Meet John Morgan, the ‘Chuck Norris’ of Branding

Name: John Morgan
Also Known As: The Chuck Norris of Branding
John Morgan Fact (Inspired by Chuck Norris Facts): Brands don’t serve up John Morgan retargeted online banner ads in fear that he will find them and roundhouse kick them into the Matrix.
Superpower: Being awesome and overcoming self-doubt

John Morgan
is ‘The Chuck Norris of Branding’. If that doesn’t convince you that this man knows what he is talking about than I don’t know what will. John has Brand Against the Machine been involved in marketing since he was in high school, which was refreshing to know because I’ve finally found a bigger marketing nerd than me. In 2011 he released his highly acclaimed book entitled, Brand Against the Machine which turned out to be one of Amazon’s top rated marketing books. I had the privilege of speaking to John and what was supposed to be a 15 minute conversation, turned into a 26 minute powerful moment in time for me where we spoke about marketing, our own personal struggles and our deep spiritual faith in God. I really connected with John and now not only consider him a mentor but a friend. I hope our discussion teaches you something and I hope by the end of it you become as much of a John Morgan fan like I am.

John, how do you attain all of your knowledge and wisdom with regards to marketing and branding?

I am very much still to this day a student of it all. I ready about 2 to 3 books a week and I take notes as I read. Anything that I underline or highlight, I transfer into a journal or another notebook. That whole process allows me from taking it to something I’m intrigued by to actually knowing it. The biggest thing is getting out there and teaching it. Teaching is sometimes the best way to make sure you know something. So as a Consultant, day in and day out, I’m talking to people about this stuff and helping them, so I can’t help but retain it because it is part of my daily life.

The definition of branding is: The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumer’s mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers. Is this still the definition or has it evolved?

That definition is completely wrong. If we are having this discussion in 1994, than it’s probably fairly accurate but that’s not the case anymore. A brand or branding is just simply someone’s opinion of you. For me the word ‘brand’ and the word ‘trust’ go hand in hand and are married together because that is really what it’s all about. A brand is not a logo, a slogan, a product or any of these things. It’s a combination of everything and again it just comes down to, do people feel safe about buying your product or service? Do they trust you? Do they like you? To me, everyone in the world has a brand because if we have met anyone in our life, those people have an opinion of us. So to me that is what branding is.

How has social media changed branding?

It’s made it more accessible. What I mean by that is brands today, corporate brands and personal brands, can reach and interact with people that they may have never met. We’ve had decades of businesses wishing they knew their customers better and then they get social media, which is an open door tool to get to know everyone and then they freak out because social media is not how they thought that answer would look like. It’s changed business because it’s made it quicker and more open but the biggest thing it’s done is leveled the playing field because now you don’t have to be The Home Depot to build a great brand. You could be just a local mom-and-pop local hardware store and do a really good job through social media, and of course you won’t get the same sales as The Home Depot does, but that does not mean that you can’t succeed and make your own mark. Social media allows smaller businesses this huge advantage because they can interact one-on-one with their customers and some of these larger businesses can’t really do that as well.

What is something that really interests you in marketing right now that you are paying close attention to?

I feel like the thing that interests me the most right now is what is coming next. I feel like we are in a lull right now of where everyone is kind of doing the same thing, where we are building the same looking websites and a lot of social media campaigns look the same and kind of blend together. That naturally happens when everything changes. I always look forward to what might come next which I have no clue what that will be.  But as far as what is out there in marketing that I like, that would be people who are not afraid to engage and have conversations with people. So to give you an example, right now my wife has a busted eardrum so yesterday night all of the doctor’s offices were closed and I searched through some social media channels and found one clinic in my town that had a social media profile and amazingly enough was actually active on it. I was able to have a private conversation where they answered a ton of questions for me before she ever went in and saw anyone. So that right there is what excites me. To me what is the best is any kind of marketing that makes it easier for a customer to go and buy the product or service.

What is your favourite marketing book?

Here is a crazy confession; I have not read a straight out marketing book in a long time. Most of the books I read are more about success, achievement and about having the right mind-set. There are a lot of good and bad marketing books out there. The key with any marketing book is to do a little research about the author to ensure they know what they are talking about. There are a lot of people out there who write marketing books that don’t know what they are talking about. It’s also important to understand that when you read a book, you don’t have to change your entire business because of that one book. If you get one or two or three ideas than that is great. We seriously live in a society where if people read a book and don’t agree with one part, they don’t like the book. You don’t have to agree with everything in fact you probably shouldn’t. I’m scared of anyone who blindly follows every word anyone says or writes. As you know Marketing is all just one big test. We have to read these books and listen to these speakers, however we get the knowledge, and than from there decide what we are actually going to implement within our own business and let those results speak for themselves.

Who do you look up to in the marketing industry and why? Do you have a mentor?

I have learned from a lot of people. There are certainly a few people who I have a lot of respect for so I’ll take you through a short-list. In terms of authors, especially in marketing and business, Seth Godin is hands-down one of my favourite authors out there. I just love every book he’s written and I just enjoy his style. I also really respect Chris Brogan because he creates more content in a single day than I can in an entire month. I also hate him for that (joking). I don’t think any of us can keep up. I’m also really blessed to have a really good friend named Michael Port and he’s the author of ‘Book Yourself Solid’. The reason I mention Michel Port is because in this industry of so many people who sometimes seem like a big deal but behind the scenes they are not, Michael truly is. This guy has a great heart and a great business. He is everything he seems he is. He is the real deal. I have this huge respect for him because of that and I like the way he goes about his business. He’s not afraid to market but he’s also not doing sales tactics that are shady or pushy.

In terms of others, I have a buddy named Scott Stratten. The reason Scott inspires me is because he isn’t afraid to say what he thinks.  And is it going to make people mad? Of course, but it’s also going to get people on his side. Scott is an easy target for some people and people will go out there and attack him. I’ve had those private conversations with Scott and the thing that I love and respect about him so much is that he does not focus on the negative. He truly focuses on the positive and pays more attention to the people he is helping rather than those people who say, “Oh Scott that wasn’t nice” or “You shouldn’t have said that.” It’s not that he doesn’t care about those people; it’s just that he is really focused on those people who say, “Hey Scott that makes sense, how can you help us?”

What advice would you give someone who wants to follow the path you are on?

My best advice is the following two things:

First, work everyday on your own self-worth and self-confidence because that has been my biggest struggle. I would be 10 years ahead of where I am right now if I didn’t let so much self-doubt lead to procrastination. Get all kinds of negative thoughts out of your head. Things like, ‘Who would want to read this blog post?, or ‘Who would want to hear me speak about this?’

The second things is, in that same light of not being afraid to put stuff out there, do it fast and don’t worry about the numbers. I remember my very first speaking gig; it was me in front of 8 people. 8 people is not an overwhelming amount. Everyone has got to start somewhere but that’s the thing, those kinds of things like speaking, hopping on the phone with people, doing interviews, writing guest blog posts, all that kind of stuff that I have done to get to where I am, the only thing that I would change if I could do it all over again is that I would just do it all faster.

You can connect with John Morgan at, on Twitter @johnmorgan and on his LinkedIn profile.

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