When you think about your “brand” what comes to mind? Do you recall your cute blog header or that color scheme you obsessed over for weeks before deciding? Does your business name and what you sell come to mind?
While branding comprises these components, Kaye Putnam is here to teach us that it's about so much more than those things. Your brand is about the way you communicate your business' key values to the world. Branding is what sets you apart and makes others not only notice, but remember you. Branding can be your best business asset when it's thoughtfully implemented.
If you still feel confused about what your brand is and what you represent, Kaye has an excellent “Brandality” quiz on her website. Head here to take the quiz. Consider your Brand's Personality as you listen to the podcast.
Press Play on the Podcast Player Below to Get the Full Story.
On the Podcast
03:04 – Something Had to Give
04:39 – Why Branding is a Big Deal
07:19 – The First Step to Developing a Strong Brand
10:34 – What to do when you're the Girl Next Door?
16:13 – Is it OK to Rebrand?
17:45 – Why Rejection is Good!
21:45 – The Magician
24:44 – Limitless Business
29:03 – How to Start Working Remotely
32:53 – 3 Ways to Launch an Online Business with a Bang
38:36 – Kaye's Funny Mom Moment … (or why she truly is a magician!)
Something Had to Give
As a military spouse who's now moved five or six times, Kaye realized that traditional employment wasn't working for her. She had to quit a great marketing job that she loved, and every move meant taking steps back in her career instead of forward.
Kaye began looking for alternative ways to build her career. She made the transition into online marketing by free-lancing and has now taken a full-time position with a digital marketing agency called Infinitus. The agency is based in Canada, and she works remotely to help create the agency's podcast, weekly newsletter, and blog posts.
Kaye's personal skill set lies in branding. She is passionate about making companies more personal, more vulnerable and more authentic.
Why Branding is a Big Deal
Branding is about so much more than colors and a logo. As Kaye says, lots of designers call themselves a branding service but what they're really offering is just the visual aspects of a brand. “A brand is born out of the experience that customers have with you.” Every touchpoint a customer has, whether it's in your Etsy shop, over the phone, or by exploring your website, is part of their experience with your brand.
Kaye shares 3 reasons why having a strong brand is key to your business success.
- Business equity. For example, Starbucks can charge $4 for a cup of coffee because of their brand. They've built up enough brand equity (or the value that people place on their brand) to do that versus the gas station down the road that only charges 50 cents.
- Opportunities. When you have a strong brand, people know what you stand for and are excited to work with you. It takes the sales part out of doing business. By building your brand you attract people to you instead of having to go out and find them.
- More People Talking. If you're doing something remarkable, then people are excited to talk about you. They have an emotional connection with your brand, and you have more customers and more market share as a result.
The First Step to Developing a Strong Brand
The more we dig into branding, the more I feel overwhelmed. Where should a mompreneur even start when it comes to defining a clear brand?
The first thing Kaye recommends for any business owner is to consider the values that their business communicates. This comes well before considering a logo, fonts, or colors. This even comes before you consider how you want to interact with your customers. Your very first job in defining your brand is defining the values that brand stands for.
One example for Brilliant Business Moms would be that a lot of people in our audience have strong family values. If we communicate those same family values it gives people a strong emotional connection to us and our brand.
Kaye says that every business is not just selling a commodity, but so much more than that. Your brand is what endears people to you. It sets you apart from everyone else who may be selling the same thing.
An example of Kaye's values would be playing big. She believes wholeheartedly that her position in life shouldn't dictate the level of success that she has. So even though she's a mom and a military spouse, there's a certain level of success she wants to reach in her business, and she believes she can make that happen regardless of her circumstances. Other people who have those same values are naturally attracted to her. This is your brand at work!
What to do when you're the Girl Next Door
Once you discover your brand's core values, you have to figure out the personality you're going to portray those values through. (This is where Kaye's Brandality quiz comes into play! Take the quiz here!)
There are 4 key ways that your brand personality changes the way you relate to the world around you. To show you how this works, Kaye shares 4 recommendations for us as a “Girl Next Door” brand.
- How you relate to others. As girls next door, we don't position ourselves as leaders in the market. We're who you might go to when you need a shoulder, some encouragement, or someone who's not going to talk down to you. We relate to our audience on their level.
- The way you build relationships. For us, this means building a true community. We position ourselves as being just like our audience, so we've built a community of people who can relate to each other and have something in common with each other. At the end of the day, we're not teachers, gurus, experts, or pros, we're simply friends with our audience, and we're journeying through this online business thing together!
- Your content. As girls next door, our content should be clear, concise, and always friendly. (This is probably why I'm always having asides in my blog posts as though I'm just chatting face to face with you!)
- Your visuals. Our visual style needs to be relatable as well. Anything that looks like a vogue magazine is the opposite of what we're going for. Vogue, for example has a royal, elitist brand personality. They couldn't be further from us in what they're trying to portray. This is why our smiling faces can be found all over the place. We just put ourselves out there and say hello – flaws and all. The girl next door delivers visuals that are friendly, easy on the eyes, and easy to understand.
Is it OK to Rebrand?
If your business goals change and your current brand doesn't fit those goals, then you have to get rid of it. Re-align yourself with your new goals and your new audience.
Initially Kaye started a site called SuccessfulMilitaryWives.com She did that for a while and it was great, but as she got deeper and deeper into the agency world, that old brand didn't fit her new goals. She gave herself permission to get rid of that site and start her new site.
The way you can rebrand without confusing people is by continuing to communicate the same values. So even if your focus changes, you're still the same person. Those core values haven't changed even if the products or services that you offer have.
Why Rejection is Good!
Kaye admits that she's had an internal block about reaching out to people because of her fear of failure. She knows she needs to do it if she's going to tell more people about branding and build up her audience, but it's difficult – especially for an A+, 100% kind-of girl! Kaye was inspired by Tiffany Han's website, the 100 Rejection Letters Project.
She's decided to set a goal of getting 100 rejections in 90 days. Kaye is teaching herself that rejection and failing is ok. It's just part of the process. So for the next 90 days, she's reaching out to people about guest posting, podcast interviews or just to connect on Skype and gather as many opportunities as she can over the next 90 days.
When we asked her how the project is going so far, Kaye said that she's getting more “yes's” than she expected! So, it turns out… she's failing at failing! But she's finally taking action, and that's the end goal.
After chatting so much about our own brand's personality, The Girl Next Door, we had to hear about Kaye's. Turns out, she's The Magician. Their strengths lie in taking complex concepts and information and translating it into something that's easier to understand. The magician is also great at helping people to go through a transformative process. (This fits what Kaye does as a branding expert really well!) You'll have to listen to the whole podcast to hear how Kaye is a magician as a mom too!
Kaye's newest project with her marketing agency, Infinitus, is LimitlessBusiness.com. Kaye is one of the voices on that site, and she'll talk about branding, but they're putting together a rock-star cast of other business leaders who will share information within their particular “zone of genius”.
What Infinitus has noticed about content online is that everybody is overwhelmed with the amount of content, but they're underwhelmed by the impact that content is having. When they considered what content really gets people excited , they realized that real stories were the most impactful. When people are vulnerable, authentic, and “bleed on the page” that's when others remember what they shared and take action on the lessons they learned.
So much of our time online is spent consuming content that we don't remember and don't implement. Limitless Business is trying to change that and create content that will truly have an impact on your business.
How to Start Working Remotely
When Kaye lived at Fort Campbell, Kentucky – her very first duty station as a military spouse, it took her six months to find her first job. She finally took a job as a temp bank teller in rural Tennessee. At her very lowest point, she found herself faking a southern accent so that she could blend in. Instead of blaming the military lifestyle for her lack of opportunities, she looked for a solution and began working remotely.
Kaye has 2 tips for moms who want to find work-at-home jobs.
- Use your network. Get the word out about your freelancing work. Tell people you're available to be hired. Let everyone know about the skills you have and what services you offer.
- Use remote job sites. There are plenty of job listings at Weworkremotely.com and Elance.com as well as writing jobs at Problogger.com You can check out those marketplaces and apply for jobs to get started. Kaye says that working remotely is a great way to sharpen your skills in your desired field.
3 Ways to Launch an Online Business with a Bang
The marketing agency that Kaye works for has had massive growth since launching. We were curious about the strategies behind their massive growth. Kaye was completely transparent and did share that the CEO of Infinitus had prior business relationships that helped a ton. (Once again, we're hearing about the value of building relationships when it comes to business!) But there are 3 other strategies that anyone can use to launch an online business in a big way.
- Connect In Person. Infinitus hosts what they call limitless lunches and limitless dinners. They invite 6-8 strangers to lunch and chat about their challenges or projects they're working on, and connecting in this way helps to build deeper relationships much more quickly. Those deeper relationships, of course, lead to far more business growth and success.
- Respond to RFP's. Any company or individual can respond to RFP's (requests for proposals). There are many websites that have databases full of RFP's. Here's how it works: A company or government agency can list a project such as needing a website built or some other digital service, and they'll ask companies to submit proposals. Responding to RFP's is a great way to get started when you don't have those pre-existing relationships for your business. For example, government agencies are required to take proposals from everyone, so it's up to you to prove your expertise and show off your portfolio. (Sarah's old accounting firm launched their business in just this way! They won a huge proposal and their business success continued from that point.)
- Branding. We'd be crazy not to mention how much your brand will impact your business success. Make sure your website clearly communicates your values, what you offer, and your personality. Give people a reason to choose you over everybody else. There are thousands of other graphic designers, programmers, or whatever it is that you do. Your brand is what differentiates you from the crowd and can help you to connect with the right clients and land more jobs.
Kaye offers another valuable tip when it comes to your branding: Don't be afraid to lose all of the corporate speech or jargon. There are real humans reading your website and your marketing materials, so make sure you treat them like they're someone you know.
There are so many ways that you can say something, so it's really important to put a filter on what you're doing. Home in on who you are at your truest core so that people aren't confused by you.
“Confusing people is the quickest way to kill a sale.” (Well said, Kaye!)
Kaye's Funny Mom Moment … (or why she truly is a magician!)
You'll have to tune in to hear Kaye's funny story about her little boy, Afton. I'm pretty sure she's a toddler whisperer!