Florent Geerts

Florent Geerts is the founder of Once Upon a Brand. Throughout the week he works in advertising in Amsterdam and in his spare time he reads and writes about marketing and storytelling. Read more about Florent on his personal website , or connect with him via LinkedIn or Twitter .

David vs. Goliath – Big versus Small Businesses  


The business that’s first is already one step ahead.

That business instantly becomes the market leader, the pioneer and the innovator.

A small business entering the market is immediately a titan of industry. And maybe it’s just temporary, but the business that’s first often leaves a mark.

In the mid-20th century, the Australian vacuum cleaner company Hoover dominated the industry. Because they were first, the brand name “Hoover” became synonymous with vacuum cleaners in the United Kingdom and in Ireland. And it still is today.

Same story in Germany, where a tissue is often referred to as a Tempo. Or in Brazil, where a razor blade in Portuguese is often called ‘Gilete’.

The business that is second, however, is the underdog. It’s ‘David’ in the classic tale of David vs. Goliath. And that’s not a bad role to play either.

That business is ‘David’ in the classic tale of David vs. Goliath. And that’s not a bad role to play either.

David can learn from the market leaders.

David is flexible and isn’t hung up on established rules and boundaries.

David is more adaptable.

Both David and Goliath have their own competitive advantages. The only thing that doesn’t work is when David becomes Goliath, or Goliath plays the role of David.

In such a case, David is acting like he’s bound by rules and boundaries. And Goliath forgets its size and starts copying those smaller than him.

The role you play in the market will determine how you play the game.

Play it accordingly.


How to Make People Think About the Value and Not the Price of a Product

A coffee is $2,60.

Spotify Premium will cost you $9,99.

The prices of products are objective. There’s nothing we can do about them; prices are what they are.

The way we perceive those prices, however, now that’s subjective.

We are willing to pay much more for things when we are in the moment – when it’s a cold winter day and we’re meeting a friend for a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop. Then $2,60 is definitely worth it.

But we’re not as willing to pay for something when we’re out of the moment – when we’re at home, sitting on the couch and comparing the price of a product with the alternatives that are out there. Then we’re doubting if Spotify premium is worth the $9,99 or if we’re okay with another month of listening to songs via YouTube.

And we’re never rational enough to consider that Spotify Premium only costs four cups of coffee.

When we’re out of the moment, we suddenly become rational buyers and we start wondering: is it worth it?

That’s why we need to bring the consumer into the moment and let their emotions and urges do the work, instead of their rational brains.

There’s a little sushi corner in the supermarket close to my home that’s a perfect example of this.

Some days, the boxes of sushi are simply laying behind a display and although the sushi looks delicious, the price is the first thing we’ll look at. On days like this, the rational buyer steps in.

On other days, there are a few chefs behind the counter preparing the sushi. Now the rational buyer becomes a more emotional buyer; suddenly we realize the sushi is really fresh and more factors besides just price come into play. And that’s even more the case if the chef is Japanese.

And then on some days, occasionally, one of the chefs gives away pieces of sushi for people to taste and try. Now we’re brought into the moment; we’re tasting – experiencing – the sushi and realize how delicious it really is; it’s worth the money.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to pull your customer closer, bring them into the moment, and show them the value of what you’re offering. Then out of a sudden price is not that relevant.


Why All Marketers Are Liars and Why the Truth Lies in Storytelling

A while back, I came across an interesting book from marketing guru Seth Godin, called ‘All marketers are liars tell stories’.

The title of the book triggered me, but after only a few pages I realised that the marketer isn’t the liar; we are.

We lie to ourselves every day. We believe expensive wine tastes better, that cars with loud engines go faster and that the sushi we eat is more delicious when prepared by a Japanese chef.

The book is based on one simple idea: people don’t want to change their minds. 

You cannot change people’s worldview, you can only tell stories that fit their existing worldview. If you do that, people will lie to themselves to make that story fit.

That means that if the wine looks expensive, the engine produces a lot of noise and the chef is Japanese that we, ourselves, will fill in the blanks and tell ourselves that the wine tastes great, that the car must be fast and that our sushi really is delicious.

What’s fascinating about this type of thinking is that most of our communication is aimed to persuade people and to convince them to do, think and act differently than they would normally have done, rather than accepting people’s existing worldview and telling a story that matches it.

This type of thinking shows that the marketer, the adman and the PR guy (and gal) should not be focused on pushing people to buy products, but rather on pulling them in through great storytelling.

There are’s one big word of warning though, that every storyteller should take into account: telling stories is not the same as telling lies. It’s almost impossible to keep a tangled story straight and sooner or later inauthentic stories will catch up with you. The stories that help businesses thrive are the ones that are authentic. Real.

So if you want to be known for your customer service then be sure to hire friendly people. If you want to be eco-friendly, then make every aspect of your business eco-friendly. And if you want be the coffee shop that sells the greatest coffee then display coffee beans on the counter and show a menu with many different types of coffee.

People will fill in the blanks.


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Does Your Business Name Matter? WPP says it does not

“How important is the name of your business to its success?”

Google that and you’ll get a ton of articles telling you how important it is.

You’ll find articles like “The 8 mistakes to avoid when naming your business,” and “5 reasons why your business’ name is important to its success.”

Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes, and The Guardian; all top quality sources who claim that the name of your business is critical to its success; all sources you would normally not dare to argue with.

But still, is your business name really that important? I think not.

To give you an example that’s quite close to home for me: I work at the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, which happens to be a part of the WPP group. While Ogilvy & Mather based its name on its founder, David Ogilvy, the history behind the name of WPP is different.


Wire and Plastic Products (WPP)

WPP stands for Wire and Plastic Products. The company was founded back in 1971 as a manufacturer of wire shopping baskets. In 1985, Martin Sorrell (who’s still the CEO of WPP) bought the company for the main reason that it was listed on the stock exchange; he was looking for a company on which he could build a worldwide marketing services company.

Forty years later, the WPP group is the largest marketing services group in the world, employing over 190,000 people in 3,000 offices in 112 countries. It includes companies like Grey Group, Ogilvy Group, Young & Rubicam Brands, JWT, GroupM and Mindshare.

Of the big list of Fortune 500 companies, 350 are clients of WPP. 30 out of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones index are clients of WPP, 63 of the NASDAQ 100 and 31 of the Fortune e-50.

My point is simple: even with a name that makes people think you sell wire and plastic products, you can build a communication empire.

Sure, a name needs to be a remarkable, a bit weird, quite out there and just simply different. But your company name is not critical to the success of your business. Your name is just the foundation on which you will build your business success.

What is critical to the success of your business, however, is what you build on that foundation; the stories that surround your brand and the image that you manage to build.

Do that effectively, and your business name won’t matter much.


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