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Why You Should Build Your Brand
Sean: All right, hey guys. Welcome back to the show, this is Leadership Stack Live, and I’m here today with Ms. Jennifer Cairns. She is the founder of the Brand Evolution academy of Lady Rebel Club. And she says that she’s a micro-brandologist, now don’t fret, we’re going to get to that later. And she’s the first recipient of Pioneer of Freedom award in 2019, which is pretty recent.
I’m excited to learn from her today and I’m sure you are too, Jennifer. Thank you so much for being here on the show.
Jennifer: Thanks very much Sean for having me.
Sean: We always start out with this question because we just love hearing the story. What took you from where you were before? And I could see that before you were doing some virtual assistant – VA work to now being an entrepreneur and handling a couple of people in your team.
Jennifer: Yes. Well, I think I’ve always been an entrepreneur to be honest, it’s in my blood. My grandma was one of the, was one of the first women really in her industry. She had an insurance agency that she ran so very cutting edge, very rebel my grandma. So, and my dad as well. So I think it’s definitely in the blood.
And then I just, I’ve always had lots of ideas. You know, we had ran a publishing company for awhile and did that, which turned into digital media. And really it was, we had a product idea for a web platform. I was all great, we had Facebook interested in doing live streaming with us. Lots of really cool things. I had about 350K worth of private investment, 90K worth of R and D grants.
And after the first prototype lot launched, we lost everything. Lost, absolutely everything. Because we didn’t have any real connection with the audience. And that’s kind of what got me into consultancy. Then the next sort of probably eight to ten years just working on really figuring out what is this brand stuff.
And did that work with clients, helping them. But it kind of always had this entrepreneur thing still, you know, I still have my own business. So technically a business owner and entrepreneur, I could see so many other entrepreneurs like myself struggling, and even the clients we work with once they were handed everything, struggled.
And it was really that struggle that led me to want to do Brand Evolution Academy to really, I guess, teach more rather than give them everything built. You know, the old proverb about the fish is very true. So rather than, you know, giving them the fish so to say, we would teach them how to fish and their business and how to build the brand and how to be strategic with their brand and their business.
So that’s kind of what led to that.
Sean: That’s awesome. And I want to go a little bit deeper into that. When you say brand a lot, to a lot of people, they say, “yeah, brand, you know, is powerful thing. It’s awesome. You have good branding. You have really big brands that we know international brands, and we can’t really put it into words how big the ROI is when you’re building your own brand.
We can’t really see the numbers or imagine the numbers in our heads, when you say you have to build a brand, build a good brand. What are the returns? What are some of the things that you tell clients who asked you this question? If there are any of them. Why should I build my brand? Why should I focus so much energy and effort and money into it? What could I put that in sales and marketing and HR and operations? What would you tell them?
Jennifer: Well, I think the biggest thing that I say to our community at Brand Evolution and the students would be that, it’s kind of a saying I’m known for whether you like it or not. You have a brand and make it work for you and not against you.
Because as soon as you walk into a room, as soon as somebody sees a social post, as soon as somebody hears you speak, listens to your podcast, anything they’re actually interacting with your brand. So if you could imagine, you know, your business is like a donut. So the audience is the outside run of the donuts and your business is the center of the donuts. See all that space in between, that’s your brand. It’s the space between your business or your products and your people or in your audience.
And we need to fill that space. So now we cannot make people think, feel, and say certain things about them, about us in our business, but we can influence that. And that’s really where your brand comes in.
It helps to influence and helps to impact what your audience and hopefully one day your customers think about you or your business, I should say, how would they feel about your business and what they say about your business? Because after all, that’s what we want. We want our people to love our business and our brands.
We want them to buy and we want them to share. And that’s really where your brand comes in.
Sean: That’s amazing. I’m gonna still poke a little bit deeper in that because of branding is so important because I also believe that branding is super duper important, but a lot of entrepreneurs actually miss out on it, especially entrepreneurs in their first five years of doing business.
When I started up my company, SEO-Hacker, I did everything from cleaning the restrooms to being secretary, being the lawyer, everything. Being the runner, crazy jobs, admin stuff. You don’t think too much about building the bar. So filling in that gap in between the donut, what does that look like? What are some of the concrete things that you’d have to do to make sure that you’re dictating who your brand is rather than your audience dictating who you are?
Jennifer: And they need to do and you know, this was one of the things that actually led to the first micro kit, because there’s, you can dive very deep with your brand development.
You know, it’s not just your visuals, you know, it has to do with your positioning in the market. It affects your product. You know, your brand is attached to your products. It’s attached to your audience. It’s, it’s attached to your positioning, really everything, you know, your copywriting and your visuals, everything they sort of tie in together.
And one of the biggest problems that I see with entrepreneurs, especially, and not necessarily just startups. I mean, there’s many people who have, or are in our community that have – theirs have big businesses and things of this nature. And they haven’t ever thought seriously about the brand – its cohesion.
So if there’s one theme that you work on right now, it’s – I would say, even if it’s not exact, because it’s never going to be exact, it’s never going to be perfect. And a brand, like your business is constantly growing and changing is to have cohesion. And that’s one of the things, you know, that I teach in branding and a flash, is it’s getting that clarity and getting that cohesion.
And you ha- that’s paramount because one of the things that will make people bounce from a sales page or bounce from your social posts or whatever it is quicker than anything is llack of cohesion. Now they might not realize that’s the problem. But if you can imagine if you open somebody’s Facebook page, they have a certain, there’s a certain vibe to it.
There’s a certain feel, certain colors, maybe certain patterns, shapes, certain tone of voice, all of this kind of stuff. And then they go to the sales page and that changes because there’s a different, a different copywriter that maybe has written it, you know, or you know, whatever. There’s a different theme to the, to the layout and things of this nature.
It affects, it affects them, you know, even if it’s subconscious and they think, right, something’s not right here, this isn’t, the brain’s really having to work too hard to process it because they’ve come from one thing and then they’re bouncing into another kind of, like I said, almost like a different world.
And their brains going to, well, hold on, I’m out of here, this doesn’t feel quite right – I’m away, and they bounce. So it can cause a lot of confusion. It can cause a lot of problems. So cohesion and testing. So if you’re first starting off or wherever you are, and if you haven’t paid a lot of attention to your brand, your tone of voice that you use, the messaging that you use and even your visual branding, colors, shapes, patterns, things of that nature.
Try to make it all cohesive because that’s the only way you’re going to be able to actually test it as well. The other thing I would say is throw it out there. Don’t be afraid. I think a lot of times people are too afraid to do stuff. And I know this because I’ve been there. I still go through these little things, you overthink it, right?
But throw it out there cause we have to test, you know, and you, I’m sure you know this yourself, Sean, we test everything constantly and it’s putting it out there. And as Todd Herman says, get on the field of play, put it out there and see what happens and then you adjust it. And if you don’t put, you know, your cohesive brand out there, you’re never really gonna know what’s worked. You know, what works, what your audience is ever going to really sort of align with.
And especially if you want to scale and things of that nature, you know, it’s, it is very important.
Sean: It is difficult to balance out experimentation and being cohesive. Another word I like using is consistency. There’s a balance in between that I’m sure you know. But maybe some of our audiences are wondering now, how can I experiment and change some stuff and still be cohesive and still be consistent? So can you dive in a little bit deeper into that?
Jennifer: Yes, gladly. So when I talk about being cohesive, I’m coming from the point of view, really that you have a set of, right. You have a set of dishes that are all the same to use that as a metaphor, right? You don’t have the odds. You don’t have like blue cups and black plates and bright yellow saucers and turquoise spotted bowls.
It’s all the same. So it doesn’t, it doesn’t really matter now, if you’re going through a phase of testing and you’re trying different things out and you change that dish set, as long as the dish set is the same within itself, you can test, right? So that’s what you need to focus on, right is my dish set the same? Does everything match? My Facebook? Does my Instagram, does my website, does my product labels, my emails does, does everything kind of work together, even visually, right? Does it have the same visual aesthetics? Does it all go together and flow the same colors? All of these kinds of things.
And then that’s how you test. That’s how you create, you know, the testing environment. And if you need to chop and change that, you know, if you find right, this really isn’t working with my audience and the great thing about testing a cohesive brand as well, you will quickly find out if also you’re in line with the right audience.
Because I think to your new again, we’ll probably notice so many people dive in, not really knowing their audience. Not really knowing that their product fills an actual need and not really knowing if the product that they have and the brand that they have is aligned with the audience that they think that they’re trying to attract.
So it will help you kind of I guess, whittle that down because if your brand isn’t cohesive and it’s causing lots of problems, you could have a great product that’s well aligned with, you know, your audience and your branding could be the issue. So it kind of eliminates that as well and let you then kind of see, right.
Well, what else is happening here?
Sean: When you fill in that hole in the donut and you put in the work and you’re cohesive, and you got something going on for you, what’s going to be the ROI? When do you know that it’s actually working? You know, this branding thing is actually working for me and making more revenue for me.
When does that happen? And how does that look like?
Jennifer: It happens in a few ways. It happens that you will actually find quite literally your business is easier. Your business feels easier. It feels better to you. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re building a brand around yourself, because we don’t brand people.
We’re very much of the belief that we brand businesses and products. I am not for sale. So why do I need to brand myself? Right. That’s my thinking. So when you’re building the brand for your business and your products, it will feel better because when you have that cohesion, you have everything aligned. It just flows better.
The flows better, it means less friction. It means less stress for you as the founder, as the entrepreneur, behind all of it. And also with your team at a work better for your team, which again means, you know, better flow with your team and makes you happier because you can see, you know, the flow, you can see it all happening and you can see how it all works together.
From an outside – that’s kinda more of an inside perspective. From an outside perspective, it adds value to your business in the point of view that there is a hierarchy of how we build our audience and how we turn them into customers. And you may have heard the term advocate before. Maybe some of your listeners have heard that before.
So if you take, for instance, and Mac has always, you know, the, the best example to sort of use know Apple can really pretty much put out anything and its advocates will buy. Its advocates, you know, we’ll argue for days on end with anybody who is not an Apple, you know, an Apple advocate or a Microsoft advocate or something of that nature.
So they’re quite fierce. And when you build those advocates, it’s like having an army of people who love your products, who love your business and who share it with everybody. So we build that up, you know. We have to have engagement, we build up the, you know, the engagement. We get people to know.
And if everything’s cohesive and aligned, there’s more chance of them sticking around, there’s more chance of them really understanding. And us having the influence and the impact that we want to have on them, because our brand is cohesive and clear and it’s doing what it is that we wanted to do.
Right. It’s, it’s putting out the vibe that we wanted to put out and then they go up. So they go up the tiers and as they come into our world a bit more and they go, oh, yes. And they can see. You know, they see how we have built it really around our audience. And that’s an important thing is that we should be building our bonds, not necessarily about us.
Like I said, it’s kind of that trifecta where we have our positioning, core of the brand, and our audience. So our audience feels welcomed. Our audience feels like, yes, this is my world. This is where I want to be. I love this business. I love, you know. “What products do you have?” And they’re actually asking you for products and your products are so aligned with your audience because you have that communication with them. It’s easy for you to ask them. What do you want next? How can I help serve you next? What products do you need? So it helps you create products that fill real problems and real needs for the audience and the community that you’re building. Of course, you know, it helps move that bottom line and brands are worth money.
I mean look at Apple what is it? 185 billion or something. I don’t know. It’s like some sort of mad, astronomical, just the brand, not the company, but just the brand itself. Brands are worth money. Now, am I saying, you know, your listeners are going to build a brand worth hundreds of millions. Possibly? They could one day.
But they do have value and if you, depending on what road you’re going down to, if you’re doing some kind of, we’re doing a business where you perhaps are going to have one stage, one funding, you know, or investment. Brand is really critical to that as well, because it’s part of the roadmap to market. It’s part of the roadmap to it, you know, in your marketing strategy and things of that nature. It’s very aligned. And again, it has value. So if you go to somebody, to an investor, and or you’re looking for funding, you know, things of that nature. And you can say, look, here’s a community that loves, buys, and shares.
You know, we have really strong brand advocates. This is the marketplace. You know, look how much market space we dominate with our people who love us. That’s gold dust in investors, you know. They love that, because they know right, they have this community that they have built that will want to buy more from them that we can build on that we can enhance.
And that’s really something that you can work on.
Sean: I want to share this with you and the audience pretty quickly. When you mentioned that brands actually are worth something. I remember Alan Mulally, the former CEO of Ford, he when Ford, needed money, and he needed to loan from the bank. Actually, he was finding it very hard because Ford as a company was going down and he needed to turn it around.
And he actually made that Blue Ford logo, a collateral. That’s why they lent them the money they needed. So that is a hundred percent true. Brands are worth something, good brands. If you work on your brand, actually it’s worth a lot if you really put in a lot of money working on it.