Give your 5 most valuable lead sources and brand identifiers a makeover. The five (5) I always suggest you start with are your logo, brand colors, website, social media channels, and business cards. Think about how you feel after a new haircut or getting your nails done. Personally, I have natural hair so it’s always curly, however, every once in a while, I get it straightened to see the length and get a trim. Afterwards I feel like a new woman. I dress nicer that week, I have a brand-new attitude, I’m more confident, I walk with a little more pep in my step. I notice I get more compliments that week as well. It’s the same with your business branding. Upgrading a few things about it will re-energize not only you and your staff, but also the people who see the changes online like your old customers, social media followers, even your competitors.
As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Latesha Lynch. Latesha is a 14-year marketing veteran and brand strategist based out of Atlanta, GA. A serial creator and proud entrepreneur, she’s evolved her 7-year-old business, Latesha Lynch Designs, over the past year and is now exclusively focused on brand strategy and website design. Latesha has been featured in Forbes, Atlanta Tech Edge, GPB Radio, Motherhood Magazine, and Vox to share her experience with marketing technology, apps, blogging, working from home, budgeting, business, balancing motherhood and friendship, and entrepreneurship.
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?
I had an internship in Marketing & PR when I was in college but ended up on a different career path for a while. It wasn’t until I randomly moved to New York one summer for a job that I ultimately hated that I decided to move back to Atlanta and really pursue marketing as a career, rather than a freelance hobby. That was way back in 2010. The second I got a taste of being in charge of a company’s entire brand and marketing strategy, I was hooked.
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?
My first big job in marketing and design was to send the company’s annual holiday card to all vendors, partners, and top-level customers (i.e. major companies in the US). I remember designing a custom snowman who had a name tag branded with our company logo. Everyone loved it and approved the design. I sent it off to print and paid to have the printer ship the cards directly which meant I didn’t see them in person. Boy was that a HUGE mistake. They were the tiniest cards you’ve ever seen. Not even a postcard size, so people thought it was a joke. We ended up making it seem like it was a silly thing we were doing, but it was so embarrassing.
I learned a huge lesson about first impressions and paying attention to details before you execute a campaign. We live in a time where we are sharing so much online and that digital footprint lives on forever (most of the time). We all freak out when we see a major company have an advertising or Twitter fail, but it happens to the best of us. You live and learn to never mess up like that again!
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 was working for a tech startup here in Atlanta that I absolutely loved. After working for them for a year and a half, I knew I had come far and wide from the marketing assistant they were calling me, so the next obvious move was to ask for a raise and promotion.
When it kept being delayed, I finally decided to put feelers out there for new positions and snagged a dream job with General Growth Properties to run their local marketing for 4 mall properties in Georgia. They trusted me with such a huge responsibility, and my biggest budget at that time because I presented myself well during the tough interviewing process.
I never fully understood the whole “dress for the job you want” thing until then. Leading up to that new hot job, I had stepped up my personal brand. I remember deleting old lame tweets, making old clubbing pictures private, and shifting my social media content to be a mix of personal and professional. The best investment I ever made at that time was a new professional wardrobe. Nobody ever second guessed my worth and when my work backed up my image, my career grew easily from there. That’s when I knew branding was the key to success of a personal or professional brand.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Right now, I’m in the process of developing a course for small business owners like myself who are either a one-man-band or has less than 3 employees. We don’t have enough time to make the products or complete the service as well as market, be the bookkeeper, be customer service, and sales.
My course is going to show them how I shifted to a more automated and streamlined workflow in my business that saved me over 150 hours a year. It’s going to help small business owners tremendously, because the tasks that take the most time, but are mandatory like invoicing, collecting payments, and answering emails should be as automated as possible so they can focus on the part of their business that makes it grow.
Since I implemented this system, not only have I had more time to design and work on branding for clients, but I’ve also gotten positive feedback on how professional my company is and how easy it is to trust my business.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Find ways to automate the parts of your business that are repetitive. When you find an area of your business that you have to do all the time, and it’s the same few steps, invest in a system to automate that process, and take the time to develop the guides, FAQs page, workflow, email cadence or questionnaires to make those run without you. You will not only save time, but you’ll be able to focus your attention on the part of your business that you love the most.
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?
Brand marketing is developing an emotional connection between your company/brand with your audience and then product marketing is selling the features of that product once they are emotionally invested so they’ll buy.
For example, every year I cry at those Publix commercials. You know the ones, where the newly widowed neighbor is about to celebrate his first Christmas alone. His wife was always the one who cooked the big dinner for the family and this time it was all on him. His neighbors all rally and one by one stop at Publix to pick up one thing to contribute to the Christmas meal…a turkey, a holiday ham from the deli, stuffing, a pie from the bakery, etc. They show up on Christmas one by one to drop it all off just as he’s burning the turkey. Grateful, he invites them all to stay and eat. You cry, I cry, we all cry. Then at the end, they say, “Publix, where shopping is a pleasure.” I don’t care if they only sell dog food and I don’t have a dog, I’m going there in the morning to buy the dog food just to feel that love. That’s brand marketing.
The fact that they showed us that you can buy an entire Christmas meal in Publix without actual having to cook a thing is product marketing.
Let’s now talk about rebranding. What are a few reasons why a company would consider rebranding?
The main 4 that I come across all the time with my own clients are:
- They’re attracting the wrong audience and feeling overworked and underpaid– In this instance, they’re typically wondering why they’re attracting the people who want to haggle on price, or they want people to take them more seriously.
- Their business has evolved beyond where they started. Old products need to be phased out, they need to attract top talent, and they found a new niche. Now they need branding to match that.
- They’ve taken on a new company culture. Their old branding is outdated and fails to reflect the new wave of talent and beliefs of the company.
- They want to increase their prices, because they’ve increased their value. Their existing branding and copy don’t attract premium customers.
Are there downsides of rebranding? Are there companies that you would advise against doing a “Brand Makeover”? Why?
Branding is supposed to be based off of intelligence. If you’re rebranding, you should be doing so because your existing branding either isn’t resonating with your target audience or it isn’t true to the heart and soul of your business. If you’re working with a brand strategist, then they are doing so much research, not only on your competitors or your target audience, but they’re getting to know the inner depths of your company to understand the why and how of your brand so they can authentically convey that through branding design.
If you are not going to invest in a brand strategist, then you shouldn’t makeover your brand. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t hire an employee sight unseen and with no resume just because they approached you and said they could do the job. You, instead, would interview them, test their knowledge about the job, have them interview with other team members to check the cultural fit. Even when you finally love that candidate, you still ask for references and do a background check. This is the same level of research required for rebranding. If you’re going to do it, do it right!
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.
- Bring in a brand strategist to re-evaluate the existing branding and identity of your business. This is THE MOST important step to rebranding. Having an brand strategist analyze your company after hearing how your business wants to be represented, your business’s goals, who you want to attract, your voice and values, your audience’s buyer’s journey, your competitors, etc. will give you an entirely different (and professional) action plan for how to attract that audience. In addition, you’ll end up with a relevant visual representation of how your brand should look to reach your goals with that target audience.
- Make all of your branding cohesive across all platforms. Cohesive branding gives your company instant brand recognition, makes you look reputable and professional, and people remember your company easier. Don’t let your branding be a mullet. For example, say you have a website that uses professional, crisp photos, and your brand colors are powder blue and hunter green. It would be weird to receive a business card in black and purple or an Instagram timeline with silly pictures and hues of pinks and yellows. I would think I was working with two different companies. Instead, pick a style of design that best reflects your target audience and your brand voice, and use that as the template of your visual identity.
- Come up with a unique brand voice– Your brand voice is going to be the thing that resonates with your target audience on an emotional level. Think of your brand voice as the adjectives you want your target audience to use to describe your brand. For example, based on Allstate’s Mayhem commercials, I see them as very honest, wise, and understanding. Why? Because their slogan is “you’re in good hands” and their mayhem commercials show all the scenarios of things that can and do go wrong in the lives of people in their homes and automobiles. They have a uniquely honest approach to their brand voice and it’s memorable.
- Give your 5 most valuable lead sources and brand identifiers a makeover. The five (5) I always suggest you start with are your logo, brand colors, website, social media channels, and business cards. Think about how you feel after a new haircut or getting your nails done. Personally, I have natural hair so it’s always curly, however, every once in a while, I get it straightened to see the length and get a trim. Afterwards I feel like a new woman. I dress nicer that week, I have a brand-new attitude, I’m more confident, I walk with a little more pep in my step. I notice I get more compliments that week as well. It’s the same with your business branding. Upgrading a few things about it will re-energize not only you and your staff, but also the people who see the changes online like your old customers, social media followers, even your competitors.
- Post consistently to social media– Your social media accounts are free advertisements for your business. If you’re not using at least one of them to get to your target audience, then you are giving away free money. Instead, try to find 9–12 topics that your brand could cover, for example, I am a brand strategist and website designer, and my target audience is usually on Pinterest and Instagram. A few of my topics are mood boards, behind the scenes, logos, and branding, marketing, and website design tips. Every day I post content about one of those topics, and I go down the column of them one by one. This way, my content is always fresh, I post consistently, people know what to expect and look forward to, and I’m not always selling.
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?
My favorite brand makeover is Target. You or someone in your circle currently and affectionately refer to Target as Tar-zhay. This wasn’t always the case. Target used to be on the same level as Walmart and Kmart (bargain shopping), and Kmart was outperforming them!
Then they rebranded their messaging and started selling cheap chic instead of bargain which ultimately helped them surpass Kmart in 2002. All thanks to a rebrand.
They figured out how to differentiate themselves in a sea of bargain retailers to attract that middle-class family who didn’t want to wear cheap clothes but couldn’t afford to invest regularly in luxury brands.
I was so impressed by the shift, because this genius plan was carefully calculated and very strategic. They started hyping up collaborations with famous designers like Isaac Mizrahi and bringing in foreign designers like Paul y Joe. Then leading up to the launches they had massive ad campaigns (which they still do, hello Chip and Joanna Gaines) to promote these new beautiful brands coming along.
As a company, you can replicate this same success by investing in a brand strategist. This person will come along and dissect your entire industry, your company, and your target audience. Then you’ll get a customized plan of attack to attract these people. Consumers are very visual these days, and perception is everything. If customers perceive your brand as something valuable or exclusive, then they will be dying to be a part of the VIP club. Be willing to make brand identity changes that are bold, unique, or shocking, because they just might work.
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. 🙂
If I could inspire a movement, it would be for higher education to be free for everyone. It’s so sad seeing how much debt you have to be in to go to college if your family isn’t poor, you’re not a genius, and you’re not athletically gifted. We built a society where you need a degree to get a job that pays well, but you can’t get a degree if you can’t afford one. It’s twisted and sad.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
I have never been the kind of person that was too afraid to follow my dreams. I always wanted to move to New York, so I did. I wanted to start a podcast, so I did. I wanted to start traveling the world, so I did. I wanted to build a business for myself, so I am. I am currently in the process of that last dream, and I have been investing in business applications, training, advertising, rebranding, losing sleep, all in the pursuit of business success and I have never happier.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for these excellent insights! We wish you continued success in your work.
“5 Things You Should Do To Upgrade and Re-Energize Your Brand and Image” with Latesha Lynch was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.