Movetic’s Formula for Building Disruptive Brands: Interview
Since age 19, Josh has been captivated by the art of branding. His fascination begins with the process of brand development and extends to its transformative effects on a business’s bottom line as well as the role brands play in weaving themselves into culture through relevance and relatability.
October 18, 2023
A sit down with Branders Magazine
“When you’re developing a brand, you can have the best product in the world, but if it’s not relatable or doesn’t carry a set of authentic values, consumers will quickly find another solution.” Josh sat down with Branders Magazine & Steven Picanza to discuss his affinity for branding and how he’s approached working with companies like Skrewball Whiskey and Crocs – just to name a few. Learn more about how he leads the Movetic team in building purpose-driven brands.
Q: You have this Socratic method of asking so many questions. Why?
A: I love learning & meeting people. Many people we work with have a positive message they want to spread but need assistance focusing, picking a lane, or going deep within their own amazing story. For me, it’s exciting to break that down and show them the power and positivity of their own story. Many brands compete for the same space (physical or digital), so creating a compelling narrative of the people behind the brand is essential. Hint: Be you!
Q: What would you do if a brand approached you with the goal of doing purpose-driven marketing, but their business practices don’t align with that?
A: It’s vital for us to understand who we’re going into business with. I’m passionate about what I do because we work with clients to understand their purpose and what drives them. Our responsibility as brand nerds is to ask the right questions and call out when goals seem too lofty or don’t tie back to their true north.
Q: How can brands tell an inclusive story that isn’t political?
A: The Crocs organization has done a phenomenal job with inclusivity through personalization. One example is the way they offer a wide range of jibbitz and tell a story about how those enable each person to create who they are. That was a great example of breaking out of one-dimensional thinking to scale a company.
They also have done a great job of aligning with celebrities and influencers who truly align with their brand, which is essential to stay authentic. They’re doing a great job of staying focused on developing a great product and having a positive impact as they do it rather than dipping into too many different brand extensions, which can become very distracting—huge props to everyone at Crocs.
Q: You hear a lot of brands claiming they are authentic, but what does that actually mean?
A: Authenticity has become one of those overplayed words, but the good news is that many people understand its baseline meaning. At the end of the day, the best way a brand can practice authenticity is by finding one true north. Many brands struggle to figure out their primary purpose from the jump, thus resulting in becoming too many things to too many people. The key to authenticity is by focusing on your uniqueness.
Q: Give me an example of a time that you talked to a CEO who wanted to push authenticity but they, themselves were not authentic.
A: When working with clients, we take them on a journey to help them figure out who they are. Many times they come to us wanting to be perceived as high quality or just like X,Y, Z competitor. In my eyes, these are just jumping-off points. Running a business that adds value and is high-quality should be a given, but I don’t see it as a UVP. It’s our job to take our clients to the next level by vetting all potential reasons & digging into something special.
Q: How does a brand become timeless?
A: Determine why they are doing what they’re doing and communicate effectively through mantras that inspire people to rock with you. You should create a set of values that align with everyone from the executive team to all the employees you hire so that when you’re in a moment of hard times in your organization, you have something to guide you to make that next big move.
Q: Movetic works with the ambitiously bold. What do you do when you have a client that isn’t bold?
A: It’s important to align with people with the same values. They’re not a good fit for us if they can’t think big. To go big, you have to have a level of risk tolerance. At the end of the day, people who are willing to take risks are not a good fit for us. We are extremely understanding of all situations, but at the end of the day, you do need to leap what you want.
Q: Movetic is the brains behind a brand who has redefined a category with Skrewball Whiskey, which is now seeing tremendous growth across the US. What was the insight that led to creating this brand?
A: In partnerships, it takes two to tango. Brittany and Steven, the founders of the company, are phenomenal human beings. When you’re working with a partner, they have to equally be willing to take risks. When entering an oversaturated market with a high barrier to entry like spirits and alcohol, you have die-hard fans who will pay a premium dollar on high-quality top-shelf, and then you have people on the other end. We decided to be unique by owning who we are. We could have come out looking and feeling like a regular whiskey company, but we wanted to dig deep into the story of being a misfit rebel who didn’t feel like they fit into the culture. Everybody is a black sheep in their own way, who doesn’t fit into every subgroup, but they have these awesome voices and stories.
When creating a brand identity, every facet needs to be analyzed—from the bottle design to the package design to the storytelling to the billboard creation. One of the biggest insights at the moment was when we were going to the liquor store and looking at on and off-premise, at the time, nothing was white. Historically all the package designs were dark, playing into this like a burnt brown point of view. That was our opportunity to roll with white, a completely unique identity, and not make it about whiskey, but something that every single person in the world can get behind, which is being a misfit. We’re going to be that conduit to make them feel included in their life. It also doesn’t doesn’t hurt that the product’s delicious.
Q: Did you approach the Skrewball brand strategy from a hyper-local, Southern California, perspective or did you think about mass distribution?
A: You have to consider short-term and long-term goals. It’s very dangerous to create an identity that’s too trendy or too centralized in one area. Our goal was not to be like “hey let’s make this only San Diego flair”, because we knew we didn’t want to put ourselves in a box from an aesthetic point of view. So, we leveled ourselves up for both East and West Coast distributors. A brand has different legs and different levels of their life. We decided to find the main positioning and design towards that versus creating an SD brand because, at the end of the day, that will not have longevity.
Q: What’s next for Skrewball?
A: A lot of people in San Diego have seen this brand grow from a story that was not just about a new product but, it became about a community, a subset of individuals who have worked hard their whole life. It’s been a big trip. People have sent me videos of the brand from all over the US. They’ve been constantly growing. They’re at the stadium for the Buffalo Bills. They have some strategic partnerships across the US, activating on and off-premise. They came out with a small shot that’s super unique and fun. They’re always working on positively affecting more people, giving back, and finding ways to be unique and ride the brand. I am always impressed by Steven & Brittany – they are doing a phenomenal job! (are amazing humans)
TL;DR of Josh's Top Branding Tips
Here’s a quick summary of the tips shared above. We hope you take these with you to create something great.
- Tip 1: Create a compelling narrative of who the people behind the brand are.
- Tip 2: Establish one true north for the brand.
- Tip 3: Stay consistent with the authenticity of your brand, don’t overdo extensions of who you are.
- Tip 4: Create a set of brand values that unite employees and help guide who you partner with.
- Tip 5: Be willing to take risks.
- Tip 6: When creating a brand identity, strategically analyze every angle—from the packaging to storytelling to advertising.
- Tip 7: Don’t create a brand identity that’s too trendy or too centralized in one geographic area. A brand has different legs and different levels of life. Give it room to grow.