An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

We want our brand to carry desirable associations, be memorable and help align people and their actions. Because people naturally respond to stories, the narrative around a brand influences things as diverse as how much you can charge, who wants to work for you or how management makes important decisions. When we think about brand marketing in that context, we can conclude that it is a long-term and a strategic endeavor.

As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Todd Taylor.

Todd Taylor is Executive Director at frog, a global creative consultancy and part of Capgemini Invent. He holds bachelor and master degrees (MBA) in business and international management, having studied in Canada and Denmark. His background includes two decades as a marketing leader for start-ups, private companies and public multinationals. Before joining frog, he spent six years working with Nobel Laureate Professor Dr. Gerd Binnig and his team dedicated to automating the analysis of spatial data collected from mobile sensing platforms on and above the earth’s surface. Today, Todd works in collaboration with frog’s senior creatives and marketing experts to create content and experiences that help manifest the frog brand promise around the globe. In his private life he is an accomplished rock climber, fitness enthusiast, biohacker and amateur philosopher who is passionate about holistic health. Born on the island of Newfoundland in Canada’s North Atlantic, Todd has lived in Munich Germany since 2004 where he makes his home together with his two daughters.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’m an MBA by training, but I have always been drawn to marketing for its creative quality. In my bachelor studies I realized that I wanted work with ideas, bring them to life and collaborate with top creative talent. Initially this led me to enter the advertising and communications agency business. I found it stimulating and I had the right attributes for that world, but eventually I wanted to build a brand from the ground up. I took that opportunity with a late-stage software start-up and we built a software product brand that was then acquired three years later by a Fortune 1000 company. In the deal I joined the acquiring company, but the pull to return to the creative industry was strong. I joined frog in 2013 to work alongside best design talent in the world. Today I lead frog’s global marketing organization and I consider it my mission to help manifest the frog brand promise around the world.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I generally like trying out new things, but that did get me in trouble a few times. I was an early adopter of marketing automation systems, webinar platforms and various other technologies. This was the mid to late 2000s and I was able to create some great results, but there were also failures. I recall an email that was pushed to the wrong distribution list, resulting in thousands of people being simultaneously invited to a meeting with our CEO. It’s funny to think about now, but at the time it really wasn’t. What have I learned? You need to know your superpowers, stay focused on them, and surround yourself with specialists for the rest. I’ve also learned that a 60-hour week is a recipe for failure; you accomplish a lot, but mistakes are inevitable and they can easily erase your progress. Marketing work is on show by its nature and there is nowhere to hide, so you really need to deliver quality and value in exchange for the attention. With all of that said, the greatest successes of my career have come from pushing the limits and taking risks. I suppose the advice there is to use good judgement, but always play to win instead of playing not to lose.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think frog stands out for the exceptional challenges we get to take on together with our clients. They come to us with unstructured problems, significant pivots in their business or future opportunity spaces to explore. The variety of intellectual challenges and the diversity of talent is something special. frog is a creative environment where you can be your authentic self. I really love that; it is a very powerful mechanism for our clients. We see client teams accustomed to corporate environments gradually integrate into the frog way of doing things during a program; they adapt their demeanor, let go of organizational silos and open up to creative possibilities. By then end of a program it is not uncommon for a client to casually ask about joining our team.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

A recent product from our ventures portfolio that captures my imagination is called Campfire. It’s an augmented reality system for 3D remote collaboration in the design of physical objects and spaces. It’s thrilling. We’ve seen how fast the paradigms of virtual collaboration have changed in the last 18 months and, having witnesses the shift implied for design teams, I fully appreciate how Campfire is positioned to fundamentally change not only industrial and spatial design, but a host of other industries. If you want to see Campfire and other examples from the frog portfolio they can be found at

In frog marketing, we have been working on a rearticulation of the frog brand. The work began following our 50th anniversary year in 2019 and took on new dimensions after frog’s acquisition by Capgemini in 2020. The work is grounded in values authentic to frog that connect with the challenger mindset of our clients as they make bold decisions, launch new experiences or businesses, or reinvent their organizations. We’ve been able to manifest this within our storytelling and presentation to position frog for a new era as part of Capgemini Invent.

Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

We want our brand to carry desirable associations, be memorable and help align people and their actions. Because people naturally respond to stories, the narrative around a brand influences things as diverse as how much you can charge, who wants to work for you or how management makes important decisions. When we think about brand marketing in that context, we can conclude that it is a long-term and a strategic endeavor.

Contrast that to product marketing for the purpose of demand generation. In that case we are trying to drive sales by reaching someone who has a need or problem that our product or service can solve. We want to make our solution clear and lead a potential customer to engage with us and eventually to make a purchase. It takes many forms across channels for different types of products and businesses, but essentially it is a more measurable, near-term approach to driving revenue. If you launch a new service, you want customers to know about it and sign-up.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

Investments in brand marketing are less focused on influencing revenue this or next quarter, but rather positively impacting business outcomes continually, over time. You want to actively manage what information your brand transmits, how it should make people feel and how you want to influence behavior. To be explicit about those things, you need to invest in building and managing your brand with intention. I like to encourage the idea of thinking in decades; if you want to establish a brand that has some deeper meaning within a culture or for a specific tribe, you need to work with long-term objectives. That said, the investment needs to be in balance with more direct, demand-oriented approaches that support the health of the business in the immediate term.

Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.

  1. Prioritize meaning.

If the brand is new, you need to really understand the pure essence of what that it should represent to the people who should care. If a brand has existed for a while, embark on a search for truth and be authentic to what is at the heart of the brand. You don’t need too many truths, and in fact, you should rather be ruthless in your focus. You also don’t need to be completely limited by what you find; every brand needs updating to stay relevant. However, if you go deep enough you should find characteristics with enduring resonance. The example here is the frog brand; I personally spent three months examining frog history, interviewing its founder and early employees, reviewing old photos, adverts, presentations and so on to isolate the foundational elements for the brand strategy we have today.

2. Create a compelling brand narrative.

Throughout the evolution of human society, storytelling has been a fundamental way of transferring information among large groups of people. We understand stories and respond to them. Brands are the carriers of ideas, so spend time with your storytelling and make it compelling. If you want to understand more about that, I recommend reading “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harrari. He explains the concept of an “imagined order” within the larger context of the cognition revolution, illustrating the role of a brand in creating a sense of shared identity.

3. Don’t forget your employees.

Your brand is a rallying point that unifies purpose and action and you want your employees to identify with the story. In fact, they should be co-creating it. “Black box” creativity isn’t necessarily a good idea, so get your people involved. Ask them their perspectives, understand what matters to them and activate them as fellow travelers in the journey. When MGM resorts undertook a brand repositioning, they put a priority on employee engagement knowing that their people would be on the front line of expressing the brand. It’s a smart move and one that is sometimes overlooked. You can read more about that example in an HBR article from 2018.

4. You can’t completely control your brand, nor should you want to.

What I mean here is that the social web puts your brand in public domain, so you can’t police it like a corporate comms cop. In fact, you should find ways to help passionate brand fans and content creators to actively engage with your brand. The act of “hacking” IKEA products to reconfigure and adapt them initially happened outside any strategic initiative from IKEA. In time, IKEA embraced the movement and supported it. Of course, there are examples of brands being appropriated for undesirable reasons as well, so you need to pay attention and maintain the integrity of your core values.

5. Don’t be boring.

We are living in a world of sameness where many brands look and sound alike. Conveying emotion should be a fundamental part of your brand’s content strategy, especially when logical appeals trend toward parity with your competitors. Think about a brand like Oatly: they produce oat milk, which I suggest is a relatively undifferentiated product. However, I’m not able to name a competing brand of oat milk off the top of my head. A lot of thought has gone into the concept, positioning, visual design, tone of voice and packaging to create a universe around Oatly and they are clearly intentional in that effort. As a consumer of oat milk, I can say that it has worked on me.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

I personally find Red Bull interesting in its evolution from an energy drink into a media and entertainment brand. It has been so well-executed that it seems natural, even logical, for their audience. Their execution across product, partnerships and content marketing is outstanding. I also admire their ambition to commit to such an audacious business extension. To replicate that, a brand would need to find its own strategic rationale and work with a business ambition that fits. They need to have a clear understanding of their own brand character and deep insights about their current and future customers. Those insights are fundamental in articulating and executing a new mission. At frog we support that process though design research and strategy programs that identify insights and growth opportunities.

In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?

In my opinion measuring a brand building initiative is more difficult than measuring demand generation campaigns, and I don’t think many marketers would argue otherwise. However, that doesn’t suggest it is impossible and certainly not that the investment is without value. There are important aspects of running a business that are simply more difficult to measure. Culture is another of those, but few would argue against its value. For this reason, we should avoid the “campaign mentality” and think of brand building as a strategic, long-term initiative and therefore measure results over the long-term. We can observe trends in sales, market share, customer retention and so on; however, we need to accept that we will be working with correlative metrics. Digital platforms are helpful in surveying customers and the market on awareness and perception, implementing social listening and measuring sentiment metrics. Every business is different, so you should really be pursuing an attribution model specific to your company’s scenario. At frog we have dedicated teams specialized in brand development, activation and enablement who go deep on these topics including the enabling technologies.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

frog has a social audience of over 1 million followers and it is an important channel for the expression our brand. Tangibly, social media is essential in recruitment, driving inbound business and keeping a dialogue with our community. We are in an industry where creativity, craft and innovation are essential, and those values translate well to social. With that said, we are looking to push frog toward the leading edge on social media, to be even more exciting and engaging in the future. We’ve started thinking about our digital content marketing through a “social first” lens and will be expanding into new territories in 2022. You can keep up with our progress by following “frog design” on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.

What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

Mindset is everything. Don’t get pulled into the inevitable noise of an organization; use your power to foster a work environment that prioritizes respect and trust and protect your team when necessary. Make sure to have fun, laugh a lot, play and don’t take yourself too seriously. And engage in regular physical exercise, eat well and meditate; you need to be healthy and focused on your mission to thrive.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to see more people taking better care of their own holistic health; mind, body and spirit. If we take better care of ourselves, we are better prepared to help others, address difficult issues, stay open-minded and bring positive change into the world. We are also better able to let go of our egos and be empathetic toward others.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

An Aikido Sensei of mine used to tell me “don’t push, don’t pull, don’t think.” It suggests working within a flow state as an approach to martial arts and life. Another Sensei would repeat the value of “acceptance.” It took me some time to integrate the meaning of that, but I’ve come to appreciate that each of us can choose how we engage life, and accepting the circumstances of life as they are presented to you is a great source of personal power.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Wow, I would be out of my league to hold a dinner conversation with Sam Harris, the American philosopher, but I appreciate his thinking and would love to chat with him.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

It’s probably a little strange for a marketer, but I’m not putting much energy into personal social media. However, you can find me on LinkedIn as tdtaylor and I’d be happy to exchange ideas with your readers.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

Thank you as well. I enjoyed your questions and hope the responses were helpful.

Todd Taylor Of Frog Design: 5 Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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