Joanna Cline is the Chief Marketing Officer of Fathead, the fast-growth company that made its name in life-sized wall decals of professional athletes. Today’s Fathead is so much more, and Joanna shares an insider perspective on the company’s growth, future, and her own journey to the C-suite. If you enjoy our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a review!

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It is easy to focus on the ‘how’ of one’s business — features, function, specs. The truly great brands somehow get to the ‘why.’ In this episode, Bill speaks about how and why this is so important. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Bill Gullan:Greetings one and all, this is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Speaking to you from a sweltering summer day in Philadelphia with today’s One Big Idea. This week’s One Big Idea is Get to the Why. This was inspired largely by our podcast interview last week with Lauren Boggi. Lauren is the founder and CEO of Lithe Method a very fast growth, high texture fitness brand that started and is still very strong in terms of the studios that they have where the unique cardio-cheer sculpting method is taught, learned, and loved. But the brand has extended very heavily into food, into apparel, into escapes and travel, as well as in the content like Lauren’s blog Fit, Hip, Healthy as well as social media everything else.

What is unmistakable about Lauren’s story is that the business really accelerated, or at least the sense of purpose around the business really accelerated, when Lauren got to the ‘why.’ Up to that point, it was about the what – it was about the workout, and the bands, and the real estate, and the teachers, and the floor, and everything else. It’s easy to understand the what, it’s easy to understand, for lack of a better phrase, the bricks and mortar, the trucks, the stores, all the things that are physical assets that underlie a business. But when you get to the why, you have the potential to motivate those around you, the potential to have a clear sense of purpose and deliberate sense of action every single day. The assets with which to motivate members of the team and those in your consumer base become so much easier so much clearer.

Nick Bayer, the CEO of Saxbys Coffee, also spoke several interviews ago about how there was a moment when they reached the why of making life better and understanding that was the role that Saxbys had to play. After that everything else became simple, not easy but simple and that the entire expanse of the growth of the business opened up in front of Nick. Just as it did for Lauren when helping people be fit, hip and healthy, there was really the answer to why Lithe Method exists and why Lauren’s in that business.

So some people have spoken about getting to the why and getting past the what, the physical elements that underlie a business. It’s not easy to do necessarily and it doesn’t always matter very clearly to how you think about growing a business when you start out. If you’re at that point you’re thinking about, ‘well I need X number of dollars to open a store or an office, to hire people or whatever it is.’ It’s very easy to get lost, not lost, but it’s very easy to get fixated on really important tactical things that are in front of you and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Lauren and Nick found the why a couple of years in.

There’s this image of entrepreneurs that all of a sudden there’s a lightning bolt of inspiration or a light bulb goes off and they have their why and they’re mission driven from day one. That isn’t always true. A lot of times, getting to the why really requires entrepreneurs or business and brand builders to reach a level of increasing operational complexity and find that moment where they need to take a step back and to reaffirm the principles that may have existed in their heart and mind even if they hadn’t defined it from day one. It’s really hard to define from day one, but once you’re a couple years in, a couple stores in (a couple studios in Lauren’s case), and thinking about what the next step is, often that is the time when one can find the why or even revisit the why.

There are components to defining what that why is, or documenting it for the use of yourself or the team. Vision and Mission is essential to that – having strong thinking that drive toward documented Vision and Mission. In some ways, going through the process is as important as defining the content. It always breaks my heart to see organizations who have read the articles about why vision and mission is important, then you get into their organization and you see that it’s a plaque on a wall that nobody looks at, or maybe it’s a dusty binder on a shelf somewhere, but it isn’t the animating, the dominating North Star that should be central to decisions, to training in onboarding and everything else.

Vision/Mission has the potential to be that, and folks who either don’t value its importance and gloss over the whole thing, or do it halfway because they read an article or read in a book but they don’t really feel it, are really missing an opportunity to provide clear direction both of themselves as well as to those around them. We will do a separate One Big Idea on Vision and Mission and how to build it, how the statements differ from one another, what their purpose is etc.

One of the great things about discovering the why, and Lauren in her business is a perfect example of this, is that in some ways it begins to set guardrails for brand elasticity. By elasticity I mean frankly how elastic is the brand in terms of product categories, where do you have permission to enter. There is one way to think about it which has to do with product categories – what are the things that are adjacent to your core product category where your unique statement and energy and aesthetic will effectively translate into some form of built in advantage.

For Lauren, who started with building a workout, it made perfect sense, in fact people were asking her, because not only was she a symbol or emblem of a particular workout, but of an overall life that was well lived, that was fit, that was hip, that was healthy to use her words. So it made perfect sense to move into the nutrition space with foods, it made perfect sense to move into apparel. Some of the things Lauren is thinking about the future like beauty, cosmetics etc., makes perfect sense, or the life escape where they go with a small group of folks to Jamaica or wherever and really focus over a couple day period, not only on treating their body right through workouts but on the restorative nature of an experience or an escape as they call it. So brand elasticity in terms of product categories is best determined when you have the why in place.

Another way to look at brand elasticity has to do with price point, you look at brands that oftentimes seek to either go up market, to reach a different consumer or seek to go down market to create greater volume. Only if you have uncovered the central fundamental elements of what your brand stands for, why it exists, and for whom it is important, can you really think through the business and brand strategy associated with elasticity on price. Brands earn the right sometimes to go out of market, but it’s much easier for a brand that begins early in the premium part of the marketplace to then sort of diffuse into more affordable lines or price points. So brand elasticity is an important concept that comes out of finding the why.

We spoke last One Big Idea about how Brands are Built from the Inside Out. Getting to the why gives you the greatest opportunity to motivate and galvanize the team around you – to make sure everyone is centrally and deeply committed to the overall guiding purpose of the brand and of the business.

A couple things to think about in the process of getting to the why because again it doesn’t always happen through a lightning bolt it doesn’t always happen on day one. Often you’re a bit in before you begin to affirm or reaffirm you’re thinking around why you get out of bed every day. I’ll give you three quick ones and then we will adjourn.

The first thing is to know yourself. Some people get into business because they want to make money. We celebrate that, reward that, but often even if that is an overriding or important benefit in terms of how you choose to do that, you reveal a lot about yourself. In Lauren’s case when she was a cheerleader at the University of South Carolina, then fell and was injured, and she told the story last week I won’t belabor it, but there was a certain point at which she realized that the real strength of cheer as a method of exercise and as an athletic pursuit is to make people happy and lift their spirits. So Lauren was able to uncover that it was important for her to put smiles on faces of folks and the thing that she was passionate about, which was cheerleading then merged with principles of Pilates, had a really strong impact in terms of making people happy and to live the kind of life they want to physically as well as emotionally. So Lauren knew herself and knew the effect that the things that she valued had on her as well as on others. That was an important first step to getting to why for her.

Knowing your customers, especially if you’re a little bit further down the path rather than just day one before you have customers. If you’re Nick Bayer at Saxbys or you’re Lauren at Lithe, then you take a look at the kind of folks that the initial forays into the business have attracted. Really knowing them and I don’t mean only just their demographics, how much they’ll pay, or what they do for a living, but really knowing them – their attitudes, their behaviors, their fears, what they value, what they see and seek out of their interactions with you as well as with other brands, companies, and businesses that they insinuate themselves into a soul or into a value system.

I think Lauren probably found that her early customers, Lithers as they’re now known, really found value in the impact of the work. I don’t mean impact in terms of your joints, I mean how it made you look, how it made you feel, how it made you think about yourself and all the other things that were in front of you that day. So when she got to her why which was Fit, Hip and Healthy, I would like to think and she could probably confirm that this was in some way drawn from an aggregate profile of how people were interacting with her business and what they were taking from it, what the benefits were.

Which brings me to the last thing which is think about benefits. For example, when we work with clients in technology or even when we deal with clients in nonprofit or consumers across the client roster, oftentimes the real positioning breakthroughs are found when we encourage our clients to think about the benefits of when they do their job well. It’s very easy to get lost in features, it’s very easy to get lost in technological innovations, it’s very easy to get into the weeds, and that stuff is important. Even in the nonprofit world where it’s about impact, it is very easy to talk about programs and not about impact. Always looking at the end point and working backwards, focusing on the benefits of why a job well done for your business, what is created via that job well done – whether it’s a great muffin, a wonderful software package, or a program that benefits many people. If you can get past the nuts and boltsy elements that make something work and get into why it matters, you will get ever closer.

So I think in Lauren’s case (again only putting words into our mouth, but I think it’s faithful to what she told us last week) when she got to think about the way that Lithe Method made people feel and some of that was probably very specific pant sizes or inches or numbers. A lot of it was probably non-specific clear head, sharp, get skinny and all the different things that being active works out and works on within one’s life.

So I’ll stop there but Get to the Why is this week’s One Big Idea. In some ways it is easier said than done, but I’ve hopefully given you a couple of things to think about, some structures with which to approach this for yourself.

By the way, one book that I always used to give to colleagues and certainly the entry level folks was a book called ‘The Brand You 50’. It was one of Tom Peters’ earlier works and in true Tom Peters’ style, it’s a little bit over the top. This Get to the Why isn’t really just relevant for businesses and brands, it’s also relevant for individuals when you think about your career path, what you value, and what you are distinctly capable of doing and why that matters. In the book Brand You, I think Tom Peters’ main thesis was to turn individuals from employees into professional services companies within their own organizations, to build their own brands. It’s not personal branding in kind of the sense you hear a lot today which is about ‘how do I get Twitter followers and etc.’ This is about how you build a sense of self that is consistent and powerful and of great value and relevance to the people around you. So getting to the why is a way of living, not just a way of building businesses and brand.

As we sign off, three ways as always to support what we’re doing here at Real-World Branding. One, we would love it if you subscribe through the App Store of your choice. One of these will come in every week, as noted in off weeks we do One Big Idea, such as today and the other weeks we have interviews with brand and business builders from different categories with interesting stories and interesting lives. So please subscribe and you’ll make sure that you don’t miss a thing.

We’d love it also, again if we’ve earned it, if you would give us a rating of five stars, if they had six maybe give us six but they only have five in the App Store of your choice. Not only does it make us feel good or give us a sense of where we need to improve but it also, at least we’re told, ensures that what we’re doing is visible to those who might find value in it.

Then lastly, let’s keep the dialogue going. Really enjoy hearing from listeners really enjoy hearing questions, comments, ideas for future guests, questions you’d like for me to ask future guests, either way let’s keep the dialogue going. Best way to do that is to find me on Twitter @billgullan or @FinchBrands, Finch like the bird. Signing off from the Cradle of Liberty a wonderful day to all, stay cool.

The post One Big Idea: Get to the ‘Why’ appeared first on Finch Brands.

Lauren Boggi is the Founder and CEO of Lithe Method, a powerhouse fitness concept that combines principles of cheerleading, Pilates, etc. With four studios and expansion across the lifestyle, Lauren shares her fascinating personal story — from an unfortunate injury in college through building the Lithe business and brand. An accidental businesswoman, Lauren is inspiring, honest, and certainly worth a listen. If you enjoy our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a review!

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‘One Big Idea’ is a shorter episode of Real-World Branding, to be released in the week between our interviews. In this edition, Bill uses case studies to show how the strongest brands are built and delivered with a focus on the internal team. If you enjoy our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a review!

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Welcome one and all, this is Real-World Branding. I’m your host, Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands a premier, boutique branding agency, and this is One Big Idea. Today’s big idea is that Brands are Built from the Inside Out.

Our most recent interview was with Wil Reynolds, the founder and director of strategy at Seer Interactive, and one of the things we talked about was a branding or re-branding process that he and his team have recently undergone. One of the things that were notable about it was that it had really bubbled up from within the organization, the need and the potential to go through that process. We heard on an earlier podcast how Scott O’Neill, C.E.O. of the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils etc., as an important part of his practice back when he was at Madison Square Garden Entertainment, internally developed a rule of three in terms of guiding principles and core values. That was something that he and the team developed together as a representation of their commitment, which certainly comes through in the way that their brand is perceived, sold, and everything else.

The best brands are built from the inside out for a couple of reasons, one is that the brand is often delivered via the efforts and the passions of human beings. Whether one is a retailer and has thousands of store associates who are interacting with customers or guests on a daily basis, they are carriers of the brand, they’re representations of the brand, or any organization that employs a sales force, any organization that has to write a bunch of different things over social media, sell sheets, or white papers, whatever it is, these are all human developed and it is impossible even with a smaller organization to control a message, to inspire folks to believe in and be passionate about a message, and to live successfully as embodiments, to be the brand unless the internal team, the team that is charged with carrying these things out, understands it, feels it, and models it day in and day out.

So a couple of examples, at least in our work, of how processes of brand development can be oriented to include and derive insight from, and then ultimately enroll, external teams in both brand creation and in the delivery of brand messages. We were working with a really amazing non-profit organization called KenCrest that is one of the leaders in the Mid Atlantic area in its field and the need was for a newly energized logo, tagline, and core communication. So it was a classic re-brand, although the name stayed intact. One of the things, to their credit and we’ve written about this on our blog, they realized that in order for this process to be effective and for all the goals to be achieved that their team really needed to be an important part of the process. KenCrest has over two thousand direct care staff who serve people with disabilities, across residential and workplace settings, and many different locations and group homes and different sized institutions. Direct care staff are the folks who are really on the ground, embodying what it means to be a part of the KenCrest team and thus embodying what KenCrest regards as special and different about itself.

We talked last week about how branding is about promise and about differentiation, there’s no point or moment where that ought to be more in evidence than when one interacts with a member of the field team – the direct care team at KenCrest. To their credit, another need is this work was getting done to undergo and facilitate a process of brand education and re-enrollment within an organization. Many of these folks have been there for a long period of time and really model the KenCrest brand every day, but there hadn’t been a lot of content around why, and what, and how, so we, in conjunction with our friends and clients at KenCrest, built a brand training program.

We used what we would call a ‘train the trainer’ technique where we develop the content and KenCrest chose probably forty out of that two thousand [team members] who would become trainers. They weren’t corporate trainers, their position wasn’t in education or training, they were just members of the team who happened to either have tenure, influence, were well liked, or understood the history and role of KenCrest. So we trained the trainers, these forty people, on brand education and then they fanned out across this organization and delivered this training, over the course of a month, to just about every single team member.

The way the training was built was for it to be a dialogue, it wasn’t just about ‘here are some slides, listen and take it.’ It was a dialogue within the KenCrest organization about what it meant to be a member of the KenCrest team – what were those core values that needed to be modeled, why KenCrest had decided to go through this process of re-branding, and what was the significance of some of the decisions that were made along the way. I think where KenCrest was left [after the process] was not only with all that they had hoped for in terms of extra communications on the re-branding side, but with a team that was energized, a team that understood why, a team that was ready to go out and take this message into the marketplace. Certainly when they were asked, ‘who is KenCrest’ they can answer but more importantly, they would live it, they would understand how to live it every single day.

One important element of the training was again not just about the logo or the tag line. What it was about was the history of the organization, its history of firsts when it comes to treating, supporting, and helping people with disabilities. So they were left with this kind of a three hundred sixty degree branding project that really put into practice this belief that brands are built from the inside out.

One more example before we close, in our work with our friends and clients at ThinkGeek, an organization that is by, of, and for those who are in touch with their inner geek – which we believe everyone has. Over time, they developed a very distinctive style of communicating on their e-commerce site, which is really the core of their business. It’s really important for them to maintain the trust and interest of their core customer that may be perceived as really enthusiastic for what they do. When you go to their headquarters you cannot help but take away a really solid sense of culture there. So when it became time to create brand content, it isn’t efficient to, whether you’re doing vision, mission, or positioning or whatever it is, tagline development [for instance], to have a couple hundred people in the room providing input, but it is important to create a mechanism whereby a team like this can be heard, can be heeded, and can feel really good about the outcome.

So in particular as we were building, in conjunction with ThinkGeek, their brand manifesto – the series of beliefs – we harvested ideas from the entire team, from our team, from the ThinkGeek management team etc. As we harvested the ideas we put them out, enabled voting on it, encouraged everyone to not only add their own ideas but to weigh in on those that had been developed by their peers, and ultimately the brand content that came out was not only great, we’re proud to say, but had been very strongly endorsed by and really created or co-created by the entirety of the ThinkGeek workforce.

So what they ended the process with was all the things they hoped for from an external communications standpoint, but also that receipt, that content was embraced, endorsed, and created by members of the team. So the culture was considered, not necessarily from an outside consultant only, but through the role of ThinkGeek team members in the process.

A couple of examples and there are obviously many more when you look at some of the most successful brands in the book, powerful brands, those that have reached the pantheon of being well understood. One of the factors they seem to have in common is that their workforce, while they may not use exactly the same words or repeat the same speech (they probably shouldn’t everyone has their own style), but often the attributes and elements of the core fabric and connective tissue of a brand are easily understood and modeled every day by teams. Whether it’s the folks that you meet when you go to the Apple store, other retailers, or other businesses that are just really well defined and well constructed.

So that’s the One Big Idea for this week, Brands are Built from the Inside Out. Hopefully it gives you the opportunity to think about how to effectively include members of the team and their insight into all the work that you do as it relates to brand development and management.

Before we sign off, three ways to help, as always, with Real-World Branding and with what we’re doing here with this podcast. We would love for you to subscribe, so it automatically flows in every single week into your device, you can do that through your podcast App Store of your choice. We’d love a rating, if we earned it, up to five stars. That’s what we strive for and rating this show, particularly rating highly, gives others a better opportunity to know that we’re out here – those who would find value in what we’re doing. And then the third thing, let’s continue to have great dialogue. The best way is on Twitter, @FinchBrands or directly to me @billgullan. Let’s keep the conversation going. All the best to you, signing off on the Cradle of Liberty, have a terrific day.

The post One Big Idea: Brands are Built from the Inside Out appeared first on Finch Brands.

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