Category: Branding Process


When was the last time you were able to say that? Did you relish in it or just take it in stride? On Friday, I finally, completely won a battle that I have been fighting for almost three years. This was a professional fight that I did not want to fight, but knew in my heart I had to. I had a large client that chose not to pay Brand Event Marketing for their work. Mind you, they were and are still using and benefiting from the project that took just over a year to complete. (It’s actually one of the best websites I’ve ever created). As I continuously asked for payment, I was told by members of the professional community to just accept not being paid.  Some even threatened my partner, suggesting that his job (at a large company) may suffer due to my questions. I was told not to cross the CEO – anyone who has ever tried has not just lost, but brutally lost. But, have you ever felt so strongly about something that it’s like this pain that won’t go away unless you fight. Like you’re just not able to curl up and go away. I couldn’t. Everything in me constantly reminded me that this is why I went into my own business. To be ethical, to teach others to be fair, to do what is right. So, I hired an attorney (a quiet, unsuspecting shark) and we went to work. After she’d assessed the situation and the evidence, she acknowledge that she didn’t think this fight would go on for very long. It was quite cut and dry.

Ha – were we surprised. They began to attack my character, called me names (a con artist, a liar), made up stories about me, laughed in the corner of the arbitrator’s office as their attorney even questioned my academic accomplishments and just wrote me off. I can’t tell you how much this hurt, personally and professionally. I found myself digging harder into my other work so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the emotions. Their attorney even attacked my attorney and said if they lost, he “would appeal up to the Supreme Court!” Well, guess what? I held my head up. I told the truth and I didn’t falter every time their attorney threw a punch. I just did what I learned in kickboxing in a small dojo in Raleigh. I bobbed, I weaved, I kept my hands up to block and I threw powerful jabs and cross punches when I needed to. I sustained hits that could’ve brought me to my knees, but I realized that this is what so many tribulations had been training me for. This is what God had been training me for (and I’m not afraid to say that in public anymore).

In the end, they lost. They appealed twice and lost each time. I was awarded more than just what they owed me. I was awarded interest from the day they received the original invoice. But, it really hit me that this fight was not just about the money. Did they owe Brand Event Marketing for our work? Yes, but it was also about teaching and learning. Everything we do has purpose and consequence. You may think you know the purpose and the consequence, but what you think you know can change in the blink of an eye. As I look back on the work and the relationships before, during and after the fight, I realize that in my narrow view, I thought this was about me, Brand Event and our work, but really, I think this was about and for my client.

So, today, I would like for you to, first, take a moment to quietly remember you have the strength to fight any battle that is given to you and that you choose to fight.We all have a little David inside that has a Goliath taunting us.  And, second, are you conscious of your purpose and consequences? Are you doing just enough to get by or are you working within the realm of your great possibilities? Are you just thinking of what the consequences are for you or are you considering the whole? Do you truly understand the ripples that occur from your words and actions?

I know that I’ve just won a great battle, but life really is your war. There are times of peace and there are times of battle. Your work during peace may be the catalyst for your battle, but no matter what, if you do what is right, say what is right, honor those around you and work with hope, then you will always win. Even, if it’s not for you.

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I recently read an article discussing the art of the elevator speech and I began to wonder when was the last time I revamped my elevator speech. So, I’ll ask you, when was the last time you thought about your elevator speech? For clarity, an elevator speech is your description of who you are or what your company does. It should be short and to the point. A strong elevator speech should be between 30 seconds and two minutes and is just enough information to intrigue the listener.

Now, for a long time, most have believed that your elevator speech should be sing-songy and salesy, but that is exactly what you don’t want it to be. Nowadays, everybody thinks that someone is trying to sell them and have learned to stop listening as soon as they think they are being targeted. To avoid that as you present your elevator speech, you want to immediately catch their attention. You need a hook and a catch. Just a quick line to cause the listener to question the statement and engage in further conversation. What do you do that can be intriguing to the listener? For example, an IT analyst may say “I cause your thoughts to become a reality.” Once the listener asks, “How so?”, you then move on to the catch. “I evaluate and solve your technical problems, while helping you to better understand (and love) your device.”

An elevator speech is not the tool used to sell, it is the tool used to engage. You have a brand because you solve a problem. By effectively using an elevator speech, you quickly explain what problem you (or your company) solves and then, easily begin a networking conversation. Regardless of your stage in your personal and professional life, you need an elevator speech. Take a few minutes and think about yours. I bet you’ll use it sooner than you think.

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear about your fabulous elevator speech.

Last night, I was talking with my brother and he mentioned how the story of Apple and its brand awareness was amazing. I immediately related the Apple brand success to the relationship that the company has with their employees. I haven’t researched this, but I am willing to create a theory on the success of the Apple brand. I believe that if the Apple employees were not as excited and bought into the Apple products and ultimately, the Apple brand, Apple would not be the household name that it is nor would d Apple have developed such a following. Think about it. Let’s say that Apple created an environment of creativity and innovation. They made sure that every member of the Apple team thoroughly understood and believed in the mission of the company. That same Apple employee who is working on a new product starts talking to their family and friends about this great product that is coming out, then, the friends and family share the same excitement with their other friends and family. Suddenly, everyone had to have it. This excitement all began with the internal relationship that Apple built with each team member.

This is an example of the direct correlation between relationships and success, whether personal or professional. Branding doesn’t exist without relationship, positive or negative. A company you don’t like because of a poor product or bad customer service has a brand that makes them unsuccessful because remember, a brand is simply a perception. The practice of developing positive relationships seems to have become rare commodities. It seems in our desire to attain what we think we need to be strong and sustainable in our life, we’ve unconsciously returned to the days of very mechanistic behavior. This has been to the detriment of building positive, honest brands.

For this reason, Brand Event Marketing (BEM) is launching a new company called Branding Katina (sound familiar).  After years of strategic brand development and even applying those practices to my own life, I realized the importance of the relationship and how so many don’t perceive this nor do they know how to develop and maintain positive relationships. As Managing Director of Brand Event Marketing, I want to change that behavior, one client at a time. Branding Katina will teach the behaviors of successful internal and external relationships, while continuing to do what BEM is known for, developing successful brand strategies.

As you read this, I hope that you consider your own personal and professional relationships. Are they what you need them to be? Are they providing you the support and knowledge to continue to move forward and be proud of who you are? Do the people around you know what you stand for? Do you know what your company stands for? Are you proud of the work your company does? Let me know. I’d love to hear about it. Let’s start building that positive, successful relationship.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to sit down and write this blog. Let me fill you in on where I’ve been and how my life path seems to have been altered.

When I believe in something, I am very passionate about it. I am passionate about my personal relationships, about my work and about my social beliefs.  In 2011, I realized I needed to stand up for what I felt was the right direction for my country. I, without really thinking about it, applied  to become a Fellow for the Obama campaign and wouldn’t you know, I was chosen to be a Fellow in September 2011. This became my life for the next 15 months. I was asked to be a Field Organizer for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign in Raleigh, Wake County, NC. During that time I was pushed harder than I ever have been in the past, asked to think in a way that was foreign to me and work with the most diverse group of people ever placed in front of me. Throughout this time, I often realized that I was being challenged to focus on who I was and what I believe in. What issues were important to me and how much influence I had on the future and what people believed in.

Sitting here now, I couldn’t be more proud of myself. With laser focus, I became the Field Organizer that I wanted to be. I understood my goals, developed strategy to meet them and built the right talent around me to develop a strong and successful team. Normally, I wouldn’t give myself so much credit – in fact, I am known for being pretty humble and I still am, but I also learned that part of my humility was actually fear. Fear of not wanting to seem too confident or too strong-willed. Those are not bad attributes, but as a woman, society makes us think they are bad characteristics for us. However, I know being a Field Organizer in Wake County was the right fit for me for the last year and a half because now, I am ready to accept who I am and what I can provide to my clients. I provide strength, strategic knowledge, an amazing amount of tenacity, and a will that will not accept no as a final answer. I also have grown in my understanding of how people should and want to be treated and how important relationships are, whether for five minutes or 20 years. This growth has helped me redefine the direction of Brand Event Marketing and how Brand Event develops, maintains and teaches how to build relationships at different levels.

So many of us are held from reaching our goals and acting out our dreams because we are afraid to push and say this is what I deserve. Well, no more for me and throughout this journey, I hope no more for you as well. Let’s take control of what we receive and no longer accept less than we deserve.

Many have asked what I will do next. I had to take some time to muddle through my foggy, unorganized thoughts to come up with the answer. What I will do next is what I do best. I will build and grow my strategic marketing company. I will teach companies the connection between doing what is right for their employees is in turn doing what is right for their external customers. I will use my ability to truly understand and solve a problem to maximize profits for my clients. This will all be done through the lens of doing the right thing. So, I’m interested, are you doing the right thing? As a decision maker, are you putting people first? As a person, are you demanding what you deserve, in a respectful, strategic way? If the answer is no, let me know and Brand Event Marketing will teach you how to make it right.

Clara* never went to college. She’s had a successful career, but Clara has always felt a sense of incompletion when it comes to her education. She also feels as though she has had some missed opportunities because she did not go further in her education. Right now, Clara has a chance to return to school part-time. The schooling would be paid for by her employer and certain classes would positively affect her role and responsibilities at work, yet she keeps finding reasons not to go. She doesn’t have time. She has too much work to do. When she brought this up in conversation and I listened to her tell me why she could not do it, although she really wants to and knows that she needs to, I finally just asked her what was she afraid of. Clara told me that she wasn’t afraid of school, just that she would be tired and didn’t have the energy for it. When I pressed, she said that she just didn’t really understand the importance and did not feel the need to make it a priority. I asked her what was at the root of all of these excuses and she just looked at me. I asked her if she thought she was smart enough to go to school? Did she think that others would do better than her and she would be laughed at? Would people whisper behind her back about how old she was and in a class that she should have taken years ago? Would people assume she must have flunked the class earlier so that is why she is at this level  in school? Would she fail? Would she be humiliated, embarrassed and downright disheartened? It was at that moment I saw a light bulb go off in Clara’s head and her mindset begin to change.

Our biggest enemy is our self.  We don’t truly believe in our powers, our abilities, our strength. We look to others to build us in all of our relationships. We wait for our bosses to positively reinforce us and promote us. We wait for our significant others to tell how special they think we are or how much they need us. We wait for our parents to tell us that we are exactly what they’d hoped for. We wait for the waitress to say thank you before we tip her. We wait for our friends to tell us how great we look and how we inspire them. Even in our relationship with God, we wait for Him to act in our lives. We pray HARD waiting for God to make something happen, but God gave us a mind and free will. Whenever I realize that I am avoiding a situation, when I keep hearing myself come up with excuses why I can’t, I think back to one of my favorite stories in the bible. In Genesis 12, God tells Abram to “leave your country, your people and your father’s household”. This passage strikes me because Abram had no idea where he was going, but he believed so strongly in God’s path for him, that he did not question, he just moved in faith. Can you imagine having so much faith in something that you give no regard to what may happen or what people may say? Everyone has heard the question, “What would you do if you could not fail?” Well, I think it is time to really have that honest conversation with yourself? How are you self-sabotaging by giving your power, which is your strength, courage and love, to your fear? As Joel  Osteen asks, “What is your mountain? Are you telling that mountain to move?” As much faith as Abram had, God wouldn’t do anything without him taking those first steps. Who are you affecting by not moving? Are you not fulfilling your dreams because of fear? Recognize that fear is the opposite of courage, love and you cannot be successful without courage and love.

This is your time. You will only have this one time and instead of letting other’s determine what we will do through fear, let’s wake up and move. Even if you don’t know where those steps will lead you, just move. All of us have our own Big Bad Wolf. In fact, we have many, but if you believe more in yourself than what you think might happen, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life that you’ve imagined (Thoreau).”

*Name was changed.

I decided to do something with the frozen grapes in the freezer. We were not eating them as quickly as I expected so I decided to figure out what else I could do with them. I chose to make juice. Remember that saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, life gave me grapes and I am making grape juice.

As I was smashing the grapes, imagining that I was making wine the old-fashioned way, I wondered why I’d not tried this before. Was it fear of making a mistake or was it simply just unknown? I believe that is a question that we have to ask ourselves each day as we make decisions; why am I making this choice? Am I taking the easy road to just come up with a solution so I can check it off of my to-do list or am I not aware of other alternatives? Once we determine who we really are (our personal brand), then it is necessary to make choices about how we will express that brand. Fear can hold us back from really recognizing, embracing and expressing our true selves and more importantly, the strength that fuels our passions. We talked in an earlier post about change now being the constant, but with that new constant comes a point at which fear is overtaken by passion and courage. Our world changes everyday and who we are plays an important role init s and our own development. So, today, I encourage you to recognize a fear and choose to embrace it rather than hide behind it because at some point, you will have to make a choice and wouldn’t you rather enjoy life and drink yummy grape juice than just stare at a bag of frozen grapes every time you open the freezer. By the way, I am drinking my grape juice right now, it’s delicious.

Grape Juice (from http://simplyrecipes.com)

Ingredients

Equipment needed

  • A colander for rinsing the grapes
  • 1 large, 12-quart pot
  • 1 large 6 or 8-quart pot
  • A very large fine mesh sieve, or cheesecloth

Method

1. Pick the grapes. (I picked mine at the grocery store) Get a large basket, wear long sleeves and a hat, bring clippers, and fill up the basket with grape bunches. Keep in mind that a pound of grapes will yield a little less than a cup of juice.

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2. Wash and de-stem the grapes. Put grapes in a basin filled with water. Then rinse the individual grapes, picking them away from the stem, collecting the grapes in a large bowl, and discarding the green unripe and old shriveled grapes.

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3. Mash the grapes. With a potato masher, mash away at the grapes so the juice begins to flow. If you have picked a lot of grapes, you may need to work in batches. We have found it easiest to mash about 4 lbs of grapes at a time.

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4. Cook the grapes. Put the mashed grapes into a large stockpot. Slowly heat the grapes and juice to a simmer on medium heat and then simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the grapes don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Halfway through cooking mash some more, breaking up as many of the remaining grapes as possible.

5. Prepare sieve or cheesecloth. Get another large pot, place a large fine mesh sieve over it. Alternatively you can cover it with two layers of cheesecloth, secure with a rubber band. Make sure pot is sitting on a plate to catch any juice that may run over.

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6. Strain grape mixture. Ladle grape mixture over sieve or cheesecloth to strain. Let sit for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator to strain completely.

7. Finishing. Remove sieve or cheesecloth.* Note that sediment will have formed on the bottom of the container. Rinse out the sieve or cheesecloth and strain the juice again, to filter out some of the sediment. Pour or ladle juice into containers. Enjoy your juice!

* Note that the grape mash can be composted.

In the earlier blog, we considered the questions that prospective business owners should consider as they think through the possibility of starting a business. Before we answer the questions, let’s create a profile of this possible business owner and the business that they are considering.

For this experiment, let’s say that the prospective business owner (Sam) is an experienced sales manager  who is based out of Western North Carolina and has a personal interest in yard sales, estate sales, auctions and general antiquing. Sam also enjoys refinishing furniture and sometimes, reselling the pieces. Sam does not have any professional experience in estate sale management. Sam has a MBA and values overall work-life balance. Sam has a personal interest that he/she would like to turn into a profession.

Estate Sales are similar to garage sales in that they are selling people’s items, however, an estate sale is different from a garage sale in that a professional group typically runs the sale. The profits are split in a previously agreed upon percentage between the estate owners and the professional sellers. Keys to success in this business is the ability to organize and be organized, recognizing  possibly rare or valuable items, strong advertising and selling skills and a good rapport with people. This is a quick overview just to give us a foundation for this project. There would, of course, be greater detail if this were an actual market research project.

Now onto the overview questions. The first draft of these answers can be formatted in any fashion that is easiest for the prospective business owner. For this experiment, I’ve initially formatted them into a word doc. Take some time to look then over and assess what you can surmise from these answers and we will discuss further early next week.
CASE STUDY_Estate Sale Management_online

 

I think many would agree that communication is the key to our professional and personal success. If we communicate effectively, then expectations are noted, processes are created and action is begun. However, if we do not communicate effectively, it is easy for goals to be missed, feelings to be hurt and most importantly, a brand damaged. Since we know that a brand is the perception of who you are, ineffective communication can play a larger role in our lives than we would expect.

A friend told me about an incident that happened recently to him. After he taught a training class, he was speaking with a colleague and people just walked up and asked their questions with no regard for the conversation that was going on.  They just interrupted the conversation. As the two attempted to continue their conversation, another (very new) employee walked up to my friend, who is considered an expert in his department and told him that he knew nothing and was doing everything wrong. She went on to say that she would no longer be asking the subject expert questions, but relying on someone who is knowledgeable. but not an expert. Now, in that scenario, we have two communication issues. The first is the fact that there was no regard for the conversation that my friend and his colleague was having. That immediately shows a lack of respect as well as only a concern about self. Second, there is a better way to speak to someone and if you’re not sure how, the best solution is to pause before you open your mouth. The first set of people will simply be considered rude and green in their roles. The second person has more permanently damaged her brand. Now, when the expert sees or considers her for other projects, he will remember this incident. He will consider her inexperienced, unprofessional and not worthy of his placing any expectations on her. She has possibly sabotaged herself, in regard to her growth in her work environment.

These two incidents show how your brand can quickly be damaged through ineffective communication. You work hard at developing and defining your personal brand. Don’t let  a few inadvertent statements reverse your hard work. Today, take a second and review your communication skills. Are they as strong as you think they are? How do others react to your communication tactics? Are you destroying your brand through what may be perceived as ineffective communication?

Recently, I had a conversation with a peer about the issue of people being resistant to change. They like their routine, their way of doing things and when we, as brand strategists or change agents, get involved, not everyone is ready to do their part. This caused me to start thinking about change and why we are sometimes against it. I know that I have a certain way of doing things and if that is disrupted, I can quickly lose my place. But within the big picture of the work environment, it seems change is the everyday constant. When you begin your day, you never know what is going to happen and in a work environment, the bottom line is to stay relevant and to grow. Growth is such a trigger word right now, yet, it seems people would like to receive the growth without dealing with the change. Now, don’t get me wrong, just as Ellen Glasgow said, “All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” But growth is defined as a stage of development; therefore, to mature and become better, you must grow and to grow you must change.

Change is not necessarily easy and can seem to require more work, even if the workload is the same, but  just a shift in process can difficult. I believe this is why so many struggle with change, but in a world that is growing smaller everyday, change is now the standard, not the variable. We all must shift our thinking to live in this world of ever-changing dynamics. But, as long as you know, understand and recognize your truth, then change can become a variant within what you know as your professional and personal roles.  Take time to be aware of what may change and how you can adapt to it. This is your time. Make change work for you, not against you.

This morning, I read an article arguing that small business owners should not focus on developing a brand, but on creating sales. In the article, “Trying to Create a Personal Brand? Unless You’re Steve Jobs, Stop.”,  Jeff Haden on bnet.com argues that:

Sales generate immediate profits and, possibly, will slowly build your brand.

http://www.bnet.com/blog/small-biz-advice/trying-to-create-a-personal-brand-unless-you-8217re-steve-jobs-stop/519?tag=content;drawer-container

I understand his goal, but I disagree with his statements. As a brand strategist, I am constantly asked to place value on the work that I do. Hence, this project called Branding Katina. By making the statement, “Sales generate immediate profits and, possibly, will slowly build your brand.” is saying that sales are simply people asking a question and receiving the answer that moves a service or product, removing the process of the initial interest of the customer and the conversation that begins based on the need and the possible solution to the need. Branding, in its simplest form, is a perception. If there is no perception, then there is no perceived solution to a problem, which is why people purchase a service or item. As it relates to personal branding, perception is why people choose you for certain jobs, ask your opinion on certain subjects, and ultimately, respect you as someone who fills a need. You cannot sell without the market’s belief that you will solve their problem, whether they are thirsty, hungry, or even confused about which way to go next. Everyone has a problem that requires a solution.

Jeff goes on to state that:

As a business owner, your employees and customers know you by your words and actions. Sure, you can adopt a look, develop a personal value proposition, and carefully manage your persona. Potential customers may be positively influenced.

But to the people you see every day, no amount of personal branding will ever offset the impact of your words and actions.

Ultimately, aren’t your words and actions the catalysts to other’s thoughts and beliefs about you? So, in essence, aren’t your words and actions the framework to your personal brand? Who you are is how people will respond to and treat you. As children, we are taught to be polite, saying please and thank you, respectful of our elders and learning as much as we can so that we can be at the front of the class. This, in turn, creates the environment in which the adults relate to the children, therefore, creating a brand. Remember when you were playing a team sport and the captains chose who was on their team? Those who were considered better game players were chosen first. See, a brand determined from a perception.

I recognize that most people equate branding with big logos, fancy fonts and taglines, but branding is so much simpler and an integral part of our communication process. You may know who you want to BE or even, who you are, but if no one else perceives that about you or your business, sales won’t happen. Nothing will happen.