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Top 10 Brand Heroes

Digital Accomplice Brand Heroes

Good things are happening. Digital Accomplice is in the process of pivoting our business strategy. We have learned many things in our first two years and are taking advantage of that perspective to best serve our existing and new clients. As we blaze our new path forward, I wanted to share some thoughts about the brands that have inspired me.


Since I was a boy, Walt Disney has been my hero. Not because of the cartoons and theme parks, but because of the empire he built around IP generation.  Disney pioneered the animation factory, cranking out an empire full of IP that is among the world’s most recognized brands.  Since then, the organization has shifted with the times and technology but has retained it’s stranglehold on it’s own intellectual property – all while turning them into just about every type or product. Disney had a vision and he built it.


Coca-Cola. As American as apple pie. They’ve been selling happiness for over 100 years now. What brand is more synonymous with happiness and premium quality? They nailed this marketing positioning a loooong time ago. I grew up knowing in my bones that Coke was somehow a good thing, a happy thing… and it’s sugar water! Well, Coke used to have cocaine in it…but, hey, what business doesn’t have a few blemishes on the record?


When BMW films zoomed onto the internet, I’m not sure the term “brand content” was invented yet and it certainly wasn’t part of the modern digital marketing lexicon. With video stories that featured their cars, BMW helped redefine video marketing with a best in class execution. From my perspective, I’ve seen their brand slowly metamorphisis from ‘elitist trophy car’ to ‘a nice car you’d want to buy when you can afford it’.


Despite it’s latest missteps on pricing and some questions about streaming content an quality, nobody else has nailed making so much film content so readily available. The DVDs-mailed-to-your-home model busted Blockbuster’s block. They have expanded their offering as media formats and distribution change, which can’t have been easy. Even with the bumps, Netflix has been one of my favorite products and brands and provided a film-buff like me incredible value.

 Xbox 360

After some hard lessons learned with the original Xbox, Microsoft stepped up and executed an amazing offering in the Xbox 360. Yes, there was the ‘red ring of death’ as many a shoddily-constructed early gen Xbox 360 failed…and let’ snot forget that even the word “Microsoft “ has some negative connotations in some circles. (Full disclosure: I’m an Apple cultist) but the Xbox 360, with the additions of Xbox Live and landslide of online products and services has been an incredible victory for both gamers and Microsoft.


If there’s a word than best summarizes the impending disruption of education, this is probably it. Like the salons of France, TED has brought people together –mostly online- to share good ideas. In a ‘public’ forum. Along the way, head honcho Chris Anderson has built up a prestigious brand that somehow means both nothing and everything. For me, TED really is just a brand name on the idea of spreading good ideas.


For decades I’ve loved Apple. They have truly been an innovation factory. Set aside the computers and just look at: iPods, iTunes (the real sucker punch to the music industry), the Apple Store, iPhones, iPads, The App Store and my favorite… The Genius Bar! What a stroke of…genius. They put their employees up on a pedestal as the ‘keepers of knowledge’ and at the same time tap into the insecurities of their customers. It’s just so wizard of Oz, you gotta love it: “The genius will see you now”.


Buying shoes in stores sucks. They don’t look quite right, they don’t feel quite right, you can’t really let it settle in amid the all hubbub and it’s way more of an epic adventure than it needs to be. Now, Zappos sends me a big box of em’, I keep a pair, send the rest back with no shipping. Seems like magic.  I’m also a big fan of their extensive use of online product videos to boost conversions and their corporate culture. They are doing so much right, it’s hard to focus on just one thing! It’s a shame they don’t deliver lunch…yet.


Never-mind all that Google does and has. I like their motto: “Don’t be evil”.  With an organization that big, seems unlikely that can possibly be 100% true, especially given the subjective nature of evil.  I do admire the effort though and I love that they have a moral compass baked into their road map. I hope they can live up to their own expectations for themselves…or we’re all doomed.


Oh, Valve: You are the picture of beauty. Makers of many top selling games like Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, Portal and the online game-store Steam, Valve has consistently cranked out ‘better-than-best-in-class’ products and is widely regarded as one of the best games companies out there, if not THE best. Independent. Innovative. Famously 100% flat (they have no job titles and all their desks have wheels so they can self-assign and organize as they see fit). Valve best embodies what I would hope to accomplish with an organization, they’re just doing it right.

Honorable Mention: Lawrence of Arabia

If you haven’t seen the best movie ever, I suggest you pop open a Coke and Netflix it. While you’re waiting, I’ll give you the rub: I can’t claim to have known him but from the film, it’s demonstrated that T.E. Lawrence was a man who shaped his own destiny. He famously says in the film that “nothing is written” implying that everyone can write their own destiny. He inspires many to follow him and accomplishes many ‘miracles’, but there are lots of movies with heroes who accomplish great feats. The one thing that has stood out to me is how both he (as well as the press and his superiors )craft a brand around the man – a myth to enhance his capability and power to affect change.  Lawrence of Arabia – the man – is a myth.  In a way, it doesn’t matter to me what the truth was, surely, the myth serves a better purpose for us all.

For some brands, nothing is written.

If you found this helpful please share, ‘like’, and follow below. Really, please do!

Dane Frederiksen
Digital Accomplice

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