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Rushford LeeRushford Lee is the Partner and Owner of REDKOR Brands, a company that specializes in building brand campaigns that help founders realize their goals and achieve financial freedom. Over the last 24 years, Rushford and his team have launched over 500 regional and national brands.

With REDKOR Brands, Rushford uses a unique formula that combines scientific research with intelligent design to produce a brand that engages a customer’s emotions. His approach is data-driven and guaranteed to scale results.


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Rushford Lee’s experience founding REDKOR Brands over 25 years ago
  • How a fight at a startup meeting inspired Rushford to take a more data-driven approach to his business
  • Where Rushford gathers valuable data from customers
  • The benefits of asking open-ended questions in customer surveys
  • Rushford talks about “customer love groups” and his customized research process for clients
  • How to create an emotional connection with customers through lifestyle photos on Amazon
  • The significance of shapes and colors when building an effective brand
  • The first steps new companies should take to set up their branding
  • Where to learn more about Rushford Lee amd REDKOR Brands

In this episode…

An effective branding strategy is critical to a company’s success. That’s because branding differentiates a company from its competitors and speaks to a specific customer base. So, what do you need to do to create a brand that takes your business to the next level?

According to Rushford Lee, there are several data-driven elements to keep in mind when building an effective brand, including colors, shapes, and logos. While these are necessary for communicating what your brand stands for, they are also essential for provoking emotion in your audience. As Rushford says, creating emotional connections with your customers is the best way to provide value, boost sales, and improve customer loyalty.

In this episode of Buy Box Experts, Eric Stopper interviews Rushford Lee, the Partner and Owner of REDKOR Brands, about how to use customer data and analytics to create an unforgettable brand. They discuss how to create emotional connections with your customers, Rushford’s customized research process, and the importance of colors and shapes in branding. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:09

Welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast we bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.

Eric Stopper 0:19

Hey and welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast. This is Eric Stopper. Today’s episode is brought to you by buy box experts, Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. We’ve got a team of consultants, I am one of them. And we would love to talk with you about your brand on Amazon. We’ve been doing these really cool audits lately as well that allow us to see how much of your spend is allocated towards keywords that don’t make you any money. And it’s pretty interesting, right? It’s fun to find out, you know where your money is being spent on Amazon. And for a lot of you it might really make you upset to say hey, like, we’re spending $15,000 on ads, and only 5000 of them are actually generating any sales. Well, you know, what do I do with that $10,000 come and talk to us. We’ll give you a free audit, go to, click on the free analysis button and you’ll be connected with me or a member of my team. Today, I am pleased to be joined by my friend Rushford Lee, partner and owner of REDKOR Brands, a company that specializes in building brand campaigns to help companies and founders realize their goals and achieve financial freedom. Rushford and his team have launched over 500 regional and national brands over the last 24 years. They’ve got tons of examples of on their website of work that they’ve done. Rushford, welcome to the show.

Rushford Lee 1:41

Thank you glad to be here.

Eric Stopper 1:43

So let’s just hop right into it. You’ve got a long history, you’ve been at this for 24 years. I kind of want to know what was happening 25 years ago, just to understand like how you transitioned into this role, you know, you know, founding and operating REDKOR Brands.

Rushford Lee 2:02

I was working in LA and worked at several companies down there that were PLP design houses and spent about five six years down there wanted to come back up to Utah I love Los Angeles I lived in Diamond Bar area and and hombre la mirada and but wanted to come back up here and finish my education. So we came back up to Utah. And I did that over the next year or so and started a little agency, mostly a boutique just kind of doing graphics and design. And as we started to grow, we really got interested in what really makes customers tick. And so we started it was called Rushford, Ross Horton and changed it to REDKOR brands. And we’ve been doing that consistently for about 24 going on 25 years next year.

Eric Stopper 2:52

So as the story goes, it’s like the winter of 2001. And you were presented some new concepts. So there were kind of some, some decision makers at the original what was the company? When did the company become REDKOR? What year?

Rushford Lee 3:12

Probably well, Red and REDKOR over the last 15 years.

Eric Stopper 3:17

Okay, so yeah, we’re like, we’re like 18 years ago, 19 years ago, this conversation happened, where there was no data to back up some of the decisions that were going into this project. And on your website, it says that two guys at the meeting got into a fight. And for your safety, security escorted y’all out of the building. Can you give me the the scoop behind that, like, what was going on? And what ended up happening that it sounds like that was kind of the the critical moment that evolved you into the data driven brand company that you are today?

Rushford Lee 3:58

Yeah, we had a company, I won’t mention the name or anything, but we had been working with them, they had about four or five vice presidents who had strong downlines. And as we were meeting, it was just a matter of that everybody had a strong opinion. And it seemed most like our third meeting where we presented concepts and ideas. And they were arguing among themselves so much about what they wanted and what they liked. And, you know, it was really our opinion against theirs. And in reality, the two of them got into a real battle one threw a book at the other one, and then the other one turned around and threw his stuff at him. And then they got up and started to push each other around. And the guy I was with kind of grabs me and says we had to leave. And he escorted me out of the building. You know, just they just had large egos. They were strong man. They had ideas, but we could not for anything different. So on our next round, and we had contacted a couple of BYU professors who are great people very well, Gary Rhodes and David Whitlock, and just ask Gary, can you help us come up with a way that we could do research for packaging design and for other kind of brand design, that would be good for us. That would be something that would really get us the information we need so that when we go in next time, we’re not saying, you know, here’s what we think here’s what you think. But here’s what your customers are thinking, here’s what they feel like is most important to them, these the attributes that they really would like to see us doing, the emotions they feel as they use the product. And that’s something that we started off fan and spent about a year and a half with those guys having them teach us and help us. And it ended up that it turned out to be really, really good system that we’re able to go in and do. And then very, very targeted find out and help them to know how they should talk about their brand. So and we had another client where we had gotten used to doing this went in and sat in a meeting with like 12 different presidents and vice presidents and told them what their customers thought. And the President said, you know, it’d be stupid to go against what my customers are telling me. So let’s move forward. And that turned out to be a great brand, a great brand campaign. So yeah, we just didn’t like the idea of throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what stuck and then arguing with everybody as to what they thought. So this really helped us to target much better.

Eric Stopper 6:13

Back then, when when you guys first started exploring this, where were you aggregating the data from? was it was it surveys with the customers was it their helpdesk, you know, where did you get the the information to make these these presentations?

Rushford Lee 6:27

You know, it was who we’re trying to find ways we’re in the valley here, where cost is always critical. We did a lot of focus groups found out they didn’t really work as well, as you know, you only have 15 people, and sometimes a focus group can go awry, weren’t sure that we were getting great information. So we had moved to really surveys where we could get an email list of customers email list, or we could work with our vendor on getting a list of qualified people who they would go through and make sure we had 500, or whatever, really good customers that match demographics. And then we would ask them the questions that we needed to to get the information. So it can go fairly quickly. And it’s both quantitative and qualitative. We asked a lot of open ended questions. Why do you feel that way? At first, we didn’t we just said, you know, here’s, here’s a concept, or here’s some ideas or some words, which of these do you like best, and we weren’t asking why. And it was really in the way that we found all the golden information that was in their comments and their voice and their language that really had a little golden nuggets in it. And so went to surveying and with with vendors like Qualtrics, and others, they can help you target or for a company who’s got a good email list, we can go into those and work with them. And it really gives us key stuff we need to know.

Eric Stopper 7:45

That’s really cool. We, so we were I think we’re actually using this tool right now. Where we will scrape the reviews from a from a customer and look at the frequency and sentiment of the of the words in those reviews. And then build those into the listing in some way. It sounds like it’s a very similar process, just taking all of this information from the customers and then applying it to a brand deck. I guess the the one the one piece that I feel might be disconnected is you’ve got some stats in your website that talk about let’s see, the brand connects consumers with an emotional response, which by research, we know that 94% of people said they’d be highly likely to recommend a brand they were emotionally engaged with. And so I guess the the question that I have is, if you get all this survey data from people, how do you really make sure that you are asking and getting insight into the emotion that they had around the the purchase or the interaction that they had with the brand? How do you ask those types of questions? And are these the things that that Gary Rhodes and David Whitlock, at BYU, were helping you with?

Rushford Lee 8:54

Yeah, it really was. A part of that is to understand the why. And it’s sometimes as simple as setting up a situation a visual situation where you say, you know, you’re walking down, you know, for a Walmart, and you’re looking for weightlifting equipment. And what are you thinking, when you’re looking for it? Why are you looking for it? Why is it you’re motivated to come in and try to find this? And what are you looking for on that package? What is it that interests you most? Those could be questions that could be asked, and they are open ended questions. So we do a lot of open ended questions much more than most survey will do. And some sort of survey people say, well open in is really hard, because you have to really go through code it just like I think you’re doing. But the bottom line is it’s in those answers of what made you feel a certain way that they’ll say, Well, you know, I’m really tired of just being fat. And I felt like if I could least do this for half hour a day, it would help me. And so you start to understand the emotions they’re feeling as they’re looking for that product, or they’re looking at that brand. And that’s the That open ended why questions about and sometimes there’s literally a saying what what emotions do you feel when you’ve done business with this bank that really have tied you to the bank itself. And they’ll tell you I had experience with the manager who, you know, came out to my car and helped me jump the car, or they came over to my grandma, my mom’s house when we were trying to do some things and brought the papers to us. And so you start to see an emotional situation that they had, that helps explain why they stay there, why they like that product, why they’re part of the love group of that customer,

Eric Stopper 10:34

the love group. I so and for those for those listening, I I attended BYU from 2011 to cost like 2080 and it took so long. Gary Rhodes and David Whitlock were two of my teachers. Both have since retired, I think Rushford and they both have moved away. I Gary might still be in town. But they they took me through some very similar thinking and it sounds like Rushford was able to incorporate these, these core business insights into his business model for for all of his for all of his brands. So when when you say love group, Rushford, talk to me, talk to me about what you mean there.

Rushford Lee 11:21

But we’re all looking for customers who really loves your product. So if I can find out, if we can find out why that customer loves you and your product and what you’re doing your service so much, then those are the people we want to recreate. And so a love group might be the top customers that you have, they might be the ones to buy the most of your product, they might be the ones who have engaged with you the longest. But there are customers that you wish you had, all of them have that attitude. So as we try to understand the attributes behind a product, from the standpoint of the customer, and then standpoint, also of the business, and the benefits that they’re receiving and what the emotions are that are wrapped around the benefits, that really sets up a great opportunity to hear their voice and to know what they’re thinking. So the best group to start with is that love group, the people who enjoy you and love your product the most, how can I duplicate, you know, make all clients part of that love group?

Eric Stopper 12:21

So this is one of the insights that you gain from that. So you have crafted a customized research process for each of your each of your clients. Is this something that can be democratized? Like? Can everybody just follow the same framework and, and come up with with similar insights? Or is there a specific process that you have to take them through when you’re onboarding them to really help them get it? Like how, how easy How simple is this process that you apply to the brands?

Rushford Lee 12:51

You know, I think it doesn’t seem that complicated anymore, after years of doing it, we really are using a laddering system. mapping system, which is a research tool that has you has a variety of different ways of looking at it. But we specifically look and say to our customer, first we meet with them and say talk to me about what your attributes are that this product, or this service you’re doing you think are the best attributes you have as a company not benefits, not what the customer sees. But just First of all, you know, you’ve got a big blue button that adds more horsepower, or you have a product where you’ve got guarantees, they just they talk about their own attributes. And then we prioritize those, you know, what’s the most important attribute your company has, and it is a fun exercise because they try to come in and they have to start to agree on well, who are we and what is our most important attribute, we do the same things with benefits. And the same things with emotions, we do that with a customer first, and then we put that into a ladder into a mapping, that puts all of it on one page, and they can look at it and go Yeah, that’s exactly what we think. Then we go do that same thing with their customers or even a set of potential customers. And each time we put that on a ladder where we can compare what they think to what their loved group thinks, to what new customers might want, and think that helps them to go gosh, that we’re not thinking the same as a customer. And that’s usually what ends up happening, I’d say half to three quarters of the time, what they thought was the most important benefit the customer got, might not be what it really, really is. So those exercises go together to help to create a visual view on a map or a ladder, that shows what those customers feel and what their values are too. So there’s there’s attributes, benefits, emotions and values. And so that’s the process that we use, and it’s worked really well for us.

Eric Stopper 14:42

Attributes, benefits, emotions and values. I mean, if you’re, if you’re listening to this, like just write all those down and you can and you can come up with like a, a basic framework and then go to and go to Rushford and in this team and let them and let them refine it for you and make a plan for you. So Rushford, I’m I’m interested in and hearing a story of a time that they the brand was just absolutely dead wrong about what their customer wanted. And how you guys were able to come in present this framework and get them to the point where they were aligned with what their customers care about. And were able to institute a campaign that helped them in a major way that that, you know, help them reach their goals, do you have a good example that you can share with us?

Rushford Lee 15:32

Yeah, I think I’ve got a couple without without mentioning exact clients name. So we had a customer who had had a product that they used for horses. And it was really interesting, because it’s mostly all men who ran the company. And as we went through the process with them, and asking them what they thought, why our customers buying this product, you know, this is almost all females, there’s probably 80% females who buy this product for their courses to help them make them healthier. And they even come up with some packaging they like, which was very, very masculine, it was very, very, might even have been award winning, it was really cool. But as we talked to them about what they thought they only went out and talk to the consumer group, which was females specific age category had to own a horse had to own a horse for over a certain period of time. And we talked to him about the product. And we started asking the questions, you know, what, and these were people who were in the love group, they had used the product before, and they had a list of those. So we were able to say, Okay, what do you love about this product? You know, what is it that that you like the most what benefits you the most with your horse. And as we started to look at the emotions, and the situations, it was really interesting, what was coming out was that they love the horse more than they love their husbands. They like the horse was more their friend, it was this was a friend that they were taking care of like an amazing dog that you have that just gets anything at wants. And then as we then design product to fit that actual packaging. The as we test it, we’ll also go out and test our designs against a love group or a Open Group, and say, which of these designs do you like best which fall, which solves the following problems best for you. And as we came back with a new designs, the the the owner and the others figured, oh, this can’t be right, because this model we think is cool, didn’t even register. And the designs you did, which the designs showed a owner next to the horse, patting it, loving it and emotional feeling about their horse, because that’s what they kept saying, that’s why they use the product. And it was funny, because he said, Well, I’m gonna have my girls in back come up, and look, they all fall into this category. And if they don’t like it, you’re fired. And they came up, they looked at the ones and they all pick the ones that all the other women had picked. Because it had an emotional meaning to them. And I think that happens quite a bit where somebody who’s a male is has a product for a female or for an older person or for a younger, and you have got five daughters and my wife and and i don’t know that i understand the way they think yet really. But I’m a man. And so you’ve got to focus on who the client is and what they think. So in that case, it worked out really well and was a good product for him.

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