Mailbag Monday Starting a brand from scratch

Mailbag Monday: If I am starting a brand from scratch, where should I start?

Katie and Chris answer your marketing, data, and AI questions every Monday.


This week, Stacia asked, “If you are starting a brand from scratch, where should I start?


Mailbag Monday: If I am starting a brand from scratch, where should I start?

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AI-generated transcript:

Katie Robbert 0:00
Welcome back to another episode of mailbag Monday where Chris and I are answering all of your questions about marketing, AI, data, cooking. I don’t know, hobbies. We don’t know. This week though. Stacia asks, if you are starting a brand from scratch, where should I start? I mean, that’s a big question. So Chris, what advice do we have for Stacia?

Christopher Penn 0:22
What’s a brand? That’s not, that’s not rhetorical? I’m asking.

Katie Robbert 0:29
I think you know, I think it, it means different things to different people. If I had to go out on a limb, and guess that the context of this question, it’s, you know, I want to establish a brand that people know the name of and have a good reputation of my brand, so that when someone says, I need help with my analytics, Trust Insights is the brand that comes to mind or I need a really reliable vacuum. So people think of things like Dyson, or Black and Decker, or I want really good coffee. So people don’t necessarily think of Dunkin Donuts, but maybe they think of, you know, smaller, you know, Coffee Roasters. And so I think it’s that brand recognition. I think she’s wondering about brand awareness. And so what are the things that someone would need to do to establish that

Christopher Penn 1:27
the best definition of a brand I’ve ever heard was from 2006, from a comedian and internet sensation at the time, Ze Frank, who said that a brand is a collection of emotional experiences, that leads to an emotional aftertaste, not necessarily dependent on those experiences, right. So a brand is a emotional aftertaste. So he went on to say, that’s why you can sell, for example, grandma’s cookies and has a brand associated with it, right? And you have this sort of emotional aftertaste, where you really can’t sell old people’s cookies, right? Even though they’re truthfully the same thing. They’re they’re very different emotional aftertaste. So the number one thing that you have to ask them, What is the emotional aftertaste of your brand? Like what emotions does it evoke? You pointed out very, very importantly, that it’s about memory. Brand is about memory. What things consolidate memory from a neuroscience perspective, there are things like repetition. Okay, I’ve heard I’ve heard this brand. See this enough that I actually remember it. There are things like emotion, what does it evoke? There are things like the experience itself. There’s even neurochemical aspects of it. Like for example, adrenaline, cements memory much faster than anything else, if you want to remember something like really well. Give yourself a really cold shower for like three minutes, and then spend the next 90 minutes studying and because of that adrenaline rush from being frickin cold, you will, you will actually remember things much, much better. That’s basic neuroscience. So

Katie Robbert 3:06
see now here, I thought you were gonna say, for that adrenaline rush to throw a spider at someone’s face, and then say, remember this.

Christopher Penn 3:14
I mean, you can the effects of adrenaline lasts for about 90 minutes inside the body for the impact on memory. This is according to Dr. Andrew Huberman at Stanford. So when we’re talking about creating a brand, what is the emotion that you want to evoke? So Katie, with Trust Insights, what is the emotion that we want people to associate with us?

Katie Robbert 3:40
A feeling of safeness. A feeling of trustworthiness, a feeling of consistency and reliability. You know, basically, I want our customers to feel like they are completely protected when they’re working with us in terms of their data. And so with that, you know, that’s where, you know, we wanted to start making sure that we had very clear, you know, a mission and vision and values. And so if I was starting a brand, that’s where I would start is, what do I want to be known for? And it’s not just I want to be known for the best product in the whole wide world. But to your point, Chris, you want to have that emotional remembrance of the brand. So I want us to be known for consistency. I want us to be known for honesty, authenticity, and that’s where you start to build your brand. And so as you’re standing up your various social media accounts, your blog, your newsletter, make sure that you’re using those emotional pieces as your guiding force to say, is this blog post authentic to my brand is This, if I read this and I wasn’t, you know, in charge of the brand, would I go, Hey, that sounds like a bunch of BS or you know what I want to work with that person?

Christopher Penn 5:09
Exactly. One of the things that you’ll find out there on the web and things like this is Robert blue talks, we’ll have emotions, which looks at taking apart complex emotions, sort of distilling them down to what are the primary and secondary emotions that are involved. That’s sort of the yellow and green ones are aware kind of we live right, between joy and trust, sort of acceptance, serenity, those are the kinds of things that we’re trying to create is, is that sense of optimism, that sense of love, perhaps some degree of interest. The things that our brand is not about are things like anger, annoyance, contempt, disgust, there are brands that capitalize on that There absolutely are. There are politicians and political movements all over the world that capitalize on those emotions. So part of starting at brand is to say, Well, what, what do we want people to feel like what aligns with with how we’re doing things? There may be things like combinations between grief and admiration, right? If you are in the funeral business, that those are emotions that you would want to delicately manage?

Katie Robbert 6:20
And I think that if your answer is I want people to feel disgust and anger and aggression, if that aligns with your brand and the problems that you solve. That’s a totally acceptable answer. For us, it’s the opposite. If people are feeling those about our brands, and we’re not doing our jobs correctly, however, one of the ways we can look at it is we can find people who are feeling that about their own data, and introduce these other emotions of joy and trust and love. And you know, what serenity like that we want to take the negative emotions and turn them into positive. So I think that that’s a really good way to start. If you’re starting your brand today. Where do you start? Think about the emotions that you want to bring out in people as they’re talking about your brand working with you. Think about your competitors, what kinds of emotions do they bring out in people? So think about a really great example is a cable company. Chris, when you think about a cable company or internet service provider, what kind of emotion Do you immediately feel?

Christopher Penn 7:33
I mean, gosh, I go prevaricate between annoyance and contempt, disgust and load. Yes, and

Unknown Speaker 7:42
substation strategy?

Christopher Penn 7:44
Exactly. Probably not the kinds of things that those those companies think that they’re engendering.

Katie Robbert 7:52
And so if you are, let’s say you want to disrupt that industry, what kind of offering Can you have? That is going to evoke serenity, and trust? And so that’s the way that you would start to approach it not product first, but people first put the emotion first, what do you want people to feel when you are helping them?

Christopher Penn 8:18
The easiest framework to put this in would be like, essentially an emotional SWOT analysis, right? What are the strengths and weaknesses of our brand? What are the positive emotions we conjure with a negative emotion to the contrary, then we look at our competitors? What positive emotions do they conjure? What negative emotions do they conjure? And where are the gaps where the opportunities of our competitors are engaging in trying to create fear or apprehension? That means that their customers, their prospects, we’re going to be in that state if we’re trying to leverage and evoke that. So if we come out of that with a message of like serenity and trust, that’s an opportunity to pursue against them.

Katie Robbert 9:02
It strikes me and this I don’t want to get too off topic. But, you know, if you’re looking to poll your audience, and you don’t want to directly say like, how do I make you feel you could do some sort of a survey around, you know, when you think of the following products or services, what color are they? And so like, when I think of, you know, customer service for Comcast, I think red because it makes me angry, you know, and not necessarily the brand, but just sort of the emotion and so that may be another way to approach it. If you’re starting to do your research, you could give you know, some sort of a market survey that associates colors and words together so you can get a sense of the emotional impact.

Christopher Penn 9:46
Exactly. And if you want to do some, you know, market sentiment analysis, large language models, tools like ChatGPT You can give them say reviews of your competitors and say, give me an emotional and analysis, using blue talks, we’ll have emotions. What are the what percent of each emotion is in these reviews? You know, particularly if you’re going to say like maybe Amazon or Google business, they take 10 of the five star reviews and 10 of the one star reviews and say let’s look at this do this emotional SWOT analysis from the customer’s perspective, to say, aha, this is where we can, you know, if we’re starting a brand from scratch, this is how we want to take on our competitors. These are their vulnerabilities, I would say, you know, that level of research and using the tools that are in market today is a great way to start that brand from scratch.

Katie Robbert 10:35
So Stasia, that probably wasn’t the answer you were looking for you were probably looking for, stand up a website, install your plugins, you know, set up a Twitter account. There’s a lot of work to be done before you even get to that stage.

Christopher Penn 10:50
There really is. Brand is purpose. Brand is purpose. And if you haven’t done that part, then things like your website, which is down in platform, you’re jumping ahead. If you’ve got questions about brand or other things and there’s us, you want to ask them, drop us a line, reach out at trust or join our free slack go to trust for marketers, where you and over 3000 other marketers are asking and answering each other’s questions every single day. If you want to catch up on past episodes of mailbag Monday. Just go to our newsletter, go to trust You can find all the content we’ve created over the past week. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll talk to you next time.

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Mailbag Monday: If I am starting a brand from scratch, where should I start?

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