SIGHT: this is the easiest within branding, for obvious reasons, but think through this. Match all of your aesthetics to your brand essence: colors, texture, shapes, and so on. The key here is to be creative on the delivery of your product, and of course, make sure it’s Instagrammable! Think about how people will be unboxing your product on Instagram Stories or having it in their flat lay.
As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Kate Obert.
Kate Obert is a fashion stylist turned Chief Brand Officer who empowers 6–7 figure entrepreneurs to create a beautiful life you don’t need a vacation from through high end branding. She is fierce when it comes to mapping out the vision, strategizing and connecting the dots to curtate a full-sensory brand experience with ease. She services luxury personal brands & multi-brands to elevate the brand perception to stand out in their market & become industry leaders. To learn more, visit her website, www.kateobert.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I always knew I wanted to have my own business but for a while, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. The more I focused on what can I do, the more frustrated I became because I couldn’t figure it out. I then started working on my own personal development, focusing on making myself better and that’s when everything changed. I learned what a personal brand was and that I could take the knowledge I have and turn that into a business. I realized that all of the things I am an expert at fell under the umbrella of branding. I also saw so much misinformation about what a brand was and how to build one, plus a lack of creativity within the brand’s experience, or lack thereof. All of my expertise and interests have been gifted to me for a reason, and the more I leaned into that and built my brand around tying all of these together, the more successful I’ve become and have truly been able to stand out! Now, I do just that for my clients.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing or branding mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Mistakes are what makes our story interesting, right? Who is ever interested in a perfect story? Most of my mistakes (or lessons) lie within a lack of believing in myself and my value. When I first started out, I didn’t realize that what came easy to me doesn’t come easy to everyone. My prices were incredibly low, I spent $300+ on a logo that isn’t even relevant anymore and I tried to emulate other coaches because that’s what I thought prospective clients would want. All of these “mistakes” were major lessons! I’m glad my prices were low because it allowed me more opportunity to figure out the type of people I do and don’t want to work with. I also learned that great design, even luxury, doesn’t always mean expensive, it means thoughtful, quality and attention to detail. The most important lesson I learned was that the more I brought myself into my brand, the more successful I became. Your brand is just your reputation — it’s all of you, and people want to see the imperfections. Share the journey, especially the lows (bonus points if you share the lows while you’re currently experiencing them vs waiting until the happy ending). Building an authentic brand is showing all of you.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?
Consistency builds momentum. The more you focus on showing up daily and bringing value to others, the more success you’ll see. Whenever I start focusing too much on monetary success, like hitting goals, vs bringing value to others, I get stuck. Success doesn’t always mean money. Success can mean having more time to spend with my family by hiring an OBM or realizing that I’m doing exactly what I dreamt of doing when just a year ago, I was asking myself if what I wanted to do was even possible. My tipping point was when I realized (and it’s still a daily practice) that when I’m focused on delivering amazing results to my clients and providing a lot of helpful value to my audience, potential clients come out of nowhere! The more value I give, the more success I receive. It might not seem like things are working for a while (especially when you’re carving your own path and have to educate people on what you do and why it’s important), but momentum is building the more consistent you are.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people? Absolutely! One of my clients is a Fashion House with multiple brands — three company brands and two subbrands. It has been so much fun working on all of them simultaneously and coming up with fresh, new ideas that make all of the brands the luxury in their market. With all six brands, we are working on creating full-sensory client and brand experiences, which requires a high level of creativity! Aside from of course my client benefiting, my entire audience will also benefit because I share how-to’s along the way — tips and tricks that they, too, can implement within their own branding strategy.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Take some time off. Most of the time, our great ideas come from not working in the traditional sense. Marketing is in our blood… it’s how we think… so when you’re out at a nice restaurant enjoying the environment and your company or you’re at a music festival, you’re going to get new, creative ideas that you’ll implement in your work. Fresh, creative ideas come to those who are in a high vibrational state, so close your laptop and go have fun! Great ideas come from living life!
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?
Branding is your reputation — it’s the audience’s perception of your brand. Advertising is the tool you use to share your message. Branding is all about how you and/or your product is making someone feel. Determine your brand essence (adjectives and emotions you want people to feel when they come in contact with your brand) and your brand’s core values then make sure that every single touch point within your brand matches those feelings. Advertising is one of those touch points as it’s the vehicle to deliver your brand’s message. It’s important to take note of everything tangible and intangible in the advertising campaign to make sure it’s on brand; things like the type of actors, their clothes, the colors, props, locations, and so on — every single detail says something about your brand and every single detail conveys its own feeling.
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?
Your brand is your reputation. Everyone and every product has a brand, so it’s more of a matter of if you’re curating it. The brand is how someone decides whether or not to work with you or buy your product, and their decision happens very quickly (within seconds!). We all have short attention spans and there are so many similar products out there, what sets you apart is your branding. Even though your visual brand is the first thing people see, your foundation is the most important because it directs every decision within the brand. It’s important to invest resources and energy into building your brand because your PR and marketing dollars won’t go as far if your brand is inconsistent or confusing.
Let’s now talk about rebranding. What are a few reasons why a company would consider rebranding?
Rebrands are my specialty! In the beginning of building your business, it’s not necessary (I would even advise against this) to spend a lot of money on a brand strategy. It’s important to go through, what I like to call, an experimentation phase. Your brand will most likely change at least a little bit from when you launch. It’s important to give yourself room to evolve to customer needs. After you’ve bootstrapped your branding, gotten social proof and proof of concept, and ready to take your brand to the next level, a rebrand is in store! There are so many reasons to rebrand but here are some of the top ones: you’re restructuring your brand and/or adding new products and not quite sure how to make it all cohesive; your brand name no longer reflects your brand vision; you’re failing to differentiate yourself from the competition; you’re pivoting industries; your brand isn’t clear, it’s confusing; your business model or strategy has changed; you feel disconnected from your brand; you’re undergoing a merger or acquisition; your business has changed leadership; or you need to disassociate your brand from a negative image.
Are there downsides of rebranding? Are there companies that you would advise against doing a “Brand Makeover”? Why?
Of course with anything, there are cons but I believe they’re cons because of the way they’re executed. Any company is able do a “Brand Makeover,” because companies are allowed to (and should) grow and evolve. The most important part of a rebrand is understanding its purpose. A bad example of a rebrand is what Gap did in 2010. Gap was facing a decline in sales after the 2008 financial crash and the board decided they needed a rebrand. Not only did they launch their rebrand during the busiest season (Christmas) but all they did was change their logo. Everything else within their brand was the same. They weren’t introducing a new line of clothes, they didn’t redo the visuals of their stores, they weren’t switching new leadership, and they never even explained to their customers the reason for their rebrand, they just launched a new logo and it seemed random. Rebrands need a new direction and to be executed well, the audience (especially these days) needs transparency!
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Can you share 5 strategies that a company can do to upgrade and re-energize their brand and image”? Please tell us a story or an example for each.
The 5 strategies to upgrade and re-energize your brand and image actually fall under the same umbrella: creating a full-sensory client and brand experience. After you’ve determined the foundational elements of your brand, how can you use those to stand out?
1. SIGHT: this is the easiest within branding, for obvious reasons, but think through this. Match all of your aesthetics to your brand essence: colors, texture, shapes, and so on. The key here is to be creative on the delivery of your product, and of course, make sure it’s Instagrammable! Think about how people will be unboxing your product on Instagram Stories or having it in their flat lay.
2. TOUCH: how can you add different textures? Sensory experiences create stronger bonds between the customer and the brand. Add a branded notecard with extra value that will help them create an experience with your product or service.
3. SOUND: create a Spotify playlist (add it to that notecard mentioned above); or connect yourself to a type of music that is representative of your brand and play that within your social media like Instagram Stories, etc. 4. TASTE: let’s talk within personal brands, what is your favorite drink or coffee? Tie that into your social media by sharing your lifestyle (which also builds know, like & trust). Perhaps you love vanilla lattes and you share a picture of your latte on Instagram Stories. Your audience will start to associate you with vanilla lattes and when they go to the coffee shop and see that on the menu, they’ll think of you — these are called your silent ambassadors. You want people to think of you in seemingly random situations. You can also send a Starbucks gift card (cueing the vanilla lattes) or your favorite candy that you talk about all the time on Instagram in your client welcome gifts. Another way is to create a sense of taste through storytelling. 5. SCENT: this is my favorite! I believe that scent is the most underrated marketing tool ever! Scent is connected to the memory part of our brain and what you want people to do is remember your brand! I’m a big proponent for creating a proprietary scent. As always, match those scents to your brand essence and you can sell that separately within your brand or spritz it on the package that they get in the mail. If you speak on stages or within Masterminds, any place that you’re providing value, spritz your scent in the air. People always appreciate a nice smelling environment and it’s strategic because you want people to remember the experience they had with you when they smell something similarly elsewhere.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job doing a “Brand Makeover”. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
Gucci has been one of my favorite brands to watch due to their incredibly successful rebrand in 2015 after the change in leadership with new CEO, Marco Bizzarri, and Creative Director, Alessandro Michele. Gucci is now one of the hottest brands in the luxury market by utilizing social media and influencers and capitalizing on being eclectic, inclusive, and culture-oriented. I saw an article once that described them as a digitally-focused luxury fashion house of the future — wow, what a compliment! They are seen as industry leaders and are very creative! The thing I love about Gucci is they’re not afraid to try new things. They understand culture, even to the point of creating culture, and take risks. I could go on and on about this rebrand and I encourage you to research it yourself but the biggest takeaway I see that you can incorporate within your brand is to take creative risks. Know who you are, know what your brand stands for and think outside of the box. Not everything Gucci does is seen as a home run to everyone but they have such a cult following now because they are so true to their brand that even if at first glance, you wouldn’t wear something, once you find out it’s Gucci, your entire perception changes! People fall in love with brands because they relate to the personality. You can replicate this concept within your own brand, as well!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
My mission in life is to help others live a life they don’t need a vacation from! Life is too short to live for weekends and two weeks of PTO a year. I’m here to help others build brands that they love and that will help them make the impact they were meant to make in this world! I truly believe that when we are living our purpose, we’re happier people.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Instead of saying ‘I can’t,’ start asking ‘how can I?’ Instead of saying ‘I wish,’ start asking ‘how resourceful can I be to attain that as well?’ Instead of saying, ‘I can’t afford that,’ start asking ‘how can I afford that?’ Successful people just ask better questions.”
Mindset and perception is everything. This quote is a reminder that everything is available to me, I am exactly where I’m meant to be and it’s about learning the lessons at this level that will allow me the opportunity to get to the next level. It’s also about having a positive outlook — we can do anything we put our mind to. What we focus on, we create more of.
How can our readers follow you online?
I’m most active on Instagram — www.instagram.com/kate.obert , and I have a Facebook Group called “ Branding School with Kate Obert .” And of course, if you’re curious about how to work with me, you can also check out my website: www.kateobert.com
Thank you so much for these excellent insights! We wish you continued success in your work.