“Ask your customers AND your team who you are.” With Melanie Spring

Ask your customers AND your team who you are. Sending out a survey asking for real feedback is not something we do often. When you ask people for their feedback, they’ll give it to you. Ask your customers AND your team the following 3 questions & see what you need to change before you do […]

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Ask your customers AND your team who you are. Sending out a survey asking for real feedback is not something we do often. When you ask people for their feedback, they’ll give it to you. Ask your customers AND your team the following 3 questions & see what you need to change before you do ANY brand refresh or makeover. What do we do well? What could we do better? On a scale of 1–10, how likely are you to refer us.

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

Melanie Spring. Melanie has worked as a brand strategist with businesses of all sizes — from big brands like Five Guys to brand new entrepreneurs — for the past two decades. She once drove 7,000 miles in 3 weeks on the Live Your Brand Tour to find out why great brands work. The HUMANS were at the center of everything.

Melanie is now an international keynote speaker & storyteller who hosts public speaking retreats and corporate trainings to help you find your story, build your confidence and amplify your voice.

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?

When 2009 hit the country hard, my boss asked me what I would do if he couldn’t pay me anymore and I said “I’d work for myself” — his answer was, “great, let’s do that. You have a month.” It was the best push I could have asked for. I’d always wanted to work for myself since I never found my place in the corporate world.

I started a brand strategy agency called Sisarina — and we built websites, marketing materials, and brands from the ground up for businesses. In 2013, I hit the road to rock the Live Your Brand Tour & interviewed 18 businesses on how they lived their brands. All of their stories were published in Entrepreneur Magazine and I was touted as a veteran brand strategist — except that I knew there was more to what I was doing. The HUMANS were what made the companies great, so I made a big decision to pivot and head in a new direction that would help the humans.

Now, I run Melanie Spring Productions. My Crew & I create & host unforgettable in-person brand experiences for you and your team to tell your story.

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?’

I named my company after my imaginary friend — and people started call ME Sisarina. It took almost 10 years to realize that the company needed to be named after me.

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?

Heck yeah! I stopped trying so hard. Once I settled into what I was meant to do and started really letting the right people and offerings show up, they did and it was overwhelming. Now I’m manifesting everything I want.

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

Yes — we’re helping companies get all of their team members on the same page with our Rock Your Pitch trainings. Most companies give their people a script and expect them to follow it, while others say “just say what you think is best” — both of those fail. We’re making sure humans can use their own voices to share what they do with others and sell without selling anything.

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

Get HYPER focused on one thing that you are the best at — and only do that. Cut out all of the other noise, get rid of all the people who tell you it won’t work, and stop worrying about your competition. OH! And take a damn vacation.

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 a feeling. You give them all of the experiences they need to have in order to get this feeling or they opt-out because they aren’t your target market. Advertising is taking all of that brand feeling and putting it into words and images so the right people want the thing you have.

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 marketing & advertising can change a lot over time. Your brand will be the rock it’s all built on. Investing in your brand means investing in your people, your culture, and your content (words & graphics) — and when those are solid, you’ll have a lot more to stand on with your marketing and advertising.

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

The market has changed, their audience has changed, their products have changed, their attitude has changed, they’re expanding to new markets, they’ve purchased another company — there are lots of reasons to rebrand. I’ve been through them all with my clients.

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

There are downsides like lack of recognition of the new brand, attracting an audience you weren’t expecting — but I think all brands should be open to a brand refresh every 3 years, even if they’re not doing a full makeover.

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.

  1. Ask your customers AND your team who you are. Sending out a survey asking for real feedback is not something we do often. When you ask people for their feedback, they’ll give it to you. Ask your customers AND your team the following 3 questions & see what you need to change before you do ANY brand refresh or makeover. What do we do well? What could we do better? On a scale of 1–10, how likely are you to refer us.
  2. Start with your core values. If you don’t have them, get them. If you do, make sure they still fit. Every business should have core values — no matter how big or small. Core values are what drives who you are as a company, how you interact as a team, and how you take care of your customers.
  3. Update your positioning or purpose statement to reflect any changes. I worked with Five Guys on their internal brand audit. Their external brand was solid but talking about what they did was difficult so we went to the core of who they were and started updating their core values and positioning statement. Getting them all on the same page allowed them to keep the external brand they had and create a decision-making process based on their values. In the end, we created a training manual around the brand that went to all of their stores worldwide so everyone spoke the same language.
  4. Take a hard look at your business name & logo. A food tour client of mine had just moved into a new city AND purchased an overseas vacation touring company and wanted to update their brand to fit their growth. We looked at their logo and business name only to realize that they didn’t fit anymore from a growth perspective. Instead of being tied to it, we opened up to other ideas and ended up settling on something new that fit way better.
  5. Look at parallel industries for ideas, not your competitors. I speak a lot in the credit union space and when we talk about brand updates, we don’t look at banks for ideas, we look at hotels. Credit unions want their members to feel at home, hotels feel the same way. So, what hotel would you be — a Motel 8 or a Westin? A Howard Johnson or a Ritz-Carlton? How do they treat their customers? How do they greet them? How do they check in on them?

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?

It may be cliche, but Apple has been incredible at brand evolution. They’ve taken the brand they started with and evolved it smoothly over time as their products have evolved. They didn’t just start over, they built out their brand recognition and continued to appeal to the audience that loves them. If you want to replicate it, think of who you are as a brand and the feeling you give people — and think of ways you can get clearer and clearer on offering that feeling to them. Update accordingly.

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. 🙂

Be A Kickass Human — I run the Kickass Humans Club. It’s a safe place for people to be fully themselves in whatever form makes them kickass. The more Kickass Humans there are, the better this world will be.

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

Right now, it’s “I give from the overflow.” I was recently reminded that I tend to just give and give until I’m depleted when that doesn’t end up being a win win — I end up losing out. So, now my quote is “I give from the overflow” so I can create a win win and continue to give a lot.

How can our readers follow you online?

I’m everywhere, but you can most easily follow me here:

Thank you so much for these excellent insights! We wish you continued success in your work.

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