We recently spoke to Matthew Kerbel, Head of Marketing + Brand Strategy at Canoo for our ebook Telling a Consistent Story in the DTC Era.
Here is our interview in full:
Tell us a little about your background
I was a marketer for major corporate CPGs like General Mills and Activision until 2016 when I went DTC. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to sidestep retailers and go straight to the end-user.
What do you think consumers feel when they see an inconsistent brand message?
I have seen many examples of inconsistent brand messaging out in the wild and it’s not pretty. There is a disconnect, especially when DTC goes from digital to physical and the physical falls short of expectations. There is so much excitement as to how this digitally native brand could look and feel in the real world – the build-up is palpable. It’s an incredible opportunity for any brand.
It’s like when your favorite book is going to become a movie, it has to deliver. When it doesn’t, the disappointment is accentuated.
“It’s like when your favorite book is going to become a movie, it has to deliver.”
What are some of the steps you’ve taken to promote consistency of your brand message?
These would be: (1) segmentation research to align on our target; (2) design exercise with creative team; (3) building out a war room to ensure everything looks and feels of the same house.
How do you plan your brand’s marketing stories/content?
There are a few things we do. First off, we nail the research. If you have bad research, that’s worse than having no research at all. You have to conduct robust studies and then align everyone towards taking it in, understanding it, and really listening to it. Being open to it, even if it’s not what you initially thought.
We also go through creative exercises reviewing other brands, both within and beyond our space, and evaluate what they are doing to permeate the zeitgeist of society. What is trending is important. Incorporating an important societal issue is even more powerful. From there, it’s about creativity and doing something unexpected, yet completely appreciated and that adds value.
Finally, we keep the process nimble and room relatively small. Too many cooks is a real issue, so setting these ground rules up front can be a gamechanger.
What are the biggest pain points you face in your job?
With lofty goals and a need for speed comes pressure, especially in a marketing leadership role. The job is so much more than it’s ever been and I have to stay on the cutting edge. Whether it’s MarTech, AI, trends, channels, research methodologies, managing up / down / across … our performance is evaluated on the whole package, including both results and potential.
It’s a wonderful challenge, and honestly the biggest pain points occur when folks like myself aren’t set up for success vis-à-vis those at the top. There must be transparency, trust, empowerment, open communication and feedback, and a clear path to success laid out to track against.
How important is collaboration to you?
It’s both underrated and overrated. Overrated in the sense that I feel people should have more time to just think and plan and work. Meetings can be so, so crippling – especially when you have kids at home and it’s increasingly harder to work off the clock.
However, it’s also underrated because – at the end of the day – collaboration is everything. Any tools that can help us collaborate more seamlessly are invaluable.
What do you love about your job?
I love the passion of DTC brands and their communities, when built the right way. The ability to move fast, research, test, fail, innovate, etc. is so much different than in the more traditional environments. When a major milestone is hit, it’s because people trust us and choose us; not a big purchase from a retailer.
Going direct to our end-user is exhilarating, and our recent reveal was one of the more fun things I’ve done in my career to-date.
Download the ebook to hear other DTC marketer’s thoughts on the importance of consistent brand storytelling >