5 Things You Need To Do Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand, with Julie Cole of Mabel’s Labels
Be relatable: I have been blogging for 15 years. I don’t blog about labels, I blog about being a busy working mom, about raising six kids, about having a child with autism. It makes me relatable to our customers. This builds trust.
As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Julie Cole, a recovered lawyer, mom of six and co-founder of Mabel’s Labels. She has helped her company bring their product to a worldwide market, gain media recognition and win countless entrepreneur awards. Cole is a regular television contributor, a sought after speaker and emcee and a digital influencer and blogger.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Mabel’s Labels started because along with my business partners, I noticed an important product missing from the market — durable, personalized name labels for children. We were all moms to small children and were frustrated with lost belongings. As any good entrepreneurial mom would do, we created a product to fill that gap.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Not really a mistake, but a funny story! When we were first starting out 17 years ago, we were on a very tight budget so our first marketing strategy was to buy as many stamps as we could afford and write letters to all our friends and family inviting them to buy from us!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our Customer Service is exceptional. All of our CS reps have the ability to do what needs to be done to make a customer happy. We do not micro-manage them and allow them to be entrepreneurial in their jobs when problem solving. They turn every situation into a positive one for our amazing customers.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We’re always rolling out now products that will help make families lives easier. We also have an incredible fundraising program and we work with thousands of schools, camps and sports organizations.
Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?
We are fiercely committed to our brand. While we can PAY for advertising, our brand speaks to who we are and has to potential to create loyal brand ambassadors. Our market is MOMS. Moms do not want to buy from nameless and faceless companies. They want to feel a personal connection with the companies they chose to buy from. Creating a strong brand humanizes your company. Your brand is what will set you apart from your competitors!
Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?
A marketing plan should include all areas, but we have found more and more, our market is more trusting of their connection with a brand then they are of advertising they see. A big part of our brand is about connection, so we have a full-time Social Media Manager who curates useful content to share with our customers. We provide more than just labels, our brand gives them a community of like-minded people to share with. With our blogging platform, YouTube Channel, and Facebook community of over 200K fans, we KNOW that investing in your brand is not only fun and fulfilling, it leads to sales!
Can you share 5 strategies that a small company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.
1) Be visible: visibility leads to credibility! Put yourself out there. Go to events, post useful content on YouTube. Do speaking engagements, be interviewed. Great PR is like a brand testimonial!
2) Be relatable: I have been blogging for 15 years. I don’t blog about labels, I blog about being a busy working mom, about raising six kids, about having a child with autism. It makes me RELATABLE to our customers. This builds trust.
3) Be transparent: If someone leaves you a negative comment on social media, don’t delete it or try to hide it. You don’t want to be that company that only shows the good stuff.
4) Use opportunities: That negative comment on your social media is a great opportunity. Use that as a way to publicly turn the situation around and to the right thing for the customer. People will see that you can be trusted to your brand promise of quality.
5) Have a strong social media presence. This allows your customers to peek into your company and engage with you. It allows them to understand your core values and connect with your brand.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
I think Zappos really nailed it as one of the original brands that created loyalty. Their customer service was exceptional, they were quirky and fun and lived by their core values. I think every company should take the time to create and understand their core values, and in turn live, hire and fire by them. That is a part of creating a strong brand.
In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?
We use several measurement tools, and we can use sales to an extent. We also use google analytics, we consider our social media reach and engagement, etc. There certainly are ways to measure success, but we also try to remember that some of this stuff can be a little bit squishy and difficult to measure. I often say one of my tools for measuring if people are connected to our brand, is how many hugs I get when I walk into a conference.
What role does social media play in your branding efforts?
It plays a huge role. Social media allows you to connect with your customers and community members. They can provide feedback, share stories and talk about your business. It is a wonderful vehicle for word of mouth.
What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
Find some balance. Make sure you DO turn your phone and laptop off when you are having family time. I know it’s difficult but keeping perspective is key. Self-care is important — keeping up with sleep, your health and eating properly and going to set you up for success. And learn to say NO. We all have huge “to do” lists. I encourage people to have a “do NOT do” list. What are you doing that could be delegated out? Get to delegating!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My grandmother passed away last year at the age of 101 years old. She was smart, savvy and had great wisdom. There is something she always said to remind the grandchildren to have confidence, while remaining humble. It was this: “You’re as good as the best of them, and better than none”.
We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Instagram: @cole.julie @mabelslabels
Twitter: @juliecole @mabelhood
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
About the author:
Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click here to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.