Meet Daniel Brian Cobb, an entrepreneur serving brands that serve families – Healthcare, retail chains, e-commerce, insurance, financial, family entertainment, food & wellness brands that desire to lead their respective categories. He believes brand leadership is not built on analytics and digital tools alone, but on performance against a passionate vision. At Daniel Brian Advertising, the vision is simple: “Better Brands for a Better Human Condition”
They’ve found success in the social economy is a science that follows an authentic contribution to society rather than social manipulation through media. Their goal is to provide true brand value through creative and technology solutions that will grow the double-bottom line for clients: sales and social impact. To that end, their vision is to inspire branded movements to improve a billion lives.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
Before we begin, our readers are interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to be where you are today or was it something you were led to? Share with us your journey.
Daniel Brian Cobb: I was a teenager sitting on the couch when my mother told me to turn the TV off. She concluded her motherly reprimand, “…because it’s bad for you!” I started my journey into advertising on that couch by asking a simple question, “Why can’t TV be good for you?” I would watch commercials by Little Caesars that made me laugh. I was inspired by how Coca-Cola would bring together the world for a “Coke and a Smile”. I noticed how Nike would inspire me to “Just Do It”. And, these highly successful brand messages were the campaigns that would encourage my career to build “Better Brands for a Better Human Condition.”
After 30 years of studying and building successful brands, I have built a scientific method to correlate successful brands with meaningful messages that inspire culture to become better. It starts with building honest brands that provide value to serve people with an inspiring message. I can honestly say, since founding Daniel Brian Advertising, we have made great strides in making media good for people who sit at the couch to watch TV or even for those who poke around on a smartphone, for that matter.
Tell us a bit about your current focus. What is the most important thing that you’re working on and how do you plan on doing it?
Daniel Brian Cobb: In our journey of studying and working with the most successful brands, we have discovered the power of what we call, “Irrational Advocacy”. When we worked with Disney, we partnered to co-create passionate influencer reviews with “Mommy Bloggers” rather than expert movie critics. When we worked with Chick-fil-A, we witnessed the power of nearly 8 million “Raving Fans”. They would camp out the night before a grand opening and post photos of themselves promoting their brand, with painted faces. Brands that identify with a passionate community of supporters find that consumers can be better marketers than the brands themselves.
Co-creation and advocacy-driven branding gave birth to branded entertainment, thought leadership, influencer marketing and affiliate marketing, but we were employing these tactics long before there were names for these strategic marketing concepts. It all falls under the central idea that we want to build a culture at the core of the brand. This culture creates community and partnership opportunities with the consumers of the products and services as well as with the greater movements that are generated in community.
The consumer has the power of media in their social news feed, so we can no longer control the voice of media. Co-creation builds irrational advocacy because it is much more powerful and much more fun.
Some argue that punctuality is a strength. Others say punctuality is a weakness. How do you feel about it, please explain.
Daniel Brian Cobb: I used to be late to every meeting because I was so busy, but I remember a person who suggested that being late made me appear to believe my time is more important than others’. This upset me greatly, so I worked rigorously to be punctual in all I do. Now I am busier than ever, and I like to use every last minute to deliver value to those I serve, but if I show up late, all of that effort tends to fall flat. I plan to be early if possible, but in a world of back-to-back Zoom calls that each go long, I still fail often. Punctuality is a strength, but I am still a work in progress.
How important is having good timing in your line of work and in the industry that your organization operates in?
Daniel Brian Cobb: Currently, we are producing a Super Bowl TV spot for a client. If production falls behind schedule, we can’t ask the NFL for an extension. Each stage of development and approvals are critical. We can’t expect the video editor to make up for lost time if the footage is not ready or if the script approval came in late from legal. It takes an army of people and project management tools to get the job done.
We have project managers who use Asana, which is our project management tool. However, we customize and automate functions that will drive more efficiency through productized processes and software platforms that help us set our agency apart from our industry averages.
Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, states “Timing is everything in life, and it’s particularly crucial in entrepreneurship. People often equate success with luck, but it usually comes down to impeccable (and carefully mapped out) timing”. Do you agree with this statement? Please answer in as much detail as necessary.
Daniel Brian Cobb: We live by the principle, “If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” To us that means we accept no last minute surprises. We expect backup plans for our backup plans. We start by blocking out our year in a single view campaign calendar, followed by a detailed cycle plan for each step and each dependency. Less outsourcing for more control of the process. Regular checkpoints. Roles, individual responsibilities and deadlines. Done correctly, we should know if we are going to miss our deadline long before it arrives.
Of course, plans fail, but that’s why we build them. If we know our timeline has been broken early in the process, we can almost always rebuild the plan to make it work. Like Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” However, the pros prep, plan and even train for several punches to the face. That is how we beat time.
Only a fool expects everything to go according to their plan. That expectation of perfection only breeds frustration and bad culture with last-minute rushes and constant crisis management. Good planning culture eats great talent for lunch.
As a leader/entrepreneur/CEO, how do you decide when to put the pedal to the metal and when to take a break? How do you time the key moments in your career?
Daniel Brian Cobb: There is a rhythm to life that we must all adhere to, or we will suffer the pain of a constant state of fight or flight stress. The flow of the best CEOs is often varied, from high pace to high-quality time with co-workers, family, and friends. I model balance in this matter.
I begin my year by refocusing on my “why”. Then I always plan to spend time away from the daily grind of work at the beginning of the year, at the beginning of the week and at the beginning of each day. That’s when I can organize and prioritize my lists of tasks that could potentially outnumber the hours in my day. I narrow and focus on three clearly stated things each day that I must do that will make way for all the other priorities.
The process of choosing what is most important is what’s most important. This is a skill of a great leader. Often, my big ideas and solutions to the most complex problems don’t come from strategy sessions, but in my sleep, or at times of rest.
In my study of the human brain, I have learned that some of the most complex processing is reserved for later when the body rests from daily task work. That’s why I believe many spiritual teachers say mankind was designed to rest one day a week. This practice makes time for background computational processing in our brain.
That doesn’t mean I don’t work hard. I’ve probably managed to average 80 hours of work each week in my career, even though I am religious about my weekends and holidays with family.
Branson also states “If you’re starting to feel like you’re just going through the motions and losing sight of why you started, it might be time to take a break”. But how do you decide when to take a break?
Daniel Brian Cobb: The breaks should be in your plan, not a distraction from it. I schedule my time at the coffee house each morning. I schedule an actual lunch break each day. Vacations are quarterly and business planning sessions are weekly. Every year we shut down the company from Christmas to New Year and our top employees have unlimited paid time off as well as philanthropy time in their contracts.
Utilize the power of hope. When you feel burnout, give yourself a break to look forward to. Even if you are too busy at the time, your brain/soul will calm with hope for a future state of rest. Plan a vacation. Leave the house. If you are like me, a “staycation” after lockdowns has already been proven to make you feel like you never left work. So, go somewhere else, far away. And plan nothing for a few days. You are not wasting time when you rest. Not only are you healing your soul, you are organizing your thoughts. Let your background processing catch up with the backlog of important decisions to make.
At least for me, proper rest brings clarity. You will also gain perspective. Life may not always seem as good as you had hoped it would be, but it’s never as bad as it seems, especially when you have not taken your needed rest.
Time is your greatest asset, but that doesn’t mean you should use up all your time on disorganized and reactive task completion. Don’t merely work hard, work smart.
“Timing can be everything when starting up. It can be the difference between building a thriving business and not” How has good timing helped you achieve success in your career or business? Are there any particular examples from your career that you would like to share?
Daniel Brian Cobb: When I was younger, I had the stamina to work 20 hours per day. I did a lot of learning how not to do it by the time I was in my 30s. The most important lesson I’ve learned has to do with proper innovation management. Without innovation, a company doesn’t grow. However, innovation can also burn the most company resources, creating the greatest risk that could potentially threaten the core business.
DBA was founded during the digital revolution in the 1990s, and we were first to market with desktop publishing, web development as well as social media. Our timing was perfect, although we can’t claim any ownership beyond luck for the fact that I was at the right place at the right time for that particular opportunity. However, we were far ahead of a few trends, and that cost us dearly. For example, we invested millions into streaming TV and social media influencer marketing a decade before the consumer was ready.
A great business is built on great innovation timing. If you are ahead of the competition, you win. However, if you are ahead of the consumer, you lose. I’ve learned to beware of the bleeding edge. There is innovation that can be too early for consumers to adopt or understand. Nobody is perfect in predicting these trends, so I’ve learned to view innovation investment as the high-risk stock in my business planning portfolio.
“When you’re thinking of starting up, ask yourself: ‘Is the community I want to serve ready for this idea?’ It could make all the difference!” Would you like to add anything to this piece of advice for all the aspiring entrepreneurs?
Daniel Brian Cobb: Always start small, test small, and invest little when you know little. Invest more when you know more.
Prove out your innovation with smaller, dedicated incubator teams and relentlessly protect the core business from becoming distracted by innovative projects. Shiny objects can create an attraction for your business or they can draw in the unknowing business manager into an unknown doom.
COVID forced many businesses to adapt fast, some did so successfully, others failed, it was a lot due to good or poor timing. What are some of the big lessons you’ve learned during the pandemic?
Daniel Brian Cobb: We call it “The Coronavirus Time Warp.” The digital behaviors of consumers lept forward 5 years in the first 8 weeks of the lockdowns. Telehealth went from a small niche service to a primary source of new patient traffic for our healthcare clients. Online ordering moved from a luxury to a necessity for our fast food clients. Some of our previous exploration of digital platforms and marketing automation became immediately in demand.
We learned it’s important to see what is next before it’s too late to catch up. Changes can happen much faster than planned. Thankfully, some of our clients experienced massive growth in these new digital channels during The Coronavirus Time Warp. Our agency was able to ride this wave of change with them, and we experienced some of our best years in spite of some of our worst social challenges.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Daniel Brian Cobb: All corporate institutions are facing what we call “The Coronavirus Time Warp.” Studies show that digital behaviors of consumers leaped forward 5 years in the first eight weeks alone. Since that time, the new normal is digital engagement in all its forms: Telehealth, Zoom communities, a virtual workforce, and the pending metaverse. The currency of this new world will not have need of physical dollars because crypto will be the new rewards points and its valued works of art will be NFT.
Most brick-and-mortar companies were not prepared for this. Many are still scrambling for ways to retain and hire talent. That talent has gone freelance, contract, or has started their own business in the virtual world. Companies will not do well to fight this trend but must adapt their own leading-edge technology platforms and processes to maintain relevance in it. Here is our full study/report.
Your insight has been incredibly valuable and our readers thank you for your generosity. We do have a couple of other bold questions to ask. What fictional world would you want to start a business in and what would you sell?
Daniel Brian Cobb: In Surf, Skate & Motor World I would sell interactive rides on a virtual extreme sports experience that would feel just like being a professional athlete doing death-defying stunts, but there would be no risk of injury or death.
Before we finish things off, we would love to know, when you have some time away from business, what is one hobby that you wish you could spend more time on?
Daniel Brian Cobb: Kiteboarding. My family and I love to travel for the challenge of developing skills in this new sport that has evolved so much, but there are few places in the world where the wind, water, and weather conditions are ideal.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Daniel Brian Cobb for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Daniel Brian Cobb or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.