“Consistency is crucial.” With Fotis Georgiadis & Kaye Putnam

The decision to rebrand can be so exciting and rewarding — but it shouldn’t be taken lightly, for a variety of reasons. For one: To feel confident buying, people usually need to be familiar with you. They need to know, like, and trust you — and encounter you at multiple touch points over time. So, […]

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The decision to rebrand can be so exciting and rewarding — but it shouldn’t be taken lightly, for a variety of reasons. For one: To feel confident buying, people usually need to be familiar with you. They need to know, like, and trust you — and encounter you at multiple touch points over time. So, consistency is crucial — because it helps build that familiarity. When you change things up, you need to be incredibly intentional and strategic about it.

As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Kaye Putnam, the Psychology-driven Brand Strategist.

Kaye Putnam is the psychology-driven brand strategist for entrepreneurs. Through work with hundreds of clients from global brands to solo business owners, she developed The Clarity Code. She believes in pursuing audacious dreams and that there is a genius that lives inside every entrepreneur. She helps clients and students develop clear and compelling brands — so that clients love you, respect you, and are willing to pay premium prices for your work.

Kaye works with students in her programs and with clients 1-on-1. When she’s not transforming brands, she’s exploring the world with her husband and two little ones.

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?

Yes! It’s so great to be here. So, I was an entrepreneur right from the start. I started a wedding and portrait photography business as a teenager. I was so young when I was running it, that I had to use my mom’s name for my PayPal account. (In fact, her name is still on there now with mine!)

But eventually, photography became more of a hobby. After school, I ended up working in the agency world. I worked behind the scenes with a wide variety of brands and learned so much.

The transition from marketing to branding as a specialization happened for me because I started seeing some patterns. I noticed through my work that some businesses were able to cut through all of the noise — and scale and thrive. Meanwhile, others failed to gain traction and fizzled out. And I wanted to understand why. For example, I was working on radio advertising spots at one point, and I observed that some campaigns delivered major results, while others flopped — even though we were applying the same basic principles to the campaign creation and delivery.

So I was trying to identify the common denominators. And the patterns I saw weren’t about how much passion the people who ran these businesses had, or whether they were good at their work. The businesses that made sales and succeeded had strong brands. They had done the work to get clear on who they were and what their values and opinions were. They were confident and knew *exactly* how they wanted to show up in the world. People knew what these brands stood for and made emotional connections to them.

So, that’s how I learned that a strong, clear, compelling brand makes everything else easier. And I got hooked on helping define and build those strong brands.

Meanwhile, I was also studying the ways that companies connect on an emotional level with their prospects… but that’s another story altogether! But, that’s where the psychology piece comes in. The work that I do is not simply about colors and fonts — it’s about the underlying psychological and emotional triggers that brands must hit before they can generate sales. People make buying decisions emotionally — then they back them up with logic. I wanted to help brands tap into that. So, I am the “Psychology-driven Brand Strategist.”

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?

Gosh, there are so many I could share, because I was so crazy-awkward in the beginning. Before discovering my own brand, I struggled to determine which aspects of myself to highlight in order to really resonate with my audience. So, when I look back at my older content, it’s funny in a cringe-worthy sort of way!

Rather than focus on what made my brand unique, I found myself identifying other successful entrepreneurs, and literally trying to do what they were doing. (Cringe!) For a while, I mimicked a female entrepreneur with a really magnetic, high-energy vibe and started my emails with, “Heya, Gorgeous!”… which is so not me. Then, I saw a really strong, no-nonsense coach-type succeeding in business, so I’d try to be like him. I remember creating an email series called “Monday Morning Kick in the Pants.” … Again, so not me.

It didn’t take me long to realize that this wasn’t working and only left me spinning my wheels. While there were some amazing strategies involved, even the best marketing plans will fall flat if your brand isn’t based on your own truths. And mine wasn’t — at first. When I finally learned exactly how to lean into my own unique strengths, everything finally started to work for me. But, the time before that was pretty funny (in retrospect!).

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?

I definitely had a huge entrepreneur epiphany — and it changed everything when it happened. As I mentioned, I noticed through my work in marketing that some businesses really thrived — and others flopped. And I had figured out that the difference-maker was the brand.

I wanted my brand to be clear and compelling, so I started looking for ways to make it so. One day, around 2013, I was in full nerd mode, down a deep rabbit hole of internet research. And I stumbled upon a jenky website that featured Carol S. Pearson’s brand archetypes — the Magician, the Royal, the Caregiver, the Guy Next Door, etc. There are twelve of them. And although the site I found them on looked like 1992 had called and wanted its website back… the basic content was still jaw-dropping to me.

By way of some background, the brand archetypes I discovered that day are universally recognized figures that stand for certain basic human motivations and emotions. They help us connect to our ideal customers on a deeper, more emotional level, because we are used to seeing them in literature, tv, mythology, etc. Archetypes make sense to us. Our brains naturally organize ideas by grouping like things, and by seeing patterns. Recognizing common traits in people and symbols helps us to process and understand a story. Those commonalities cue us to feel particular emotions. And they trigger certain gut-level responses. And triggering those can help us shorten the sales cycle with ideal customers.

So, as I read about the archetypes, I had to know what mine were. (My instinct was that this could help end the mimicry that wasn’t working for me!) But, there was no easy, fast way to determine my archetypes. I had to spend HOURS reading about all the ‘types, their motivations, their values, their characteristics, and influences… I actually loved all this research, of course — because I’m a huge nerd.

I finally settled on the two that were most ‘me.’ And when I did, my brand became clear and I finally gained the traction — and started to make the money — that I had been desiring… and I truly chalk this up to my discovery of the brand archetypes.

So, I knew I wanted to share this amazing tool I’d discovered with other entrepreneurs. So I’m asking myself “How could I make it simple for small business owners to quickly assess what archetypes would best help them leverage their unique genius?”

I decided to create a tool I could use to spread the knowledge. And, so… my Brand Archetype Quiz was born. I created it, tested it, and shared it. Others shared it. LOTS of others shared it, actually! And, long story short, it’s now been taken more than 100,000 times — by entrepreneurs all around the world. (I still can never say that without my heart racing a bit!)

When people take the quiz, they often write me and say they feel like a huge weight has been lifted… like they finally have permission to be themselves, and to stop worrying so much about the old “ideal client avatars.” An effective brand actually starts by doing the self-discovery work, and the quiz makes that easier.

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

I am! My most recent program, The Brand Advantage, was born from a huge realization I had in 2019. My husband was in the military until recently, so our family lived in a lot of places — Italy, Hawaii, Tennessee, to name a few. In 2019, we were returning to the U.S. from Italy and he was interviewing for private-sector jobs. We spent about three months living in a hotel while we searched for the right job and then for the right house — and hotel life did a number on my health, my business, and my habits. Lots of take-out food and a tiny hotel gym, plus a lack of structure in my family’s daily schedule… it all added up (for me) to low-energy, lack of focus, and a general sense of malaise.

As soon as we moved into our new house, I knew I needed to make major changes. To do this, I took inspiration from a trip we had taken earlier in the year. My husband, sister-in-law, a cousin, and I had trekked to Everest Base Camp. We had an incredible, knowledgeable guide. The thing that surprised us the most about the experience was that he had us walking… So. Slowly. It seemed crazy in the beginning. We stopped every few hours to rest, drink tea, eat snacks, etc. But, in the end, that plodding pace was the only way to make it. We made it to base camp only because we consistently took small steps. One after another.

So, back in the states, post-hotel life… I started focusing on the small — almost no-brainer — actions that I knew, when taken consistently, would add up to major results. I tracked my habits in a few areas of my life, and experienced huge shifts. I ended up launching new programs, re-organizing my team, hitting my first $50K revenue month in business… Oh, and I lost 20 pounds, too!

These shifts were so incredible to me, and I knew I wanted to teach what I had learned. I knew I wanted to help entrepreneurs who might feel “stuck” and lacking clarity to take action — because clarity really comes from action (not so much from researching and planning!).

So, when I created The Brand Advantage, I drastically evolved my teaching style to focus less on the “why” and cranked up the “here’s exactly what to do.” It’s “learning by BEING” experience designed to create results — clarity and progress — in 30 days. The students who’ve taken it so far have totally blown me away with their results. In just 30 days, they get radically certain, sign clients, get highly-visible, create and upgrade assets… Several students have reported doubling their sales in the short 30-day container. I knew the program would create results because the principles had worked for me. But, I was truly surprised by just how HUGE their results have been.

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

I think this really comes back to habits, too. It’s crucial to be consistent about both business-building and self-care. Just like on our Everest trek, it’s the small daily steps and habits that will add up to big results — and you won’t burn out when you take that approach.

I also think it’s important that entrepreneurs think of their brands as a system. You have to build your content machine and leverage automation to be visible consistently — even when you’ve actually stepped away for some r&r or adventure. A few years back, I wrote an article about the systems that I use to “make it look like I’m working 24/7”… and it’s still one of my most popular pieces.

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 always say that marketing is what you do, and your brand is who you are. To me, that’s the difference. And your unique messages are at the intersection of those two things.

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?

This is one of the most common questions I get. For business owners, they tend to think of it like this: “What’s the ROI of branding?”

And I get it! As entrepreneurs, we have to be careful and intentional about how we spend our time and money. But it’s a real rookie mistake to think that branding costs are not a good — or necessary — investment. In fact, defining and developing a compelling and memorable brand is the most important and foundational investment you can make. It makes all other decisions easier. It makes all of your marketing more effective.

If you want to improve your sales funnel, increase your sales conversion rates, grow your audience… You have to start by getting crystal clear on your brand. Skipping this step essentially makes it so that you’re sort throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it will stick — which is not a good strategy. (It’s actually not a strategy at all!) That’s what I learned early on in my career with those radio spots I mentioned above. They weren’t landing with people and converting listeners to action-takers — because they hadn’t been build on a solid brand foundation.

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

The decision to rebrand can be so exciting and rewarding — but it shouldn’t be taken lightly, for a variety of reasons. For one: To feel confident buying, people usually need to be familiar with you. They need to know, like, and trust you — and encounter you at multiple touch points over time. So, consistency is crucial — because it helps build that familiarity. When you change things up, you need to be incredibly intentional and strategic about it.

Plus, branding is a process that requires an investment of your time (and often money) to be done well. So — like with any significant investment — you need to be ready to make it, and ready to leverage the results.

But, if the circumstances and timing are right — the process can transform and up-level your business in all the right ways. Here are a few “ready for a rebrand” indicators that I see a lot:

If your business has evolved, and there’s a large delta between “who you used to be” and “who you are now,” it can be game-changing to give your brand a much-needed upgrade.

If you initially built your business’s visual identity or messaging (or both!) around something that was trendy, I’d recommend a re-brand so you can present with a new brand that is timeless and based on your truths — not trends.

If you’re planning to dramatically raising your prices, or launching something at a much higher (or much lower) price point than you have before — this calls for a re-positioning in the market, and a re-brand might be needed to support that.

There are a few other hallmarks of a rebrand-ready business, but these are the ones I see most often!

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

Well, occasionally I see a business need a re-brand when sales have stagnated. And sometimes the fresh brand solves the problem. But, there’s a huge caveat here… It’s imperative that you be very, very careful if this is the only reason that you’re considering a rebrand. If your sales have been stagnant, it can be tempting to throw up your hands in the air and be like…Okay, we need to change everything!

But, here’s the thing: Your brand may or not be the issue. It might be some other piece in the puzzle. If you assume it’s your brand, and you blow it all up… you run the additional risk of losing the brand recognition that you have earned.

The other re-branding mistake I see is this: I’ve encountered entrepreneurs that rebrand once a year, and I just can’t endorse that. Building a blockbuster business takes more than a year. Your brand needs time to build familiarity and trust. So, if you’re rebranding more than every 2 to 3 years or so, I’d advise a really close look at the “why” here.

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.

I’m a huge nerd, so I’m always learning about — and teaching — strategies for building and re-invigorating brands. But, some of them really stand the test of time, and those are the ones that are based in psychology. (Because the human psychology algorithm doesn’t change! 😉

So, I’ll share five of my favorite brand psychology hacks. And I’ll bet your readers will find some of them to be game-changing.

Hack / Strategy #1: Humans make decisions emotionally first.

This first one is critical to understand. Your brand has to meet people at that emotional level — if you want them to buy. (And I know you do!) Findings from several studies support this, but one of the most seminal was outlined in Harvard professor Gerald Zellman’s 2003 book, The Subconscious Mind of the Consumer. Zellman’s research and learnings prompted him to come to the industry-rocking conclusion that, “95 percent of our purchase decision making takes place in the subconscious mind.”

So, hit your ideal client at the heart and gut levels — as opposed to just appealing to their brains. This is the tact that will ultimately make them choose you.

Hack / Strategy #2: Humans are social creatures.

We’re constantly paying attention to the people that influence us. And we’re building our identity within that social construct. Our base, reptile brain doesn’t ever want us to be cast out from the tribe — lest we be isolated and die. (Dramatic, yes! But we’re hard-wired to function this way. It goes all the way back to our caveman / hunter-gatherer days when it would be dangerous — deadly even! — to be alone.)

Think about the restaurant that has like a line out the door. That one’s automatically more appealing, right?

Leverage this by creating the “social safety” people crave within our own brands.Do this via testimonials, by highlighting case studies, or even by interacting publicly with other influential peers. These behaviors and brand assets shows that other people trust us — so this new customer can trust us too.

Hack / Strategy #3: Humans want to connect to something bigger.

When we buy, we aren’t just buying a service or product. We’re buying into the bigger ideas that service or product represents.So, connect your brand with some universal human values. I love doing this with brand archetypes (mentioned above!). They give us a proven mechanism by which to convey our messages at that heart and gut level.

Hack / Strategy #4: Humans have short attention spans.

Before we can actually say anything (and be heard), we first must actually get people to pay attention… to notice us. Then, we need to keep their attention long enough to convey our message. For better or for worse, our attention spans are ridiculously short at this juncture of civilization.

So, make it super-apparent that what you have to say is hyper-relevant to your audience. Imagine you’re at a cocktail party, and you hear your name. It doesn’t matter if somebody’s talking to you… If you hear your name, your ears perk up, right? Demonstrating relevance to grab attention is just like that. If you can show your ideal client that you understand her… that you’re talking about her specifically in your brand? That’s going to get her to take notice — even in a noisy market.

Hack / Strategy #5: Familiarity = Appeal.

This is a weird one. (At least I think so!) The “Mere-Exposure” Effect (coined byRobert Zajonc in 1968) is the tenet that says “repeated exposure of the individual to a stimulus object enhances his attitude toward it.” In plainer terms, the more that we see something (a person’s face, a piece of art, a logo, anything!), the more that we like it. You can play into this simply by just consistently showing up.That consistency will build trust over time and bond people to you. (It’s science!)

…So, I hope these are helpful to your readers. Incorporate one, incorporate them all… but understand that psychology is a collection of human truths. These truths aren’t changing anytime soon, and they impact the success (or failure) of your brand. So, it makes sense to pay attention to how human brains work… Because we’re all selling to humans, right?

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?

I discovered one of my favorites whenwe were developing my twelve Brandfluency courses. (These are my brand archetype courses. Each one goes deep into the motivations, desires, language, etc of one of the archetypes — to help entrepreneurs apply their archetypes to their brand decisions. )

My lead strategist and I were researching fitness brands. We wanted to identify at least one that was leveraging each of the twelve archetypes. (In case readers are curious… Lululemon is the Magician. Nike is the hero. YMCA is a guy / girl next door brand. Tory Sport uses the Explorer… but I digress. 🙂

During our fitness brand research, my lead strategist turned me on to the women’s “technical clothing” brand ADAY — which had recently undergone a brand overhaul. Since then, I’ve been watching this brand and I really admire them. I love how they mix the Sage and Innocent brand archetypes to create an inspiring, yet “back-to-basics” clothing line. They infuse their unique personality everywhere. For example, their tagline is “Smart clothing for everyday life.” And rather than going with a standard classification as fitness apparel, ADAY positions itself as a brand that provides “technical clothing.”

ADAY’s strong re-brand shows us two key things. First, it’s crucial that brands connect themselves to something bigger than just what they actually manufacture or provide. By connecting to the deeper desires of humans to learn and know — and to themes like innovation, diligence, and research that makes the everyday better — ADAY becomes memorable and compelling.

Here’s an example of a brand decision that is clearly driven by this firm grasp on their brand. The co-founders of ADAY (Meg He and Nina Faulhaber) did an interview on the ‘Millennials Don’t Suck’ podcast. They were asked if their “smart” clothing measured your heart rate. Their response could not have been more Sage. They immediately answered… “Not yet, but maybe in the future.” It’s a classic Sage point of view is that there is always more to learn. One of ADAY’s top values is invention. They’re always researching what will make their clothing better for their consumers… all very Sage… and so different than Under Armor or Stella McCartney Sport, right?

Second, brands must find a way to make the ordinary different, and to stand out — especially in crowded markets. It would be easy — maybe even obvious — for a fitness brand to employ the Hero archetype — and some of them do it really well. But, carving out a position that is different? That’s the genius here. ADAY attracts a different buyer with different desires, and that solidifies their market share.

There’s a lot of more to learn from ADAY — especially for the Sage brands! But those are a couple of my takeaways.

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. 🙂

My objective is always to help entrepreneurs lean into who they truly are — and be themselves, without reservation. I really believe that’s the best way to attract the right audience and build a brand that’s impactful, profitable and sustainable. Everything I do is about teaching people not to shy away from their own truths to please others. So, if I’m leading a movement — that’s the one!

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

Seth Godin wrote this:“Doing nothing is expensive… It’s tempting to sit quietly, take notes and comply, rationalizing that at least you’re not doing anything negative. But the opportunity cost… is significant. Not adding value is the same as taking it away.”

These words speak to me! I see this in myself and I see it in others. But, the world needs the genius of entrepreneurs — in every sector. One of my goals is to be asking genius people, What have you been missing out on by staying invisible or by staying quiet? What are you pretending not to know? Where do you know that you can add value but you haven’t yet? Isn’t it time for you to show up and shine?

How can our readers follow you online?

I invite anyone who is interested in building a brand on “truth, not trends” to head to my website KayePutnam.com and take the brand archetype quiz I mentioned above. That’s a great way to dip a toe into what I teach, and it’s fast and fun!

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

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