Larry is the head of The Brand Studio at United Talent Agency (UTA). Over the past two decades, he has developed brand strategies for some of the world’s most beloved brands, including CBS, Disney, Coca-Cola, Four Seasons Hotels, MasterCard, Microsoft, the National Football League, Sony PlayStation, Southwest Airlines, The Home Depot and vitaminwater.
An active and engaging writer and speaker, his first book, Legendary Brands: Unleashing the Power of Storytelling to Create a Winning Market Strategy, 2002, has earned high praise for its innovative, story-based approach to brand strategy and development. His latest book, Brand Real , 2012, is packed with proven, applicable management practices on how to establish a clean brand architecture while avoiding the needless complexity that has tripped up many promising companies.
Prior to joining UTA, Larry ran the strategy teams at several leading brand and marketing agencies, including Siegel+Gale, Octagon Worldwide and Cabana Group. He began his career in the corporate strategic planning group of The Walt Disney Company, where he led projects that leveraged Disney’s brand equity and integrated marketing power with corporate partners such as AT&T, American Express, Coca-Cola, and Kodak.
Larry holds an MBA from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. He also received a Bachelor’s degree from USC, where he attended the School of Cinema-Television.
Drawing on the content of his book, Brand Real, this presentation encourages audiences to think of a brand as a business strategy, rather than as an exercise in image and design. Real brands are a promise to deliver predictably valuable experiences. To deliver on those experiences, managers must fine tune their business operations to ensure that the promise of the brand guides decisions in capital investment, human resources, research & development, and customer service. This talk can be given in 60 minute, 90 minute, and 2 hour formats.
- The difference between a promise and a position
- The overlooked importance of credibility and trust in creating brand health
- How brands live in the experiences they create by influencing what people think, feel and do
- The critical role of customer identity and how it relates to brand experience
- What it means and why it is important to link a brand to a compelling story
- How to create a brand campaign inside your organization for more effective results
This presentation builds off Larry’s book, Legendary Brands. Brands are very effective storytellers and the best brands convey their narrative in ways that engage consumers and influence behavior. While most people think of brand storytelling as advertising, this presentation demonstrates the more powerful methods of engaging consumers in stories.
- How the narrative is a tool of coherence not fabrication
- The narrative system that links a brand to values, people, communities, and goods and services
- The seven forms of brand narrative and how each differs
- How effective brand storytellers enlist people to be part of the story
- The increasing role of social media in brand storytelling.
Leading Like a Storyteller
This presentation helps managers who work in disciplines outside of branding to become more effective leaders by framing decisions and actions in terms of a story. Participants learn how to find the inflection points of their business challenges and communicate them in ways that heighten the sense of urgency and create a shared narrative that drives collaboration and innovation.
- How our brains naturally frame experiences in the form of stories
- How to use timeless storytelling patterns to frame a business challenge so that others understand and can engage in a problem-solving effort
- How to make decisions by thinking like a storyteller—considering cause and effect and the narrative that binds the two
- How to celebrate accomplishments by creating social stories that lead to new initiatives.
Brands and Innovation
Branding is often downstream of a company’s innovation chain. The “branding team” is usually consulted after a product or service offering has been developed and is charged with creating a vibrant look and feel that will drive marketing initiatives. In this presentation, Larry argues that branding should be part of the upstream development process. Using research, he highlights the value of companies that make R&D a brand exercise, and branding a continuous process of delivering on a promise.
- The great debate between brand and demand generation, and how the two are more inter-dependent than most managers realize
- How a few great companies begin the innovation process by revisiting the foundation of the brand
- How brand managers can come to the innovation table with insights that stimulate new ideas, markets and service offerings
- Why an agile approach to brand development is needed in technology companies
Brands, People and Social Identity
From conspicuous consumption to the reign of consumerism, branding is often cited as an important “badging” system for modern consumers. We are the cars we drive, the shoes we run in, and the beverages we consume. But most of these assertions miss the real connective tissue between consumers and brands — that which connects employees, investors and unrelated observers to brands. This presentation delves into personal identity and why it matters when thinking about brand strategy. It uncovers the reasons why people feel the need to look for themselves in brands, and how they are often disappointed with what they find. More importantly, it discusses how social media is changing the way that we connect brands to our sense of who we are.
- An overview of brand attachment—a more predictive indicator of consumer behavior than traditional brand affinity measures; and what attachment really means
- A survey of the ways in which people attach themselves to brands
- The importance of habits and rituals in attaching brands to consumer identity
- The role brands can play with employees, shareholders and partners as a source of personal identity
- The growing need to validate values and brand affinities through social media.
Branding in the Downtimes
This presentation makes the counterintuitive case for investing in a brand when budgets are tight and economic indicators are troubling. It proves that brands who invest during tight economic times out-perform their competitors when boom times return. In this talk, Larry leads audiences to prioritize best-of-brand investments when every dollar is under scrutiny, and what projects to avoid unless you want to tangle with your CFO.
- How a brand is a blast furnace—stops feeding it and kill your growth potential
- What brand investment really means
- How simple, focused brand projects can have a multiplier effect on a business
- What type of branding projects to avoid when the bank account is low
- The most effective uses of your brand dollar
Leading in the Absence of Predictable Outcomes
Drawing upon Larry’s personal experiences during his daughter’s 9-year ongoing journey with pediatric cancer, this talk focuses on how leaders have to learn to manage their loci of control. He contrasts how an internal locus of control – built on the notion that all success is because of personal effort and all failure is the result of personal negligence – contrasts with an external locus of control — where success and failure are ascribed to luck more than personal responsibility. Through compelling personal stories, he illustrates the role that risk and probability play in making tough decisions. He connects his personal experiences with changes in his own management style.
- Rethinking your locus of control and learning to see the grays
- Working with consultants – and ignoring them when necessary
- Motivating others amidst demotivating data
- Determining whether the glass is half empty or half full—and when to use the contents of the glass for something different all together
- Reframing a tough decision as a story, a history, a genre piece, or a future parable—all with characters and themes that can provide clues for what to do in a moment of choice.