It’s the beginning of the year, the perfect time to revisit your branding or get started with your new brand.

Last month I lead an early morning branding workshop with the alumni from my cohort of the Goldman Sachs 10KSB program. The 10KSB program was designed to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to education, capital, and business support services. To date, the program has served over 6,100 small business owners across all 50 states, resulting in immediate and sustained business growth for the alumni of the program. Sharing my experience in branding was such an honor as the program has already positively impacted my business. 

For over 15 years, I’ve served a wide range of brands including P&G and Burger King to Peacemakers, non-profit organization, and Halfmoon Resort and Spa. When you work with such reputable brands, there is so much work to do and even more to learn in the process. I’ve collected so many valuable insights that go beyond the actual projects that I worked on such as: inspiring your team to be ambassadors, turning an idea into a brand people love, and how design impacts a brand.

Below are just few of the points I shared in the workshop. As you work on your small business action plans for 2017 & 2018 please consider incorporating some or all of these “lessons from the big guys.” In my life, I am big on output (action). So, I included a “put it in action” section.  I encourage you to implement these concepts into your business. With each issue of our newsletter, I will share another point from the Goldman Sachs alumni workshop and others. I have high hopes that you will learn something new or be reminded (and kicked into action) of what you already know.

Let’s start with the basics.


Your brand is a combination of 4 main components: product, organization (or culture), design, and person. It is a declaration or assurance that you will do what you say you will do as a company; or that a product will do as expected. It is how your staff behaves (even when they clock out). It is how you use design to communicate a feeling or sense of what the product experience will be. It is understanding and giving your audience with what they need. 

Some of the best examples I’ve seen of employee brand ambassadorship is in school systems and church organizations. Teachers and church staff are encouraged to be extremely careful and mindful of their behavior outside of the building and even on social media. In both cases, the staff is such an integral part of the integrity of the organization. Trust for the entire brand can be compromised if even one staff member falls off course. I know so many teachers and church staff that don’t post anything questionable on their social media pages (and so many opt to NOT have social media pages to be safe).

PUT IT IN ACTION: It starts with you. BE THE BRAND. You and your team should be your best brand ambassadors. Be sure to take a day and share the brand and the vision with everyone that works for the company. You can’t expect them to BE the brand if you don’t teach them what the brand is all about. The more importance you place on the brand, the more serious they will be about the brand.

From the desk of: Johanne Wilson, COOL Creative CEO

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