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Brand it Like Bogie

4 Simple-as-Dirt Branding Lessons from Casablanca

How to Become Irresistible to Customers & Impervious to Competitors

Bogie & Bacall

So, you wanna learn how to make your brand both irresistible to customers and impervious to competitors? Casablanca is a great place to start.

Aside from being The Greatest Movie Ever Made, (oh, you disagree? Fight me!), Casablanca bubbles over with bountiful branding lessons. (For those of you who live under a rock, “Bogie” was the nickname of Humphrey Bogart, the actor who played Rick Blaine in Casablanca.)

For this article, you don’t have to know the plot to grasp the lessons. All you need to know is this:

  • The story takes place during World War 2 in the North African city of Casablanca
  • The main characters are Rick Blaine, Louie Renault and Ilsa Lund

Lesson 1: “Only More So” is Doomed

Our first lesson is a negative one: what not to do.

Rick Blaine: (responding to a question about Louie Renault) Oh, he’s just like any other man, only more so.

If I asked you, “why should people choose to do business with you rather than your competition,” what would you say? Would it be something like…

  • Best prices?
  • Best service?
  • Best quality?
  • Best warranty?
  • Best location?
  • Best hours?
  • Best whatever…?

If your answer is similar to any of these, then face it:

You’re just like any other company, only more so.

Only more so won’t get the job done.

If your edge can be copied, it will be copied. When that happens, you’re doomed. Your customers will abandon you faster than the French fled Paris when Nazi tanks rolled in.

There’s one way – just one – to become irresistible to customers and impervious to competitors: you must offer something utterly unique, something that cannot be copied by your competition.

The next 3 lessons explain how to do that.

Lesson 2: Fly Your Freak Flag

Louie Renault: I’ve often speculated on why you don’t return to America. Did you abscond with the church funds? Did you run off with a Senator’s wife? I like to think that you killed a man. It’s the romantic in me.

Rick Blaine: It’s a combination of all three.

Is Rick Blaine a freedom fighter? Is he a scoundrel or a hero? Is he a thief,  an adulterer, a murderer?

We don’t know for sure. He admits to nothing and to everything.

All we can say for certain is this: he’s one of a kind.

He’s a blend of qualities we aren’t used to seeing in one person. And that’s what makes him the magnetic center of the story. That’s why “everyone comes to Rick’s.”

You have only one quality in all the universe so unique it is uncopiable.

Here’s a hint:

It’s the same quality that keeps married couples delighted and devoted for decades on end.

What is it?

Each partner knows about the other, “in all the world, there is no one else like you.”

We humans all share the same basic operating system software. We tend to react the same way to the same types of stimuli. We cannot help ourselves. We are attracted to the unusual, the unique, the unexpected. Present us with something unexpected and we’re hooked. We can’t look away.

Is your business one-of-a-kind, or is it like all the other businesses, only more so?

You won’t find your uncopiable qualities in your Policies and Procedures Handbook. You won’t find them in your Corporate Vision or your Mission Statement.

You will find them in the bathroom mirror, at the water cooler in the breakroom, and in your staff when nothing is working right and the chips are down.

The chances are high that you’ve chosen to keep your unique qualities hidden. That’s a mistake.

It’s your contradictions that make you intriguing. Embrace them.

Lesson 3: Beguile with Humility

Ever made a dumb mistake, something that made you look bad?

Louie Renault: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?

Rick Blaine: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.

Louie Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.

Rick Blaine: I was misinformed.

Rick has a reputation as a man of the world. Yet his response makes him appear naïve and foolish. If he was an “only more so” type of man, he’d spin a tale that made him look heroic, wise, strong and noble.

But he doesn’t do that. Instead, he’s admits his mistake. And this makes us love him all the more.

What’s your normal reaction when you or your people do something dumb? If it isn’t humility, then you’ve missed a golden opportunity to capture the hearts of your customers.

When we humans encounter true humility, it triggers something deep within our bodies, something we cannot resist. It beguiles us, often against our intention.

At the end of the day, it’s not your strengths that will make people love you; it’s your humanity. That means your failings, your fears and your flaws.

Every failure is an opportunity to show your humanity.

Lesson 4: Invest in Virtue

Rick Blaine: We’ll always have Paris. We lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.

Ilsa Lund: When I said I would never leave you…

Rick Blaine: And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that. Now, now… Here’s looking at you kid.

Rick Blaine cultivates the image of a self-absorbed narcissist who only looks out for Number One. Yet, at the climax of the movie, when Rick has the opportunity to save his own skin and get away with the girl of his dreams, he makes a different choice, a choice we never saw coming…

When people experience virtuous behavior from you and the people in your company, something irrational and unpredictable happens inside their brains: they feel a deep attraction.

Virtue – so the saying goes – is its own reward.

As true as that may be for individuals, it’s doubly true for organizations.


Ilsa: I wish I didn’t love you so much.

Rick: Here’s looking at you, kid.

Have you identified the qualities that make your business uncopiable? If not, this outline is a good place to start.

And if you need a little coaching or guidance, you can contact me or any other Wizard of Ads partner. We’ll be happy to help you become irresistible to your audience and impervious to your competition.

Eric the Car Guy: The Power of Honest Flaws

Eric the Car Guy: The Power of Honest Flaws


Hey there YouTube. It’s Jack Heald with Cult Your Brand. When I had originally planned tonight’s episode, I was going to be doing a critique of various social media influencers, looking at how well or how poorly they use the loyalty triggers to create the types of emotional connections in their audience that powerful loyalty triggers will create.

But I do something else besides just write about loyalty and psychology. I occasionally like to fix my own car. In fact, four years ago I stumbled onto a guy who calls himself “Eric the Car Guy.”

And he did such a great job of explaining to me how to change the timing belt on my 2007 Honda Ridgeline, that I became a subscriber to his channel, and have been a supporter and a follower ever since.

So when I looked at his January newsletter today – I think he sent it out two or three days ago, but I just got into it today – he does something in here that I felt like I had to share with you. And that’s what we’re gonna look at today: Eric the Car Guy and how incredibly well he uses one of the most powerful loyalty reflex triggers: The Persona.


So this is Eric the Car Guy’s January 2019 newsletter. This only goes to people who are actually his subscribers. He gets really personal in here. It’s kind of amazing. I’d like to just highlight some things in here.

Eric says “I don’t feel the same way I did when I started 10 years ago. I don’t feel the same hunger, (or maybe “desperation” is a better word.) I think that’s what attracted people to my channel in the first place: the desperation and the way I overcame it.”

“I think they saw the same desperation in themselves and my videos helped them overcome it. Let’s face it: if you’ve got a broken vehicle and you can’t get it to work, you might be feeling pretty desperate.”

Eric’s right about all of that. But what he’s telling us here in this newsletter is that his youtube views over the last couple of years are lower than he wanted them to be. And he thinks the reason is because he’s no longer as relatable as he used to be.

Eric is one of the most I suspect one of the most successful guys on YouTube and he says he’s not relatable. Now he rightly diagnoses that part of the reason for his success was that he was extremely relatable, What he fails to recognize is that as he shares what’s going on with himself, he continues to be relatable.

So let’s take a moment real quick and review the the elements of a powerful emotionally compelling persona.

Now a powerful persona – in fact this comes from my training course How to Craft an Irresistible Persona – a powerful persona does something to us as individuals. It creates in us a desire to follow that person.

A well-crafted persona will inevitably provoke emotions in the follower and give the followers confidence that the person that they’re relating to is worth following and is trustworthy.

When we see Hollywood create powerful movies – movies that really connect with their audience – they’re doing a couple of things.

They’re creating positive emotions in their audience. And they’re doing it by creating heroes who are actually believable.

We see the important components of creating a powerful, emotionally resonant persona in the person of Steve Jobs.

Now Steve Jobs had a reputation as being a narcissistic asshole. And a lot of folks think that that narcissism – that assholery that he was so famous for – actually weakened him in terms of his ability to lead Apple and in his terms of his ability to persuade people.

But in fact it was his well-kn own asshole or his well-known narcissism that made him human.

One of the things that human beings love to do is put someone up on a pedestal. But when we put someone up on a pedestal, one of the things that happens is we stop relating to them because we know ourselves. We know we are not perfect.

One of the things that Steve Jobs narcissism did was it brought him off of his pedestal. As brilliant as he was, as visionary as he was, as charismatic as he was, we all knew he was also an asshole, And we also knew that he was he was very much like us.

And in a strange way that humanity – that Steve Jobs exhibited for decades in front of the entire world – is what is a great part of what made him so compelling and so persuasive.

He had flaws and he didn’t hide those flaws.

If we have a modern Steve Jobs, it’s probably Elon Musk. He’s every bit as visionary – in fact possibly even more visionary – than Steve Jobs.

Where Steve Jobs was fundamentally an artist who was concerned about the style and aesthetics of things, Elon Musk is fundamentally an engineer. And there are some of those very common engineering quirks that we see in Elon Musk. But those don’t make him relatable.

It is his flaws that make him relatable. And he’s got a couple of doozies. We’ve seen them exhibited here in the last several months.

He tends to be a little bit morose sometimes. In fact I think it is his deep fear and concern about the future of the human race that drives his creativity. But it also sucks him down into a black hole of depression sometimes. And because he displays that for the world, it humanizes him for us.

Yes, he’s on a pedestal in many ways, (to us – the normal humans around the world.) But he’s also human. And because we see those flaws in him. it makes us feel like, “oh he’s one of us!”

It makes him relatable. And because he’s relatable to us, it makes us much more willing to listen to and believe and most importantly follow him.

He’s got flaws that he doesn’t hide.

I’m gonna go back to Eric the Car Guy’s videos now. He says this, “Just about every one of my dreams in life has come true, thanks to the success of Eric the Car Guy. So why am I not happy? I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately.”

I want to pause here folks. Do you realize this is one of the most successful youtubers on the planet sending out a newsletter to his subscribers saying “I don’t feel happy. I’m struggling with depression “?

Eric, I’m going to talk directly to you now, man.

You could not have done anything more powerful to improve the strength of your brand, to increase the emotional resonance that you have with your audience, than by sharing this fear, this flaw, this weakness that you have.

One of the most powerful things that any brand persona can do is prove that they are human. I talked about Steve Jobs. I talked about Elon Musk, And we see the same thing here now with Eric the Car Guy.

These people who have great success, we look up to them. But we also want to relate to them.

Why do we want to relate to our heroes?

Well, because if we see that someone who is just like us has achieved great success, then that means that someone just like me can achieve great success. That creates the type of emotion that creates in us is hope. And there is almost no emotion in the world stronger than hope.

So, as you create your brand’s persona, if you want to create that kind of incredibly powerful emotional connection with your audience, then you’ve got to share with them that you’re human. And the way you do that is the way Eric the Car Guy did it: by sharing a fear or a flaw that everyone can relate to.

This is Jack Heald for Cult Your Brand. Thanks for watching.