For those new to the term ‘scatting,’ this is a form of improvised vocal jazz. David reminded us all that brand builders need to create tools that other team members can take and build and change.

Marketing above and below the waterline. “Most of us spend too much time up in the tippy-top trees of social,” instead of getting down, below the waterline at the deeper issues that impact your brand such as audience, positioning, and culture.

“I’m a student of marketing but I don’t yet say I’m a marketer.” David frames his life and work this way because marketing is changing rapidly. Because of this, he’s learning constantly.

What brand has made David smile recently? Bulletproof. “They’re the bio-hacker’s spirit guide.” This is a key building block in David’s own personal identity. They also allow him to put butter and coconut oil in his coffee!

Listen on Brand Driven Digital

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David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David