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“Be clever.” With Arielle Shnaidman

Building a brand is a longterm play, but it’ll pay dividends forever. While general marketing and advertising are important for lead generation, they typically require a lot of spend. Building a brand means more inbound interest over time, word-of-mouth-marketing, and referrals, all of which require no spend. When you have a well-known, trustworthy brand, more […]

Building a brand is a longterm play, but it’ll pay dividends forever. While general marketing and advertising are important for lead generation, they typically require a lot of spend. Building a brand means more inbound interest over time, word-of-mouth-marketing, and referrals, all of which require no spend. When you have a well-known, trustworthy brand, more opportunities naturally flow your way because of that recognition, many of which are priceless. When a customer compares a brand they don’t know with a brand they do know, and the offerings are similar, odds are the customer will choose the more well-known brand, even if the pricing is a bit steeper. Overall, investing in brand-building pays for itself in the long run.


As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Arielle Shnaidman. Arielle is a business and mindset coach who helps entrepreneurial women overcome overwhelm, make decisions with confidence, and get customers saying yes. After co-founding her own startup and working as a product marketer at other growing startups, she decided to launch a coaching business to support women on their entrepreneurial journeys. Since then she’s helped women who aspire to create something of their own communicate their value powerfully, develop a more resilient mindset, and go from ideas to action. Arielle graduated from McGill University and is an NLP Master Practitioner and certified Life, Success, Motivational, and Social & Emotional Intelligence coach. She also consults for startups. Follow her on LinkedIn and Instagram @arielleshnaidman or learn more at www.arielleshnaidman.com


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?

Ico-founded a startup in 2015 that failed, so I picked myself back up and went to work at other growing startups in San Francisco and New York City doing messaging, positioning, and storytelling. After several years in the startup world, I knew something was missing. I was great at my job, but often felt like I wasn’t utilizing all of my natural talents. If you’ve read Gay Hendricks’ book, The Big Leap, you could say I was operating in my zone of excellence, but not my zone of genius. I realized working one-on-one with women entrepreneurs in a coaching capacity would allow me me to leverage the marketing skills I’d learned, while also supporting clients on a deeper level to break through limiting beliefs and develop a more resilient mindset. This felt completely aligned. From there, I started taking on clients while I was still in my full-time role and got certified as a Master NLP practitioner and coach. I left my full-time job in February 2019 and now coach entrepreneurial women and consult for startups.

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?

Probably just trying to be clever. In my business, part of what I do is help my clients tap into their intuition so they can access deeper insights from their subconscious mind and make better decisions. There are a ton of coaches out there, so I decided to call myself an “intuitive business coach” to stand out. My goal was to attract women who wanted to trust themselves and their decision making skills more, but I ended up attracting people who were very “woo”. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not actually my niche. Lesson: choose your words carefully — just because you think certain wording carries a certain meaning doesn’t mean your customers read it that way!

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 started doing more and thinking less. For a long time, I’d overthink everything. From the emails I’d send to the copy I’d write to the programs I’d create — I’d tinker with things for a long time before putting them out into the world. I’d want things to be perfect, probably because deep down I doubted myself. But I realized chasing perfection meant I moved slower. It meant I was slower to get market feedback, learn, and grow. And if I was slower to learn and grow, well I was actually hindering my ability to become “excellent”. That’s when it dawned on me, “done over perfect”. This mental shift really changed things for me — perfect doesn’t exist anyway, it’s subjective. After a point, trying to “perfect” something has diminishing returns — just ship it! Once you do, you’ll get real feedback and be able to improve further.

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

Yes! I’ve just taken a year’s worth of learnings and created a new coaching program. It’s a 4-month container designed to help entrepreneurial women, whether they’re service providers or startup founders, go from ideas to action, make decisions with confidence, and get customers saying yes. I think it’ll help women communicate their value powerfully, master their messaging, story, and pitch, upgrade their mindset so they can tackle whatever challenges come their way, and figure out how to build their business around their zone of genius and achieve their goals without ever burning out. So many entrepreneurs say they want visibility — to get themselves and their businesses out there, but lack the self-belief and mindset to actually get visible. This program focuses on the mindset piece — the internal work — and also the strategy piece — the tactics and skills necessary to get customers.

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

Quality over quantity. Especially in 2020, it’s about building community and brand equity over time — which demands quality content and consistent value. You don’t need to be everywhere and you don’t need to resonate with everyone. You just need to be in the right place(s) and resonate with the tribe of people who believe what you believe. Especially if you’re one person, better to do a few things well than to do a lot of things “meh”. Also, don’t compare yourself to other people and get that “shiny object syndrome”. As you grow, you can tackle more channels by hiring support. But if you’re one person or a lean team, focus on one to two channels and do those really well. If “really well” means less frequent but higher-value content, then so be it.

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?

I was a product marketer for many years and the simplest definition I can give is: brand marketing makes your audience feel something — they see a part of themselves in your brand or brand story, perhaps share your values, and this builds trust. Product marketing is about showing your audience you can solve their problems. It’s about focusing on your audience’s pain-points, highlighting the benefits and features of your offering, and how those things address their problems. I’ll leave it at that to keep things simple.

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?

Building a brand is a longterm play, but it’ll pay dividends forever. While general marketing and advertising are important for lead generation, they typically require a lot of spend. Building a brand means more inbound interest over time, word-of-mouth-marketing, and referrals, all of which require no spend. When you have a well-known, trustworthy brand, more opportunities naturally flow your way because of that recognition, many of which are priceless. When a customer compares a brand they don’t know with a brand they do know, and the offerings are similar, odds are the customer will choose the more well-known brand, even if the pricing is a bit steeper. Overall, investing in brand-building pays for itself in the long run.

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

If they’ve had internal or external issues and are looking to restart with a clean slate (i.e. a new brand) — rebranding might be a good option. Or, perhaps they’ve been in business for a while, have learned more about their market and core customers, and need to pivot to resonate more deeply with that core segment via a rebrand. Another reason might be, a new competitor entered the market who is too similar to them, and they want to further differentiate themselves.

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

It’s a lot of work on the backend. All your previous content and links to your site need to be reviewed, and if your current brand name ranks high in SEO or you’ve spent a lot of resources ranking for your brand name, those are things you’ll want to consider. If you received a lot of press with your previous brand name, those articles may no longer serve you as they used to, or at the very least confuse those who see them and clickthrough only to land on a new brand/company they don’t recognize. In terms of companies that I’d advise against doing a “brand makeover” it’s difficult to say — it’s really a case by case basis. The thing I’d come back to is: why do you want to do this? How will the rebrand improve your bottom line? If it’s simply because you’re bored or unhappy with the current branding, more research needs to be done to see if this kind of investment is really worth it. If your customers know, love, and trust your brand, you want to be sure a brand makeover won’t disrupt your revenue in a meaningful way.

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. Create customer stories: if you want to re-energize your brand, leverage the social proof of your customers and how you’ve helped them. Go beyond case studies and create some video content asking your customers what they love about you, how you’ve helped them, and so forth. You can promote these on social media, share them with your current customer base, and add them to your website to humanize your brand. Give people an inside look into what it’s like to work with you.
  2. Send your customers a thank-you: send a thank you note with some swag or a small gift card to your customers thanking them for their business. Let them know you appreciate them. More often than not, customers will take pictures of any t-shirts or gifts you send them and tag you on social media saying thank you. Even if they don’t, it’ll make your current customer base love you that much more. Your brand is what people think of you and how you make them feel.
  3. Give to a worthy cause: pick an organization that’s doing something important for a community, initiative, or cause that aligns with your brand and values. Then, figure out a way to support them. For example, if you have a digital product like a book or training, consider creating a sale for a container of time in which all or a percentage of proceeds from that product are donated to the organization of your choosing. This will make your customers feel good about buying your product, feel good about you as a brand, and maybe even stir up some shoutouts or conversations on social media.
  4. Partner with another brand: is there another brand that aligns with your business or that your customers will know/like/trust? Think creatively about how you can partner with them to offer something unique to your audience. For example, if you’re a software product, what other software products do your customers use with yours? Perhaps you could create a limited-time campaign or partnership where customers who buy your product get a free trial or discount on the product you’re partnering with, and vise-versa.
  5. Revamp your tagline: if you’re not in the market for a full rebrand, but have learned more about your core customers and unique value, consider coming up with a new tagline to reflect that. For example, at one of the startups I worked at, we shifted our tagline from “work smarter” to “love the work you do”. We realized our customers weren’t necessarily trying to work smarter by using our software, but rather, use it to deal with the busywork of running their businesses so they could get back to the work they love. So, we changed our tagline on our website and campaigns to reflect this, and it definitely re-energized our brand.

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?

Hiplead, a B2B SaaS startup rebranded as “Personas” and I think they did an excellent job. Specifically, I love the new name. Hiplead helped B2B companies scale their outbound sales with high quality lead generation campaigns. In order to do that though, you need targeted personas, which I assume is why they chose their new name — it’s at the core of what they offer. Anyone who is trying to do prospecting knows they need the right personas to target. I think their new name makes it very easy for anyone to understand what they offer, which is great branding. If you’re thinking about a rebrand, think about how your name, tagline, or messaging in general can further speak to your customers’ goals. Make it stupid easy for them to understand what you do and who you are for.

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’d love to start a movement where everyone shares their biggest wins and biggest losses every week. We’d all quickly see just how imperfect and messy things are for everyone. Yes people are achieving success, but along the way there are tons of failures and face plants. Failed campaigns, launches, sales, events, etc. If we showed more of the losses alongside the wins, people would see just how natural and normal failure is and wouldn’t be so ravaged by it, thinking they’re some loser anomaly. A lot of people today believe in the back of their minds that they’re the only ones failing. I think this “movement” would show that failure is a necessary ingredient for success in a healthy and relatable way.

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

“This too shall pass”. I think in my life, career, and business I’ve had really difficult moments. I’ve also had moments filled with incredible joy and pride. The point is: nothing lasts. If you’re in the pits, know that it won’t be like that forever — it’s just the current moment you’re in. If you’re thriving, enjoy it — but don’t get too high on your horse or think you’ve figured everything out. Again, nothing lasts. Things can change at a moment’s notice. Be present, but know that everything is always changing.

How can our readers follow you online?

People can connect with me on Instagram and LinkedIn @arielleshnaidman, on Twitter @ashnaidman, or find me on my website at www.arielleshnaidman.com

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

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