105: “Fearless” Marketing and the Power of Storytelling

No matter how dramatic or controversial, truly great storytelling in marketing doesn’t just boil down to publicity stunts. Rather, the most impactful storytelling is all about the message a company is trying to convey and how that message originates from its internal values. And in the case of the famous “Fearless Girl” statue that faces down Wall Street’s charging bull, it was the message about fostering a greater diversity in the financial industry that has had a lasting impact.

Stephen Tisdalle, CMO of State Street Global Advisors, was on the team that made the “Fearless Girl” statue. And although the installation made headlines all over the world, the campaign also prompted State Street Global Advisors to devote themselves to greater gender diversity in their own leadership and on their own boards. On this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite, Stephen shares the internal challenges his team faced when developing the idea, the global reaction to the statue, and how this striking piece of storytelling marketing sparked a global-wide conversation about equality in the workforce.

Click here to learn all about impactful storytelling in marketing.

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What You’ll Learn

Why did a statue of a ‘Fearless Girl’ in front of the ‘Charging Bull’ leave such an impression?

The “Charging Bull” statue that lives on Wall Street has been an iconic symbol for decades. On March 7, 2017, SSGA unveiled the “Fearless Girl” statue – a brave young girl that confidently faces the bull. She continues to serve as a symbol for greater diversity on C-suite level boards, and that’s exactly what Stephen and his team were trying to convey. That’s what makes Fearless Girl such a prime example of storytelling marketing – a piece that stands the test of time and represents values that span companies, states, and even nations.

You have to back up your storytelling marketing with action

Fearless Girl may have remained a simple statue with a brief amount of fanfare if it hadn’t been for SSGA’s actions that backed up the claims she made. SSGA has committed to increasing the level of diversity in their own boards, as well as encouraging their clients to do the same. Stephen explains to Drew that since her installation, SSGA has found that more than 300 companies added a female director, and to-date another 28 plan to follow suit. Fearless Girl also amassed over 6.5 billion social media impressions. However, if a company’s storytelling marketing campaigns are to leave a persisting impact, they must be backed with action.

Truly great marketing can flourish when its paired with important values

The genius behind Fearless Girl lay in her ability to convey values that should be important to companies of all sizes in all industries. Stephen explains that “authenticity is attractive,” and that people are drawn to marketing campaigns that are aligned with important values. He continues by explaining that companies and leaders need to “do well, do better, by doing good.” Storytelling marketing can be the perfect way to convey those commitments.


  • [0:30] Stephen explains why State Street wanted to put a fearless girl in front of a charging bull
  • [9:50] Stephen and his team had to overcome internal concerns before moving forward with Fearless Girl
  • [15:29] Great marketing comes when you align with important internal values
  • [21:04] The true value behind Fearless Girl was in the actions taken across the world
  • [26:24] Stephen explains the future of Fearless Girl
  • [31:33] The storytelling process begins with a strong marketing focus
  • [38:48] Fearless Girl and how she has impacted the brand awareness of State Street Global Advisors

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The Art of Storytelling

Storytelling is an important concept, but it’s often misunderstood. It is absolutely crucial for creating meaningful marketing efforts that stand out, but few B2B marketing leaders are using it to its full potential.

On this special 80th episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite, Drew revisits 5 past interviews that highlight key elements of successful storytelling and its use in marketing.

To hear these insights from successful story-driven marketers, click here to listen now!

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Why you need a signature story rooted in emotion – with David Aaker of Prophet

David explains that when trying to convey a message, a CMO has two options: share facts or tell stories. And facts don’t work. B2B storytelling must magnify the problem, offer a solution or accentuate the outcome. This can artfully be done by combining customer testimony with just enough facts to provide a reliable level of reality. However, simply listing data and facts is a record-keeping entry – not a compelling marketing campaign.

How and when to put emotion into your ads – with Manny Rodriguez of UC Health

Manny’s healthcare marketing philosophy goes against the grain: He always strives to connect to the human side of B2B marketing by putting the patient first. He shares how to nurture the emotional component of storytelling to effectively connect with the audience, as well as his 4 top lessons all CMOs should learn.

Brand identity and storytelling need to be strongly united – with Martin Häring of Finastra

One of the biggest challenges any CMO will face is the task of creating a new brand identity without losing the loyalty and enthusiasm of existing customers. It goes far beyond choosing new colors, a new name, and a fancy new logo. From legal issues, to market research, to the process can be daunting. Martin discusses the foundational principles – including storytelling – that helped him get the job done quickly and successfully.

With innovative storytelling, marketing campaigns can resonate with millions – with Rich Kylberg of Arrow Electronics

Arrow’s story-driven marketing campaign reached people around the world. Rich and his team connected with Sam, a former indy car driver who had become a quadriplegic following a crash in 2000. Arrow was given an opportunity to create technology with real human benefits, and to share a story that would engage people and bring about positive change. Some time after being connected, Sam was able to take his family for a Sunday drive again. Rich explained that Arrow wants to share stories that can “drive technology innovation forward and inspire people to dream big because anything is possible.”

How storytelling can be the foundation of a successful rebrand regardless of scale – with Carolyn Feinstein of Dropbox

With over half a billion worldwide users, Dropbox is major player in cloud storage. Despite their success, they wanted a to expand to ensure their continued status as an industry leader and innovator. With a story-driven campaign, Carolyn helped successfully execute the massive rebrand that coincided with a new company mentality.

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  • Aaker: “The media world is clutter, today. It’s really hard. Into this context steps story.”
  • Häring: “In marketing, we are all storytellers. We have to create emotions.”
  • Feinstein: “At the end of the day, our role is to understand the people that we’re trying to reach deeply and to know the kind of stories that will resonate most deeply.”
  • Kylberg: “It was a wild success. This initiative totally transformed the company, totally pushed us into the dominant position in our industry.”
  • Rodriguez: “We took the risk of really tasking the patient with telling the story, and the payoff and the benefits have been huge.”

How Dropbox is Channeling Global Creative Energy Through a Bold Rebranding Effort

Few companies have mastered the art of channeling creative energy through a focused rebranding effort better than Dropbox. On this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite, Drew interviews CMO of Dropbox Carolyn Feinstein. Their shared love of creative energy and authentic storytelling makes for a podcast episode you don’t want to miss.

Carolyn discusses her passion for connecting deeply with consumers through stories as well as why Dropbox chose to “fix something that wasn’t broken” all on this episode. Be sure to listen to discover how Carolyn’s team shifted the market’s perspective about the well-loved company and its offerings.

With over half a billion worldwide users, Dropbox is among the best for workflow technology companies. Their ability to roll out massive internal changes while simultaneously conveying the right story to loyal consumers is encouraging.

Hear all about the challenges tackled, lessons learned, and joyful successes on this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite. Click here to listen now.

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How did Dropbox approach such a massive project? By following these three main ideas

Carolyn’s team is passionate about storytelling. She explains to Drew on this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite that connecting people to one another through quality products and touching stories is the best way to begin a rebranding project. After realizing that Dropbox wanted to reinvent itself, Carolyn followed three main ideas that dictated their path: the art of storytelling, achieving buy-in from internal audiences, and listening to the voice of loyal customers. To hear how she skillfully knit these steps together into one successful mission be sure to listen to this episode.

Rebranding should not be incremental – bold actions conquer fear and allow your company to make huge strides forward

Dropbox’s biggest success throughout the rebranding process was persuading every member on the team that bold actions were the way to achieve ultimate success. Drew is also a huge proponent of the idea that incremental steps don’t move companies forward. Carolyn knew she needed to snap people to attention and have them understand that Dropbox is more than cloud storage. While there will always be some concerns about restructuring a brand’s identity, moving forward with confidence is the ultimate way to launch your company into the next chapter of success. You’ll surely learn from this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite so be sure to give it your full attention.

The crisis of modern work is “death by distraction” – hear how Dropbox is channeling the world’s creative energy and allowing people to work to their full potential

The modern workplace is plagued with notifications, emails, and deadlines. Carolyn and her team at Dropbox recognized this issue and wanted to solve it. Their solution? Streamlined services and products geared at freeing teams from monotonous and time-consuming tasks so they can unleash their creative energy. The goal? Global teams working on a united platform to create projects that will change the world. That’s why Dropbox continues to be a leader in workplace technology and creative storytelling. This interview is one you don’t want to miss.

What You’ll Learn

  • [0:30] Drew asks the question, “if it’s not broken, should you break it anyway?”
  • [2:00] Carolyn’s go-to story to share with marketers
  • [6:16] The biggest moment for Carolyn when she was with Electronic Arts
  • [11:03] The massive rebranding project Carolyn helped Dropbox navigate
  • [14:27] Shifting the consumers’ perspective of Dropbox
  • [16:57] How Dropbox handled the fear of changing a well-loved brand
  • [21:40] The internal rollout of Dropbox’s rebranding project
  • [23:57] Dropbox is becoming an eponym and approaching the level of Google or FedEx
  • [26:00] The art of a living, dynamic workspace product
  • [28:15] Distraction = death in the modern workplace, and how Dropbox is unleashing global creative energy
  • [31:08] The biggest lessons learned throughout this bold rebranding mission and the 3 main measures used to measure a storytelling effort
  • [35:06] Drew summarizes this inspiring episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite

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The Prophet Way of Utilizing Brand Storytelling to Engage With Audiences

David Aaker, known as “Father of Modern Branding,” discusses the idea of B2B brand storytelling and being able to convey engaging messages on this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite hosted by Drew Neisser.

As the Vice Chairman of marketing consultant giant Prophet and renowned author, David has decades of experience in reinventing the way a company shares its brand message. He explains to Drew the importance of balancing hard facts with emotions as well as emphasizes the importance of becoming a brand other companies want to be associated with.

David also shares multiple personal stories that validate the importance of being a stellar brand storyteller. You don’t want to miss his explanation of how both T-Mobile and Barclay turned their companies around through brand storytelling.

David’s expertise will revolutionize your company’s way of conveying messages, so be sure to give this episode your full attention. Click here to listen.

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Why are stories so effective in engaging customers and employees?

Brand storytelling is more than just a hot topic in current B2B marketing environments. It is the key to truly connecting with your employees, partners, and customers. B2B customers feel the need to have a relationship with the business they interact with and employees need to feel that their work is important. Stories garner attention, change perceptions and attitudes, and inspire action – and stories are far more effective than fact-sharing alone. This is why your company and team need to be experts in brand storytelling. To hear the full reasoning behind why this idea is a critical issue for companies across the country, be sure to listen to this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite.

The importance of creating a signature story while balancing fact and emotion

When trying to convey a message, a CMO has two options: share facts or tell stories. Even though some may argue that “if it’s not fact-based how do you convince people’s it’s actually true?”, there is a balance that needs to be reached. The key in the B2B storytelling space is to either magnify the problem, offer a solution or accentuate the outcome. This can artfully be done by combining customer testimony with just enough facts to provide a reliable level of reality. Just listing data and facts is a record-keeping entry – not a compelling marketing campaign. David highlights that a signature story can be 200-300% more effective than data alone. To hear more about why brand storytelling is so impactful give this episode a listen.

Actionable items for creating brand storytelling initiatives

Take it from the best leader in storytelling. David lays out a plan to create a storytelling focus in your company on this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite. As a CMO you must first believe and buy into the power of storytelling marketing. Then you have to build a skilled team and develop an environment that allows storytelling opportunities to flourish. Drew also adds that you have to throw your content calendars away because all they do is allow you to get away with regularly producing mediocre content. Hiring a support crew that can take raw stories and turn them into engaging content can also drastically improve your storytelling ability. For more hands-on hints on brand storytelling, don’t let this episode go unlistened.

What You’ll Learn

  • [0:30] Drew introduces his guest for this episode, David Aaker
  • [2:58] Why is everyone realizing that storytelling is critically important?
  • [4:27] Why is a story so important in engaging employees?
  • [8:54] What will it take for B2B firms to recognize that story is a cultural opportunity?
  • [12:32] David’s personal stories behind effective storytelling
  • [16:39] Why does the story go away once a company reaches marketing evaluation stages?
  • [17:58] How does a brand find their signature stories?
  • [21:06] The balance between hard facts and “fluffy” emotions in storytelling marketing
  • [24:23] Actionable items behind improving your B2B storytelling marketing efforts
  • [29:13] David’s steps for creating a brand storytelling plan
  • [32:42] One of the most common problems when brands attempt storytelling marketing for the first time
  • [33:25] Drew summarizes his conversation with David Aaker

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Driving the Future of Banking Technology Through a Massive Merger

It’s always fun to talk with someone who is on the cutting edge of their industry. And when that industry is something as significant to the global economy as banking, it gets even more interesting. On this episode, you’ll hear Drew conversation with Martin Häring, CMO of a newly formed company Finastra. Finastra is actually the result of a merger between two existing powerhouses in the banking technology industry – Misys and D+H.

In our conversation, Martin highlights the particular challenges faced in bringing two well-known and highly-respected companies together with an eye to maintaining the reputation and specialization of each but forging something altogether different and exciting at the same time.

As Chief Marketing Officer, for Finastra, Martin is responsible for marketing on a global scale. He first joined the team at Misys in October 2013 and is part of the Executive Team at the newly formed company. He’s excited by both the company’s significant role in the banking industry, and its influence in the world of financial technology.

You’ll enjoy this conversation, click here to listen!

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Marketers Are All Storytellers

One of the most intriguing things to me about a huge merger like has happened between Misys and D+H is the task of creating a new brand identity without losing the loyalty and enthusiasm of existing customers. It’s not simply a matter of coming up with a catchy name and deciding on a color palette for the new logo and letterhead. The legal issues alone are mind-boggling.

Martin shares some of the challenges the Finastra team had to address in its merger and rebrand and highlights how the same foundational principle that supports good marketing – storytelling – was required internally in developing and nurturing a new vision among its team members, and externally in the form of customer outreach and communication. I love how marketing principles prove to be useful in a variety of challenges businesses face. Martin’s insights are gold, so be sure you take the time to listen.

Be Courageous In Forming A Vision

When it comes to bold visions, Martin Häring and the team at Finastra are leading the way in the banking industry. The company is positioned as a leader in banking technology and is intentionally paving the way for the future of what banking will become as a global industry.

In our conversation, Martin and I talk about the role A.I. (artificial intelligence) will play in banking tech and how Finastra is leading the way in developing the systems and platforms that financial institutions will use in the future. It’s a long, slow road to introduce new technologies in the banking industry but the Finastra team is not only patient, they know the industry well and are taking steps at the pace the industry can handle.

Are you driving the trends in your industry, or trying to keep up with them?

In Martin Häring’s view, CEOs and CMOs should be asking themselves daily if their company is merely maintaining the status quo or driving their industry forward. It’s the innovation and disruption market leaders create that makes them the go-to people in a given industry.

In this conversation, as Martin describes the changes coming to the future of banking technology and the role his company, Finastra is playing in the implementation of those changes, I got a feel for what he meant. It’s about thinking ahead, looking into the future to see what will be needed years from now, and positioning yourself to be the one to meet those challenges and provide the right solutions. This was an enjoyable and challenging conversation you won’t want to miss.

What You’ll Learn

  • [0:29] My guest on this episode: Martin Häring of Finastra
  • [1:18] The amazing journey of how Finastra combined 3 companies
  • [4:41] Approaching the business analysis for a merger of this magnitude
  • [7:23] Getting employees excited about the new brand coming from the merger
  • [11:20] The brand naming process, legal hurdles, internal challenges
  • [13:36] An unbelievable 6 month timeframe for making the merger happen
  • [21:01] Martin’s interview with a human-sounding and human-looking android
  • [24:43] A.I. solutions being built into the Finastra platform
  • [28:07] The biggest marketing challenges Martin and Finastra are facing

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The Ups and Downs of Xerox’s Universal Awareness and Shifting Your Brand Perception

The ultimate dream for marketers is universal awareness – the point in time when your brand becomes synonymous with a noun. Having your brand become a verb is an even better case scenario (think, “I’ll Venmo you the money!” or “I’ll Google it.”) This extremely high level of brand awareness can create issues though when your brand perception becomes “stuck” in this one-way thinking.

On this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite, the CMO of Xerox, Toni Clayton-Hine, joins Drew for a conversation about how Xerox is embracing the new connectivity trend and how it is breaking through old brand perceptions to stay relevant in the 21st century.

Toni shares with Drew the story behind Xerox’s latest marketing initiative, Set the Page Free, and how Xerox is striving to be at the forefront of the intersection between digital and physical workspaces. They also discuss the pros and cons of such a risky marketing project and Toni’s top “do’s and don’ts” for current CMOs.

Join Drew and Toni for this engaging conversation – you won’t want to miss a single minute. Click here to listen now.

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Xerox’s latest Set the Page Free project and how they “marketed the marketing” so effectively

When faced with seemingly cemented brand perceptions, Xerox came up with a creative and big-picture marketing campaign: Set the Page Free. With 14 world-famous writers and creative minds in collaboration, Xerox told the story of the modern workplace – and the entire project was produced using Xerox technology. The end result were podcasts, videos, and a final free download book. After creating the piece, Toni and her team had to answer the question, “who is going to consume this content?” Drew asks Toni about how they “marketed the marketing campaign” so effectively and she explains that they really leveraged the celebrity collaborators and their social channels. For the full story behind the project, don’t miss this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite.

What does brand storytelling mean to Xerox in the 21st century?

Shifting Xerox’s brand perceptions became a balance of using the company’s history to their advantage, while still demonstrating to their customers that they are about more than just copying and faxing physical documents. The Set the Page Free project helped Xerox transition from the realm of a 1990s office verb into a frontrunner of 21st-century workplace technology. This engaging act of brand storytelling allowed the company to show the outcome of using their technology, not just the inputs. Since Xerox is a B2B technology company, Toni’s goal is to ensure Xerox is seen as fresh, relevant, and understanding of their different types of customers. To hear more of Toni’s marketing initiatives at Xerox that are continually shaping their brand perspectives, be sure to listen to the full audio.

The biggest lessons Toni has learned since joining Xerox and why taking marketing risks can be beneficial

While developing Set the Page Free, Toni explained that she often struggled with the desire to control every aspect of the project and subsequent brand awareness surveys. But when Drew asks her about the biggest lessons she learned while working on the project, Toni explains that Xerox had to take a risk in order to shift how people think about the company – and taking that risk also meant dealing with unpredictable variables. She also learned the importance of being more directive in her approach to help customers understand how to bring their Xerox technology tools to life. To hear Toni’s top “do’s and don’ts” for other CMOs, don’t miss this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite.

What You’ll Learn

  • [0:30] Why does brand awareness matter when you’re trying to sell a product or service?
  • [3:15] Drew introduces his guest for this episode, Toni Clayton, CMO of Xerox
  • [4:52] The main strategy behind Xerox’s marketing
  • [9:31] The benefit of working with creators who deliver extraordinary content
  • [12:58] Once you’ve created the excellent content, you have to “market the marketing”
  • [15:47] Toni explains how she had the courage to approach her CEO with this big, untestable idea
  • [18:30] What does storytelling meaning to Toni and Xerox?
  • [23:29] How Xerox is currently demonstrating their broader platform and usability
  • [26:48] Combatting the loss of reach associated with using digital marketing tactics
  • [30:19] How Xerox is showing customers new ways to use their products
  • [32:11] The biggest lesson Toni has learned in her career with Xerox
  • [37:03] One “do” and one “don’t” for CMOs as a result of Toni’s experience with Xerox

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