TCC Podcast #56: Personal branding with Sarah Ancalmo Ashman

Personal branding expert and talented designer, Sarah Ancalmo Ashman is the guest for the 56th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. She shared with Kira and Rob (and you) how she became a brand expert—she started out as an ad agency designer working with personalities like Madonna, Jimmy Fallon and the rock group, RadioHead. In the podcast she talks about:

•  how she developed her unique design style and why she chose branding as her discipline
•  the first steps she took when she started her own agency
•  what branding is and why it is so important to have a strong brand
•  some of the more important elements that make up your brand
•  how to identify what make you (and your brand) unique
•  what you need to know or work on before you engage a designer
•  why copywriters shouldn’t shape their brand around their clients
•  her contrarian advice on which formulas you should use for your brand
•  how to create a brand for yourself when you don’t have the budget to work with a designer (hint: don’t use fiverr)

Rob and Kira also ask Sarah about the things that smart copywriters are starting to do with their brands, where copywriters who want to work in branding can get started and the the text books she recommends you should read if you want to learn branding. To hear it all, click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.

The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:

Sponsor: AirStory

Sarah Ashman, Public Persona
Sarah’s Pinterest
MirrorBrand
B School
Bluffworks
Lacy Boggs
Ash Ambirge
Building a Story Brand
The Brand Gap
Kira’s website
Rob’s website
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
Intro: Content (for now)
Outro: Gravity

Full Transcript:

The Copywriter Club Podcast is sponsored by Airstory, the writing platform for professional writers who want to get more done in half the time. Learn more at Airstory.co/club.

Kira: What if you could hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes, and their habits, then steal and idea or two to inspire your own work? That’s what Rob and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.

Rob: You’re invited to join the Club for episode 56, as we chat with branding expert and designer Sarah Ancalmo Ashman about working with entrepreneurs and creatives to create jaw-dropping brands, developing a brand strategy, how copywriters should approach their own brand development, and whether having a nice logo is enough.

Kira: Hi Sarah!

Rob: Hey Sarah.

Sarah: Hello, thanks for having me!

Kira: Thanks for being here. I think – I have such a big crush on you because you’ve worked with me on my website and my brand and that’s been one of the best investments I’ve made in my business so I’m glad we can finally have you on the show you can share your knowledge and expertise with everyone at large. I think a great place to start though, is with your story! How did you end up running your creative studio?

Sarah: As always, a meandering path, right? My background is actually in, you know, big brand advertising and you know, design studios in New York. And I worked doing that for about ten years and realized that the projects that resonated with me actually the most, were the ones that involved an individual. Clients that were sort of an individual that we were centering a brand around. I found that there were a lot of opportunities to bring out stories and you know, just really focus on their personality and what differentiates them as an individual. And so what I ended up doing was starting to kind of put my feelers out… and started to work with individuals, primarily entrepreneurs, who were either starting their business or wanting to uplevel, and applying some of the same techniques that I used to develop brands for the Fortune 500 for these private clients. And that ended up being viable enough for me to be able to kind of jump ship from the corporate space, if you will, and you know, start to do that on my own. In 2012, I officially birthed, if you will, a public persona!

Rob: Sarah, your background includes some fashion work as well, and it seems to me like that might be reflected in a lot of the things that you do. How has that impacted how you look at brands as opposed to, you know, what a lot of other branding experts are out there doing? From my perspective, it seems like you have a very distinctive visual approach to what you do.

Sarah: Yeah! It’s funny; I think a lot of that comes from directing, concepting and directing, these large scale photo shoots for commercial productions. And like you said, for a lot of fashion brands. And so, you know, I really love to see that transformation of this “ordinary” person, which in some cases was a celebrity or a model, and see them really transform into this sort of larger than life character on the screen. And I think that’s exactly what I sort of brought with me to the table, so to speak, with my clients. Just really being able to you know, create that level ten of an individual that’s still authentic to someone but you know, sort of heightened visually.

Kira: Yeah, and Sarah, who are some of the early celebrities that you worked with? I believe Madonna was one of them, right?

Sarah: Yes! I did. I worked on a campaign for Madonna pretty early on, which was exciting to say the least. You know, a lot of musicians a radio had, so for Jimmy Fallon, so those are some of the early folks that I started working with and that’s where I really started to fall in love with working with people, with individuals.

Rob: So Sarah discovered Madonna. That’s awesome. (laughs)

Kira: Kind of a big deal. It seems like what we could take even just from paying attention to the celebrities and having brand and they’re constantly reinventing themselves, that as business owners, especially for the face of our brand, that we should constantly evolve and continue to rebrand, like I don’t know if there’s every 3 years, every 10 years, but I’d love to hear more about that as far as what should we do as business owners to continue to evolve so that we’re not stagnant and our business doesn’t plateau.

Sarah: Right, well I think, you know, just like you’re evolving as a human being, your business is evolving as well and because your brand is an extension of you, that’s something that you constantly have to think about. Does this reflect the best version of me? Does this feel aligned with me and where I’m going right now? And I think that’s why what you see in using Madonna as an example, how she reinvented herself a million times. That’s what really creates that relevancy, for lack of a better term. As the market continues to grow, so you know, it really is important to reinvent. And that could be – you could be a fast iterator – and that could be every year. That could be every three years. That could be every five years, but always just sort of keeping in check: is my brand and business aligned with me? Because again, you are the face of your brand.

Rob: So Sarah, can we take a step back? You talked about your early experience in working with these big brands, but even before that, how did you decide that branding was the thing that you wanted to do and that you wanted to approach from the design side?

Sarah: Well, it’s funny, my sort of entree was really just graphic design. You know, visual communication. And brand building was something that just kind of happened along the way. You know, that was never something that they taught in school. That was never something that they necessarily you know, called out as being sort of a specialty of the time in the advertising industry, believe it or not, that was just something that everyone sort of did on the side. And what I realized was that I loved being able to take the essence of a client and to help to sort of shape that experience around them. I had a fellow coworker and mentor at the time who said, that is really the heart of branding. And really sort of showed me that that was a specialty of mine without realizing it at the time.

Kira: I want to hear about your early days when you really made that transition from corporate to launching your own business and what that looked like for you, especially as far as really gaining traction, getting those first few clients, getting set up and running, so you felt like you could make that jump. I feel like that’s where a lot of us get stuck and overwhelmed.

Sarah: Yeah. I will say that was awhile ago so the market wasn’t as crowded, however, what I did was I found my way into B School, which is you know, a lot of people’s story.

Kira: Oh, I didn’t know that!

Sarah: Yeah, I took B School just because I wanted to have an understanding of what I was jumping into. I wasn’t someone who was trained as a business owner so I thought, well, I can’t afford to go to full on business school, so let me see what I can pick up in that course. And so you know, within the context of B School, started becoming active within the private facebook group, started talking to people, started interacting a lot personally and what I realized and in doing that, you know, on my own as well as just watching other pepople who were sort of rising to success very quickly.. it was really all about making connections. It was really all about creating that trust and that human connection. And that’s exactly how I found my first few clients that enabled me to jump ship and you know, to this day, I remain very active in a lot of Facebook groups because that ultimately is the best business tool, I feel, today. It’s just you know, the human touch.

Rob: I love that advice. The power of connection. That’s something that we’ve talked about with several guests but it’s something that Kira and I have both experienced and done. It really is the best way to connect with customers.

Sarah: It absolutely is. And you know, it’s funny too, and I tell my clients this all the time that are newer to this space, that connection, once that’s established with a few people, the power of word of mouth as well, you know, that’s what made my entire entrepreneurial career. Just those two things alone. And it all starts with you.

Rob: And it seems like if you couple that with a really powerful brand, then it’s like you’re networking on steroids. I’d really like to get into the idea of branding. What is it and why is it so important?

Sarah: You know, branding is the entire experience of your brand. It’s you know, who you are, it’s what you do, it’s how you do it, all sort of captured and communicated through your visuals, through your words, and through your every interaction. And it’s extremely important, I think, to understand what that is. Because I feel like a lot of people quite frankly don’t really understand what it is. It’s kind of like a unicorn. We’re told that it’s this magical thing that we need, but few of us know what it is.

Rob: So, why is it so important to have a strong brand?

Sarah: Because that is what people interact with first, you know, let’s say it’s your website that people stumble upon first. If you have a solid brand, if you have a very clear brand that you’ve thought through and you’ve worked through, that creates that instant connection on your behalf. That’s kind of what creates that visceral reaction that someone can identify with, or not identify with.

But it helps them sort of make a decision whether they want to stick around or if you’re not for them. And so it creates this presence that you can’t otherwise you know, create, unless you sort of go through this process of branding.

Kira: Can you share some of the elements of branding that are maybe obvious and some that maybe are not so obvious for people who just really haven’t given it as much thought? Like, it’s more than the logo, like we said in the introduction.

Sarah: Absolutely. I mean, I always break a brand down to several things. Number one is the strategy. How do you want to position yourself in the market? How can you differentiate yourself from others in your space? That’s kind of the core of a brand is really sort of that deep dive to figure out, “Who am I? What makes me unique?” Once you have that, it really is about what your story is and how you can leverage that. What’s your unique voice? How can you sort of take your own innate sense of style, how you dress, what you tend to like in terms of visuals and how can you convey that through your own presence? Through your design? Through your photography? And the last bit, you know, is just sort of how can you bring it all together? How can you sort of synthesize those pieces so that they are consistent? The logo – all the things that people think of that are inherently part of a brand – are the things that actually come in that synthesis part.

The cherry on top, if you will. All of the heavy lifting, the thinking, the figuring out, ultimately, like, how can you stand out from others in your space? That’s really the core heavy lifting of the process of branding.

Kira: I’d love to hear some specific examples if you don’t mind sharing any of just like, maybe they’re copywriters or not copywriters. Do you mind sharing?

Sarah: No, absolutely not! There’s a men’s clothing label that I’ve done quite a bit of work for called Bluffworks and you know, when they first came to me they actually had had a big branding agency do their branding you know, it was very impressive. It was – I call it the sad model in the desert photography – it was very slick, very well produced, and the problem was that they just weren’t getting as much traction as they thought that they could.

And so, what we did was we really dug in to figure out, you know, obviously, I just said what can we use, what can we leverage, to help Bluffworks stand out from their competitors? What we realized was, of course, the founder, Stefan Lobel, he himself has had an interesting story. He himself was trying to make it at a desk job in New York as an accountant and he wasn’t able to spend as much time as he wanted to with his family, so he once upon a daydream, created this clothing label in his mind that was for men who wanted to have really practical, sharp looking clothes that would travel well. They wouldn’t wrinkle, no matter what test they were put through. And so, what we realized was that it was really him that was the key differentiator of his brand. It was his quirky personality. It was his story. It was the fact that he loved to travel around the globe, wearing his clothes, by the way, with his fun family!

What we did was we shifted the focus from generic sad models in the desert to him, and we actually decided to make him the face of his brand. to sort of take him out of the background and put him in the foreground. If you visit his site, bluffworks.com, you’ll see that he’s actually the male model.

Kira: That’s cool.

Sarah: He’s the guy that’s doing that. He’s the guy in the newsletters. Lacey Boggs, who is a part of your community as well, helps to write on his behalf but they’re all centered around his travels. They’re all centered around who he is. And the difference that that made was tremendous. In fact, it doubled his revenue in the period of one year. Nothing at all changed about his products, it was just the fact that we really dug in, figured out what made him different from all these other clothing label giants, and helped him just stand out.

Rob: I love that example. I used to work in sort of a design space as well and working with small companies, they would always come and say hey, I want a logo like Nikes, or I want a brand like Nike’s. And aside from the fact that billions of dollars went into the development of that brand, I love that you’re connecting a brand with the personalities behind it. It’s something I think you did really well with Kira’s website, you know, she shows up with tons of energy and that only works for Kira. If I tried to steal that brand, with my own lower energy or different style, it wouldn’t work. And I think that’s a critically important part of the branding process.

Sarah: Yeah. You know, you bring up a really good point, but there are a lot of people who think that they can sort of riff off of someone else’s vibe, but what’s incredible is every single person who has ever come to me or has been through any sort of program I’ve offered, they always find something really unique to them. So, even if someone’s listening to this and thinking oh my gosh, there’s nothing interesting or sort of standing out about me, I guarantee you there is at least one thing, if not two dozen things that you can leverage.

(laughs)

Kira: Yeah, that’s a really good point because that’s what we hear a lot within the copywriter community, is just, okay, well, i’m not ash ambirge, I’m not – and they name a couple of people with more bold brands that maybe are more in your face that are awesome for those people. So, how can they figure out what makes them unique? Is that something they can do on their own or is that something that you really need to seek out some type of consultant, someone like you as a creative, to help us figure that out.

Sarah: Well, I mean, I think everyone can do it to some degree on their own. It might be a little difficult, just simply for the fact that we’re all too close to ourselves to be able to do ourselves objectively, but you know, oftentimes I’ve had folks in programs of mine where I’ve had them ask their clients to sort of reflect back… What makes me different? Is it my approach? Is it my personality? What do you find compelling about me? Past clients, people that know you well, friends, and the more people that you can ask, what’s interesting is that you’ll find patterns. You’ll start to find patterns. I’ve done that exercise myself because I can’t see myself objectively. And it’s interesting to see how many people come back with similar terms, so you can absolutely use other people as your mirror, or you can use someone like me or another branding specialist who is really quick at spotting things, to be able to pull it out of you. But definitely would encourage anyone to give that a whirl themselves as well.

Rob: Okay, so, let’s say that I wanted to go through that process for myself. I’ve been looking at Kira’s website for a couple of years and thinking, I don’t stack up. Aside from the what makes me different, what are the other things that I need to be thinking through before I engage with a designer or a brand strategist so that I make sure that this is going to be a really successful process?

Sarah: That is a great question. I think you need to have a really clear idea of – this sounds crazy – but of what you do, how to define it, how to explain that. You know, I’m always surprised at how many people conceptually know what they do and what they offer, but they can’t really articulate it, so you need to be able to have that down. It would help if you have your story! It doesn’t have to be beautifully written, but can you call out some key points? These are all going to be really great for you to get your head around, number one, but number two, they’re going to be great to hand off to a designer or, if you’re working even with another copywriter, to help you. Those are great things to hand to them because it’s great inspiration for them to be able to pull from.

If you can, start to look at what’s out there. Start to think about, visually, what are you drawn to? As a person? I’m going to say something that you’re probably not going to hear many people say, but at that juncture, it doesn’t matter what you think your customer’s want to look like. What do you want it to look like? What do you want it to feel like?

And, the clearer that you can get on that… go on Pinterest. Look around. Get inspired by things. Gather them up. The more that you can get clear on that, the more that you have as a conversation starter with a designer, for instance, you know, the more they’re going to be able to help you create a brand that truly communicates who you are.

Kira: It’s interesting, I was just speaking with a copywriter yesterday about her brand, and that’s exactly what came up first, was just, I kind of want to do this and be a little bit more playful, but I don’t think my current clients will like it because they’re more serious and that’s not really their style. But what you’re saying is really just put that to the side and don’t worry about that right now, put you first, front and center, and figure that piece out first.

Is it better just to not consider our clients at all when you’re thinking about the branding process? Or do you just have to think about them later? Or is it just fully focused on you?

Sarah: I mean, I think it’s thinking about them later. First and foremost, your brand needs to feel like you. I can’t tell you how many people have come to me in the past, they’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars, into brands that they felt didn’t fit them ever. And it’s because they shaped it around, first and foremost, their customers. And that is the way that the formal branding industry works. But that’s because those bigger companies are able to shapeshift their own identity around what their customers want and need. That doesn’t apply. The rules are backwards when you are the face of your brand.

It needs to fit you. It needs to be an extension of you, first and foremost, that alone is automatically going to attract some of the right people to you, number one. But number two, that’s something that’s never going to shift or change – who you are, what you aspire to be, and look like, and sound like, and feel like in your business. So, that really should be number one.

Rob: So, Sarah, are there formulas that we should be looking at as we think about our brands, formulas to follow, or would you just say it should always be based on the individual? The formulaic stuff – throw that away, forget it, make sure that it’s 100% you.

Sarah: Yeah, I would say ditch the formulas. The formulas tend to confuse, I think. For everyone, I’ve noticed my approach tends to be, again, I”m sort of looking for the strategy, how to position them, what’s their story, are there pieces we can leverage, what’s their style, how can we sort of call that out? And how can we make sure that the three align? That’s about as formulaic as I get. But you know, what I’m just looking for is like, what is the essence of the person? What are you all about? And so I think, when you’re able to really hone in on these aspects of who you are and you’re able to see it with that level of you know, objective perspective, that can really shift things for you. So, a lot of the process really is about being able to see yourself so that you can be yourself.

Kira: I’d like to hear more about what this actually looks like in your business, when you’re working with a client to figure out the strategy, pull out these insights, what does that look like on your end, as far as, are these phone calls? I kind of already know – I do already know because we worked through it – but I’d like for other people to get a glimpse at your process, whatever you’re willing to share.

Sarah: I mean, my signature process, I call it Preveé, I also call it Mirror Brand, but what I typically do is I start with having folks take a clear assessment of who they are, where they are, where they want to be. I don’t know if you remember this, Kira, but a really in depth workbook of sorts where you’re able to sort of pre-sort through your brand. The reason this is important is number one, to get me on the same page as you, but also for you to sort of pre-think through the various pieces of your brand on your own. And that’s very, very important because no one can brand you for you. You have to be an active participant in this process. So the rest of my process really involves sort of nailing down the strategy, the story, the style, and we break that up into collaborative video or phone-based working sessions, where we’re able to discuss and sort of tease out all of these individual pieces very clearly, so that we can arrive at a brand that truly feels like you. It’s not me disappearing and coming up with something on my own and presenting it to you, we’re coming up with it together. So, that way, you can effectively own it. And you know, move on, and be able to really keep things consistent moving forward, which is extremely important. And usually I house everything in what I call a brand dossier, which is all of our findings, really captured in this succinct document, and why that’s important is, that’s what you use to bring your brand to life. You know, a lot of the issue that people have with designers or I’m sure, many of you can attest to the fact that you’ve had clients come to you and they seem to know what they want when they get started, and then throughout the process, they seem like they change their mind a million times. That document helps to keep them clear and it helps to serve as a cheatsheet for copywriters like you. For designers. So that they can bring the brand to life in a really clear way.

Kira: Yeah, and I wonder if we as copywriters, we should incorporate some branding in our processes. I mean, depending on what type of copy you write, it may be more or less relevant, especially I’m thinking for website copy, which is more around storytelling. Do you, as a brand strategist, view copywriters as someone who should really learn this because we do have clients that come to us and they have no worked with you and they have no idea what their brand stands for and yet we’re supposed to create a brand campaign for them?

Sarah: Absolutely. Anything that you can do for them to get them clear on their direction beforehand is going to be extremely valuable for them, number one, but it’s also going to make your job that much easier. So absolutely. Anything that you can add to that, any strategy up front that you can add, is definitely going to be a win-win situation.

Rob: Sarah, I want to ask about copywriter brands specifically. The other day I saw a copywriter on Facebook share several potential logos that they wanted to incorporate into their own brand and it was the typical quill pen or typewriter letters… it’s the stuff that we see over and over and over and over and over and obviously, you’ve talked about working to connect your brand to your personality, but for copywriters who don’t have several thousand dollars at this point to go through a process with a designer, are there specific things that they can do to sort of avoid those overdone mistakes and make sure that they’re doing something original? Or is it the kind of things where we just need to save up our money and work with somebody who knows what they’re doing?

Sarah: I think that’s a great question. I mean, I think there’s two routes. One is the save it up and do it right, but in the interim, I do think there’s something to be said for the fact that simple typography you know, actually feels higher end or more interesting than you might think. And that’s certainly an inexpensive way to go.

Rob: Let me jump in right there, but you’re not talking about brush script or Comic Sans…

Sarah: No. Dear God, please no. How about a clean sans serif font that you can use! I mean, look at fashion brands for instance. We were talking about them earlier. Look at their logos! Research that. Do a google search. Most of them are just a really clean font. And the clean font usually represents their personality a little bit, so is it very geometric? Is it kind of friendly? Does it look really high end and is it condensed? You don’t even have to get that complex but just google any fashion brand that you like and kind of, in the interim, you can always sort of default to just a typeface. That is way better than having someone on Fiverr whip up a trite logo for you, to be completely honest.

Rob: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, you end up looking like everybody else and in a lot of cases, I think you end up looking cheap.

Kira: Yeah.

Rob: None of us want to look cheap to our clients.

Sarah: No, absolutely not. So, when all else fails, clean fonts win.

Kira: I was also going to add that we should link to your Pinterest board and page because you have so many examples of typography and concepts, fashion, and colors, that will give people ideas if they have no idea where to start, they can at least check out what you’ve pinned on there. We can link to that.

Sarah: Absolutely.

Kira: Sarah, I also want to ask you, speaking again to the copywriter space, have you noticed any trends? I know you’ve worked with a lot of copywriters over the last few years. Have you noticed any trends or like, anything that you can share with us that’s just good to know as far as what our competition is doing, or what’s happening in this space? How is it evolving? How are people showing up who are really doing it successfully?

Sarah: Well, I think you’re on the edge of that trend. There’s a lot of people who are as well, sort of leaders in that. And I think it really is the sort of stepping out from behind your words and you know, really sort of showing your personality. Whatever that may be. It could be quiet, it could be really sort of contemplative, it could be really bold. Either way, what i’m saying is a lot of people are sort of stepping out of the shadows. And even seeing a lot of people who are starting to publicly voice their own opinion – maybe they have a Medium account – and they’re starting to write their own op ed. And I think that’d dimensionalizing copywriters in a way that we haven’t seen before. I think copywriters traditionally are kind of like designers, often, where you sort of tend to hide behind your work. And the clients that you’ve worked for in the past and a few testimonials. But in this case, it’s creating your own voice and identity and leading with that and not being afraid to do that. And I think that’s what’s really making people, new clients, flock to you. And the right clients, mind you. The ones that know that you know, just given your voice and your personality, that you’re being very out-there with, that that’s exactly the type of work that they want to receive on the other side.

So, I think that’s something that I know is easier said than done, but that’s definitely the way that things are going.

Rob: We’ve covered a lot of ground in talking about branding, we’ve talked about strategy and positioning yourself, identifying your unique voice, your style, connecting to the personality behind the brand. Is there something else that we should be asking about that we don’t even know to ask here? Something else that we ought to be thinking about or doing or have we pretty much covered it?

Sarah: I think you’ve covered a lot of it. For copywriters, specifically, I will add: you guys are obviously really creative, conceptual folks, who are massively talented with words, I think that the only thing that’s often missing is the visual. How do you pair a visual with your words? And I really do think that the two create an awesome marriage. So, I think that there should be more emphasis, and Kira, that’s a great suggestion. Check out my Pinterest page, but the more that you can start to sort of verse yourself in the visual realm, the more sort of fully dimensionalized you will be and the more fully dimensionalized you can help your clients to be as well.

Kira: I want to speak to taking, like you’re saying, adding more dimensions. Taking your brand in real life. Off the computer. Let’s say you’re showing up at a conference, a networking event, maybe you’re speaking on stage. Whatever it is, what can we do to really embody the brand so that it’s more than just pixels on the page – it’s who we are as a person. How we show up in life and at events.

Sarah: I think all of that really comes down to starting with the branding process. Because the more that your online brand represents the real life person that you are, the easier it will be to take that show on the road, so to speak. The easier it will be for you to just show up on stage. And making sure that whatever you do, so for example… to use you as an example, Kira, when we did your photoshoots, we had you as the punk character and we had you in Doc Martins. And, you know, you wove those into your brand. And you still wear them to this day. That’s exactly how you show up. So, even if these are new elements that you uncover through discovering your brand, just make sure that you have those elements with you, that you make them a part of you when you do show up in real life. When you do show up on Facebook lives or a stage or a networking event or whatever it may be.

Kira: Yeah, just working with you changed my entire wardrobe! And even my hair color. Soon after we worked together, I went platinum because it just felt like it was part of the brand and the direction I should go for a little while to test it out and has made everything from showing up at a speaking event in a Bridezilla costume because it’s part of my brand… it just makes all those decisions so much easier, what I should be posting on Instagram, how everything should look. It’s all so easy now that I have the core pieces in place and it all feels, just kind of giving me direction in my personal life. How I show up for my family and for friends, too. But I want to make sure I ask you before we start to wrap about the copywriters who are really interested in branding. And really talented, they’re definitely feeling a pull to move into branding, maybe they’re testing it out, thinking about creating a package, some type of consulting. Where is a good place for them to start? It is daunting and I’ve thought about it in the past too, but I’m like, it feels like I’m faking it because I’m not a branding consultant, so where can these copywriters start? What type of training would you recommend? Or is it just really testing and experimenting?

Sarah: Funny you should ask that. I am in the process of creating a program for these folks, for folks to be able to learn through my process how to sort of integrate this into their own business. But, what I would say is: start with yourself. I know that sounds extremely scary, but that’s actually how I started doing this work on my own. I actually sort of started to think, how can I position myself? How can I create a unique voice for myself? Starting with that, that’s going to give you some insight that’s going to be extremely invaluable as you move on to working with other people. And, for a lot of folks that I’ve sort of mentored along the way, I think just volunteering that service to a few clients, it might be for free for two or three different clients, but the more experience that you have doing it, the more confident you will be in integrating that into your business. For the nuts and bolts, you can always – there’s a million different great books out there that you can sort of dive into. Just always considering that not all kinds of branding are going to apply to small personality-led business, if that is your audience. But,  the more practice you can do… just get in there. Get your hands dirty. With yourself, with your friends, with your coworkers. With your counterparts. And it’s really just practice makes perfect.

Rob: I was going to wrap but then you mentioned books… and my ears pricked up…

Kira: I knew it! I knew Rob was going to jump on that.

Rob: What books would you recommend around branding? I’m sure I’m not the only copywriter that wants books, but are there two or three that you would recommend as the textbooks that we really ought to be looking into?

Sarah: You know, there’s one that recently came out and admittedly I’m not done with it but it is pretty solid and it gives you a good foundation and it’s by Donald Miller and it’s called Building a Story Brand. That’s a pretty good one so far. Another one that I actually really enjoyed and I refer to a lot is called The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier. So, I would probably start with those two because that’s sort of giving you the old view, the traditional view, the tried and true, and something that’s a little bit newer and easier to wrap your head around.

Kira: Awesome. I’m ordering that. Okay. So, just to wrap this, what does your business look like today, as far as, what are you working on? You mentioned that you’re launching something. Can you share a little bit more about what’s happening now, what’s coming up for people who want to jump on board?

Sarah: Sure! I’ve been spending the past, gosh, year and a half really sort of breaking down my own branding process that I’ve been doing with clients for the past five to six years, and I call that process Mirror Brand. And it really is designed for personality-led brands, and I’m about to launch another round of that. It’s a small group, very intimate, but you can find out more about that if you’re interested on my site if you look up Signature Program in the top navigation. And I’m actually as I said, turning that process into a training process, to be able to help to help designers, copywriters, and creatives alike to really be able to offer branding as a value-add service to their existing business. To really help people to develop their brand from soup to nuts.

Rob: This has been awesome, Sarah. If people want to find out more about that program or connect with you, what’s your website? Where should they go?

Sarah: Public Persona. So, public-persona.com!

Kira: Thank you, Sarah, this has been awesome.

Rob: It’s been so good, thank you.

Sarah: Thank you! Thanks for having me!

 

 

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