Like you, Brand Clarity Expert, International Speaker, and Author, Suzanne Tulien, notices the variety of creative ways people are ‘branding’ themselves both consciously and unconsciously.
But, is a successful personal brand the result of powerful marketing? When the hype subsides, what keeps a good personal brand going strong? What is the real secret to personal brand growth and advocacy?
With over two and a half decades of strategic communication, employee brand engagement, and internal brand development, Suzanne’s inside-out brand-building strategy creates the clarity and actions necessary for her clients to drive consistency, distinction, and advocacy long-term. Because her Brand DNA approach is radically different, she is paving the way companies and personal brands elevate their value position and actually reduce marketing costs while growing market share.
She co-founded The Global Institute for Inspiration in 2011 and helped create the ‘Most Inspiring Companies Report’, since published by Forbes.com. As an international speaker and certified trainer, she thrives in front of live audiences and in virtual environments.
As author of The 6 Myths of Small Business Branding and co-author of Brand DNA - Uncover Your Organization’s Genetic Code to Competitive Advantage, also published in China, and her latest book, Personal Brand Clarity - How Solopreneurs & Leaders Identify, Define, & Align to Leverage their Personal Brand, she is helping to pave the brand value position highway to grow by conscious, strategic design; not by DEFAULT!
Suzanne writes blog posts and articles that have been published on InterBrand’s BrandChannel.com, eHotelier, YoungEntrepreneur.com and others. As a speaker, consultant, award-winning graphic designer and certified trainer in accelerated learning methodologies and as past President of the Pikes Peak Advertising Federation, Suzanne has been leading the industry with consciousness, inspiration and growth, with intention, momentum and purpose.
www.PersonalBrandPresence.com (online course on Personal Branding)
Josh: What is up everybody, Josh Tapp here again and welcome back to the lucky Titan and today we're here with Suzanne Tulien who honestly, this lady, I loved her tagline because it wasn't, hey, I'm the CEO of this or the founder of this, she is the brand clarity experts, which I can 100% vouch for with this, because she is all about helping you take the complicated, just mess that is most of our brands and turn it into a clear, concise message that actually converts into sales so Suzanne, first off, say what's up to everybody and then we'll hop in,
Suzanne: What's up, everybody!!
Josh: stoked to have you here. So Suzanne, my very first question for you, is really about your brand, because we got to get succinct about who you are and if your brand sucks, how are you supposed to teach other people brand right so my question for you is, why and how did you come to becoming the brand clarity experts?
Suzanne: Oh, my gosh, how far back should I go? I should start, let's say..
Josh: You're talking like, hey, when I was born on this day, we're a little bit too.
Suzanne: So I was in corporate America and the site, I was part of a company that grew through acquisition, they bought 13 companies within two years and it was just total chaos, I was creative project manager for that, that branch of the, the marketing arm of it and we had to inculcate in all the other brands from, from the culture level into the new brand, right so this is how we do things this way and so it wasn't even at the visual level right now, it was immediately, like, how do we get them used to how we go about doing what we do so that really brought about a lot of ideas around what real branding really is and where it starts, it starts at the soul, the DNA of the corporation of the organization or if you're talking about the personal brand, it's within that person who's driving all of those decisions, right so I left corporate America and started my own company, a design firm and I just realized that all I was really doing was putting lipstick on the pig for my clients, you know, a new coat of paint, a new logo, or refresh collateral pieces, etc. and I just couldn't do it anymore, they couldn't hardly even describe to me what their brand was really all about, as the vendor as the designer and I decided that I'm not going to do that anymore, I'm going to but I'm going to help you identify and define who you are, what your value proposition is, and how you're going to start walking the talk and delivering on that promise every single time, not just the owners and leadership of the organization, but all of your employees so that's when I took on a partner and we designed this thing called the brand DNA methodology and so we we stopped our clients thinking so much about their external environment about bringing people in, you know, marketing might get your, your prospects in the door, but it's your brand that keeps them coming back so how do we keep them coming back what is that value position, let's get crystal clear on what that is. That's how it all started, I just didn't want to start, I didn't want to continue putting lipstick on the pig and just making you look pretty when inside you still we're kind of chaos, right?
Josh: Which, in all reality, that's, that's branding, right? I mean, it can be so complicated and especially when, when the lines get blurred between branding and marketing, it gets really, really complicated and a lot of companies that we've even worked with, and even our own company, we get shiny object syndrome, and in your case, it was acquisitions of all these companies but we have so many different projects going that our brand isn't always in line.
Suzanne: Yeah, I love I love that you brought up marketing versus branding, can we identify that can we define it?
Josh: Please do, do you want me to or you?
Suzanne: I am happy to
Josh: I have different opinions on it so I'd like to hear yours.
Suzanne: So marketing is if you think about it this way marketing, you market a brand so marketing is this verb that is the dissemination and communication of the value position of a brand so the question becomes, if you haven't identified and defined the brand, then what are you actually out there marketing know, people are spending hundreds of 1000s of dollars, marketing something that they have yet to fully identify and define, let alone align with and walk the talk and infuse it into their systems and processes and, you know, within their culture, and everybody's on the same page and that has, I've seen I see that all the time right. They're out there pushing something out there because they think they know what their clients or customers want to hear but again, if they're not following through on it, you just become comes a sieve, right, you can just keep pushing more marketing out there, people come in, they experienced you, it's not what they thought they were gonna get, and they don't come back or they tell 10 of their friends, right? You don't want to do that so marketing and branding marketing is the verb branding is actually, the real simplistic way of defining it is the assignment of meaning it is the process of assigning meaning, which could be a value position. So if you haven't taken the time to sit back and assign meaning to you, as a personal brand, your personal brand leadership style, etc, or you as a company with employees, then nobody's on the same page right?
Josh: Right and, and I love those, you're sending like light bulbs off in my head over and over again with this and I love that because I mean, the brand at at center, people think that's the product, right and the product, and I think that comes a lot from from like, the apple methodology because their brand was about making the sexiest product out there right and and the experience that it provides you but but it's more of what what is the transformation you're providing what's what's the result, you're providing what you articulate the promise, I love that.
Suzanne: So even if you go to Apple as an example, we can kind of expand on that, that the product itself was never heard of the brand, yet a representation of the brand, that which is, which is my definition of logo, it's not the brand of the company, the logo is a graphic icon that represents the promise so what does that logo represent again, we have to go back and assign meaning to that representation and that's the work, that's the work I do for clients, that's the work I do for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs is we sit down and we follow a methodology that flushes out those attributes and then you commit to those attributes, you define them, and then you start aligning everything you do to show up and walk that talk.
Josh: Love that. Wow and that's, that's cool because it's, you know, it's really getting granular on on the promise, like you said, the promise that you're offering and I loved that verbiage. Because, I mean, I'm thinking about that for our own company, you know, and saying what, what really is our promise, and I think especially an agency type models, it's, we're prone to just saying, well, this amount of leads or this amount of money, that's my promise. That's my guarantee and so my question to you is, what's that big difference between a promise and a guarantee?
Suzanne: So I think that the promise for your company, Josh would be what my expectations would be to choose you specifically to work with versus the 1500 20,000 100,000 other people that say they do what you do so how do I carve that distinction from all of these other people I'm looking at versus how you resonate with me and what I sense your core values are, what I send to your brand personal brand style attributes are, what I know your differentiators to be and so that's what drives me to choose you versus all these other things, it's never the end result or product, because that's just you know, something that happens as a result of me connecting to who, who would resonate with me, is that making sense?
Josh: Oh, 100%. And I love that, that that is cool.
Suzanne: So if you really wanted if you wanted to brand, your company, really think about it, and you don't have this huge conglomerate of employees, but it's really the essence of Josh and your personality, then most of the attributes would flesh out of really taking that deep dive and understanding who you are as a person and those attributes, your core values would flesh out your style attributes that again, the personality, those main four or five attributes you would name and then define, and then you build everything around that right.
Josh: Right see, and I love that because I mean recently, just even in the last two weeks, I think since as we're recording this with our company, I was realizing I'm like I attract introverts because I am an extremely extroverted person and people love our methodology because it's like, it's tailored to the introvert who doesn't want to sell the person who's really having a hard time to sell but they love being on stage, they love talking to people one on one and we found our current clients are really resonating with that, like Yes, I'm an introvert, as well as moments were like Ding, I think we found it we found a big piece of art of our promise of our message.
Suzanne: And and that's your market share too. When you think about it, those people that resonate with that, you know, no brand is universal, you're never going to appeal to everyone. Just get that understand that drop the yours and go with the flow when you know what your market is just hit it hard, but don't try to appeal to everybody right? That's that's how you dilute your brand.
Josh: Yeah. I love that. I mean, I found that even with our brand, I think this this entrepreneurs, I think we're the most the b2b service brands, I think we're the most guilty of this, because really, the vehicle could be applied to any business, right? It's like a podcast, we have people all the time who are lawyers, or doctors or whatever want to come into our world and they're really not who we target and so like you're saying, it does dilute the brand when you're focusing too heavily on on the vehicle but if the premise is the promise, let me put it this way for us just for our listeners, I do not like working with people who like to take pictures on their Lamborghini with these hot women on their sites, right, that is just not my world, I don't do not live. I'm from Idaho. Okay. So that should answer everybody's questions but, but the people who are more legacy based entrepreneurs, they love being in front of people and serving people, I love working with people like that, because they're real human beings.
Suzanne: If you've ever had to fire a client, because you just didn't have that chemistry, in that connection, you know how difficult it is to onboard someone who wants to pay your fee, that's great that's why you take them on, right, but they're not a good contact, they're not a good client, because they don't resonate with your core values and your style.
Josh: Yeah, and anybody who's ever had that awkward situation where you do feel like you have to fire a client, it's because of that, right? I mean, it just like you're saying, if you're not, if they don't have all of the qualities of it, what you call the the value, the core values is that
Suzanne: part of the methodology, there's pieces and parts in there, if you want me to talk about what's in the methodology, okay so definitely, we have to take that deep dive in understanding your core values and those are your guiding principles that's what you lean into every day when you may not have named it but you know, you're leaning into certain elements and certain things around that you surround yourself with and you love it when you're around that thing those things, right and then there's a set of what we call style attributes, personality traits and these are the top four or five that you would be able to list off, either a high energy or introvert or maybe you're an investigator, you just love the details, those types of things, then you define those to to make them so that you can step into those and make them tangible and that's a whole process in and of itself is defining those, those attributes, then we look at your core differentiators and these can be professional, they can be awards that you've won, contests that you've won a skill sets that you have, maybe you play five instruments, maybe you speak three languages, maybe you've been you travel to 120 countries, you know, whatever that might be, we flush those out so they're very personal and the professional types of differentiators, then we look at, we create what we call standards of living for the personal brand and standards of performance for the company brand and that that takes a little bit more description on making these statements or declarations in these four or five or six buckets that run the company about how we're going to start performing, and how we're going to infuse those attributes within that to show up that way and then there's a brand platform and a brand promise that we craft and once you have all of that I'll show you that for those people that are looking at the video, this is the one pager outline of my personal brand DNA so but there's there's a lot more details to that but I can refer to this on a regular basis with all these elements and remind myself who I say I am in step into that at a conscious, strategic and deliberate way every day.
Josh: That that is awesome, I love that one pager. I mean, how cool is that, I mean, it gives you something to stick to and I do love that so I want to I want to go a little bit contextual here so a lot of the people who listen to this show are in the coaching space, right, they they're a group coach in the mastermind space or something, right they have a team behind them but I think there's a big difference with branding when it comes to selling a physical product and when you're selling a service that's kind of more based around you and if we were putting into context of a coach, how would you recommend they differentiate themselves because I mean coaching is the most broad I mean, your competition is the world,
Suzanne: like real estate agents, right?
Josh: Yeah, exactly.
Suzanne: You think of them as a dime a dozen, they're, they're considered to be a commodity industry, lawyers, insurance brokers, those types of things, right, it's just has happened that way. Um, you have to definitely shine through your personality, you have to own it, you have to unpack it, and really begin to create a vernacular around that a narrative around how you coach differently through what your philosophies are what you believe to be true. Oftentimes, I'll ask my client, what is the one thing that you know about what you do that you want to get on top of the mountain, and scream at the top of your lungs, if people could just understand this, then they would get further, they would live their potential, they would whatever, right? If they have something like that, that they know, that's really their, the core of what they would surround their brand around is that particular philosophy.
Josh: Love that and you know what's so funny about it too, because, and I even know for myself, and a lot of people we've worked with, we think that if we make it that simple, people aren't going to believe us, and they're not going to buy it but what I've been find even for myself with my personal spending habits is if they will simplify it down, so it doesn't take me a lot of time to get it, I get way better results. First off, but I'm way more willing to spend massive amounts of money on it, because I know it's going to pan out.
Suzanne: Right? I think I think everyone is so overwhelmed these days in this world with so much going on and the pace of what's going on, that we are we're just I think we're starving for simplicity, we're starving to trust that going inward is more of the answer and what I like to say is it stopped the doing and start the being and when you really take, take that shift and you pivot, and you start being who you really are, you get aligned immediately and you want to get spiritual here, but you start you know, having this vibration that starts attracting people that get who you are, you are in alignment, things come to you with flow and ease, and you feel better and you're happier, that's the that's the kind of the secret sauce, which these ingredients that I just went through in the in the DNA process help you pull out, I might often say to that, you know, this process helps you fall back in love with who you are.
Josh: That's brilliant, I love that. What kind of sparks a question from for you about passion and purpose and how those play into brand, sometimes I feel like they're too heavily dependent upon and and I want to explain this with it with a scenario, so I have a friend of mine, very good friend of mine and he has bounced around from job to job to job job for decades and he's never been able to figure out what he likes to do, because he's not passionate about anything that he does and my opinion is like, nobody likes to work workings not fun, right but you get passionate by by learning to love the people you work with so I'm just kind of curious what your take is on bringing passion and purpose into brand and if it's necessary.
Suzanne: I think oftentimes, we, we aren't passionate about something or anything, because we're not allowing ourselves to know who we are there, I talk a lot about being externally impacted so much in this world, about our environment, what's happening around in our environment, we are no longer internally driven, we've lost it, and we become so vulnerable to whatever's happening out there, we become robots, and we react instead of be proactive from being internally driven and a lot of us have lost that passion because we forgotten who we are. we haven't gotten quiet we haven't meditated we haven't really thought through and reflected on what is it that we are and who we want to become more of and again, this process is a part of that but I tell you what, it's the core of the human element and we're missing so many of us are missing this piece and we're in the doing so much and not the being and that's what's kind of keeping us overwhelmed and driving us crazy, does that make sense?
Josh: Oh 100% and I love the answer because that's that's half the battle, right is is instead of just blindly taking action, it's taking strategic action, I know for me this past year, I mean 20 2020 wire 2020. For me, it was all about outsourcing and automating a lot of our company but this year has been all about cutting down my hours and being very succinct with my time and just doing that our productivity has not slowed one, but it's sped up, because instead of blindly spending Oh, I'm just going to work 12 hours a day, I mean, I'm shooting for 20 hours a week, I've been seeing that, just in the common the simplicity of it's been so much easier for me, and our brand has, it sticks more to our brand, because that's what we promote to our, to our people.
Suzanne: When you get clear, or when you get simple and calm clarities can step in right? Right. So it's the, it's the magic around around that and not not feeling like you're always in a race, that you always have to you know, you just see a new technology, you just got to go there, you got to do this, you got to do that. It's never gonna end and you know, only you can slow that down from that, that mental position.
Josh: Yeah see, and I love that one and you know, we've covered a lot of different topics here. And I hope people will will take some of the steps I mean, Suzanne's given us so many different pieces that you can use to to improve your brand currently where it's at so I would invite all of you to have, go back and re listen to the episode, take some notes, and think about how you can apply that directly to what you're already doing in your company and the changes you can make because no matter where you're at, I'm sure Suzanne, you do this all the time, you probably still with your brand, or making tweaks and iterations and figuring out who you are that's just like the nature of branding.
Suzanne: Here's what I am doing, I did the work. So I've pretty much found that foundation of it resonates with me and it still rings true years later, here's what I'm constantly doing, though, I'm tweaking to stay in alignment, because sometimes I let the external environment impact me in so now that I am so versed in who I'm saying I am and feels good, now it's authentic, I have to bring myself back but I have such an awareness to that now that I can do it in a heartbeat.
Josh: That's awesome. I love that it's realigning and kind of getting back on the right trajectory, I think is half the battle, what and and a couple of quick thoughts here for everybody from from our conversation is really it seems like chaos breeds breeds confusion and and in a business that seems to be what branding is, is it's this chaotic throw spaghetti on the wall, see what sticks, right and it's more of like, what you're talking about is it's a strategic way to simplify what you're doing get clear on your purpose and your vision and, and everything kind of comes into alignment and so I love that. Thank you for bringing that into clarity for me so you're obviously the brand clarity expert here so I want to ask you two final questions here though, Suzanne before we hop off so first off is that you have a lot of material here for people to be able to take and improve upon, but where can they get access to you and more of your material.
Suzanne: Everything is on my website brand ascension.com everything is there for both markets for both the business with employees and the solopreneur markets.
Josh: I love that. So make sure everybody you go check out brand ascension, you can obviously find her everywhere else we have all of the links in the description and if you're watching the video, it'll be somewhere here around the video., I don't know where just look, it'll be close but Suzanne, one final question for you before we sign off. So if you could leave one final parting piece of guidance with our audience, what would that be?
Suzanne: I wouldn't have everybody consider that every person in every business already has a brand, it's already there, the big question is are you in control of it, if you're not then everyone around you is so personal brand clarity, business brand DNA clarity is key to getting in control of the perceptions others have of you.