Episode 224

Brand Strategies for Growing Your Business

March 3, 2020

Kathleen joins Emily today to discuss the ever-evolving nature of business branding, defining what exactly branding is, what to do with your brand when your business becomes more complex, and what to do when your ideas outgrow the business and brand that you’ve already built.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"A brand is how you articulate what you do and for whom."
- Kathleen

Discussed in this Episode

  • Defining what exactly a brand is when you should get one
  • Defining the difference between a brand and an offering
  • Defining the difference between a brand and a business
  • Do you need a second brand for your next great idea?
  • Should you create an umbrella brand or parent company?
  • When to use your name in your brand


More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Emily Thompson 0:00
In a few short weeks, we're gathering together with some of the most boss people we know that throw down on the biggest event we've ever put on. From bestselling authors and seven figure business owners to working creatives and diehard entrepreneurs, we've gathered some of the best in the business to come and share with you their secrets for finding the time they need to do the work and how they share what they do with the right people to grow the creative business of their dreams. Join us in New Orleans on April 19 to the 21st 2020 to hear from our amazing roster of boss experts. For example, you'll hear Mike Michalowicz talk about how to run your business like clockwork. And in case you think his name's familiar, he's the guy who wrote profit. First, we interviewed him on episode 126 of this podcast. You can also hear from Vivian Kay founder of Kinky Curly Yaki speak on building a seven figure empire as a single mom using her vibrant personality and authenticity as her secret sauce to success, and many, many more. There will be sessions on automating your business to help you work smarter, not harder, hiring and delegating to help you grow and scale. And that's just the beginning. To see our full roster of speakers and an outline of the sessions you can be a part of go to beingboss.club/conference to learn more. That's beingboss.club/conference. I hope to see you there.

Emily Thompson 1:33
I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen Shannon 1:35
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Emily Thompson 1:37
And this is Being Boss. And this episode of Being Boss, join Kathleen and I as we discuss the ever evolving nature of your business's brand, including what to do as your business becomes more complex and what to do when your ideas outgrow the business and brand you've already built. As always, you can find all the tools books and links we reference on the show notes at www.beingboss.club.

Kathleen Shannon 2:09
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Kathleen Shannon 3:14
Okay, so Emily, you know that my jam is branding? I love thinking about branding. I love figuring out the solutions and and problems and questions and answers around branding. I just love it. I think that it's a great way. Well, we'll get into that. But recently, I got a question from someone who follows Braid Creative on Instagram asking when do I need more than one brand? Or when do I need to have multiple brands? Do I need multiple brands? And this is a question that I get a lot from my one-on-one clients from people that like anytime they find out I'm a branding professional, it always comes back to this. And then there are like a myriad of branches that come off of this tree of a question right? Where it? Do you need to use your name or not? Do you need an umbrella brand? Do you need more than one social media account? There are so many different considerations. And this is a big conversation. And I wanted to, I wanted to write a blog post about it. But it is just too nuanced and tricky. And you kind of have to hash it out because it all depends. There's no black and white answer,

Emily Thompson 4:22
For sure. And this isn't just a conversation that you have one time and you're done. It's a conversation that you have in your business constantly, ongoing for years and years. I know business owners who have been you know in the game 10, 15, 20, 25 years, and they're still saying what do I do with this new thing that I'm creating? Do I brand it separately? Do I need to change my entire business branding? Do I need to put my name in it all those things you just said these are conversations that you have constantly for years so I'm excited to dive into this because it is such a topic. It is something that I think about it, so I mean that I'm talking to my people about as well. And for you who are listening, we know that creative entrepreneurs in particular are multi-passionate beings. We all have a gazillion ideas. And one of the things that will often keep us from doing the next thing is we don't know how to brand it, or we don't know how it fits into our current business. And so sometimes that can stop us from doing things, or it doesn't stop you. And you end up having this insane quilt of brands.

Emily Thompson 4:24
That's exactly what I was going to say like, you end up having this crazy quilt of different brands that you have to maintain and sustain, and pay attention to and nurture. And that can be tricky too.

Emily Thompson 5:42
Yeah, I mean, I've seen I've seen businesses that again, 10, 15, 20, 25 years into it, they have these elaborate, beautiful quilts of businesses and products and things that they've created, and they don't know what to do with them. So I'm excited to talk about this today. It's something that we have faced, it's something that everyone we work with is facing. It's something that so many people who are listening to this are facing. Because it's a really long, big conversation. And even in today's episode, we're only going to be like, sort of touching the tip of the iceberg, basically.

Kathleen Shannon 6:20
Yeah, and it's an evolving conversation, it's a conversation that you'll continue to have, because as a brand. And as a business, your brand and business continue to evolve. Even if you start from a single idea, you're going to have more ideas, more offerings, the markets change. And your business can become very complex after, especially after a decade or two of business. But even I would say after three to five years, you start to develop new ideas and ways of working and new offerings. I know that whenever I'm branding, someone, the thing that always changes the most that they can rely on changing the most is their business offerings, how they offer what they do, maybe even their process a little bit for what they do people, you might go from one on one offerings, if they're a service provider to doing group offerings or turning their process into an ecourse, which we did at Braid, or you know, maybe they are a maker or have a brick and mortar. And they want to pivot the direction of like what they're known for selling, you know, so Emily, I mean, we'll get into so many case studies, I cannot wait to talk about Almanac and how you've grown that and what that's meant for your branding. I can't wait to talk about why we decided to make Being Boss its own brand versus wrapping it under either Braid or Indie Shopography. So we've had these conversations ourselves, and even some of the topics that we're going to hit today. We don't have the answers to which is why I wanted to talk it out on a podcast versus writing it into a blog post.

Emily Thompson 7:58
Yeah, let's do it. So that's kind of what we're looking at today. We're here to have a conversation around answering the question of how to grow your brand. In a way that makes sense. So before we dive in too deep, I'm going to grill you, are you ready for this?

Kathleen Shannon 8:16
I love it. I feel like I'm taking a test.

Emily Thompson 8:18
You are taking a test. Are you an expert, Kathleen?

Kathleen Shannon 8:23
100%, I have put in my 10,000 hours.

Emily Thompson 8:26
Perfect. So let's define some things. First, what is a brand and why is important?

Kathleen Shannon 8:33
A brand is how you articulate what you do and for whom. It is so incredibly important because it differentiates you from your competition. I know as creative entrepreneurs, sometimes we can get real intimidated or freaked out whenever other people are doing what we do. If you are a coach, you maybe had noticed that the coaching industry has exploded. If your brand was, you know, kind of, I don't know, let's say witchy, that's become more mainstream in the past few years, you know. So your brand is really what makes you different. It sets the tone for your business and it helps you attract just the right dream customer that is a good fit for you. So if your business plan is the foundation and like the exchange of money of what you do your brand is kind of like the soundtrack to what you're doing. And it helps set you apart. It helps you articulate who you are and what you do through messaging, positioning, your logo, your brand identity is your brand is like what your brand is like your palette of what you're applying to your website, your social media, it's what makes you look consistent. And consistency is what makes you look polished and professional. And I don't mean like a capital P professional because sometimes a lot of my clients are worried about looking too stuffy or I think that a lot of people think that branding means that you're devoid of character. If anything is the opposite of that. I've been, I find that branding is about blending who you are into the work that you do, and doing it in a way that is consistent. Even if it looks like a crazy quilt, it looks like a crazy quilt across all of your platforms.

Emily Thompson 10:18
There you go, so it's not just a logo. Number one, it is both the look and feel and really the words you use to share what it is that you do and with whom. All right, next question for you. When should a business owner get branding, or branded?

Kathleen Shannon 10:38
Whoo, this is a good one, because it's tricky. And it depends. So if you're investing in a company like Braid Creative, I would tell you to have two to three dream clients under your belt. Like make sure that you are already practicing what it is that you're offering And actually like doing. The last thing I would want is for someone to hire me, whenever they haven't even launched their idea yet, or even beta tested their idea yet to see if it's something that they actually like doing. I have branded life coaches who end up hate life, they hate doing life coaching, right. So I would say whenever you find that, you really want to show up without any sort of like embarrassment or shame whenever you want to be able to direct people to your website, and feel proud of it. Whenever you want to be able to hand out that tricked out business card that looks beautiful, and be able to give that elevator pitch in a succinct, you know, five second message. That's whenever you need branding. So for some people, that means that they have already thought out their business plan, and maybe they've been working with our mastermind group or with a business coach, and they've really hashed out what it is that they want to do and how it's going to work. They, they might be a good candidate for branding. But for other people, I think that I will, I will say you know, get one or two clients under your belt, make sure that or like if you're a maker, you know, maybe you've done a couple of craft fairs before you sign a lease on that building. Right? Like it's really stepping into it. I also think that you can get rebranded. So maybe you launched with what you had, and you, you know, bought a logo off of Etsy or creative market. And now you're ready to level up, I get a lot of people who are two to three years in and they're making good money, and they really want their level of success and where they want to go next to match what they look like on the outside. And that's their brand.

Emily Thompson 12:36
Love it. I agree with the two year mark that was I was gonna throw that in if you didn't, but I feel like that two year mark is a place where you're proving to yourself that you can do this, you've been doing it, you want to continue doing it. So making investments into having professionals to help you get your look and feel as well as your the words that you use in order succinct and clear and ready to go. That's a good point to do it.

Kathleen Shannon 13:03
Yeah, because you just know yourself better. You know your clients better, you know how to speak directly to them, you know what their problems are. And that's a lot of what branding is, is being able to speak to your clients problems, and telling them how you're going to be able to solve their problem.

Emily Thompson 13:17
Right. And you can't do that until you've done that.

Kathleen Shannon 13:22
But I want to make sure that it's clear that you can DIY your brand, just to have something there to have a place to show up. It doesn't have to be perfect and use that for as long as you can. And then whenever you're ready to invest like you can hire professional.

Emily Thompson 13:38
Alright, next question, what's the difference between a brand and an offering?

Kathleen Shannon 13:44
Your brand is how you tie in the emotional connection between you and your client. It's how you say, it's how, it's the tone in which you say what you offer. So your offering as the exchange, your offering is you give me this amount of dollars, and I'm going to give you this thing, whether that's coaching, whether that's crystals, whether that's, you know, whatever it is, the brand is what gives the offering flavor. And it's what attracts just the right people to that offering.

Emily Thompson 14:15
Harder question. What's the difference between a brand and a business?

Kathleen Shannon 14:21
I think that a brand and a business go hand in hand like a very happy marriage. For me, I have found that branding and business visioning are so tied together that whenever it comes to how I work with my clients, I have to understand their business and their strategy behind where they've been and where they're going in order to properly brand them in a way that feels true to them. So I mean, I'm trying to think of a good metaphor here. If your business is how you exchange money. Or it's like your business is, is the foundation. And then the brand is like the decoration on the walls. And so that's why a lot of people might think that decorations are unnecessary, and sometimes they are, right, we can go real minimalist with this, you can have a business without having a brand. But you still have a brand because every interaction and exchange that you have with somebody, or that they have with you, that's a brand experience.

Emily Thompson 15:27
Yeah. So that is intentionally hard question, because I think we're gonna be walking this interesting gray line between offerings, brands and businesses over the course of the rest of this conversation, to sort of show that there are places where there is no difference between them. And there are places where there they are completely different things. And so that's the conversation that you will be having, as you navigate, especially multiple years in your business, and it's a conversation we're going to start having. So we're going to be using these words quite interchangeably, I want to like lay down some some ground rules. So you know, what we're talking about when we're talking about it. A business is the structure that you have built to serve a person or group of people or whatever it may be a brand is how you design and articulate.

Kathleen Shannon 16:23
The words.

Emily Thompson 16:24
and articulate, thank you, what it is that your business does, or offering, we'll get there in a second. And the offering is the thing that you actually do for people. So if you're a coach, then you may have several different offerings, every several different ways in which you work with people. If you are a product maker, you have may have a couple different product lines, those are different offerings, and that your business offers. So I hope I like painted that in a way so that you know that there, there are differences, but we're going to show you all the incredible gray areas between them as well. And that's what we're going to be talking about today we're going to be diving into what it looks like to build complex brand structures around businesses. Different kinds of brands and offerings, we're going to talk about when it is that you need to stick with one brand for literally everything that you do always, because that is an option guys, totally an option, we're gonna be talking about when you might need to diverged from one brand into having more than one brand. Maybe in the same business.

Kathleen Shannon 17:34
And I want to talk a little bit about when you might need to combine or ditch a brand. If you have a lot of irons in the fire, it might mean that you're consolidating.

Emily Thompson 17:43
True story. And we'll be thinking about when it is that you might want to consider setting up an overarching umbrella brand. I love the idea of this.

Kathleen Shannon 17:53
I know. I've had a client refer to, it's a term that I've been using a lot umbrella brand and in large corporations it might be like a what that brand that owns the toilet paper and the lotion and all like Johnson and Johnson?

Emily Thompson 18:08
Procter and Gamble.

Kathleen Shannon 18:09
Yeah, Procter and Gamble, like they own Kleenex, they own seventh..

Emily Thompson 18:16
So many things. Seventh Generation.

Kathleen Shannon 18:20
my gosh, speaking of brands, have you seen that brand that's like an organic brand that's called if you care? It's so passive aggressive, like if you care go buy this.

Emily Thompson 18:33
I mean, if that's it, we need to save the world guys, I will be passive aggressive too.

Kathleen Shannon 18:37
True that. Anyway, there are corporate levels of umbrella brands that kind of acquire these other brands that have been established. That's not what we're really talking about. We're talking about an umbrella brand that might be more like, I had a client refer to it as a dollhouse, and you have all these different rooms in your dollhouse, but the dollhouse still contains all of the different offerings and services and things that you're making and doing.

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Emily Thompson 20:12
Alright, so let's say you've started your business with one brand and you get a couple of years down the road and you have your next great idea. Do you start a new business and brand it separate from what it is that you currently have? Do you offer it within your current business structure under a different brand? Or is it just branded under what you're currently doing?

Kathleen Shannon 20:43
This conversation is so layered and I feel like it starts with, I recently did a blog post over at Braid called Do You Need a Business Coach? Or Do You Need Branding? Because sometimes what you need is a business coach to ask you questions like, Okay, you've got a next great idea. Is this great idea going to help you become what it is that you want to be known for? Does it reflect your values? Is it monetizable? Is this maybe just something that you want to try as a hobby and not necessarily turn into a business? Is it going to distract from the thing that's actually making you money? Why are you doing this? And how does it fit into the bigger picture from like, a base level? from there? Do I need a brand or two? I think people love the branding process. People love giving a name and a face and a style and a tone to their business. And that's my favorite part of the whole process. And that's why I have a branding agency and not 18 different businesses, right? So I love the branding process. I'm always erring on the side of Okay, are you sure you want to do this? And is there a way to wrap it into the brand that you have? There are many times where you do need a separate brand. But again, it just depends. So one of the biggest overlaps that I really start to see is let's say it's a yogi who wants to become a life coach. And after seeing the patterns of this happen, and unfold over the past eight years that I've had Braid Creative, I've almost every single life coach that I've branded has been kind of a Yogi.

Kathleen Shannon 22:25
Right? And so now I can see how that fits together. But in the moment, you might feel super scattered, like, well, what is this thing have to do with that thing. So from there, I would say, if you can get creative, and find a way to niche, maybe you bring your yoga foundations into your coaching practice, you know, and that would be a way to start to blend it into one brand. And you can start to roll out an offering under your existing brand to test it. Like that's a great place to beta test it and see. So these are all cases for keeping one brand, I suppose is to see how it fits in and challenge yourself to see okay, how would this fit in. And you know, our mantra of it's only as weird as you make it. Maybe try rolling out this offering, testing it out where you already have an existing platform and reputation because your brand is also a reputation, roll it out there and then see what happens. So I could go down so many different trains of thought. But here we go, I'm gonna take us down this one, whenever we started Being Boss, we could have wrapped that into Braid Creative as a brand, or to Indie Shopography, which was your web business as a brand. But because we were two people coming from two different businesses, we decided to make it its own brand. Now that was for the kind of like logistical and legal reasons. So that's the thing too, if you're bringing on a business partner, or you want to put it under a different LLC, there might be reasons why you want to rebrand it differently. Or if it's something you might want to sell down the road. But for us back to Being Boss being its own brand. I still shared it, you still shared it, we both shared it with the platforms that we already had. So it kind of became like this sister brand to both of our individual brands. And I think that that was an appropriate place. Another example and then I'll let you talk, I promise. I feel like Kanye. I just get so passionate about this topic,

Emily Thompson 24:26
Do it. Do it.

Kathleen Shannon 24:27
So um, here's an example of whenever this happened with me, I became coaching certified while I was still growing Braid Creative as a branding agency. I got coaching certified under Martha Beck, and it was kind of woo, I didn't know where it fit in. But I decided to just let people know like, Hey, I'm gonna do creative coaching. And that was the thing I branded it as creative coaching or coaching for creative entrepreneurs specifically. So it still fit within my wheelhouse of what I was doing. I didn't know how it fit in at the time. But a lot of the exercises that I have learned have now been integrated into the Braid Method process so I can better figure out who my client is, who their clients are, and really hear them and understand them. So it's like been more tools in my tool belt, that I've helped me expand what I'm already doing. But it didn't need to be its own brand. But I remember thinking like, is this its own business? Like, where does this fit in? And it's even fit in like with our conversations here at Being Boss, there's oftentimes that we're, you know, having hard conversations that require some of that coaching skill set. So anyway, that's all my thoughts, what do you think?

Emily Thompson 25:40
Just as many things, just as many things, and I think you hit the nail on the head in a couple of different areas, obviously, but one of them being, you know, what do you, what are, what is your long term vision for this project. And one of the big things is being do you want to sell it one day, I think is an important one. If this is something that is separate from your current core business, then make it its own thing, and, you know, create it, make a do over there, and then let it go at some point. We have some examples around that. Actually, I want to talk about one interesting example of someone who did do a separate brand for a project, and I think it came back to bite her in the ass. And that is, I won't be mentioning any names here.

Kathleen Shannon 26:27
I was like, are you about to name names here?

Emily Thompson 26:30
Spill all the tea. No, no, no tea, no tea, just some examples. So I do recall a coach once, who made a product that was very in line with her dream customer. So she had a certain type of dream customer wanted to create a product, and she was coaching, then product. And instead of making it a product for her brand, she made this product, its own brand, I'm pretty sure it was still operating under her business structure, but created a brand that was separate from her brand for this product. And she did this because I think she wanted to sell it, I think she wanted or to make it more appealing to people to like larger companies to acquire or partner with her wherever she thought that making its own thing would make it look a bit more professional, and would make it more appealing to those sorts of partnerships.

Kathleen Shannon 27:26
Yeah, you know, sometimes I'm jealous of people who have brands that are just so say what you mean, like painting your walls, like let's say that's like a brand, you know, it's just like paintingyourwalls.com. You know, I that's a terrible example. I'm a branding professional and came up with painting your walls, I mean, people who have like just a very say what you mean brand name, yes. And it seems very sellable.

Emily Thompson 27:53

Kathleen Shannon 27:54
Or like something that's even almost more search engine optimized. Like if someone's searching for that specific thing, their brand will come up.

Emily Thompson 28:02
You think that's a good idea, unless it shoots you in the foot, which is what happened with this person, she created this product, create a very, like, say what you mean brand separate from her coaching brand, and with very good intentions, and none of it happened for her. And it didn't happen for her because instead of instead of allowing it to live within the brand, and the expertise and the you know, place, the rapport that she had already built with her current brand, she removed it from that and because she couldn't, you know, sell it to the people who were already in her audience. It never really took off. By separating it, she was unable to leverage her expertise in the same way she could have if she'd kept it under the same brand. And it kept it from being successful. So there's a lot to be said about leveraging what you've already built. By keeping things in the same house. Basically, it can be very powerful. There are times when you should separate but there are times when you should keep it all in the same place. And then things can usually be separated later, if they need to be.

Kathleen Shannon 29:15
Trust is a huge factor whenever it comes to your brand. It is an ongoing relationship, either with your audience or your newsletter list or your social media following or your podcast listeners. Building a brand is building trust with people who reach beyond just your direct customers. It's really about communicating with them, telling them your ideas. And this is why I feel so strongly about personal branding and really blending who you are into the work that you do. Because then it really is just having an ongoing conversation, building trust. It's then simply explaining what you do, versus that really hard sell that all of us find so icky. Instead you can just say okay, here's what I do, and here's how it works. Take it or leave it either way, I'm here for you, you can read my blog posts. And we've seen examples of this, I mean, Being Boss is that, for example, and so if you're launching a brand from scratch, you have to work a lot harder to build up that trust.

Emily Thompson 30:16
And do not think that people will just follow you from one brand to the next, I also have an example of someone who was very big in one space decided to, you know, take her experience, and move right into another space and had set some very high expectations about being immediately successful, because there was such a, such a strong presence and the other thing that she was doing, and it didn't happen, it didn't happen, you can't just pull a crowd from one brand to the next. If it needs different branding, it will have a completely different dream customer.

Kathleen Shannon 30:59
Oh, that's a good way of really establishing when you need a new brand is if it's a completely different customer. So I'm working with a client right now who has a food preparation, like meal planning company. And then she's going to be launching a completely different business where there's very little overlap, both in content and dream customer. And that definitely requires two brands, right. But for the most part, not every new idea is a new brand. And if you can all find any sort of connection between the brand that you've already built, or even the thing that you're already known for, let's say you're working a day job, and you're you've got a side hustle, how does your side hustle fit into your expertise, you know, or fit into a network or community that you're already a part of, not every new idea is a new brand, I know it's so much fun to name things and put colors to it and put together a mood board. You don't have to do that.

Emily Thompson 32:00
Right. And it's okay to occasionally create separate offerings. So let's say you are doing, doing a new offering that's serving the same dream customer or maybe it's even like a slightly tweaked stream customer. So let's say you have a, let's say you have a, a yoga business. Let's go in this direction, where you're usually serving your, you know, older millennial crowd. But like one day you decide to do a workshop series, where you are focusing on

Kathleen Shannon 32:39

Emily Thompson 32:40
There you go. Perfect. So like, you don't need to create a whole other business to have this slightly tweaked dream customer by any means. Or even, let's say it's a different age group.

Kathleen Shannon 32:51
I actually, I have a yoga client that exactly fits this model. So he has a yoga business, and he found his niche and yoga therapy. So really to, dialing in on how your joints are positioned, in order to flow best for you. So a lot of yoga is get in this position. Well, not everybody's bodies can do that. So he's narrowed in on everybody's bodies are different. And yoga can be therapy. And then he just launched a new offering. That is cannabis yoga. In states where it's legal, and basically getting high and doing yoga. It didn't need a whole other brand. But what was fun about it is that we created like almost a secondary logo for that brand, I mean, within the same brand. So one cool thing that you can think of and I have this with some of my bigger, more organizational clients is I think about promotional campaigns. So let's say I'm working for a credit union, a promotional campaign might be in the summer, we're doing a hard push on car loans, for example. And then maybe in the fall, we're doing a hard push on home loans or maybe a credit card product. I know that sounds really boring, but it totally relates to creative entrepreneurs, you can almost think of some of your offerings as a promotional campaign or offering. So you can still have a fun look and feel that might even be a little bit of a departure from your main brand. But it still feels like it fits in that same dollhouse. It still feels like it fits in that same family. And so I've thought about this a lot even whenever it comes to book designs. We have a lot of clients that have written a book and the book is designed by a publisher who doesn't care about their brand. Ps, side note we had to fight hard to get like our brand into our book, but we wanted it to also look a little bit different like we use the hand drawn typeface versus our being boss logo. We wanted it to feel a little bit standalone and a little bit like an offshoot. So this is all to say, you don't necessarily need a whole new brand in order to have a promotional offering or different kind of look and feel to them to kinda highlight something that's different or new.

Emily Thompson 35:03
Right? So I challenge everyone to consider to first consider keeping things in your current business and in your current branding. I think that is where you should begin. And then if you find things like the offerings being completely removed from how it is that you work with people, in your current business, or brand, how, if the tone of what it is that you're doing is completely different, if the dream customer especially, is completely different, or I think this business partner piece is a huge one, if there are other people in your business that are taken into consideration, then that could be a reason to create another business slash brand for this new idea that you have. But in most other cases, keep it in the same house as everything else that you're currently doing. Because otherwise, you end up with so many little pieces of businesses and brands everywhere. And that it can be really difficult even for you to keep it straight in your own head.

Kathleen Shannon 36:09
I find that a brand and business is so much more organic than we give it credit for. And I think it's because we have this idea that we need a five year business plan and we're going to follow every single step along the way, things change. So you might have an offering that really takes off and maybe in two to three years, you come back and reposition your brand to be more centered around that offering. You can always evolve your brand as you go. And it can just feel like the next chapter in your book versus throwing the book in the fire and writing a whole new book.

Emily Thompson 36:46
Hey, boss, listening to us in your headphones or in your car while you do whatever it is that you're doing, all by your lonesome. Guess what, no matter what you think you're not alone. In the Being Boss Community bosses from all over the world are rallying to do this thing together. Even if we're sitting alone in our computer, with our PJ pants on, you can connect with bosses any time to ask questions, get help or just chime in. Whatever you need to remind yourself that we're all here. And we've got your back, learn more and join the Being Boss Community by going to beingboss.club/community.

Kathleen Shannon 37:27
One thing I want to mention before we go on, Emily, is that whenever you started to evolve Indie Shopography from doing website design to masterminds before you decided to ditch that because you were feeling scattered and wanted to just put everything under Being Boss. One of the things that you did is you looked back at your brand and business vision guide and the brand platform that my company Braid Creative had created for you. And correct me if I'm wrong, but you noted that not much had changed, like some of your offerings had changed. But who you were in that process was still the same? Is that correct?

Emily Thompson 38:05
Absolutely. You could take the platform, like the positioning of that brand platform, and word for word still completely related to what it was that I was doing with my clients, for sure.

Kathleen Shannon 38:20
So one thing that you want to think about whenever you're thinking about your brand, and this can even be like a writing exercise for our listeners here today is write down what doesn't change, like what does not change about. And usually it comes down to what you value, or what your expertise is, or how you help people the best, what you're known for, your offerings can change. But your brand, if it's done well. And if it's really considered is the thing that doesn't change. It's like your true north. And like an anchor at the same time. It helps keep you grounded, so that you can experiment and try new things. Just want to mention that.

Emily Thompson 39:03
Right? And I will throw in there too, that that positioning, even played into what we do here at Being Boss like there is, you'll find that there are these common threads, and especially when you've been in it, as long as we have. 10 I think 12 years for me at this point. You find that whenever you get really centered in on what it is that you're doing and who you're doing it for. Things don't really change.

Kathleen Shannon 39:32
You know, and honestly, for me, it's even getting centered in what my own mission is. I know it's kind of self indulgent, but my thing has always been just be who you are. Like if that's been my motto. I've discovered as I've gotten older that sometimes it's hard to know who you are. You have to do a lot of work to discover who you are. And so whenever I'm having to evaluate my opportunities and how it's all going down like with Being Boss, I thought okay, this is an opportunity to help people be more who they are and to figure out more of who I am by having these weekly conversations with my business bestie and hitting publish on them. But for me, branding is definitely like a back door to our front door to figuring out who you are, what you're doing, why you're doing it and who you serve.

Emily Thompson 40:22
For sure. Okay. Let's move into something that I love. I love the idea of doing, I've been trying to talk David into this for years, I want to talk about umbrella brands. Because this is fascinating to me. And it's something that I see myself moving into over the next couple of years, it's something that I see. And something that I see my you know, 10, 15, 25 year in it bosses doing or having, because as you are an entrepreneur and as you are growing things, and as you are, you know, adding, adding brands or projects or offerings to, you know, that first idea that you had that one time, you end up finding, often finding that you need a better structure to house all the things that you're doing. So let's talk about umbrella brands when you need one when you don't.

Kathleen Shannon 41:14
Yeah, so I think about an umbrella brand as literally drawing an umbrella on top of a piece of paper and labeling that umbrella, with whatever it is it might be your name, it might be your business name, and then listing out all the things that fall under that. So using Being Boss as an example that hopefully everyone listening is familiar with, if we drew an umbrella for Being Boss. Underneath that umbrella might be a book, events like our conference, and mastermind groups. There's also what else fits under our umbrella. Like we've we've played with idea of a podcast network, even sometimes, like our sponsor relationships go under that umbrella. And those things aren't brands on their own, but they could be. So we really like to think about that umbrella as holding lots of different things. I think that umbrella can really help set the tone for all of your brands. I have a client who is a restaurant group, and they are a dining group. And then they have, I don't know, eight or nine different concepts, or eight or nine different restaurants underneath their umbrella brand. But their umbrella brand. And this is Good Egg Dining Group in Oklahoma City. Their umbrella brand is Good Egg Dining Group. And their main mission is extreme hospitality, like that's kind of their tagline. And that goes into every single one of their restaurant concepts. One of the things that they're always really careful about and considerate about is their interior design, you can always know that the interior design of all their places, it's going to be superb, and that their food is always going to be consistent. They set the standards for all their different restaurants. But then their different restaurants have their own unique look and feel and vibe and food. But but they're all glued together under that umbrella brand.

Emily Thompson 43:07
Yep, I've always imagined having an umbrella brand that is the sort of resource manager for the other businesses that I run.

Kathleen Shannon 43:20
I love that, say more. Resource manager.

Emily Thompson 43:24
Right? So So imagine if it was never employed with Being Boss, because we're a partnership. And that sort of plays into this whole other level of complexity that I've never really wanted to dive into. But imagine that...

Kathleen Shannon 43:39
But you like it with me, right?

Emily Thompson 43:40
I do, I do, which is why it's like It's fine. It's fine. I could see it happening for other things that I want to do though, but imagine having an umbrella brand that is the resource manager in that it. It hires the team that then goes and works at Being Boss that works at Almanac because Okay, imagine a social media manager, for example, could be hired by an umbrella company, but then work equally for Being Boss and Almanac to do both companies social media. We're not there yet. But I think that's something that's something that will likely happen at some point in the future in some capacity one way or the other. Because whenever you start having multiple different businesses that are multiple different brands, you often find that sharing resources would be significantly easier if they were being managed by another business.

Kathleen Shannon 44:42
You know, that's a really good point too is that if you have one successful offering or brand, it can help you to afford to try a new offering or like kind of child brand. Underneath that umbrella. It can help kind of offset the actual dollar cost. That is associated with starting something new.

Emily Thompson 45:02
Yes. Another one that I thought about. And I think the internet is full of creative business owners who have been in it long enough that they simply have all these opportunities that end up end up feeding into a single, single incorporated business or a single LLC, or whatever it may be. Oh, Joy was one that came to me, Joy Cho. She has her blog, she has her Academy. She has collaborations that she does with large brands, all of these and I don't know what her business structure is like, but I think she has probably an umbrella brand that houses all of these other individual streams of revenue, or maybe even different businesses, to make it a bit easier to do at all.

Kathleen Shannon 45:46
Yeah, whenever I think about this, I really think about leveraging an existing reputation and an existing brand to kind of catapult something else into being I will say I'm not a lawyer. So if you are thinking about developing multiple brands, or multiple offerings under an umbrella brand, you might and their crazy successful, you might consider also putting all of them under an individual LLC, so that they're protected money wise, even if, like so, for example, the restaurant group, I know that each one of those restaurants has its own LLC and trademarking process, but the main dining group is what helps set the tone and the culture for all of those restaurants

Emily Thompson 46:27
And set them up. And actually, like legitimately start them.

Kathleen Shannon 46:31

Emily Thompson 46:32
Um, one of the things that I've done in Almanac sort of started creating this myself and it was one of the things I went into it knowing I wanted to do as opposed to getting into and thinking oh, I have other things that I want to do. This was always the plan guys. At Almanac we have our main business. This is actually an interesting example of multiple brands under one brand that it's all operating as a single business. So we have Almanac Supply Co which is the parent company slash brand. And under it we're building sub brands is what I call them. I don't know what the technical term is if there is one, but we're creating lines of products that have their own name, their own branding their own look and feel. It is all a tone set by that umbrella brand of Almanac that's been a very conscious, conscious decision throughout designing them and positioning them but we have a line of teas that we have called Mother Trees Botanical Teas it has its own branding guide, its own look and feel, its own logo, its own messaging.

Kathleen Shannon 47:40
But it doesn't have its own social media.

Emily Thompson 47:43
Not yet. It will.

Kathleen Shannon 47:44
Oh are you think about that?

Emily Thompson 47:45
Yeah, yeah.

Emily Thompson 47:46
Oh, okay. See, this is where I want to get into the conversation about this. So do you, what's cool about this is that it fits into the vibe of Almanac. Right, which is like seasonal goods for intentional living.

Emily Thompson 48:00
There you go. Good job.

Kathleen Shannon 48:01
All right. Good job on you, good positioning. So it is a seasonal good for intentional living. It has its own brand. Technically, if someone wanted to buy you out like if Pukka Teas you know, or Yogi Teas wanted to buy you out and they were like this is cool. We would like to own and distribute this, we'll give you a million dollars. Would you sell it for a million dollars?

Emily Thompson 48:23
I mean, anything's on the table guys. We'll see. We'll see.

Kathleen Shannon 48:28
I'd sell it for $5. No, Not really.

Emily Thompson 48:32

Kathleen Shannon 48:33
I had someone try to acquire Braid very early on and it actually made me feel like okay if they want us I know that we can be successful

Emily Thompson 48:42

Kathleen Shannon 48:43
Anyway. But you sell Mother Trees Botanical Teas on your Almanac website like right now it lives within that umbrella.

Emily Thompson 48:51
Yes. And it likely always will though we do you have the option of for example, wholesaling that completely separately as part of Almanac but just a line of products that we've done so that's what it is. It's a line of products that we've created its own brand around that we we will create a small site for it that just leads people back to Almanac. We will have an Instagram account that is just mother trees botanical teas and we will grow that kind of like its own little business but it is under Almanac Supply Co.

Kathleen Shannon 49:21
I have questions.

Emily Thompson 49:21

Kathleen Shannon 49:23
So many questions. Why? Why? Like why didn't you do Almanac teas Do you feel like it would have been detrimental because you sell candles and crystals like it would water down that brand?

Kathleen Shannon 49:36
Okay, not detrimental? Yes to watering it down. I really wanted Almanac to, my plan for Almanac is not for Almanac to be the line of products. I want Almanac to be a retail concept. So I had to get really clear as to what Almanac was and Almanac was not just a producer of products. It is a retail concept that is curating products and not just curating products that has its own name on it. I wanted to curate products that, that helped tell the story further than just what the Almanac name does for it.

Kathleen Shannon 50:15
And so then why did you decide to create your own tea blend versus carrying other teas, like as a retail concept? Profit margin?

Emily Thompson 50:23
Partly a creative itch.

Kathleen Shannon 50:25
Oh. I'm like money?

Emily Thompson 50:26
Because I wanted to. No, if money had been the thing it would have been created would have been curating already blended tea options for that line, but for this one, I really wanted this to be much more intentional. I wanted to bring in the skills of herbalists that I know this first set of 4 teas, were actually blended or formulated by a friend of mine, Lindsay Kluge, who we've had on the podcast before, who owns Ginger Tonic Botanicals, and is an amazing clinical herbalist. So I really wanted them to be very intentional, very high quality, we are producing them like it's the very first packaging was literally me putting them into tea bags. And so yeah, I could have but I wanted something different with this line. So it's all organic ingredients, when available, there is one in the set of four that is not an organic ingredient, because it's not available, otherwise very high quality, very intentional formulations that are very seasonally aligned. But I wanted this brand to tell another side of what Almanac is, in a way that I couldn't have done if I had just slapped the Almanac name on them.

Kathleen Shannon 51:43
You know, and sometimes you don't have to have the answers to why you created the sub brands like sometimes it is a gut check, like checking in and it definitely weighing your options, and you're very logical about things. But even thinking, Okay, I'm gonna try this. And it does make sense. And maybe not even being able to articulate why it makes sense for it to have its own standalone brand within Almanac. But it feels right.

Emily Thompson 52:07
It does.

Kathleen Shannon 52:07
So sometimes there's that.

Emily Thompson 52:08
it does feel right, and I and I see what happens five years from now with this brand or where I want it to go. I don't really know how to articulate it yet. But at the moment, it's just four little tees that are being sold on our site under this brand name that isn't related to anything else. But give me a couple years and you're going to be like damn.

Kathleen Shannon 52:29
But that is actually a really important point that I want to note is that your business vision is not quite your business plan. Right? A business plan is like spreadsheets and your organizational chart and kind of like figuring out what you have and doing the math and all those technical things, right? A business vision is getting real dreamy about where you want to take something and really using that dream to help. I mean to really help manifest it in your brand by knowing where it is that you want to go.

Emily Thompson 53:04
Yeah, right. So we've created this tea line at Almanac we've also created a jewelry line called Wild Fortune. It probably won't go as far as Mother Trees will like I have some good plans with Mother Trees. With Wild Fortune. I just wanted a very interesting jewelry line and it's funny we launched it like we didn't launch it we started utilizing it just before the holidays and through the holidays I realized there's already tweaks that we need to make to it in terms of positioning and that look at like the whole branding of it needs to be tweaked and how it is that I use it within the brand. So we get to go, go back to the drawing board with a couple of things around that one. So it's it's a really interesting, really interesting exercise for me to build these brands within this brand. And there are lots of technical things to it as well for example because especially our teas are being sold with not Almanac on the front of them we had to create a DBA for it we have to create a DBA for each of these sub brand

Kathleen Shannon 54:05
Which stands for doing business as.

Emily Thompson 54:07
So it's a form basically that you file with your state government to say that you are doing business as for me, Mother Trees Botanical Tea, so it's Almanac Almanac Supply Co LLC is doing business as Mother Trees Botanical Teas. So anything that sold that is Mother Trees, it goes into Almanac It is part of the Almanac business but it is a brand within an umbrella brand slash business. It's a fun exercise in doing business. I love it. Love it.

Kathleen Shannon 54:41
I know and I remember we, you and I were having a lot of conversations about this, you know sub-brand. Does it stand alone?

Emily Thompson 54:48
Oh wait, let me ask my branding expert business bestie if this is nuts or not.

Kathleen Shannon 54:54
And it was a conversation. Yeah, you know, and I think ultimately you made the right decision. And I also want to point out that you're not sub-branding every single thing that you offer like you're not creating a brand for just the crystals like you can kind of let the crystals be what they are.

Emily Thompson 55:11
So that's been very intentional too. For me, Almanac is candles and crystals. Like if like if the Almanac brand is going to live on something it's going to live on those core products of candles which Almanac branding is on our you know seasonal candles. And the crystals. If you buy a crystal, you get a little card that tells you what the crystal is and what it means and it's Almanac branded. But I've had a hard time really seeing the Almanac brand go beyond that because again Almanac is not, I don't see Almanac as a brand of products so much as I see it as a retail concept. And that differentiation has led me to think about how it is that I can grow an environment of brands that all fit really beautifully within this Almanac place. So whenever you walk into Almanac, one of these days, it's not just looking at all of our Almanac stuff. It's like Oh, they have this amazing brand of teas that I can only buy here, they have these, this jewelry line that is you know, custom curated, whatever, looks fantastic that I can only buy here, it creates a retail experience that is elevated beyond me just putting Almanac on everything.

Kathleen Shannon 56:26
Also, each of those brands have a story.

Emily Thompson 56:28

Kathleen Shannon 56:28
So the whole point of a brand is to have a story to connect to your audience. So whenever your audience buys the teas, no, I will say from like a branding standpoint. Whenever I, you know, I rave about your teas on your unofficial brand ambassador.

Emily Thompson 56:43

Kathleen Shannon 56:45
But I always say Almanac like i always say I got these seeds from Almanac probably because it's shorthand with people that I already know. But funny enough, I got a set of your teas for my bestie Liz, who is also my creative director at Braid. And when I returned to her she was like so because she's a branding expert. We are these Almanac or are they? Are they something else, you know, and so she could kind of see under it and was really curious about it. But as so I feel like right now Mother Trees Botanical Teas are really leveraging the reputation of Almanac and people might be calling an Almanac teas for a while and that's okay, too. At some point, it will be able to establish its own brand. And that's part of your vision where people are now talking about it as Mother Trees versus Almanac. So this is another branding exercise for you all. One of my favorite things to do with my clients is to ask them to pretend like they're sitting in a coffee shop, and having to overhear one of their clients or customers talking about their brand. And they don't know that you're there. You're kind of eavesdropping, and what is it that they're saying? And sometimes you can hear them saying things like, oh, the Almanac teas? And you're like, oh, okay, what do I need to do to really solidify that it's Mother Trees. And you can start to see some branding problems and start to work your way towards solutions for those.

Emily Thompson 58:08
I love that. Okay. All the brands, in all the brands, with all the brands, got it? Let's get you really the biggest question of your job. And this whole episode, I'm sure it's when to use your name and your brand versus not. What do you think where are you standing? these days?

Kathleen Shannon 58:33
Yeah, if you had asked me six years ago, what would I have said Emily?

Emily Thompson 58:38
Yes, use your name. Put it all over everything.

Kathleen Shannon 58:40
Yep, six years ago I was like use your name for everything. Personal brand, you want to be Beyonce, you want to be you know, you want to have a name, right? And because people buy from people that's, that's what it is. Today, not so much. Like as I need a little bit more of a boundary between who I am and what I do. I find that having a business name helps you be a little bit more broad, and a little bit more flexible, as much as I love narrowing in on your niche. And I think that's so incredibly important for launching your brand and actually making money doing what you love. Narrowing in is one of the best ways that you can do that. But having a business name gives you so much more flexibility. Whenever it comes to like even how you operate your business and how you grow your business and how you evolve your business. That said, every single client I have if they're a solopreneur, I do a version of their logo with their name in the tagline. And sometimes I'll even flip the hierarchy. So let's say I just had a client who's a bookkeeper, which was so much fun, Emily, I can't wait to show you this brand. I always show Emily the brands I'm working on on Marco Polo. But it's Bonfire Bookkeeping, shout out to Lisa, she's a boss too. And her name is Lisa Channell. And so I wanted to do like a version and with hers, I didn't explicitly do like Lisa Channell and then Bonfire Bookkeeping underneath it. But I would do that, you know. So like, especially if you're building up like a speaker reputation like as where you're selling yourself as an authority in your industry, you can almost create like a flip flop of a logo, where your business name is kind of underneath your name, but that can change to in the future, like where it's not hinged upon who you are. And it's not hinged upon you not growing like you can add on a business partner, or so for example, Being Boss, we were almost the Emily and Kathleen show. Can you imagine if we had branded ourselves as that? And then you bought me out? Like you did this year.

Emily Thompson 1:00:50
Ah snap? I never thought about that.

Kathleen Shannon 1:00:52
I mean that would have been really complicated. Yeah, it's still the Emily and Kathleen show on the podcast.

Emily Thompson 1:00:56
It honestly would not have been as valuable to me. Think about that.

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:00

Emily Thompson 1:01:01
It would not.

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:02
And I always think like, I don't necessarily believe that you should just build a brand with idea of selling it. I think, in some industries, it makes sense.

Emily Thompson 1:01:11
I think it is a good practice. I think it's like not that you actually intend to. But I think it's a good practice to go into business with the idea of how would you do this, if you were intending to sell it?

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:25
I completely agree. I think that you should not go into a business saying I'm going to build this business and sell it. Because it's probably not going to happen.

Emily Thompson 1:01:34
Right? It's likely not. However.

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:36
I hate to say that. However, whenever you can go into it with the practice of that it's going to shift the way you do everything from your operating agreements, to your branding, to all of the things and so even though we never imagined selling Being Boss to like an outside investor, the fact that I sold the majority of my shares to you means that it having a brand name and a brand name that resonated with people way more than the Emily and Kathleen show ever would. It was an asset.

Emily Thompson 1:02:06
Yeah, yeah, an asset. Oh, think about that your branding is absolutely an asset to your business. If done well. I want to give a fun example of this naming things your name, because I'm right there with you where I don't lead without any, I'm usually, like can we like think about how to not name your business your name, unless you are a freelancer, or growing a practice of some sort. And so by practice, I mean, like, you are going to be the coach for your clients for like you're building a coaching practice for yourself.

Kathleen Shannon 1:02:41
I know but you know what, I have a lot of therapist clients who build a therapy practice, like with multiple therapists under their brand name. And so for them, unless you're Brene Brown, but even she has the Daring Way, like she has sub-brands within what I would say her umbrella brand is her as herself, and then all these brands that kind of fit under it. I don't know, it's good to have, even for a practice of branding.

Emily Thompson 1:03:07
I think so I'm talking like the flip of that, like, you should only really think about using your name, if you're going to be a freelancer or have a practice, you should should also consider not using your name, for sure. But if you're building a business, think about a business name for it. And then adding your name to it as needed. I have an interesting example of this, where I have a boss friend who has a business that she's had for many years. And over those years, it's become very multifaceted. So standalone retail, online, like digital products, book that turned into a book series. And they all had different names for what it is they were because they all lived in very different places. They were all very different things. But as she's grown, each of them, she's found the need to make them more cohesive. So how is it that she can sort of bring these separate things back together? And the way that she's decided to do this, you know, on, we're in a mastermind group together, and we talk through all of these things like what does this look like? What are we naming? How are we doing this? We encourage her to add her name into the front of each of them so that she becomes the cohesive factor around all the things that she's done. So all that to say, too, I think that that's sort of this natural cycle of being creative entrepreneurs who are building and doing and creating all of these things. We go through these ebbs and flows of like, sometimes it's very appropriate to use your name, sometimes it's not and then it will always cycle back of like, yeah, you should probably put your name in it. It's fine.

Kathleen Shannon 1:04:47
Yeah, and I think I mentioned that earlier is like find the common denominator between your brands. Usually it's just you.

Emily Thompson 1:04:53

Kathleen Shannon 1:04:53
And if you can just trust that you are the common denominator. You don't have to worry about things feeling, too, too much of a departure from each other or too different or too crazy. Sometimes it is you that is the common denominator.

Emily Thompson 1:05:11
Right, in which case, it's fine to use it.

Kathleen Shannon 1:05:12
I've also found that like, you can still build your personal brand, even within your business. So at Braid, the way that we've built our personal brand at Being Boss, a lot of people who listen to Being Boss, go on to follow Braid and sign up for our newsletter and hire us for branding. And so I will hop on Instagram and say, hey, it's Kathleen here to remind people that there is a real person and it's me, that is running our social media, or answering emails. So that's another thing to consider is that you can still have a personal brand within the context of your business, for sure.

Emily Thompson 1:05:50
I feel like we just talked around so many solutions, like possible solutions, but no real solutions, because I think that's the point here is, there is no like rule to branding, except do it and do it well.

Kathleen Shannon 1:06:07
In which case, you might need to hire a branding professional. Or, you know, again, this is a conversation. So if you don't have a business bestie, if you're not in a mastermind, if you don't have a branding professional, you need to find those things so that you can have these conversations because it's not a black or white answer. It's usually a long conversation that needs a lot of consideration and perspective. And sometimes expertise.

Emily Thompson 1:06:32
For sure, for sure. And not just once, but over and over and over again. And like we mentioned earlier, you know, getting my brand's platform done for Indie Shopography, like 10 years ago ish, being able to look back at that. And sure the look and feel hasn't been used in a very long time ago. And he's that logo in a decade, not quite but a really long time. But to know that my positioning is still very much so in line with what it is that I'm still showing up and doing is incredibly powerful. But it's also the relationships that I have that keep me thinking about how it is that I can continue to grow and evolve and navigating all of the questions that you have around, you know, is it time to change my business structure to house more brands? Or is it time to you know, start another business that's separate from the one I currently have? Or what happens whenever I want to create a suite of brands that fits under something? Or is this offering needing its own brand, or just a tweak of the brand that it's currently under? What like a million questions can come up. And I will say that it's been invaluable to me to have a crowd of people that I can talk to as I've navigated each of these and it's something that it never is not a conversation that happens in you know, mastermind groups, or whenever we're traveling with bosses like someone's going, Okay, guys, I have this issue where I created a business card with this. And now I'm doing this, what do I do? Do I reprint all my business cards? Like maybe, but also, maybe not. Let's talk it all out. So with that, I guess we're done. Go do some branding, figuring out what your brand is doing next, because it's probably not just going to sit there and chill.

Kathleen Shannon 1:08:20
Hey, so go to our show notes. And be sure to check out some links because we're going to include some additional resources, including conversations that we've had with my business partner, and sister Tara Street from Braid Creative, and you'll be able to, there's so many resources on this. So just go to the show notes and we'll share all of them there.

Emily Thompson 1:08:41
Thanks for listening. And hey, if you want more resources, we're talking worksheets, free trainings in person meetups and vacations and more. Go to our website at www.beingboss.club.

Kathleen Shannon 1:08:55
Do the work. Be boss.