Your Brand Is Just A Zombie Without All 5 Of These Body Parts
Mar 21, 2018

In 25+ years of working with and triaging brands, I have come to see them as living creatures. Some are vibrant and welcoming, but more are some form of 1/2 completed Zombie monster that are better at scaring customers away than attracting them.

A brand that is alive on the other hand, inspires loyalty. People immediately understand your value and buy into your vision. Less resources are spent convincing customers to choose you, and employees are easier to attract and retain.

However, for a brand to be alive, it must have all the right body parts.

See how your brand stacks up....

#1 Your Brand's Most Essential Body Part Is Its Beating Heart 
This Is The Foundation Of All Brands

Your brand's foundation is the epicenter of all of your marketing. It is your brand's beating heart. 

Foundational elements include a HUMAN vision, mission and core values, but also extend into brand intent, sensory brand queues and 6 other key components.

When I say HUMAN vision and mission, it is not what you read in the majority of corporate brochures or that meaningless line hanging on the wall behind the receptionist's desk.

A HUMAN vision is a vision of the possibilities of what the world could look like if everyone used your products or services. It is not full of superlatives, marketing hype, or meaningless corporate speak, but a true compass expressed in human terms.

The foundational pieces of your brand are ultimately what will connect with the hearts of your audience. They are what will set you apart from everyone else vying for their time, money, and attention. They will determine who will be attracted to you, why they should care, and why they should move beyond curiosity to action. 


If you gloss over the foundational elements of the branding process, you are essentially releasing a brand with no heart... a zombie brand! It won’t matter how much money you spend attracting traffic and attention, your zombie brand is all your audience will see. And they will most likely flee to your competition before you even have a chance to explain how you can make a difference in their lives.

#2 Your Brand's Next Essential Body Part Is Its Thinking Brain
Your Brand's Brain Is Its Marketing Strategy

This is the funnel that moves people from interest to action. Your marketing strategy and processes are your brand's thinking brain.Many of you invested time, money and hair into your foundation, the beating heart of your brand. You expressed your vision in human terms, how you will achieve it, who you need to recruit to help you, and who your ideal audience is. You pealed back the layers and researched who your REAL competition is; you staked your position and created your brand guide. But when it came time to animate your brand and set it free to meet all of those new customers, you forgot it's brains?

Unfortunately, strategy and marketing processes (your brand's brains), seem to be an after-thought for most organization. Because they are not as sexy as tactics, many organizations skip straight over processes to the attention getting new shiny things. But processes are what will make the difference between your brand happily smiling and throwing $100 bills into the wind, or a brand that knows exactly what each $100 bill you invest in is leading to.

Process is what moves people from passive attention, to active interest, to engagement and then bankable action. Process is what gets the people who were attracted to your trade show booth, your website, your content... to take the next step that will attract them into your orbit... and then to take subsequent steps that will help you reach your brand's ultimate goals. 

The strategies you employ and the processes you create will determine how well you are moving people through your actions funnel and which tactics/traffic sources are working best. A great process always includes a hook, a big picture, a call to action, a reason to take that action, and how to take the next step. It enables your audience at every step from awareness to bankable action.

Automating your processes can save enormous amounts of time, money and hair. It can also fill the many cracks that your audience may be slipping through.

#3 Your Brand's Next Essential Body Part Is Your Brand's Welcoming Arms
This Is Your Content & Tactics

This is what attracts people to your brand and into your process, or funnel. Your tactics are your brand's pheromones, smiling face and open arms.

Tactics generate traffic. They are what attracts people to your messages and pulls them into the open arms of your smiling new brand. They are the first contact most people will make with your brand. They are what attract traffic into your process.

But be aware! A smiling face without a beating heart is just a zombie in disguise. Many businesses skip over the foundational parts and the processes in favor of tactics. After all tactics get attention. They are easy and sexy. Unfortunately they rarely work, because without strategy it's often the wrong type of attention or attention from someone who has no need for your products or services. The result is endless frustration chasing attention that goes nowhere.


You MUST HAVE the foundation and process pieces in place in order for your content and tactics to actually work. Content is not limited to advertising and promotion. It includes all the copy, and all the creative in every marketing touch point including your website, blog posts, social media, print, television, radio, and even your business cards and promotional products. You can even include your customer service interactions.

Content is how your brand expresses itself. It is the hand you hold out to people to guide them through your process. It is the vivid picture you describe that makes them want to take your hand and follow you across the bridge to the promise land you described in your vision. Your website, and landing pages, will most likely be your most important content. They are often the first AND last place someone visits before they take that singular action you want them to take.

Unfortunately most sites either trap visitors in a one-sided conversation, or merely scratch the surface of their visitor’s wants, needs or desires. They talk about how to treat the immediate symptom but rarely offer advice on the core issues that are causing their visitor’s pain, anguish and sleepless nights

Many websites are written by a tech or designer and are not purposefully written to convert visitors into an active and engaged audience that will either join you, hire you or rave about you. If your website, your business cards, or your promotional products fail to connect, ask people to do something specific, and then start drawing them into your orbit ... you brand will still lumber along as that 1/2 alive, 1/2 conscious zombie monster that will push your prospects closer to your competition.

#4 Your Brand's Next Essential Body Part Is Its Senses
These Are Your Metrics

This is what measures what is working and what is not. Your metrics are proof that you have a brand that is connecting with the right people and getting them to do something meaningful like joining you, buying from you or raving about you.

Metrics are about counting how many people are running FROM you, and how many are running TOWARDS you. Measuring if something is working is one of the most important activities in marketing. Yet too many businesses fail to dedicate the time to do it, don't know how... or worse, focus on metrics such as LIKES, VIEWS and IMPRESSIONS. All of these are great for your ego, but you can’t eat likes.

If you don’t measure how well each of your marketing investments is performing how will you know what’s working, and what’s not?

I can’t tell you how many of our early client’s would have considered a trade show a success if they had 500 eager people coming to their table and walking away with their free swag, or 1000 people putting their business cards into a draw for the grand prize. No one seems to care if a single one of those people knew who they were, what they did, or even had the remotest need for their products or services. Others had been over the moon when 100 people watched their video. But for all they knew it could have been their mother and her pet chihuahua hitting the play button 99 times. You get the picture.

Engagement and shares on social media are good benchmarks that give you macro insights into how AN audience is reacting to your messages. However if the demographic data is too broad the insights you gain becomes less useful. I personally like to focus on measuring actions towards a goal. Leads are great, qualified leads are better, bankable action is best. Having an audience is amazing, but remember zombies attract audiences to. What you want is an engaged audience with a high proportion of advocates.

#5 Your Brand's Last Essential Body Part Is Its IQ
ThIs Is Your Data And How You Interpret It

This is the all-important who and what. It is the result of both your process and your metrics. Data is what will be fed back into your marketing foundation to make your brand's heart beat even stronger. Data is our most powerful tool as marketers but it can also turn against us if we don't take the time to look deeper and apply insights.

Great decisions are based on great data and investing the time to interpret that data. The most common error with data is only interpreting it superficially. Here’s a great example: 

A client exhibited at 3 shows in a year. The cost of each averaged $25 000. They placed a full-page ad in a trade magazine for $18000/ year and an annual client open house which averaged $20 000 per year. 

Trade Show 1 generated 18 new leads

Trade Show 2 generated 34 new leads 

Trade Show 3 generated 8 new leads

The Trade Publication (no idea)

The Open House generated 6 new referrals

Looking at the surface data most would conclude that Trade show #2 was the best investment and resounding winner, that the ad was a failure, and that the open house was a marginal venture. But when we pulled back the layers of the onion, here is what emerged:

Trade Show 1 generated 12 qualified leads

Trade Show 2 generated 4 qualified leads

Trade Show 3 generated 8 qualified leads

The Trade Publication (still no idea) 

Open House 6 referrals 

The real data started showing a MUCH different picture. The show that was considered a resounding success was now actually considered the dog and the two they were considering dropping were looking like the big winners. The trade magazine still looked marginal at best.  But wait! It gets better.

Once we implemented a “process” we uncovered even more data for the next year because we tagged those qualified leads, and where they came from, then followed them through to see which touch point was generating the most bankable actions. To make a long story short, once they started measuring the right things they found, in this case, that the ad in the trade magazine was performing much better than previously thought. They stopped exhibiting at 2 of the trade shows and diverted the savings to focus more on their brand, their customer journey and their advocates. 

Good decisions come from good data and finding the true insights in that data. We feed the data back into the system to improve our processes, tactics and sometimes even our foundation. The better information we get, the better decisions we make, the more we connect with our clients, the better data we get.... and on and on and on. The process continually improves connection and wastes less time, money and energy. But most importantly, when it all works together you have created a living brand!

David Betke speaks and consults on bringing your brand to life to attract loyal customers and employees who really care. His unique triage process, combined with compassionate copywriting and an obsession with measuring results have generated some big wins for his clients. His campaigns have saved a Canadian rainforest, reduced carbon emissions in a city measurably, and helped recruit three senior engineers during the height of a labor crisis. One even generated a 4000% return within 6 months and recruited a couple of great customers for life. He has personally been recognized with 7 national marketing awards in and out of the promotional products industry.

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