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Maegan Lujan: “Examine your purpose”

Examine your purpose. Does it align with where you are today culturally? Does it align with your consumer/target audience? If not, then reexamine the core branding pillars and pivot as necessary. The bottom line is that, as people, we evolve. It’s a given that companies must do the same. Maybe your purpose hasn’t changed, but this […]

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Examine your purpose. Does it align with where you are today culturally? Does it align with your consumer/target audience? If not, then reexamine the core branding pillars and pivot as necessary. The bottom line is that, as people, we evolve. It’s a given that companies must do the same.

Maybe your purpose hasn’t changed, but this is where you start. Dig deep, stir up those emotions, and chart your new path forward. That thought process is why I embarked on my personal branding journey and why you’re reading this: what is my purpose, and am I fulfilling it? I am now!


As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Maegan Lujan.

Maegan Lujan is a strategist, storyteller, and thought leader on a mission to motivate and inspire others. Her journey has taken her from high risk to high potential in the boardroom of

Toshiba. Maegan is also referred to as a digital thought-influencer. She brings her corporate expertise to the masses through her book series, A Million Little Clicks, which launches in November 2020.

Maegan’s tenacity has earned her a nomination for the 2020 Women in Business Award from The Orange County Business Journal and recognition as a 2016 Young Influencer and 2019 Woman of Influence by The Cannata Report.


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?

Honestly, my story has a few twists. To keep it short and sweet, what brought me to this career path was growing up in foster care.

Early on, I decided to rise above the upbringing I had before foster care with my mother and be something more. As the years passed and I realized my tenacity was a force to be reckoned with, I decided that I could not only elevate myself to a healthy lifestyle and sense of belonging, but I could help others in similar situations do the same. Big aspirations for a 13-year-old!

Fast forward 15 years and my passion expanded to more than foster youth. I aspired to help other young professionals find their meaning and cultivate growth. Not an easy task for anyone, especially someone with my past and lack of credentials. That reality actually drove me, though. It was my motivation to show others they can defy the odds.

Early on, it started with mentoring people at work, showing them they can reach for the stars. Then it clicked… and now I am helping others become the CEO of their own brands and chart their own paths through my digital community and book series, A Million Little Clicks.

Q: 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?

As it relates to branding and being an entrepreneur, I’ll share one of the many experiences that drove me to write my book series. I wasn’t planning to author a series on this topic, by the way. It just so happens that I made enough mistakes and spent thousands of painful hours researching that I figured why not empower others (save them the same pain) by sharing what I have learned.

That being said, I’ve been at a large corporation for several years now. You kind of become accustomed to doing things a certain way after a while, and when I set out on my personal branding journey, I did just that, what I was used to pertaining to creative projects, and specifically building my website. I partnered with a great team, and they coded a custom website for me. It took a lot of time, a lot of collaboration, and a lot of money. And as this journey began to take off, I quickly realized that the method I chose wasn’t scaleable for me to keep up with the demands on my growing digital community.

As most people will say, we have meetings to have meetings in the corporate world, and simply put, I didn’t have a seven-figure staff on hand with six months to spare for minor updates. It was just me, before or after corporate hours (which are longer than 9–5s).

So, as my needs evolved, I found tech new tech in the SMB segment that had the design flexibility I needed along with a gib based team that was better suited to work with me knowing that changes needed to be made on short notice, some of them being made by me.

There have definitely been bumps along the way! I had to scrap one website that took nearly a year to build and countless resources to adopt a much more cost-effective platform that met my needs. I still want to slap my past self for that one. But it gets better, this super common platform my new team helped me set up is also clunky and not the most efficient on the customer touchpoints which is an issue for me as a digital leader in marketing. It solved a problem and was much more efficient, don’t get me wrong. But still not the best fit.

Now, three platforms later on the umpteenth version of my website. I could’ve bought a Prius and saved countless hours had I done more research at the beginning. And here we are, I had to get agile and learn new tech on the fly: systems, apps, integrations, you name it. But honestly, it was a great learning lesson and drove me to dig deeper than I ever have.

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?

Yes, when I became intentional about my personal brand and became the CEO of my own brand.

A major tipping point in my career was when I was recognized as a woman influencer by an industry publication. It created a platform for me to share my story and normalize the path to success for my generation and beyond. I think this lesson was twofold for me, as I believed in myself because others saw it, and then others started believing in me because I believed in myself.

I realized that being given this opportunity, it exposed me to further growth and development cycles within my career. Which, in turn, subsequently empowered me to do the same and pay it forward.

I’ve taken what was given to me and turned it into a personal brand that screams success. I steer the narrative around who I have become.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

As someone with experience showing up digitally and navigating my journey while simultaneously having a corporate brand, I’ve learned quite a few lessons about building a personal brand the right way. The first is that it starts with your vision. You need to find your why and then take ownership of telling your story in the exact way you’d like it to be retold. From there, you step into the role and become the CEO of your own brand to share your story.

I took this advice to heart and became the CEO of my own brand. And by doing that, I built an authentic culture and powerful digital community.

Now, with the successful launch of my personal brand, I’m sharing the best practices I used to help businesses and professionals do the same. It’s all coming together in a new three-book series on personal branding and showing up digitally — A Million Little Clicks. The interactive guides, which will feature insightful tips, tools, and exercises, will be available on Amazon this November.

The first book of the A Million Little Clicks series, titled Brand Vision, provides information on navigating your brand pillars, identity, launch sequence, and more. The second book, titled Brand Story, will focus on building the story behind your personal brand. And the final book, titled Brand Tactics, will detail the tactical steps necessary to bring your brand to life.

Written as a step-by-step guide, each book in the A Million Little Clicks series walks its reader through why a personal brand is essential, how to be the CEO of your own brand, the art of brand storytelling, and more. Plus, it includes more than 100 pages of branding worksheets and tools to help take the reader’s brand to the next level.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

A principle that has helped me avoid the burnout that I encourage other marketers to embrace is this: Find three hobbies you are passionate about; one to keep you creative, one to keep you healthy, and one to make you money.

Determining your purpose, passion, and expertise while ensuring these are in alignment has helped me maintain balance.

It’s not enough to just be good at something; you have to also possess the zeal to see your vision come to fruition through curiosity. The goal is to match your skillset to your passion.

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?

As someone who has spent most of my corporate career in product marketing, I would say that the two are similar in tactical execution and 100% codependent. In product marketing, you’re leveraging the company brand, which, in my case, is Toshiba. Although I manage a portfolio of products, determining the right product relies solely on the overall brand.

The first set of questions I ask of myself and my team is: will the product be a fit for our brand, portfolio, and channel. To correctly answer that, you must take a step back and dissect your brand. Sure, as an entrepreneur, you’re personally a lot more aligned to your brand on a regular basis than most staff at a Fortune 500 company is, but stick with me here.

Each decision you make, especially larger ones, needs to undergo a litmus test. Does this decision align with my brand vision (purpose, mission, values/principles, positioning)? How can this decision accurately be depicted by my brand story and personality (voice and tone)? Does this decision align with my brand tactics (look and feel)?

From there, you can execute advertising based on your brand. Essentially, your brand is your foundation and MUST be clearly defined. Advertising CANNOT stray from your brand, or you end up wasting valuable resources and losing revenue.

The exception to this is when you are incubating a new segment and working on the edge of innovation. In this case, campaigns are created to segment or position against the larger brand.

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?

Funny, you ask that. In my three-part book series, part one (Brand Vision: Purpose + Strategy) took the longest to write. It is the foundation, after all, and requires a lot of initial investment from you to properly build your brand.

I wish I could downplay this, tell you there is a special webform you can fill out that creates a brand for you, but there simply is not. You must dedicate more energy than you thought was possible over several months/years, and you have to invest countless resources. If you take shortcuts or don’t invest properly, it will end up costing you more time and money in the long run. And pretty much every successful entrepreneur will attest to this.

Is it easy? No. Will it take more than you anticipated? Yes. Will it be worth it? Hell yeah!

Let’s now talk about rebranding. What are a few reasons why a company would consider rebranding?

Oh, that’s a long list. It is humanizing to adapt to the current culture (both internal and external), changes in leadership/ownership, the evolution of the industry climate, changes in technology, failure in GTM strategy or portfolio positioning, etc.

We live in an age where change is happening faster than ever. While it can be the enemy leading to rebranding, it can also be an ally leading you to a much-needed rebrand and fresh start.

Not to downplay a rebrand, because it’s not an easy process, but think of a personal makeover. You don’t want to spend the money, but at the same time, you’re dying for a change to more accurately represent where you are currently.

Just like when you get a new haircut, a fresh brand style can be the catalyst needed to spur alignment, confidence, and success across your business and customer base.

Are there downsides to rebranding? Are there companies that you would advise against doing a “Brand Makeover”? Why?

Do I have some stories for you! Yes, there are downsides to rebranding, and I can personally attest to some of them.

Let’s just say we did a massive tagline change and rebrand at Toshiba a couple of years ago, and my team was on the front line with changing over assets and distributing new materials to our internal customers.

To begin with, it’s easier to start from scratch than it is to rebrand; you have to take into account all of the old and weave it into the new, more of change management and phased implementation vs a clean launch.

You also need to get everyone on the same page (think vision alignment) with the new direction, look, feel, etc. which may or may not be incredibly challenging.

In the end, it was a much-needed uplift and modernization for Toshiba and has been wildly successful.

If a company considers a “Brand Makeover,” I would advise you to understand the purpose and issue you are trying to solve. Is there a valid reason? If so, then determine whether or not the resources are available to do it right.

Remember, you’re essentially starting from square one (purpose, mission, values/principles, positioning) and must align to ensure success. If none of those foundations have changed, perhaps a look and feel overhaul is the best option versus completely rebranding; branding versus advertising, so to speak.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Can you share five 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.

Yeah, hire me! All jokes aside, though, I’ll build on the last two answers.

1.) Examine your purpose. Does it align with where you are today culturally? Does it align with your consumer/target audience? If not, then reexamine the core branding pillars and pivot as necessary. The bottom line is that, as people, we evolve. It’s a given that companies must do the same.

Maybe your purpose hasn’t changed, but this is where you start. Dig deep, stir up those emotions, and chart your new path forward. That thought process is why I embarked on my personal branding journey and why you’re reading this: what is my purpose, and am I fulfilling it? I am now!

2.) Vision, values, and principles. Are they the same as they were when you started? Think about this two-fold; you and your target consumer/audience. If so, then build upon that and move on to the next pillar. If not, then take some time and reevaluate.

If you’re going to re-energize and essentially reboot, then look at this as a blank canvas. You’ve changed, and more importantly, evolved, so incorporate that into your brand. With each stride, I dig deep into this thought process and get better each time. It’s getting more comfortable in your skin and continuing to evolve.

For example, early on, I didn’t share what drove me to personal branding and sharing my story. My values and principles have not changed, but my vision continues to. I just hope you can continue down a similar path and put the real you out there because that’s the best version and what the world needs.

3.) Positioning. In my experience, this is the most common place where an upgrade is needed. Not because you didn’t do it right the first time, but because the world and society are changing so fast.

In the tech world, it’s constant. Think annual reboots, a new product launch of an existing product that’s more aligned this year with the current climate, so to speak. It can be exhausting, and based on your industry; it may be just that (hopefully it’s not).

So, back to the positioning pillar. Do your SWOT analysis, internalize the results, be honest and intentional, and get to work. Time isn’t our friend, and you have success to harness.

4.) Voice and tone. Have you noticed a change in what you see on social media since you built your brand? How about the news? Industry publications? This is another rapidly evolving space that is hard to keep up with and requires constant evolution.

If your other pillars are still aligned, then this is an easy fix. Do your research. Understand the current voice, tone, and mindset of your target consumer/audience. Then make the pivot. Uplift your digital marketing strategy, incorporate relevant hashtags, current trends, sensitivity, annual marketing calendar days/weeks (national women in business week, etc.).

5.) Lastly, look and feel. This is a subjective brand pillar, but also rapidly changing with the times. Did your color pallet, fonts, etc. become familiar with other brands? Are your competitors cultivating the same emotions from your target consumer/audience?

It’s common to be a pioneer, and two years later, have your competitors mirroring what you’ve done. I could speak for hours on this.

My advice is simple, harness your inner artist and creator. Your emotions for your brand need to shine through like a rainbow after the storm. Change it up. Be original. And most importantly, be raw because your audience will feel it and gravitate towards you.

Curate a masterpiece and make your competitors jealous. Make them break the bank to replicate what you’ve done within their brand, knowing the whole time you paved the way. This is what being an innovator is, and it’s beautiful.

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?

Okay, this example may date me a bit, but it is one that still resonates today. Jack in the Box! Granted, I had a colorful childhood and didn’t get to eat out very often. But, before Jack in the Box brought Jack back in 1994, I don’t recall even knowing they existed.

Insert “Mom, what’s Jack in the Box?” here. Then out of nowhere comes Jack! He’s funny, he’s in your face, he’s making fast food look cool, and he has a relevant message about “why” Jack in the Box.

Specifically, I like that the company accepted they made some poor branding moves leading to decreases in revenue/market share, and it was time to dig deep and make an aggressive change. They redefined their vision, developed a precise strategy, reintroduced America to their story, and tactically executed.

To replicate a similar undertaking, you must be relentless, realistic (honest with yourself), and surgical in how you navigate and execute the brand makeover (all of which I outline in the A Million Little Clicks series). But as Jack in the Box showed us, it’s possible and can even be fun!

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. 🙂

I’m a firm believer that who you are on paper doesn’t determine your path forward. Instead, you chart your own course.

I’m living proof you can come from all walks of life, feel comfortable in your own skin, do things you’re passionate about, and succeed. No matter where you came from, what obstacles stand in your way, or what the data says about you as a child on paper.

If I could spearhead any movement, it would be to help others learn how to chart their own path. I want to assist them in determining their “why,” finding their passion, and communicating their story, whether it’s brand strategy positioning for companies, portfolios, or business professionals.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

If you do what you love and love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I think it’s a blend of Harvey Mackay and Ray Bradbury that made it onto inspirational posters during the ’90s.

I can still see the specific one hanging on a reseller’s office hallway early on in my career. It really made me think, though. I was just starting and enjoyed what I was doing every day; it challenged me, it educated me, and it exposed me to new things.

Then and there, I vowed to myself to always do what I love. It has required pivots along the way, broken my heart and wallet at times, but I don’t have that misery associated with the 9–5 stigma.

How can our readers follow you online?

Visit my Website and sign up for my weekly email list with essential resources: www.maeganlujan.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maeganlujan

Instagram: http://instagram.com/maeganlujan

Access a free checklist to help you start your personal brand here!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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