5 Things You Should Do To Upgrade and Re-Energize Your Brand and Image, With Anna Goncalves of Projects by AG

Connect, enthusiastically. Communicate, attentively. Repeat, intentionally. This goes for anyone and everyone that interacts with your brand. An example and one of my favorite things to see is a company replying, close to immediately [with the appropriate reply], to every single comment left on their social media feeds. But that’s just one of the many opportunities out there to connect and communicate with your consumer base.

As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Anna Goncalves.

Anna Goncalves has 13 years of professional Branding, Marketing, and PR/Media experience. She runs Projects by AG — a company that combines her diverse interests in music, entertainment, lifestyle, and technology and offers services that include: business consultation, artist/talent development, TV and film casting, brand partnerships, copywriting, and digital marketing.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It’s a pleasure! Thank YOU!

As for what brought me here? Meeting a stranger in a plane inadvertently brought me here. Over ten years ago, I met an older gentleman who happened to sit by me inside a plane headed to an international destination. Although this man — as he had mentioned — was a frequent business flyer (you’d think he’d want his space) he initiated conversation with me. Hours later, there we were still chatting away about family, life, hobbies, dreams, future, and so much more. Long story short, it was this man — Gil — who shifted my thinking and ultimately, my career path. What was beautiful about this interaction was that Gil’s willingness to care enough to engage in conversation was all it took for me to, in a way, think outside the box.

I came back from this trip ready to begin exploring what I had learned about myself through this stranger. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Anyway, I knew exactly where to start. (Mind you that at the time, I had just concluded my studies at Bentley University a semester earlier than my class and had a full-time job as Director of Marketing and PR at a private medical practice.)

I ended up structuring my work schedule to allow me to do just that — explore. I studied, I read, I researched, I reached out to professionals I wanted to gain insights from, treated the professionals I got the pleasure of meeting in person to coffee/lunch, interned in the development department of a local TV/Media production company, volunteered at film festivals in the admin and PR department, and so on. In fact, volunteering at film festivals was where I discovered my passion for the arts and for talent. I realized I loved seeing stories come to life through diverse characters. (This experience also helped me get out of my shell by helping me approach and speak with strangers. Not to mention how much it helped me learn how to “sell” since I had to go up to these complete strangers and sell tickets!). I did that for the next year and when a great opportunity came, I left my full-time job and moved to NYC for a full-time, non-paid PR internship at a talent agency that was only but three months old at the time. And this, in a nutshell, is how it all began.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing or branding mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake happened while I interned in NYC at the talent agency that I left my full-time Marketing and PR job for. The agency was lead by two co-founders. One of these co-founders had recently married a very well known name in the fashion industry. And when I say well known, I mean one of the biggest names in fashion. Let’s just say that when I RSVP’d for the founders to an event, I also added this person (aka, one of the biggest names in fashion) to the RSVP. What I did was: I assumed my boss would have his husband accompany him to this swanky event because that’s what couples do! But also, how cool for the two to be seen together?! A part of me also knew I’d successfully lock in that RSVP because of that name that was attached. Well, after the deed was done, I reassured my bosses that I had emailed and requested the RSVP for the three of them. As quickly as I am being reprimanded for my mistake, I am also receiving emails from this event coordinator, and her team, to accommodate this celebrity fashion icon. I was mortified (haha).

The branding mistake, if you will, was using the very popular brand name to get my boss perceived in a “hotter/more relevant” manner and successfully lock in my first assignment. I didn’t think about it from a branding perspective as much as I thought about it from an opportunistic one. What I quickly realized is that my former boss and his spouse were their own brand and they each did their own thing. At the end of it all, I went ahead and wrote an email to fix my mistake and all was well.

Although this story sounds uneventful and even overly dramatic, ever since this mistake, I never made decisions solely based on being “an opportunity” without thinking if the opportunity is the right one for me or a client. (Bet this wasn’t what you had in mind when you asked this question, huh?)

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?

I became a firm believer in milestones. And also a believer that success can come in various forms; wins can be big and they can also be small. I’d say that one of those milestones for me was when I began working with my first international (Brazil) client within music and entertainment. I experienced a win when I realized I had been referred to them. That should be the biggest compliment for any professional. Another win was successfully doing a business call in Portuguese. Although I speak fluently, I had never done an entire business phone call all in Portuguese before; I didn’t think, then, that I would be able to. I look back to that moment and it feels so good to reminisce even still. And of course, building a strong relationship with them so early on where I still have the pleasure of working alongside them is a constant win.

I didn’t start doing anything different, per say, prior to this milestone or tipping point. I was doing what I did best in the way I knew how. And ultimately, it was exactly what kept them interested. As we all know, a referral can only go so far…

The takeaway? Keep doing what you do best and embrace how you do it. Sometimes, it’s important to have the wisdom to recognize what we need to change just as much as we need to have the wisdom to recognize what we shouldn’t change.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I sure am! My clients have dreams and my mission is to help them build those dreams so that through them, their business, or their project, others can be inspired. I firmly believe that all brands have the power and somewhat of a responsibility to inspire people through their stories.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

Oh, I have a few! I’d suggest that you get a hobby; something you can dedicate 20–30 minutes doing, daily. I’d also recommend other marketers — anyone really — to make sure you spend time with yourself and with your thoughts. And try to wake up earlier so you can stay away from work matters until after your first hour (at least) of the day. If you ask me about what I have done different throughout my career, this would be it. It would be figuring out what I need before giving my clients and those around me what they need.

Ok, let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

In a nutshell, branding is your story; advertising is how you build awareness of your story.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

I know firsthand — mainly from consulting upcoming artists with their development — that money is scarce. But everything worth doing is worth investing in, period. Your time, energy, resources — it’s all necessary when building a brand. And as I tell artists and smaller businesses, especially, I prefer seeing consistency with a smaller monthly budget [for marketing purposes] versus spending a lot of money “when you have it” here and there.

Let’s now talk about rebranding. What are a few reasons why a company would consider rebranding?

Reasons why a company should consider rebranding could include: they have a new philosophy, a new focus, a new target audience, new mergers and acquisitions, an ‘evolved’ identity, and so on.

Are there downsides of rebranding? Are there companies that you would advise against doing a “Brand Makeover”? Why?

There are downsides to rebranding if you do it for the wrong reasons. (It’s why hiring a Branding Consultant is a good idea, by the way, because here’s an individual that will infiltrate your company’s internal operations with an outsider perspective and help guide your decisions.) I’d advise against doing a “Brand Makeover” if the motivation, for example, is a financial one. Another example would be if a brand is trying to imitate what their “competition” is doing.

In all, though, I think all brands should continuously adapt. Your brand is never “done” being developed just like we, as humans, are never done growing. So it’s important to listen and pay close attention to your audience — what they need, what they don’t even know they need, what will make their lives easier, etc. — and incorporating those well throughout approaches, strategically. You should never stop pursuing, or romancing, your consumer base.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Can you share 5 strategies that a company can do to upgrade and re-energize their brand and image”? Please tell us a story or an example for each.

Brands will continuously be challenged as a result of how convenience and technology evolves. And you can’t forget about how consumers are also continuing to expect “better” and “consistent” service from the brands they interact with. So my 5 strategies revolve around what it’ll take for a brand to get re-energized and remain energized as some things evolve and other things remain the same.

Connect, enthusiastically. Communicate, attentively. Repeat, intentionally.

This goes for anyone and everyone that interacts with your brand. An example and one of my favorite things to see is a company replying, close to immediately [with the appropriate reply], to every single comment left on their social media feeds. But that’s just one of the many opportunities out there to connect and communicate with your consumer base.

Listen, internally.

Always listen to your consumer base to become better in how you serve them. But don’t forget about your partners, employees, and everyone in between. Often times we do whatever we need to do to provide the best “customer” service — as we should — but end up forgetting that we need to better serve, all around. Every person behind the brand should be acknowledged. So listen to them and become better for them, also.

Recognize your weaknesses. Embrace your weaknesses. Outsource your weaknesses.

This one speaks for itself.

Lead with your values.

I recently spoke with someone who had just accepted a new job. I remember how excited this individual was about joining the company because of the company’s culture. (The culture was the biggest talking point during his interview process). Well, less than two months in, this person began talking about how it wasn’t at all what he expected. As someone who heard about this culture before the experience and later heard about the same culture after the experience, I couldn’t believe the dichotomy. Well, needless to say that this once excited employee was now without any desire to stay. So he left for another job.

The problem wasn’t the expectation of the employee; it was the embellishment and promise of the employer. If you are trying to build a culture based on what you think will attract people, what you “want to see happen” within your company, or even what you “want to believe” about your company culture, don’t. As the leader, let your values speak through your behavior. Knowing this, you’ll know how to lead and cultivate the community of people around you.

Hire people, correctly, and teach them how to follow-up.

We will forever need capable and passionate people behind a brand; I don’t care how tech-savvy we become. I’ll give you an example of a very recent occurrence with a big-name brand that we all know and love.

So I brought my mom into this brand’s optical department to get her new eyeglasses. The customer service was great! In fact, the associate who saw us there the first time, when we were just browsing, remembered us the second time around when we returned to make a purchase. We wasted no time. I paid for the frame my mom wanted and the type of lenses she needed. Now, we needed to wait for an “automated text” telling us when the item was in for pickup. We were told that it would take ten days for it to arrive in that location. But days had gone by and no text. I call and the same person that helped us make the purchase answered the phone. She proceeded to tell me that the glasses had arrived and there must have been a glitch on the tech side which would explain why we didn’t get a text. So off to pick-up I go. Fast-forward to an entire day with the glasses, my mom notices a few issues with the lenses. So I place the call to let them know. I am told to bring them back in a confused but very nice and apologetic manner. We drop it off and again, we’re told to wait for an “automated text” that would let us know when the item was ready for pickup. And yet again, the days go by and we never get a text. At this point, after waiting so much for a much needed purchase, we decided to simply go back and return it for a full refund. My mom went in alone this time. And once the associate recognized her, she says her lenses had arrived. But by then, we had already made up our minds.

I’m not saying I’m the only customer but every customer should be treated like the only customer. If a tech glitch happened the first time, why not make sure it wouldn’t happen a second time? Or even so, if the item arrived and the customer hasn’t showed up, why not call them directly?

So hire the right people and teach them the importance of following up because it’s just as important as making the sale. (And if we’re honest, a sale is never final.)

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job doing a “Brand Makeover”. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

One particular brand that comes to mind is Dunkin’ (formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts). I grew up eating their donuts. I knew they sold other items but it was all I ate every time I interacted with the brand. So to me, little ol’ pre-teen Anna, Dunkin’ Donuts was my go-to place for…donuts. But surely enough, I couldn’t have agreed more with their roll-out to ditch the “Donuts” in their name. An overall great move considering their growing menu. I also loved that even as an older company, they felt the need to adapt with their “store of the future” experience. And they did so without jeopardizing their roots.

I won’t say that brands should “replicate” Dunkin’ but all brands can be inspired by Dunkin’ and commit to the same goal of adapting to how the world evolves while remaining the same.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think every person is of great influence and we all really do have the power to bring about good wherever we find ourselves, right now. So if I could inspire a movement, it would be to challenge everyone to commit to at least one act of genuine service every single day. Whether you know the person or not, just do something that’ll make someone’s day. If we all just cared enough to show love with our actions and with our words? Man oh man, what a beautiful world it would be.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Live purposefully with a passion” is my go-to. These words came to me years ago but they’re relevant now and will remain relevant forever. When you live from a mindset of knowing your purpose in life, you have to be enthusiastic about it! How could you not be?!

How can our readers follow you online?

They can find me on social media @annapfgoncalves or visit our website at www.projectsbyag.com to see what we’re up to!

Thank you so much for these excellent insights! We wish you continued success in your work.

Thank you so much for chatting! Wishing you and your team all the best in 2020 and beyond!

5 Things You Should Do To Upgrade and Re-Energize Your Brand and Image, With Anna Goncalves of… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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