168 FS Branding with Sunny Bonnell
01:05 - Sunny Bonnell Introduction
01:38 - Archetyping
- Is Your Brand the Rebel, Hero or Lover? Discovering Brand Archetypes
- Understanding The Brand Archetype
05:48 - Is archetyping important for the solopreneur?
12:21 - Identifying *Your* Archetype
15:37 - Branding ROI
21:44 - What do you do once you choose your archetype?
25:12 - Implementing Motto’s Archetype
26:04 - Can you blend archetypes?
28:47 - Finding a Target Audience
33:54 - Changing Brands
42:27 - Client Intake Process/Discovery
- Red Flags/Turning People Down
49:14 - The Audience
51:51 - Changing Archetypes
- Best Advice I Ever Got: Don't Be a Slave to the Ordinary
- 10 Ways to Find Your Purpose as a Designer
- 12 Principles For Leading An Extraordinary Company
- Five questions to get to the heart of your business
- Follow Your “Why,” Not Your “What” Picks
Circa Notebooks (Jonathan)Expensive Problem Coaching Call (Jonathan)Naomi Dunford: What Is Price Anchoring? (And Should You Do It?) (Eric) Setting a goal, making a plan, and executing a plan (Chuck)Masters of Sex (Sunny)Readymag (Sunny)Niice (Sunny)Yellow108 (Sunny)
OPERATOR: I’m sorry, but the person you called has a voice mailbox that has not been set up yet. CHUCK: Is that Jonathan? [Chuckles] OPERATOR: Goodbye. CHUCK: Goodbye! [Chuckles] ERIC: IM message him.**[This episode is sponsored by Hired.com. Hired.com is offering a new freelancing and contracting offering. They have multiple companies that will provide you with contract opportunities. They cover all the tracking, reporting and billing for you, they handle all the collections and prefund your paycheck, they offer legal and accounting and tax support, and they’ll give you a $2,000 when you’ve been on a contract for 90 days. But with this link, they’ll double it to $4,000 instead. Go sign up at Hired.com/freelancersshow]****CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 168 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Jonathan Stark. JONATHAN: Hello. CHUCK: Eric Davis. ERIC: Hey. CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from Devchat.tv. This week we have a special guest, and that’s Sunny Bonnell – did I say that right? SUNNY: You said it right. CHUCK: Do you want to introduce yourself? SUNNY: Sure! I’m the co-founder and creative director of Motto. Motto is a comprehensive branding agency, and we work with visionary leaders and organizations to build inspiring and magnetic brands. CHUCK:**Awesome. So, you sent us ten zillion articles to read. [Chuckles] And I’ll –.**SUNNY:**I think there was four. [Chuckles] A zillion sounds good, though.**CHUCK: Yeah, there were seven links. SUNNY: Yeah. CHUCK: So I went and read them, and I just want to dig into this because it’s so interesting. SUNNY: Sure. CHUCK: I think the first thing that I read that really connected for me was having an archetype for your business. Do you want to explain the principles behind that and then give us some ideas? SUNNY: Sure. Archetypes are interesting because they’ve been around for a very long period of time. We’ve seen archetypes throughout history; even dating back to the beginning of time – the famous stories of Adam and Eve and Eve taking the first bite of the apple, which is considered an act of rebellion against God. And then of course we have all sorts of different characters that have emerged; I mean it would take a whole show to go through all of them, probably several show. You can think of people like Marilyn Monroe or JFK and Martin Luther King and all these individuals who have made these impacts in terms of their personality and who they are. And so archetypes essentially have existed for a very long period of time. The unique thing is that not until about 10 or 15 years ago we started to make a connection about how they apply to branding and companies. And so what archetyping is is that most companies struggle with defining and articulating meaning, so they struggle with defining the meaning of their brand. And so we’ve learned over the last couple of years that meaning is probably one of the most difficult thing that companies are dealing with. Especially when they reach out to us, they say things like ‘we feel like our brand should feel like this’ or ‘we feel like our brand needs more “pop” or it needs to be more fresh.’ And what’s really happening is that they’re struggling to give language to what those things actually mean, so they’re searching for a language to put around it, and so archetypes gives you the language to be able to do that. So we have these twelve archetype characteristics, like are you a hero? Are you an explorer? Are you a rebel? Are you a lever? And of course there’s a few more, but when you start to identify what those things are and you begin to understand what they mean, like when we think of a rebel we think of someone who is a rule breaker or a catalyst for change. And so when you start to adopt that language within your organization, it starts to give you a little bit of a picture or an essence that you begin to build language around, and so archetyping is really a factor for defining what that meaning is. CHUCK: Yeah, I mean the thing that resonated with me was just that this is something that I have struggled with with my own freelancing business. So basically – I’ll put it this way but people ask me what my business is about and I’m like ‘solving problems with Ruby on Rails’. SUNNY: Sure. CHUCK: “Okay, but what are you about?” And I’m like, “Solving problems with Ruby on Rails?” And yeah, there’s nothing to grab somebody there, there’s nothing to latch on to. And so if you see something relatable like that, some – I like the term archetype but you see that rebel, that teacher, explorer, lover – whatever – it’s like ‘oh, okay’. I immediately identify with those aspects of my own personality. SUNNY: Sure. And you have to think about it like this – a lot of people, when they try to think of things like they want to be dangerous or they want to be edgy, they start using language like that. Or they try to show you photos, or they try to search for the language to define what that is. But if you say ‘I’m an outlaw’ or ‘I rebel against the rules’ or ‘I challenge the status quo’, then all of a sudden you began to start painting these mental pictures, and that’s essentially archetyping. Again, you have to think about all the times that we’ve seen these stories like Cinderella and Nike – you know, Nike’s a great hero brand. You think of Superman – you think of all these kind of characters that have appeared throughout time, archetyping starts to paint a picture for what those individuals are, what characters they embody. And so the same kind of thinking can essentially be applied to your brand and your company. JONATHAN: I could see how this could be super important for like a company – a non-solo company because you’ve got to coalesce the personality into a voice. SUNNY: Uh-hm. JONATHAN: Is it as important for a solo freelancer or a solo consultant, you think? Or is it kind of almost redundant? SUNNY: Well, it’s a great question. I think that, yes, it’s very important because in today’s marketplace and in today’s market I think that we’re all, in essence, becoming personal brands. And the unique thing is, yes, you’re company is one entity but you as an individual can have your own archetype and it does not necessarily mean – it doesn’t necessarily need to align with what you company is. Although we see a lot of that in a lot of the companies that we worked with, specifically if there is a leader or a CEO who started the business who’s really closely tied to it, we often see there’s a big alignment between the personal archetype of that person and then also the archetype of the company. But I think that even as a solo-preneur or an entrepreneur, you really do need to know what kind of archetype that you embody. And as humans, we are very complex individuals, so it’s not like we’re just one thing, but there’s always one thing that’s more dominant in us than other things. So of course I’m made up of a couple of different archetypes; I have different qualities, but there’s one for me, personally, kind of is the dominating quality for me or the dominating archetype characteristics for me personally. It’s not the same as what it is for Motto, which is kind of interesting. But Ash and I know that – Ash is a different type of archetype than I am, and Motto is its own archetype, but we’re fully committed to exploring that archetype and have been since the beginning of Motto. I think for solo-preneurs you just have to know who you are and know what that archetype is so that you can then begin communicating it. Whether it’s in your business or whether you’re a consultant or whatever that is, knowing that archetype is going to help you just paint a clear picture for not only those that you work with but for those that seek you out. JONATHAN: So if you’re made up of, you know you’re just a solo-preneur and you’ve made up of a number of different archetypes you can perhaps emphasize one that is going to be most likely to be attractive to your target audience, for example? SUNNY: Sure. There’s a great example that I use a good bet. It’s a client of ours called Johnny Cupcakes – I don’t know if you guys are familiar with him, but I know Johnny personally and I also have worked in his company and for his company. And so what’s interesting about him is that his personal archetype is through and through a direct extension of the company that he built on cupcakes, and also him as a – he’s now bridged out into doing a lecture series which is what we worked on with him. He’s through and through a jester, and what’s very interesting about him – and I use him a lot – is because he embodies all of the characteristics is you know him as a person, all of the characteristics of a jester. And if you know his company, you also can sense that he’s very jester-like and it – always the jokester and the prankster, and that’s what Johnny Cupcakes is all about. It’s about making people happy and he does that through expressing himself and his brand in a lot of different ways that –. We don’t always see that clear of a picture for a lot of companies, but he’s a true embodiment of an archetype being just authentic all the way through. JONATHAN:**Interesting piece. You can imagine someone who’d pick that archetype to, based on business [inaudible], maybe wouldn’t be super attractive to people who were really averse to risk or some kind of bank, credit union type of clients.**SUNNY:**Yeah definitely [chuckles].**JONATHAN: So it might seem like, there might be some considerations to – sound like a very soul-searching exercise. SUNNY: Oh, it definitely is. And I think what’s interesting, too, is that financial institutions do tend to be the ruler archetype – we see a good bit of that. But then with kind of cool sometimes you see what you don’t expect; you can see a company that you wouldn’t anticipate being a different archetype, and they actually use that to their advantage to carve out a unique space. Probably a great example of that would be GEICO. When you think of car insurance and you think of boat insurance and things like that, you don’t exactly get the warm and fuzzies. But then when you think of how they’ve implemented the gecko and how they used this sense of humor, it starts to make you think about ‘wow’; they’ve been able to use something and carve out a niche and a space that is traditionally, what I would say, is kind of benign and boring. JONATHAN:**Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I’m starting to think of a name; I think Eric knows it but there’s a company that handles accounting services for creative types, and the whole thing is so refreshingly non-[inaudible]. I’m starting to think of a name, I’m sure someone [crosstalk].CHUCK: Is it less accounting or zero? JONATHAN: Maybe less. It could be – I don’t think it was zero. It might’ve been less accounting than I’m thinking. CHUCK: Those guys are goofballs. SUNNY: Uh-hm. JONATHAN: Yeah, so they’re doing the same thing where they toy with your expectations because of the target mark that they’re going after. SUNNY: Yeah, absolutely; and we see a good bet of that, too. Actually we encourage – do we just get so many people that reach out to us and they’re like, “We want to be the next Apple and we want to do what they did.” And we try really hard to be very clear about that you’re not going to be the next Apple – you’re going to be the best you, and what does that look like for your organization and how do you make something meaningful for yourself? How do you leave your own imprint? And that’s always – these exercises that we work through, specifically with archetyping, are probably the most challenging things that we do for clients. And I would also say that we do a lot of visioning with clients; that is also a real struggle for them. A lot of companies come to us and they just don’t know what future they’re creating for their organization or for the people that they’ve brought on. And that’s always a challenge for us, too, because we can’t hand someone a vision; we can certainly fuel it and push it and facilitate it to some degree, but we cannot give a company their vision. We have to help get them to a point where they can articulate it and we can help them articulate it in a way that makes sense and matters and so forth. But yeah, we definitely see this a good bet. We try to push people to work through these exercises in a way that does reveal their true selves so that they can begin to build a foundation for something. Otherwise, it’s a lot of random decisions and a lot of decisions made without a lot of thinking behind it, and so we try companies to avoid that as much as possible. CHUCK: So let’s say that I’ve got a small dev shop, or maybe it’s just me, how do I start to identify the archetype that I should be using? SUNNY: Sure. So, there are 12 primary archetypes in all, and they each have their own set of stories and values and meanings. The question that we always start with is “what’s the role that you want to plan the world?” If you could play a role, what would that role be? And we’ve really laboriously perfected an exercise that we work through with clients that – we’ve tried to work through what their archetype is and I think the first step is obviously education. A lot of people don’t know that this exercise even exist or why it matters, and I think to communicate ‘how do you us it’, ‘why is it important’ and to really paint a picture for that. This is a complex conversation that’s existed for hundreds of years that has recently been applied to branding, and so to start there and begin to work through some questions about ‘who are we’, ‘what matters to us’, ‘what do we feel we identify with’. When we go through each of the archetypes, are there things that are jumping out that you feel embodies some qualities or characteristics that you’re either living out now or that you feel like you want to strive towards? And then that begins to narrow down where you fit in that scale. But again, archetyping is a fundamental, critical element to brand bulding but that’s not the only thing that we do. Archetyping comes down a little bit later in the line. We usually start with vision, values, purpose – those are the keystones for what we began with. And once we have those very clear, a lot of times the archetype is the one thing that brings it all together and starts to build language around it if that makes sense. So again, it’s a lot of questions that you have to ask, and a lot of people we seed can’t do it on their own because then they end up picking two or three archetypes or they don’t know which one really resonates. And sometimes they think they’re one archetype but they’re really not. And so by facilitating that or working with somebody who’s at least done it for a long time and helped a lot of companies, then you began to use them to help you see a little bit more clearly. JONATHAN: Yeah, that kind of stuff is almost impossible to do yourself. SUNNY: Oh, absolutely. It can be very difficult; even when we let clients start the exercises on their own, they always typically come back with two or three, and they’re like ‘I don’t know’. And only through further probing and pushing do we really start to hone in and laser in on one. What’s amazing is once they know that, it is revolutionary and transformational how clear they become. And knowing how to start talking about their company and their brand, it’s just – I’ve seen it time and time again and it never ceases to amaze me. We’ve been doing this for ten years and it’s amazing, the clarity that these companies get. And the reason that we practice archetyping is because Ashley and I lost our way early on in our own career, and it was that one thing that brought us back to who we are and was able to shape and transform our own company in the path that we were on. And so it works so well for us that we were like – we wanted to share it. JONATHAN: Once you have that clarity – you said that it’s amazing, it’s revo – I can totally imagine that. But what’s the actual business outcome of that? So could you quantify it necessarily? Actually it sounds like a pretty difficult, maybe even a little bit of a painful exercise that does not happen overnight –. SUNNY:[Chuckles] Right, right.**JONATHAN:**And why [inaudible] through that? What is the benefit to me> what is the problem that I’m having that makes me know that I need this as a solution and then what can I expect to gain from it after I got the clarity?**SUNNY: I think that’s a fascinating question. I think that without a point of view, you do not stand for anything. And what we believe is that you really should stand for something in order to not only build your company but where are you building your company. What is the future for your company look like? And I think from a financial standpoint, there’s proven results and documentation, there’s a lot of studies out there about the quality, not necessarily just archetyping. I think branding as a conversation is much bigger than just looking at archetyping as the only factor. There’s a lot of factors that play into the success of a company over a long term I think what you have to look at is why these types of things are important, specifically archetyping, or even visioning or values; is that – as you began to grow, it sets the foundation for the integrity of your brand. And as you began to bring people on, whether that’s employees as you start to build a culture, as you start to evolve and grow, knowing who you are is really important because there will undoubtedly be times where that comes into question, whether it’s – you’re in the middle of – there’s competitors that come up behind you. There’s new trends, there’s things that make a lot of companies second guess themselves, and we have seen this time and time again. Many companies get into situations where they see things going on around them and they start to make very fast and un-prudent decisions. And by knowing who you are, by knowing who your archetype is, by practicing that and never wavering on it, I think that you really truly can stand the test of time. And I think it, overall, it’s clearer for your team, it’s clearer for you, it’s clearer for your customers. And it’s clear for the product and the services that you offer. Ultimately, by being very firm and understanding of who you are in the world, I think that you’re able to provide a clear pathway to meaning, which is what all companies and brands need to do. JONATHAN: Yes. Sounds like you can make smarter decisions faster if you know what opportunities are actually appropriate for you to pursue, and which opportunities are really not appropriate for you to pursue. SUNNY: Well yeah, you ask yourself things like ‘is this us?’ or ‘is this not us?’ and some people don’t know the answer to that. Most companies don’t know the answer to that, and I only know this by working with hundreds of companies and hundreds of entrepreneurs. They struggle with this; it’s the one thing that – we get the phone rings the most for is ‘help me define the meaning of my company’, ‘help me understand where I’m trying to take this thing’. And, you know, but for people who know those things, right – because we do have a lot of leaders and organizations who come to us who are very clear about their vision. But again, I think that it’s – you have to ask the question, “Is this on brand? Is this not on brand?” And when you don’t note some of these things, which I call the foundational elements of branding, if you don’t know what those things are you're definitely going to struggle as you go through the process of building out your company. Whether you stick with one person or five people or a hundred people or more than that, you’ll eventually ask those questions. And I think that it’s worth it to know the answer to those questions. JONATHAN: Well yes, especially – I totally agree with being able to articulate your vision, especially internally. If you’ve got a – the more ways you have, the more important it is to have commander’s intent of ‘this is what we stand for, this is how we do it’. But it seems like – I’m assuming, but I don’t want to assume, that this is going to have a powerful effect, not just internally on making decisions and keeping everybody aligned internally, but also when you stand for something it makes it easier to attract your ideal customers, I would think. SUNNY: Oh, absolutely. I mean, your audience knows now; they’re just more in tune. And I think that companies have to reach their hand a little bit higher in order to stand out and to be recognizable. A lot of companies out there are forgettable, and I think that what can you do to get attention? How do you create a language around yourself? How do you create a point of view? How do you stand for something so that other people went on that train? And I think it’s the most challenging thing for people in business today. There’s hundreds of – I mean even for us, there’s hundreds and hundreds of great, amazing designers. Why us? Why pick us? Why choose Motto over somebody else? We have to work on that on a day to day basis to carve out a unique point of view for ourselves where, traditionally, a lot of agencies almost didn’t have a voice because they were so trying to appeal to an audience, meaning like you’re so busy building other people’s brands that you don’t really build your own. And it took us a long time to figure out ‘hey, we are in fact our own company in our own brand and then we have our own point of view’. And that sort of thinking applies to anything that you're doing, whether you have a book, whether you have a podcast, whether you have a product or a service – whatever those things are, you have to be able to communicate who you are or otherwise people won’t understand you. JONATHAN: Yeah, you’re just mushed. SUNNY:**You’re just mushed. [Laughter] It’s a great way to put it.**JONATHAN: Technical term. SUNNY: Yeah. I mean, you’re kind of like clay, you know. You can be modeled and I think that’s the scary part is that, if you don’t model yourself someone else will and I just believe in taking control of that. I think you should so everything with intent. CHUCK: So I guess the next thing is, so I have my archetype, and I’ll just pick one off the list, let’s say Explorer. SUNNY: Uh-hm. CHUCK: What do you do next? I’m sure you resonate with that somehow, but how does that inform the design on your website or the messaging in your blog post, or the way that you approach fining customers or anything else? SUNNY: Yeah. You have to think about at the heart of what the definition of an Explorer is. So when you think of an explorer, you think of someone or something that moves past the known to explore new, uncharted territories. You think when one crowd – when crowds go one way, the explorers tend to go a different path; they embrace the journey rather than the destination. And so there are a lot off brands that embody those qualities. Once you know – let’s just say you're an Explorer – then the decisions starts to happen where you start to intentionally craft language and messages, and put the language around what the explorer sounds like, looks like, feels like. There’s great brands that we all know and love; there are great examples of that. For example, North Face, Subaru, Patagonia – is a great example of Explorer. You can see the consistency in their language and the imagery – there’s always somebody pioneering the unknown. We have a client actually called Munk Pack that we’ve been working with over the last years, and they make food on-the-go that goes in these little pouches. And their audience is people who love adventure, love the outdoors, they’re always seeking the next horizon, the next mountain to climb, and we have just basically infused every aspect of the explorer into their brand and it’s just paying off. They’ve just got picked up by Costco, they're in whole foods. These guys, when you follow them on Instagram, they’ve got people all over the world taking photos in these beautiful, amazing places with this little pouch of food in their backpack. And it’s just amazing how we set out with the intention to send that message to the world, and the world is receiving it. And I think, again, it just comes down to what is the intent. If you know what the Explorer sounds like, again, the language is often very pioneering; there’s a spirit about it, there’s always the sense of adventure. When you think about that, the images, the language that you use, the videos – whatever it is. The package design, however you kind of infuse that feeling of the Explorer into it. Another example would be somebody like Anthony Bourdain. We all know who Anthony Bourdain is; for the most part he is on CNN, he’s done Parts Unknown, he’s done No Reservations – he is the ultimate explorer. Experiencing the world on a plate through food, it’s just fascinating to me. He probably doesn’t – maybe he realizes it, maybe he doesn’t, but he knows deep down, I mean I’ve read a lot of his books, that he is always about experiencing life, being on a journey. And even in his language, in his words, in his books, we actually – Ash and I just actually heard him talk here is Dallas at the majestic. Just seeing him for the first time on stage, he just ooze the essence of an explorer; life is an adventure for him. And so I think it’s about being true to that and bring it to life through your company and through your brand. CHUCK: So I’m also curious, which archetype have you chosen for Motto and how have you implemented that in your business? SUNNY: Well, you know, Motto is true and true an Explorer archetype. Early on we thought we were kind of rebellious, and I think at one point we were. But we’ve realized that – a few years into business – that that wasn’t – we weren’t exactly being incredibly authentic to that. And so for us, the Explorer has always resonated simply because we believe that branding is a process of self-discovery. And we take our clients on a journey to pioneer their spirit, and we do that internally as a company, and we’re always looking for ways to uncover and discover new and exciting things and opportunities and so forth. And so, it’s always been authentically an Explorer, and we just help our clients do the same. CHUCK: Now you mentioned that you felt like rebels at the beginning a little bit. Can you blend them at all? Does that just not work or –? SUNNY: Just like anything, right – I think I mentioned this early one – humans are really very complex, and I think organizations are obviously very complex. There’s always going to be some characteristics that shine, but ultimately you can’t really be both. I think you really do have to pick one that you can follow and shoot the air at for so that you always hit the target. I do think that to some degree there’ll always be a little bit of rebel in us just because Ash and I have that sense about us personally. When we first started Motto that was something that was a personal thing for us. We were in a small town, we wanted to defy what we were being told. A lot of people told us that we would fail, a lot of people told us, “Oh, you know two young girls? Give me a break. What do you think you're going to build here?” And that really fueled us, and I feel like that early on those challenges were definitely what pushed us forward. But I also think that it wasn’t necessarily just the rebel that was weighing heavily in our company; I think it was just us. We, personally, were rebellious to some degree, but I think Motto was always, at the heart, Explorer. And it wasn’t until maybe a year or two in our business that we really truly hooked in to that and realized that that was the most authentic voice for us. JONATHAN: I think all these stuff is super important like the self-awareness even for a single person shop. It’s so important to know; it just helps you have conviction in your decisions about a million things. You have to make a million decisions as somebody who’s running their own shop – freelancers or consultants, whatever. Opportunities will come up, you get referrals too jobs that maybe you don’t want and maybe casual is not as crazy as could be and you’re tempted to take it – there’s just a million decisions to make. So I, 100%, know that knowing who you are and what you stand for is super important, but I want to also add that I think it’s also important to know who you serve with – it feels like a different thing. It feels like what you're talking about is very much introspective, even though it allows you to then communicate a unified message to the world, it doesn’t – I mean nothing you’ve said really speaks that much to who your audience is. I mean, in general it does; in general you’re saying that if you stand for something you’re not going to appeal to everyone because everyone’s going to appeal to –. But can you talk a little bit about implementing once the brand is established. What about the target market? How do you then act on that to – specific. If you have any examples of small companies that would be the best because I think that’s more in tune with the audience. SUNNY: Sure. JONATHAN: Where maybe, I don’t know but maybe Johnny Cupcakes sounds like a solo person or a small company. How did he then capitalize on all this hard work you did to define that target market. Who’s going to resonate best with my Jester archetype and how am I going to reach those people, and what does it mean when they resonate with me? And what happens when people who – or maybe not the kind of people I want to work with are trying to mean for some other reason? All this – I know that’s a million questions but –. SUNNY: Yeah. I was like, man that’s –. JONATHAN: It’s a squishy area so I’m just trying to give you some rope. SUNNY:**Yeah. So Johnny’s a great example because he’s not just a small company. He’s voted number one entrepreneur, he’s flown over the world, he’s spoken for Apple – this guy’s everywhere. He’s got three different locations – one in LA, one in Boston, one in Martha’s Vineyard, he just had a shop in London. What’s very interesting about Johnny, and just so you know, just to be clear we didn’t build the Johnny Cupcakes brand. We worked with him after that brand has been long established. We’ve worked with him on – once he started to go out into the world and actually speak, he wanted to talk and share his story about him building the Johnny Cupcakes brand from the back of his car. Essentially, he’s the true rags to riches story where this guy was selling t-shirts out of the trunk of his Camry and has essentially built this business from the ground up and he wanted to share that with other organizations. So when we were brought on, we were brought on to work with him to bring the lecture series to life which we designed – the blog for that and the website for that. He wanted to be inextricably linked to the Johnny Cupcakes brand because he in of himself even though his real name is Johnny Earl, he’s Johnny Cupcakes and everybody knows him as Johnny Cupcakes. So he’s a great example of someone who went after a very specific kind of individual, and a very specific kind of audience that – he doesn’t appeal to everyone. Kids wait out in front of his stores for overnight. They – people line up around the block to get these limited edition t-shirts. Show me any other t-shirt company where that’s happening. He’s got kids who are tattooing his logo on their neck, in their arms, in their body. He has just created this cult-like loyalty that is astonishing to me that he is able to do that. In so many ways, he’s this unique combination of all the things that you want companies to be able to do. He’s the Apple of the t-shirt world. He’s certainly not grown to that size yet, he’s not been in business very, very long, certainly not like Apple. But he’s interesting in that he’s been able to create a cult of people that just truly are loyalist to follow him wherever he goes. So when we talk about knowing our archetype and being able to identify in the world with who you serve, by knowing that you're going to attract the people that also identify with those things. You’re not going to attract anyone and everyone who doesn’t necessarily identify with that and I think that’s okay. I think that’s what it should be. For example, when people come to us, they seek us out because of what we’re putting out into the world. We’re saying, “Hey, we can do these things; we’ll take you through this process.” It’s not the easiest process; we tell people, “Listen, if you're looking for this, this and this, we are not the right fit.” And it’s hard to turn people away because I’ve had people come to me with their check for $150,000 to work with us and I know for a fact that we cannot help them. They're not going to be a right fir for us for one reason so another that is glaringly obvious. And so to turn that down seems like [inaudible] right, it sound crazy like who would do that? But why try to force chemistry or force things that you know you're not going to be able to make magic, or you’re not going to be able to make magical things? So I think it’s no different in what company that you are building. You have to be able to identify again who you are trying to serve, what are their characteristics, what do they believe in, what do they love, what do they enjoy. And you just speak to them, you preach to them because they're the only one’s who’s going to hear the sermon. That’s the only sermon that they're going to listen to is probably yours if they’re in line with your thinking. And I think a lot of companies try to be everything in all things and I just don’t think it’s strategic. Yeah, I think it’s a great question. You need to know who you serve, but it’s even more important to know who you are so that you know who to serve.**ERIC:**Yeah, it’s a little tricky [inaudible] for me I don’t think one is inextricably linked in a way.**SUNNY: Yeah, they are. ERIC: I mean we’re certainly in 100% agreement that trying to be all things for all people is a recipe for disaster. SUNNY: Uh-hm. CHUCK: What if I’ve been in business for two years or five years of ten year and I have this track record f being all over the place with my brand. Is it too late and are there things that I can do specifically to make a more cohesive message? SUNNY: I never think it’s too late. I’ve worked with companies that have been in business for sixty years who have made a powerful transformation. So I don’t believe it’s ever too late to start. Sure, there’s things to unravel, there’s things that there’s a lot of history, especially in some of these brands there has been a lot that has occurred within them. But I don’t think it’s too late to become the thing that feels the most like you, and what we’ve learned is that a lot of these companies that didn’t have this language, and then they do. It’s pretty remarkable how clear they become and how more they feel like themselves. And I think it changes their decision making, I think it changes the feeling, I think it changes the moral of the company when they know where they’re going. And I’ve seen companies who have been in business for two years, and usually there’s common symptoms. We see this as a good bet – there’s usually something that is glaring that they may be overlooking or they know that it’s kind of there but they're like, “Well, we’re making money so everything’s got to be okay.” But they knew at the back of their minds that something is more difficult than it should be, and s lot of it is often related to strategy, messaging, the language. Sometimes the design is very poor, it doesn’t reflect the company and then of itself. We worked with a company a couple of years ago – it’s been about two years, I think – that, by all accounts and purpose is successful had probably one of the most amazing cultures I’ve ever been in. The company itself was doing well. They weren’t hurting financially by any means. Again, the culture was very intact; a very supportive group of folks, they love working there. A lot of the people who have been there for many, many years wouldn’t consider going anywhere else. And what was interesting about them was that the thing that came to us and said is, “You know, we’re making money, we have a great team, we love our clients, but we feel like we don’t really know why we’re in business. We don’t really know if we have a purpose.” And that was very revealing to me because they said ‘we’re doing well, but our language, the things that we’re saying on our website, our website feels this way’. Again, searching for the language to put around why things fell off, but they couldn’t quite articulate what was off. And we worked through a lot of these exercises with them, and over the last year they’ve doubled in revenue, they’ve added to their team, they build a manifesto within the company, the leadership team. They're like – we just feel so much more clear about our purpose, we know who we are now, we know what we stand for, we know what we’ll do and what we’ll don’t do, and that in it of itself was enough to get them into the next phase of their business, to the next evolution of their growth. And I think these things will be with them for a very long time despite how big they grow or how far they go as a company, and how many people they have, I truly, truly think that the heart and soul of the company – the home of the company – is very well seated now. JONATHAN: So it’s like – I mean it’s very first world problem in a way. It’s like we’re making money and everything fine in the surface, but we got this business malaise. SUNNY: Yeah. JONATHAN: It’s like, it’s this thing that is icking at us. People who are scrambling to get the next gig probably or not going to notice that they have that kind of an issue. SUNNY: They will. JONATHAN: Exactly, they will because once you get to that, it sounds like the perfect way to break through that first ceiling. SUNNY:**Yeah. Oh yeah, like I said, it’s like lifting a veil for a lot of these companies that we’ve worked with. What’s so funny is that we have a call a couple of weeks ago from – I can’t say who they are because I signed it in ink [chuckels], but this company is – you guys know who they are. We drive by them everyday on the road – huge, huge, huge. We’ve all grown up with them, they're just on every corner. And this company called and said, “We’ve been in business since the late sixties and we are having trouble articulating our purpose.” And I almost dropped the phone because I’m like ‘what’. And I would think that after all this time I would hear these things again and again and again and it would not surprise me, but I’m like thinking – I sat there almost with a, I didn’t even know what to say because I was so almost stunned that this company that I have known and grown up with and eaten at many, many times was struggling with that. And it was just amazing to me because I’m like it doesn’t matter what size you are. You can be one of the biggest corporate giants in the world and you can still be struggling with ‘where do we go from here?’ How do we now begin to put language around? And what was interesting is they have worked with another agency who had given them language that, I’d be quite frank, I don’t even know what the hell that means. Some of it was just so bizarre. The language was so abstract I have no idea what they were actually trying to say. Like we exist to serve those that serve the public, and I was like – and we’re delightful, and I was like I didn’t even know what they were getting at, and I was like ‘no wonder’. It’s like if these – this is like a well-known agency, you know what I I’m thinking, “God, if these guys are struggling with it, then it’s kind of like a problem.” It’s been a problem for a long time and so yeah, it’s amazing to me that this just goes on all the time in these people’s businesses because a lot of times the founder of the company or the leader or the company, when they start a business there’s a very intimate relationship that happens. And I think it’s very interesting as the company begins to scale, how does that stay intact? How does that love for something that is usually born from an idea from someone? How does that love stay intact? And it’s a question that I’ve been trying to answer for a long time in my own business because I – we worked with it all the time. In a lot of these companies there’s multiple CEOs, there’s people who have taken over the business, whatever. And sometimes it’s not love the way that it originally was loved and you can feel it and the people and feel it; they just don’t have the language for it. We try to give them the language they need in order to be able to articulate these things. So yeah, it’s interesting for sure.**JONATHAN:**You can see with those – I’ll refer to them as soggy positioning statements or soggy mission statements come from, it’s just like utterly meaningless word majory that maybe means something to the committee of people that came up with them. But really, it seems like they’re architected to take off exactly no one. [Chuckles] Instead of actually being meaningful to a subset of the seven billion people on the planet.**SUNNY: Yeah. JONATHAN: So it’s kind of like drawing a line on the sand. It’s funny because I counsel people with these sort of stuff but not from a branding standpoint; I’m much more customer focused. SUNNY: Sure. JONATHAN:**And saying’ this is my ideal customer’. I help this ideal customer with these kinds of problems. And it’s not about what I stand for that I’m [inaudible] Angeles and I – whatever. It’s not about me, it’s about you.**SUNNY: Uh-hm. JONATHAN:**But the results is exactly the same, which is that all of a sudden you get this resonance, which is interesting. It think the thing that’s in common with the two approaches is that I don’t think they’re necessarily one or the other – absolutely not in fact. But the thing that’s interesting is that you’re drawing a line on the sand and that means that you're not for everyone, you're not going to take care of every person with their check in a heartbeat. I won’t sell shoes to people who you think are evil or whatever. [Chuckles] It’s like how do you guys – this is like the meta question about how you run Motto. It sounds like you work with potentially extremely large customers and clients, but also maybe some smalls – you haven’t mentioned that you actually work with smaller clients.**SUNNY: We do, yeah. We work with a pretty diverse kind of group, you know, in terms of just what stage of business that they’re in. JONATHAN: Okay, perfect. So how do you deal with – how do you rate stuff on your site that actually speaks to someone when you have such a wide range of people that you're speaking to? SUNNY: Yeah, I think we have somehow perfected the way that we have an intake process is that makes sense, wouldn’t we – when someone reaches out to us and we get a lot of inquiries, when people reach out to us it’s because of a couple of things – they’ve heard about us, they’ve been referred to us, they’ve heard me speak, they’ve heard Ashley speak, or they’ve been on our website, they’ve been following us. Sometimes we have people who followed us for years who literally just reach out and they're like ‘I’ve been following you on Facebook for a really long time and I’ve been waiting to work with you.’ I feel like we’ve been putting out there enough over the last several years that sort of what our stand is and what our point of view is, and when someone comes to us, I think they have a pretty good idea of why they want to work with us first and foremost. Now, once we go through the process of vetting them, which is exhaustive. I’ll be honest, we really do go through a process where we take them through a discovery set of questions; it’s usually like two or three sets of conversations. It’s not like ‘tell me your budget’, ‘tell me this’ and that’s it. We get that in the beginning of the – when somebody reaches out for example. We ask some basic questions, but that’s really just the start of how does somebody fill this step? This how, are they forth right? Are they honest? Did they give me enough information that I have a good sense of what’s really going on? That is, quite frankly, the first telling tales to us on a few things. And then from there we vet them a little bit more and we really be very clear about here’s who we’re working with and who essentially – what it’s like to work with us. Who we’ll be working with, what does the process looks like? And it’s not until then that we’ll take that client on. If we determine and we all determine that it’s a great fit because it has to be a good fit for them, too. It can’t just be a good fit for us. It has to be an amazing fit for both of us like we both feel that we’re going to make something amazing together, and being very clear that it’s not going to be easy. But when we get through this process that you’ll come out with something very, very powerful for you and your company in order to start putting out into the world and using. And so we get all sorts of shapes and sizes of different companies and things like that. It doesn’t matter whether they're a startup or they're a scaling company. A lot of the time the issue is very similar, and that it’s usually an articulation problem, it’s usually strategy problem. We just happened to be good designers but it’s not – we don’t lead with design, design is not – for us design is important. It’s one of the most important things, but it’s not the only thing. We really – design is the last step for us. It starts with all of these other things that we go through in order to inform the design process that we go through, so they’re kind of two fold in that way. JONATHAN: I was just curious to help people envision the notions. I think it’s really important for people to get used to saying ‘no’ to the wrong clients. SUNNY: Yeah. JONATHAN: There’s not enough of that. And you told the story earlier of saying ‘no’ to a gigantic check, so what kind of red flag does somebody has to raise for you to say ‘no’ to them? SUNNY: We try to be understanding for the most part. We really try to work through a series of things to makes sure that we’re not turning down somebody for the wrong reasons. We actually know for a fact that – we all have kind of feel like this is not a good fit. There’s usually some signs, I think, that kind of appear and those might be things like having a call with somebody, and that person, say there’s a leader of a company they just won’t let you finish a sentence, maybe they're dominating the conversation to the point that anything that we’re putting up on the table in those initial calls is not being picked up, acknowledged, listened to. Maybe they think they know better than we do. I think those are real big red flags for us because if you don’t come to the table knowing and acknowledging that you have an issue, and you're willing to work together on those issues to allows us to do our very best work, then it’s not a good fit because if you already know the answers then you wouldn’t need us. And that’s hard, but to some degree a lot of people, they think they’ve got it all figured out and they really don’t. You have to go through a process to really figure out what recommendations to make. I’ve had people ask me right on the spot ‘tell me what I should do’, and this is like our second call together. And they are upset that I am not able to fire off an answer for what they should do for their company and I’m – and those kinds of things are red flags to me because what it’s telling me is that – it’s like ‘I need it now. I need the answer right this minute’ when sometimes the answer doesn’t appear that way. Sometimes lightning strikes and yes, you may have an epiphany, but it’s rare. It’s more so that you have to really understand the business. Sometimes the company don’t know the business all that well; you don’t know the history. There’s a lot to uncover. I’d say another red flag is not being forth right about things like what they’re really working with, did they need it yesterday, did they not care about the process, did they not respect the process – that’s another thing. We had a consultant one time come to us and she said, “Can’t you just simulate the exercise?” I’ll just work on them without you, and I was like, “Okay, no. that’s not going to work.” “You know, just send me the exercise, let me do it. I don’t need you.” That to me just signals some thinking that I find very difficult will wash itself out in a very unhealthy way during the relationship. If they don’t come to it with that kind of feeling and thinking, of ‘hey we’re here to help each other through this process to get you – you say you have X, Y and Z – let’s try to solve those things as best as we can’. If that person’s not willing to do that or that leadership or that team is not willing to do that, to me that signals a problem. And I would also say that when a leader pioneers the process and then disappears. They kind of float in and out, I find that to be a little bit of a challenge, especially when it’s their company. You cannot delegate your vision to the marketing team, not at the point when you’re struggling. If you're struggling, there’s a reason. And so you can’t just be the hero for the day and hire a company and then start disappearing and you do not – being involved in all of the conversations and really participating in trying to get your company back on track. If you’re going to leave it to other people, which not to say that you can’t have a leadership team – I think it’s important that they’re involved. But if you're going to be like an absent leader, I find that to be very challenging as well. So there are just some significant things that I think take place. But you have mentioned something earlier that I wanted to talk about really quick because I know that were about to run out of time, but you said something about your audience. I think it’s different when you’re an agency, or let’s just say you’re kind of in our business, I think you have to be a little bit more careful about who you work with and who you choose to partner with. I think for people building a company and having an audience, you do need to send out what you want to attract but I think it’s up to the consumer. The audience is not dumb; they know what they want and don’t want. And so I think the audience picks and chooses whether or not they want a product or a service. If they want to make something a part of their lives, they can make their own decisions, but I don’t think it hurts to be able to start putting the messages out, to be intentional about the things you want people to receive. Or to receive to some degree, I think it’s important to be intentional. But for us and for our industry specifically when we’re working directly with clients, yeah I think you do have to be a little bit more careful so that you can deliver the best value. JONATHAN: Yea, I mean even something as simple as picking whites – if you're going to advertise in mass media or you're going to go on podcasts like this, those decisions will be colored by who you're trying to attract, or you can get a lot of efficiency out of focusing on a smaller target market than if you’re selling TOMS shoes. SUNNY: Uh-hm. Absolutely. Well I mean yeah, the thing with TOMS is that he knew what he was doing and why he was doing it. And he had a mission, he had a thing that he wanted to accomplish and I thing that the people that are receiving those things are the people that are in need of what he is giving and offering. And so it makes a lot of sense, he’s speaking directly to the people who need him most. And I’m sure there might be people out there that don’t identify with TOMS shoes at all. I know a couple of people who don’t like the style and wouldn’t wear them, but the people that – the reason that he started the company and who he actually – when he goes out to these countries and helps these individuals in need and gives them a pair of shoes, it’s amazing. He’s intentionally, deliberately, speaking to them, talking to them, resonating with them because they need him. But over here we might not need those shoes or want those shoes, so it’s just a thing where the company really has to know what it stands for – he’s clearly done a good job of that. Now everyone is a one for one model which I find interesting. But he did something – he made a difference and I just think it’s amazing. CHUCK: I’ve got one more question and then we need to get to picks, and that is can you start off with one archetype and then wind up with another? SUNNY:**Well yeah. We’re definitely a proof of that. But I think that in Motto’s case it was kind of a fluke because I think we were mistaking that we were actually a rebel archetype. I don’t think we actually knew that. I think we were just rebellious individuals that kind of – I don’t think that was really our – what our archetype was at all. I think in some cases, companies that we have seen, like Levis is a great example of a company that has switched archetypes a few times and you knew it. Another great example is J.C. Penney. There’s several companies that I could point to – big brands that we know this is happening in. I do think it’s important to find something that is true to you and really never waver from it. Especially the foundational elements of your company, I think are very important to stick with. Your vision and your values are very important. Steve Jobs is a great example of – think about all back when that Apple campaign came out ‘Think Different’ and the logo being the bite of the apple. All that is indicative of rebellious mentality that he embodied and lived through the brand. He always challenged the status quo. He’s used again and again as an example so I don’t want to talk about it too much. But I do think that Apple has never wavered. They’ve always bend like a very clear cut about who they are and where you see companies get into trouble like Chilli’s is a great example – they’re so confused. Companies like that that don’t know where their agony start to scramble and you see them changing their position a little bit, it’s because they're not clear. They feel like they have to do that; they're scrambling a little bit to feel like ‘okay, what’s going to resonate? What’s going to resonate right now?’ Where you see Levis went back to their original archetype and I think that you can see a sense of boldness now and authenticity that we haven’t seen. It’s cool to wear Levis again. Remember the ‘90s? People would rather be in Lees and Wranglers – what the hell? [Laughter] I wanted to be on a pair of Levis back then, they just weren’t cool and now they’ve – I think they were confused and I think they're much more clear about who they are now. Of course I wouldn’t wear Lees now but –.**JONATHAN:**I remember we’re fusing in on school with Wranglers on, you know, match your school [laughter].**SUNNY: I had a pair of Wranglers that were like, I swear, they felt like polyester pieces of cardboard that were just – they were – like if I would’ve stepped out of them they would’ve still been standing. JONATHAN: Yeah. SUNNY: Like they were just so itchy and uncomfortable. And I remember my mom putting me into them. I took them off and it didn’t go well but –. JONATHAN:**In fairness, they probably were better for riding a horse than Levis were, but I was riding a desk so. [Laughter]**SUNNY:**I know! I was like, mom I am not wearing these. But it’s so true, it’s like back then they just weren’t – they definitely went through [crosstalk]. Yeah, they’ve go through a period of indecision.**CHUCK: Alright, well, let’s go ahead and get to the picks. Jonathan, do you want to start us off with picks? JONATHAN:**Sure. This is going to sound pretty out on the left field. I’m always on the quest for the perfect notebook, and I have very specific notebook needs, and I do mean paper notebooks, not like a laptop or anything. And a friend, Marcus Blankenship, gave me the recommendation to try Circa notebooks by Lavenger. It’s funny, there’s about six criteria that make a good notebook for me and this one has all of them. If you’re a listener, you are looking for a notebook that’s like a ring bind notebook, it can lay completely flat when it’s open, can fold all the way around. You can replace the pages and move them around – just running out of the notebook and have to move on to the next one. And it even looks smart meeting with c-suite executives. [Laughter] I highly recommend a nicer – there’s a bunch of quality levels but you can get a fairly nice Circa notebook from Lavenger for 50 bucks. And I’m super, super happy with it; I’ve been looking for a good notebook for ten years and I finally found one. Also I have a new offerings off self-promotional piquer, but I have a new offering that people might be interested in. You can now book a phone call with me for coaching instead of joining my entire coaching program. And for listeners of the show you can use the offer code FS2015 to get 50 bucks off. For a coaching call with me just go to expensiveproblem.com/call. And that’s it for me.**CHUCK: Nice. Eric, what are your picks? ERIC: Alright. So there’s this blog post by IttyBiz called What is Price Anchoring? And Should you Do It? If you don’t know what price anchoring is or how to use it, this is a really good introductory level post about it. It uses products for examples but it works exactly the same as services. So if you ever heard of co-worker or contractor client having three different options that have increase in prices on them, this is basically what’s behind it. It’s really useful; I wanted to propose as I use this kind of idea a lot, many of them, they actually ended up being the higher amount, sort of the mid-range amount just because I gave the client options to basically spend more money with me. Soo if you don’t do price anchoring or you just get one price for your services, read this and see if you can catch some things around. CHUCK: Alright. I just got one little thing that I’ve been working on again at the Remote Conf and I’m also part of a mastermind group that I have been talking to about some things that I have been dealing with. And some things that money would significantly help with making them go away. And they said, “Well, how much do you need?” Then they looked at Angular Remote Conf and they said, “You should totally be able to make that with a conference,” and called me out on it. I really just want to pick mastermind groups and that I – which we’ve talked about on the show before. But I also want to pick Making a Plan, because they pulled my head to make a plan. So I made a plan and sent it to them. And the feedback I got on that was, “This is a great plan but it’s a lot, so make sure that you get everything into your calendar so you know what you can do, what you can’t do and you don’t get overwhelmed.” So I did that and it has made doing the marketing for the conference much, much easier. And I haven’t felt very overwhelmed regarding it at all. It also seems to be working as far as getting the word out, so the other thing I want to just pick is setting a goal, making a plan and then executing the plan. That’s more or less my pick. Sunny, do you have some picks for us? SUNNY: Sure. Okay, so TV shows. So I’ve been watching a showtime series called Masters of Sex – has anybody seen it? CHUCK: Nope. SUNNY:**Oh, it’s really good! It’s really good. I’m kind of a loyalist so I’ve been watching that religiously for the last three seasons. And it is filled with a lot of sex but it is pretty amazing [Laughter].**CHUCK: Imagine that. SUNNY: It’s actually a story based on Dr. Masters and his assistant who studied the origins of sex and sexual response and things like that, and so it’s kind of an interesting – I guess they wrote a book or something like that. But the series is based on their work and their study and their life and it’s just – it’s kind of shot like Mad Men, which I’m a big fan of, but it’s that kind of period piece which I just love and it’s such a cool series. So if you haven’t seen it, you guys should check it out. A couple of tools that I am using that I really love are – we’re using something called Readmag – I don’t know if anybody has heard of that, readymag.com. We’re using that for different types of web publishing. So sometimes when we’ll do like the brand framework or even a brand mood board, we’ll use Readymag. It gives you your own URL and it’s sizeable in any browser as long as you have an internet connection. We’ve done a couple of presentations on it; it has some very cool templates and we’ve been using that, so I’d recommend checking that out. And then we also – another tool that we’ve been using for mood boards is a tool called Niice – it’s niice.co, and you can drag and drop images into it. So if you’re building a mood board, you can get the Google Chrome extension for it, and so if you’re on a website that you see some really great images that you want to pop into something, you can name that board. It’s kind of like Pinterest but a little bit more interesting. It pulls up a lot of grid-like base on different categories and keywords and things of that nature. Definitely worth checking that out. Also if you like Fedoras, which I do – everybody that knows me knows that I wear hats pretty much on a day to day basis – I’m very particular about them. There’s a great company called yellow108.com that has some awesome Fedoras. So if you’re a hat wearer like me, Yellow108 is the place to go. CHUCK: You’re going to make me cry; my wife and I just got on a budget and I love hats. SUNNY: Oh man. I have a whole thing of hats – it’s probably very abnormal amount of hats but very particular about it because I have a tiny head. So most hats don’t fit me, like I’ll go in and I’ll see this amazing hat, and then I’ll go – it just shumps over my whole head and it leaves me very discouraged and disappointed, and you know, blaming the gods for my tiny head. I’m like, “Why do I have the small head?” But via the Fedoras they apparently made them just for me so – and they have bigger sizes but they're good, they’re small – they’re perfect for me. CHUCK:Yeah. I’m glad they're making it with bigger sizes because I have a big head in every way you can interpret that. [Laughter]SUNNY: Oh, we’re just opening a door for that one I guess. CHUCK: Yeah. JONATHAN: Yeah. CHUCK: Alright, well let’s go ahead and wrap up the show. Thanks for coming, Sunny, it was a very, very interesting and engaging conversation. [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN. Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more]**[Would you like to join a conversation with the Freelancers’ Show panelists and their guests? Want to support the show? 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