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March 2017


Branding and Me

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I was interviewed before a talk I gave recently and thought I’d share it here – a little about my own story and reflections on changes in branding and marketing.

Why are you passionate about branding?

I’ve been a storyteller my whole life. As a child, I was always concocting stories and finding ways to weave visuals and music with storytelling. I love the way words and images create a multidimensional story. I look at branding as a concise form of storytelling. In a glimpse, people get who you are and what your business is about. I also discovered I have a talent for bringing out people’s uniqueness. In college friends would always ask me to write their bios when they started looking for jobs. I have so much fun unearthing what makes a person or a business different and special. My passions took me into the publishing world first at Doubleday and then at a nonprofit where I ran the publishing arm.

Why is branding so important?

I’ve also started several small businesses. And I’ve seen in my own experience and with my clients how important it is to be really clear on your story and brand from the get go. I’ve watched many small business owners with great ideas start a business and do well because they’re passionate and committed. They may have a simple logo, maybe created their own website and it worked for a while. But unless they invest in getting super clear on their brand, they won’t be able to reach their ideal clients effectively and consistently. This can create a lot of confusion in running a business, in deciding how to market, in spending more marketing dollars than necessary, and it can stall business growth.

How have the processes of marketing and branding changed over the past few years?

Change is happening faster and faster every day. And people are changing. That’s why marketing and branding has changed. People don’t see themselves as passive consumers any longer. They want to be involved in their purchase decisions, they want to engage and they expect attention. You can’t just market to people, you have to create a context for an authentic dialogue. And you have to be interested in what your clients say; let them help shape how you develop your product. This, of course, has led to the rise of social media marketing in the last several years. It’s more important than ever to find out who your clients are and what they really want and need. Marketing research has also changed. Data isn’t just collected in traditional focus groups or surveys, but social media plays an integral part in learning who your client is.

Plus our attention spans are shorter than ever. This means having a good brand is critical because people need to “get you” in a few seconds. And you need to communicate through your brand that your product/service will offer something meaningful to your client’s life. Because we have so many brands to choose from, purchase decisions are now about much more than just the product/service – they’re about how our lives will change as a result of the purchase.

In this context of so much choice, your business needs to stand out more than ever. You need to be better than ever at what you do, your brand needs to grab your client’s attention, and your content needs to be relevant. Consumers want content and experience delivered quickly and easily. And there’s so much content out there, an important way to distinguish yourself is through good quality, relevant content.

The desire for engagement, experience and content has fueled the emergence of Facebook live, periscope and other live video platforms. Delivering content live is more engaging and creates an immediate experience. It’s easy to do and cost effective, so many businesses are gearing up to making video, and especially live video, central to their marketing efforts.

What’s one small thing a business owner can do to “stand out”?

Know and clearly articulate what makes your business unique, and the value you bring your clients. Then position yourself as an expert in your field by sharing your opinion and knowledge. Consistently build your reputation through your content and relationship with your clients. Establishing yourself as an expert will make you stand out and create a marketing momentum for you.