48: It’s all about the climb: Marketing VP Craig Rowley takes REI higher

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When Craig Rowley moved over to REI after 25 years on the agency side at creative shops like Carmichael Lynch, Borders Perrin Norrander, and Saatchi & Saatchi, he was already pretty familiar with them — he credits classes he took at REI with helping him summit Mount Rainier.

For him, REI is the perfect fit: a purpose-driven brand that isn’t all about the transaction. “Any company that taps into what people are passionate about in a brand: Is there a higher purpose that they stand for? Are they good corporate citizens? Do they treat their employees well? All these things matter,” says Rowley. He goes on to add: “There’s a tension in that. You’re kind of forcing people to make a choice or take a side. And when you do that sort of thing, I think it gets you noticed and kind of burns you into people’s souls.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast include:

  • Rowley talks about creating an agency vibe within a client culture. (3:24)
  • Building brands today: “It’s not just about selling stuff.” (5:28)
  • Purpose-built branding: “It’s not for the faint of heart.” (8:09)
  • Rowley’s take on the experience economy: “People are moving away from buying stuff to buying experiences.” (18:51)
  • “Any brand can have a purpose that is meaningful and matters.” (24:39)
  • How brands win: Sharing values to create customer loyalty. (28:25)

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