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“5 Things You Need To Do To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand”, with Emily F. Peters

There are a lot of ways you can and should measure that your brand is going in the right direction. Web traffic, sales pipeline, social media engagement, media coverage…but at the end of the day, brand success is ultimately a feeling. When a brand is perfectly aligned, everything clicks into place. You’re hiring the right […]

There are a lot of ways you can and should measure that your brand is going in the right direction. Web traffic, sales pipeline, social media engagement, media coverage…but at the end of the day, brand success is ultimately a feeling. When a brand is perfectly aligned, everything clicks into place. You’re hiring the right people, the right leads are finding you, deals are closing faster, partnership opportunities are coming inbound, reporters are taking notice, the team is working together on a clear direction. It’s never easy, but a strong brand makes growing a company so much easier.


As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Emily F. Peters. She is a 4x startup veteran with 15+ years of experience building buzz for young companies using often nothing more than duct tape, post-it notes and bold ideas. She’s helped startups get featured in Fast Company, The Atlantic, and The New York Times among other top media and has designed co-marketing campaigns with everyone from Nancy Pelosi to Dr. Oz. In her communications career, Emily has managed $250+ million in fundraising and funding announcements. She is founder and CEO of Uncommon Bold, a healthcare-focused brand strategy studio, and author of the book Procedure: Women Remaking Medicine.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Three years ago, I woke up in the ICU. I had nearly died in childbirth. Thanks to 32 blood donors and a handful of talented doctors, my daughter and I both survived. I had a great career in startup communications before that and the start of a little healthcare brand studio called Uncommon Bold. Going through that medical crisis cemented for me the importance of the healthcare work we’re doing. Since I recovered, we’ve grown tremendously, leading brand strategy projects with companies like Blue Shield of California and Lyra Health and launching our own medical publishing company, Procedure Press. Our healthcare system needs to change, and we’re having a hell of a good time helping it evolve toward a bolder, brighter future.

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?

I once hired a gospel choir to kick off a physician conference without doing enough research. Instead of the high-energy “Sister Act”–style opener we imagined, the event started with 10 very awkward minutes of deeply sincere and pious singing — not exactly what the doctors were expecting at a tech conference! I learned to be super clear in communicating my vision — and always to ask for a demo tape.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Uncommon Bold knows what it takes to grow a healthcare brand. We approach everything from an in-house mentality, backed from deep experience. We know how serious healthcare is but also how much fun it is to create high-energy, highly magnetic, highly influential brand work that resonates with doctors, health leaders, and patients. We’re also extremely data-driven, starting each client project with a foundation of research and analysis. We’re flexible, creative, and kind.

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

We just wrapped up an event called Mindful MD with our client Lightning Bolt Solutions, an opportunity for leading physicians to focus on wellness and advocacy. It was a day that genuinely changed lives — including my own.

We’re also helping a couple of big health startups through massive rebrands right now, which are so energizing! And I’m still on my book tour with Procedure: Women Remaking Medicine (Vol. 1), which was published earlier this year. We’re starting on the second volume about patients working for change soon.

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?

Advertising is paying to share your story. Branding is who you are and what you do to get people to share your story for you.

I love brand work because it has to be authentic. It’s about having a clear and consistent drumbeat across everything you do: the product, the team culture, the sales approach, the design, the marketing, the customers. When it all “clicks” together, it’s magic.

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?

Companies are so transparent now, whether they want to be or not. Anyone can see your Glassdoor ratings, job applications, Twitter conversations, online reviews. It’s a word-of-mouth world. When you have a strong brand, that transparency works in your favor, creating opportunities everywhere for your company to find the right people, find the right partners, find the right reporters to help tell your story, to grow, and to succeed.

Can you share 5 strategies that a large company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.

We mostly work with high-growth startup companies under 1,000 employees and often under 200. At this size, they can be really brave and genuine. They can move quickly and are efficient about their marketing. Here are some tips:

  • Do figure out your nougat-y core as a company. If everything changed, what would still stay the same? What do you care about the most? What is your unique superpower? Knowing yourself is so useful.
  • Don’t launch a company blog (or social media channel or PR campaign) until you have something to say. So many companies waste time and resources on tactics without strategy.
  • Do “come out as human.” Make sure your website and brand materials show that you’re real people who really care about what you’re working on.
  • Don’t be afraid to close the door on some customers. As a young company, you’ll grow better by being a big, beloved deal to 1,000 customers than to be ignored by 100,000.
  • Do keep your customer at the center of every conversation and campaign. It’s not about you, it’s about them. If every paragraph of your website or deck starts with your company’s name, you’re not doing it right.

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?

Patagonia is a classic example of a brand that stands up well against giant, super-resourced competitors by being authentic and consistent and having strong opinions. Their work on environmental activism runs deep. REI too with their #optoutside campaign. So brilliant, rejecting the biggest retail shopping day of the year to live by their values. To replicate this, think of something your company can do that is brave and interesting and on-brand and good for your customers.

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?

There are a lot of ways you can and should measure that your brand is going in the right direction. Web traffic, sales pipeline, social media engagement, media coverage…but at the end of the day, brand success is ultimately a feeling. When a brand is perfectly aligned, everything clicks into place. You’re hiring the right people, the right leads are finding you, deals are closing faster, partnership opportunities are coming inbound, reporters are taking notice, the team is working together on a clear direction. It’s never easy, but a strong brand makes growing a company so much easier.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

Social media is a fun channel to use, less important in our healthcare world that in other sectors. LinkedIn can be surprisingly powerful.

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

Make sure you’re working with people you like, on projects that matter. Have fun. Take the work seriously. Don’t take yourself seriously.

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 am all about encouraging doctors and nurses to have a louder voice in the future of healthcare. We need them to stand up for patients, to be influential advocates. To demand a better healthcare system for themselves and everyone else. I want doctors and nurses running for Congress, marching at the Capitol, asking our country to do better.

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

“…if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.” I love this quote from Toni Morrison. Every good thing in my life creates an opportunity to help more people.

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. 🙂

Christy Turlington inspires me with her work on Every Mother Counts. We had similar health issues in childbirth. She’s turned her experience into something that is helping women all around the world. We share some contacts, and I’m hoping to get introduced and profile her in my next book.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@uncommonbold (Instagram), @procedurepress (Twitter, Instagram), @emilyfpeters (Twitter), Uncommon Bold (LinkedIn), Procedure Press (LinkedIn), Emily F. Peters (LinkedIn)

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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