The guy that I am sitting with today was first introduced to me by a coworker. I received an email from Ryan Mull, managing partner at IMAVEX, and he said that the two of us should meet. He was copied on the email and Ryan also made mention that I was doing interviews with artists all over the world. The interviews are done either in person, via email, or over Twitter and he decided that Twitter seemed like the more appropriate solution. (The in person interviews tend to get a little out of control. Sure, I can type as fast as someone speaks but it is hard keeping up when trying to have a conversation as well as capture every moment that I can while chatting.) So, we connected on Twitter and quickly realized that we needed more than 140 characters to get our thoughts across. So we moved from Twitter to email. Both collections of questions and answers are here in this blog. So sit back, relax, and get to know Kristian Andersen.
(For those of you that do not know how Twitter works, messages that start with @kristianindy are messages from me to the artist. Messages that start with @rickyleepotts are his responses. I have set a limit to 140 characters for this interview and all questions and answers must fit in 1 single tweet. All of the messages you see have not been edited and are exactly as I received them. Also note that #RLPTV was an attempt to create a trending topic on Twitter with this interview. It also allows for users to search and find my content.)
Let’s start this interview with @kristianindy! Tell me, @kristianindy, what is it that you actually do for a living? #RLPTV
@rickyleepotts My team and I work with our clients to help them develop their brand, product, and business strategies. We call it BXD.
@kristianindy How many people are on your team? #RLPTV
@rickyleepotts We have 7 full time employees (including myself) and a couple of part-timers – http://bit.ly/7CPOIz #RLPTV
@kristianindy I LOVE that you just used a bit link. How concerned are you with traffic on your link shares? #RLPTV
@rickyleepotts How concerned am I? Um…I guess not very. Should I be? #RLPTV
@kristianindy In my opinion VERY. I obsess over traffic to my link shares. Same as my analytics report. So are you a #Colts fan?
@rickyleepotts Yeah – my primary analytics report is my monthly P&L statement. Season ticket holder for 10+ years. #RLPTV
@kristianindy No kidding? That is awesome. Do you like the new stadium?
@rickyleepotts The new stadium is great in most regards –1 of the best in the NFL. Better than that strip club the Cowboys call home.
@kristianindy I do not even watch football to be honest. You appear to be an educated man! Where did you go to college? #RLPTV
@rickyleepotts It sounds like your a golf guy. I graduated with a degree in Design from Anderson University, in Anderson, IN. #RLPTV
@kristianindy I am in fact a golf guy. Are you? I can see you on the course! So what is this I hear about you living in Arkansas? #RLPTV
@rickyleepotts What did Mark Twain say about golf again? – http://bit.ly/86vwJi . I split time between my homes in Arkansas and Indy. #RLPTV
@kristianindy I enjoy some MT but I really like those bit links! & I want to have multiple homes! So, what is your favorite “brand”? #RLPTV
@rickyleepotts This short-form interview format is tricky isn’t it? #RLPTV
@kristianindy I like it though! It makes you think about your response. I would be more than happy to do an email interview if you rather?
@rickyleepotts No way. This is interesting. Keep ’em coming. #RLPTV
@kristianindy That’s the spirit! You have worked with some pretty impressive clients. Who is your favorite? #RLPTV
@rickyleepotts We’re really proud of our affiliation with all of our clients. We try 2 only work w/ clients where there is a mutual respect.
@rickyleepotts Currently we’re really excited about @FormSpring @exacttarget and @rewardsnap
@kristianindy What is one thing every brand has in common? #RLPTV
@rickyleepotts The fact that, in spite of what they might like to believe, they are not (exclusively) in control of their brands. #RLPTV
@kristianindy No no, I know but just in your experience with brands. Think Apple, McDonald’s, Target. What do they have in common? #RLPTV?
@rickyleepotts You mean great/successful brands. Successful brands all have a simple, differentiated, and focused value proposition. #RLPTV
@kristianindy No no no, you did quite well! I always let the bands that I interview get the last word. So, you too! GO! #RLPTV
(*This is where the interview went from Twitter to being handled via email.)
I see that you have worked with Smaller Indiana. The logo on their website does not link. That bothers me as a designer and as someone who wants websites that I visit to be user friendly. However, every time that I try to contact someone from there I am NEVER replied to. I am handling it in a very professional manner. It is honestly leaving a very sour taste in my mouth. What are your thoughts on a website that has a logo that does not link to the home page?
I’m sorry to hear that you are not getting a response from the gang over at Smaller Indiana. They are an amazing group and have done an enormous service for the Indy business community. With that being said, I’m obviously a proponent of adhering to best practices when designing for the web.
Where do you see the Internet in ten years?
I don’t think we will see it. In ten years it (the Internet) will be so ingrained and embedded in our lives that it will become invisible. The end game is truly ubiquitous networking.
What is your biggest challenge working with brand management?
I think it’s getting clients to understand that you can’t control a brand via brute force. It’s like raising a teenager. If you just lock them in their room and try to exert total control, they will rebel and you’ll end up with the opposite of what you intended. Conversely, if you just let them go and provide no supervision or support the outcome could, and often will, be equally bad. Managing brands is about finding the right balance between control and chaos.
Your team, based on what I see on the website anyway, looks more like fashion models than brand experts. Do you encourage that atmosphere in the office?
(Laughs) We just have a great photographer. But I will say that often times really great designers tend to have refined aesthetic sensibilities that transcend their professional life and manifest in lots of other ways…including fashion. We definitely take image seriously, it’s a profound part of our business. I don’t want to take fitness advice from someone that is in worse shape than me.
Out of Twitter, Facebook, and a blog which do you find has the most potential for the future of social media?
I have a hard time separating them. They are all just digital channels. I rarely think of those three “products” in a vacuum. Ultimately, I think Facebook is built to last, because their business is built on data. Blogs are a really just a publishing platform, but I don’t think they are going away either. Twitter is in front right now, because they are filling a huge need around “instant” – instant search, instant gratification, instant gossip, etc. 2010 will be the year of instant/real time, so I expect Twitter to flourish in the short term.
Who would play you in a Hollywood film about your life?
I’ve always said Ethan Hawke. But the rest of world seems to think Stifler (Seann William Scott) would be a more appropriate fit.
The names of your children intrigue me. Can you explain how you and your wife came up with those names?
My oldest daughter, Scout Belle, was named after the character in “To Kill A Mockingbird”. We named our middle daughter Daisy Jane, just because we thought it was a beautiful name, but there is also a literally connection to “The Great Gatsby” as well. Finally, my youngest is boy named Indiana Olav – we call him Indy. That is really my way of paying homage to Indiana and acknowledging how great that community has been to me and my family.
Any words of advice for a young guy like myself who wants to be on that list of the “Forty under 40”?
I think the fundamentals of success are fundamental. There is no secret sauce. I think it is a matter of working hard, being humble, serving others, and creating value. If I could add one thing that is often left off of that list it would be – being visible. Make sure that you are communicating to “your audience” in a way that is engaging and make sure that they know what you are up to. If you’re generating value…they’ll want to know.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In a perfect world my life would look very similar to the way it does today. I would hope that my family is healthy and happy and that my businesses have continued to enjoy some level of success. I just want an opportunity to keep doing what I’m doing…which is what I love.
Do you think Lady Gaga has talent or she is all hype?
You’re asking the wrong guy. I listen to country (mostly classic country) music almost exclusively.
So how do you know Ryan Mull, managing partner at IMAVEX?
That’s a good question. If memory serves correctly we met a long, long time ago when he was at MarchFirst and I was doing consulting for one of their clients, a company called Healthx.
I always let the artist get the last word. (Yes, I consider Kristian an artist.) Go!
You’re doing good work and building a heck of a personal brand. Keep at it.