Tim Galles is Chief Idea Officer at Barkley (formerly Barkley Evergreen & Partners), a Kansas-based full service advertising agency with a rich legacy and a deep brand portfolio. Tim is also a noted speaker and author of “Scratch: How to build a potent modern brand from the insight out,” a work articulating his philosophy toward building “whole brands” with genuine, authentic purposes.
What is a “whole brand?” According to Tim, it’s “an organization that sees everything they do as the brand, inside and out, is guided by a core idea that drives business ideas and marketing ideas, lives their beliefs internally and externally, and measures success by profit, performance and its impact on the world.”
We discuss what his title means to him, whether every agency should have a “Chief Idea Officer,” and what’s involved in helping brands find their purpose. We delve into the issue of how brand purpose can radically change with ownership (something that appears to be happening right now with Twitter), and converse about what can happen when the original brand purpose of an organization is co-opted by an unexpected endorsement from a group or demographic that would otherwise not be associated with it, a scenario often observed with fashion brands.
I wanted to get Tim’s POV on the question of how brand owners who historically have demonstrated a “command and control” mindset with respect to messaging can “let go” a bit so that consumers, influencers, and other stakeholders can do something interesting with the brand. “You really have to understand and live in the world where your consumer lives and really put your feet in their shoes,” notes Tim. “And all of a sudden, things become less precious, for one, and you need to experiment a lot more. And I think that one of the fundamental things that really helps me is when I think of a brand more as a set of actions, and more as a verb, than I do a noun. I think of it less as a resource and something that I invest in, versus something that just does, and lives out in the world.”
Our conversation then turns to creativity, Tim’s philosophy of the “whole brand,” why whole brands are better equipped to succeed and survive, and how Tim approaches brand-building for startups.
My conversation with Tim covers a lot of ground and should be of interest to anyone thinking about — or actively involved with — branding and brand building. P.S. I’m looking forward to reading his book Scratch.