Everybody has to make those determinations about their business when making sales and building brands. How am I going to do it? Is it going to be about me? Is it going to be about the customer? And how do I convey that in terms of my company name, my logo, my brand, and any slogans or taglines that you use, in order to communicate all that.

David: Hi and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode, co host Jay McFarland and I will be discussing making sales and building brands. Welcome back, Jay.

Jay: Thank you so much, David. And again, just a great topic. I don’t know if everybody feels like they’re a brand. Like, I’m a company, I offer a service, but am I a brand?

When I think of brands, I think of like Kellogg’s or Tesla or things like that. I don’t know if I think about my own business that way.

David: Yeah. And a lot of small businesses don’t. But even though they don’t, very often, if they don’t know what to do from a marketing and sales standpoint, they will copy the big brands because that’s what they’re seeing.

You’re watching TV, you see a commercial for Kellogg’s or you see a commercial for McDonald’s or some retail brand and you say, “Oh, okay, that’s what I need to do. I just need to get my name out there.” Right? When I think of branding, particularly for small business, that’s what I think of. Somebody who’s like, “Oh, I just have to get my name out there.”

And when you’ve spent as much money on marketing as Kellogg’s has, or as McDonald’s has, or any of the big companies have, they already know what those companies are all about. They already know what they do. So they can just basically say, come in and buy from us. And they’re like, okay, I already know what it’s all about.

For small businesses to do that, to just put out the name of their company and expect people to want to wander in, it just doesn’t happen. And that’s why I think this topic, you know, the idea of making sales and building brands, I could have said making sales versus building brands, because I think sometimes people view it as two different things, but ideally we have to do both.

And even if it’s not a matter of seeing yourself as a brand right now, once You’re established enough in your market where people recognize who you are and what you do. That’s sort of building a brand in their minds. So that when they hear the name of your business, they associate it with certain things, related to what you do and how you do it.

When you think about Tesla or Elon Musk, you have a very good feel for sort of what he’s all about and how he tends to approach things. So to me, that’s an established brand. When small businesses want to establish a brand, they can spend a lot of money doing it, which is why they kind of have to be making sales along the way and focused on that first.

Jay: Yeah, great point. You know, in those big companies, they have the big dollars to have focus groups and all of those things. Talking about the very beginning of your branding, again, I think we’re coming up with another podcast topic here, though. People who just throw together their logos or their slogans, It drives me crazy because it’s like the first impression when they meet you in public.

David: Yeah, and again, with small businesses in particular, sometimes we can be too cute for our own good, too creative, quote unquote, for our own good. We think that something that appeals to us is going to appeal to everyone else.

Personally, I think that the simpler we keep it, the more direct we keep it, the more sense it makes. Now Nike spent so much money establishing what that swoosh means that they can put a swoosh up on the screen and people go, Oh, maybe I’ll go buy some shoes, right? We can’t do that. And so. Unless you have that level of funding, unless you have access to that much money that you can teach people what your logo means, then you have to be a lot more clear and direct about your communication, your logos, your branding, all of it.

Jay: Yeah, I agree. And, just so you know, you do have a focus group and it’s something that is really hard for me and that is showing your friends, your family. Getting their feedback, other people. I tend to do some things on my own because I’m afraid of feedback and that’s just not good.

Everybody has a focus group, choose to use it.

David: Yeah, I also think that particularly in the early stages, your messaging is very likely to be more important than your logo per se.

Jay: Yes.

David: I’ve talked to people who have said, well, you know, I still need to get my logo developed. I still need to get my website up.

And I’m like, well, how are you paying for things until you get that done? Because the way you’re going to pay for those type of things is to figure out what you’re going to say, who you’re going to say it to, and how you’re going to say it. The MVPs, the messaging, the combination of marketing vehicles you’re going to use to communicate the message and the people you’re going to say it to.

Once you’ve made some sales, to those people using the messaging that makes sense, you’re in a much better position to be able to create your logo, your branding, your sub branding, not just the name of the business, but what is the positioning statement that you’re going to use that explains clearly and succinctly what you do.

When we make it up, up front, and we just put it out there and then we try to conform the business to that, we’re kind of doing it backwards. We need to find out. What is it that the customer needs? How can I use messaging that will position this as the ideal solution?

And then once it’s proven to work, then you can really start building the components around that.

Jay: Yeah. And I think when we talk about brand, again, it’s not all about logos and slogans and these kinds of things. To me, brand, you mentioned Nike, brand is whether or not my customers and potential customers, if I ask them, do you know what I do?

Do you know what my products and services are? If they can answer with clarity, then I think I have established a brand. And my communication and things like that have been good in establishing that brand. If they’re kind of, well, I think you do this, and I’m not sure if you do this, You don’t have a brand.

David: Right. And when you’re in the process of building your brand, I think it’s good to start thinking in terms of stories. What are the stories that we need to put out there into the marketplace about our reason for being? Why are we even here? What does it mean? We’ve got a brand called Top Secrets, well, what does that even mean?

And the way that it came about is that there are specific things that the most successful people in the market know. That other people don’t. And whether or not you want to think about that as a secret, it’s a secret. It’s at least a secret from you if you don’t know it, right? So when we originally started, we said, okay, TopSecrets, that’s what this is going to be about.

It’s, what do the most successful people in the industry know that you don’t? And when you make that switch… When you flip that switch and go from not knowing these things to knowing these things, all of a sudden, everything changes.

That’s just an example, but that’s the story. You don’t just say, okay, is a combination of words I made up, unless it makes sense for you.

Now, in the situation where Amazon started, right? They took a word, Amazon, which had nothing to do with books. It had nothing to do with selling everything, but it did create the impression of big, large, vast, right? And then they were able to put the money behind it to explain what that meant. So I think a lot of times when people are naming their businesses, they’re either going to name it after themselves.

You think about a lot of the advertising agencies in the world, they just put their own names on the business. Now it’s about us. And a lot of businesses in general, they’ll just name the business after themselves. They’ll just put their own personal names on the business. Now it’s all about me, right?

So there’s that approach. There’s the other approach, which is that you take something that doesn’t necessarily mean anything per se at the moment. And then you use your marketing dollars to ascribe a meaning to it, which is pretty much what Amazon did. So now when people hear Amazon, they don’t think about the rainforest.

They think about getting their stuff in two days for the lowest price. Walmart. Well, that was a combination of a person’s name, right? And the fact that they were competing with Kmart at the time, right? So you have Sam Walton and Kmart, you come up with Walmart. So it kind of makes sense, but everybody has to make those determinations about their business.

How am I going to do it? Is it going to be about me? Is it going to be about the customer? And how do I convey that in terms of my company name, my logo, my brand, and any slogans or taglines that you use, in order to communicate all that.

Jay: Yeah, you said something very important though earlier, and that is, don’t try and be too clever. You know, gimmicky, things like that. And even the big companies, I don’t know if you’re like me, but I looked at the FedEx logo probably millions of times over my life.

And then somebody pointed out that there is an arrow in that logo, and they probably thought they were so clever and everybody was going to see that. And. I didn’t see it. I don’t know if you saw it, but I didn’t see it. And one day I’m like, oh my gosh, there is an arrow in there. They didn’t need that arrow to make sales.

That was all accomplished in other ways.

David: Right, between the E and the X. No, I never noticed it. I heard about it from someone else. You almost have to squint to see it because it’s just the white space in between the E and the X. Is it going to make me want to have a package delivered by them more so than without the arrow?

I don’t think so. The big appeal with FedEx was their initial slogan, when it absolutely positively has to be there overnight. They connected their brand with that messaging. And that’s why I say I believe the messaging is so much more important, particularly in the early stages, because it has to tell people what you do.

Absolutely, positively, overnight. That’s about as clear as it gets.

Jay: Yeah, exactly. And so maybe that’s not your logo, but the tagline, and certainly in every single communication.

David: Yeah, exactly.

Jay: All right. How do people find out more?

David: You can go to TopSecrets.com/call, schedule a call with myself or my team.

If you’re interested in making sales and building your brand at the same time, it requires a little strategy. It requires a little thinking. And if you’re not making sales along the way, you’re not going to live long enough to build your brand. So I think that combination is very important. It really boils down to what we say, how we’re saying it.

What do you want to be seen as in your marketplace? And all of these things contribute. So TopSecrets.com/call. Love to have a conversation with you.

Jay: All right, David. Thank you so much.

David: Thank you, Jay.

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