Too Much Nerd Power Not A Good Thing For Brands

Writing in Ad Age, Tom Hinkes, former marketing director and current principal consultant at OutBranding, says “our biggest consumer brands are now managed by nerds.” It’s not a compliment.

Great brand marketers are comfortable with ambiguity. They realize marketing is a balancing act — it’s numbers and detail, but it’s also flair and vision. It’s qualitative and quantitative; analysis and intuition; perspiration and inspiration. Great marketing requires the balance of both sides of the brain. But the balance has been lost.
Great marketers are visionaries, not bean counters. They succeed by defying conventional wisdom. They see over the near horizon, envisioning products and ideas long before the average consumer even senses a need for them. Nothing captures this principle better than the adage, “If Edison had done market research, he would have invented bigger candles.”

Of course, to defy conventional wisdom is to take risks. And risks are scary to take, even in the bets of times. This is not the best of times.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. agreed david! i fear that so long as companies are run by accountants who are singlemindedly focused on lowering expenses and maximizing profits, the longer that empirical shortsightedness will have a stranglehold on brand management. moreover, i think it’s all too evident that in these worst of times, brand managers believe that “in God we trust; all others bring data.”

  2. @jeff – thanks for the comment. i got a kick out of that last line.
    hey, i’ll be in town for Big Omaha in May, if you want to meet up.