Lauren Clemett of The Audacious Agency: “Don’t try to help every Mary in the diary”

To me branding sits at the centre of all your communications, marketing and promotional activity. In my experience, branding sits in the middle, with advertising, marketing, publicity, online presence, traffic generation, sales etc circling it. Your brand drives your focus, message, targeting, channel selection, imagery, spend.. which is why I believe it’s vital to invest […]

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To me branding sits at the centre of all your communications, marketing and promotional activity. In my experience, branding sits in the middle, with advertising, marketing, publicity, online presence, traffic generation, sales etc circling it. Your brand drives your focus, message, targeting, channel selection, imagery, spend.. which is why I believe it’s vital to invest effort into getting clear on your brand BEFORE you implement those other actions.

With a solid brand, you can go back to your core each time you do something to check if it is going to give you any return on investment.

As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Lauren Clemett, Co-Founder of The Audacious Agency.

At 8 years old Lauren was told she had ‘word blindness’ and would never be able to read or write properly, yet she went on to become a five-time bestselling author and Neurobranding expert, using her dyslexia to understand how the brain sees brands.

Lauren is now an International Award-Winning Personal Branding Specialist and has over 30 years experience in brand management. She is the author of the best-selling practical guidebook to personal branding, titled “Selling You” and has helped develop brands for hundreds of global entrepreneurs.

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?

As a kid I was told I would never be able to read or write properly. Of course I was dyslexic, but unbeknown to my teacher at the time, it would become my greatest asset. My teacher actually knew me really well and although it seems a horrible thing to say to a child, he knew what he said would be like a red rag to a bull and I would set out to prove him wrong. I threw myself into reading and learning to spell by recalling how words ‘looked’ in my mind.

As a young adult I studied to become a qualified graphic designer, then worked as a production manager in world leading advertising agencies and as brand manager for large corporations, using my ability to retain images of words in my head, to help me recognise when brands were being reproduced correctly.

This skill helped me manage brands and their image in advertising, collateral, marketing etc and enabled me to be a valued member of the team within the agencies I worked for. When I opened my own agency, it helped me brief the creatives and help explain what was needed for the clients as well as manage the brands and ensure they were consistent.

I later studied the science of Neurobranding and I use that knowledge and skill today to help entrepreneurs understand how the brain ‘sees’ and reacts to brands, so they can position their brands as the leader in their space, using all the proven methods to resonate and engage with their audience.

There is something about getting to the core of a brand message and then developing a strategy to clearly communicate the brand story to the right audience, in the right way, in the right time and place, that I totally love doing. It feels like a superpower and I love the challenges it provides and the range of brands I get to work with.

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’m embarrassed to say it was the creation of my own brand!

I started a consultancy called Ultimate Business Propellor and had lots of ‘Top Gun’ style branding, wings and stars, the font was even called Top Gun, but I have zero background in aviation or the military, so there was no authenticity there and as soon as this was pointed out to me I knew it had to change.

How embarrassing for a brand specialist to get their own brand so wrong!

Funny really because it’s what I call ‘ironicide’ — it’s ironic that the thing you do best for others you are worst at for yourself. Like the plumber with the leaky tap. I had created a brand because I thought it was cool and had totally ignored what my audience would want from the brand message and how I was going to share my brand story with the world.

Thankfully I saw the error of my ways, changed the branding and the consultancy won multiple business awards and was very successful. I’ve now merged it with a publicity specialist and we have rebranded ourselves as The Audacious Agency and we LOVE this brand because it’s all about being bold, brave and not being afraid to put yourself out there.

We’ve had great feedback on the brand and has easily emerged as a rebrand for both companies, packaging together and sharing our combined core brand messages, resonating with the right audience for everything we do and all the services we provide.

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?

The biggest successes have also been the biggest failures… partnerships.

I have had some really awful ones and some incredibly successful ones. It’s all about selecting the right people to team up with and sharing the load. When you have an awesome business partnership, things get done without you having to bear the entire load. You have someone to challenge you and support you at the same time.

A great business partner not only shines in areas where you struggle, they always have your back, push you out of your comfort zone and only want the best for the business. They should also be a great sounding board and have the ability to laugh, cry and rant in equal measure — and allow you to do the same.

Being in business is tough, and if you are going through a re-structure and rebranding, it can be confronting and challenging to do it alone. Having an awesome business partner to do it with makes all the difference to your level of success — so choose your partners wisely.

I suggest you work together with partners first, reciprocating work, joint venturing or affiliating to ‘test drive’ how you work together. If it’s seamless, easy and successful, then look at partnering. If it is clunky, one-sided (financially or effort) or if you are second guessing yourself, then it’s probably not the right partnership to enter into.

And when you do partner up, put a plan on paper with what you both want in the future and outline rules for the divorce, get an independent accountant and get some good business management systems in place so you can operate smoothly and grow together.

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

At the beginning of 2020 we launched The Audacious Agency which is a self-promotion consultancy, helping people with personal branding, publicity, online presence, winning awards and book marketing.

As part of this we have developed a brand audit, which goes through all of these aspects, highlighting what you are doing well and where the gaps are. This helps business owners uncover where they need to put in more effort and where they can improve.

The biggest assistance it provides is clear strategy and action steps that make sense, don’t overwhelm and get the best results for the investment of time and money when it comes to creating authentic marketing campaigns.

We also know that businesses spend plenty of time creating marketing and content and achieving great things, but they don’t have a strategy for sharing that and repurposing it, so often their amazing deeds go un-noticed.

We basically help business owners and entrepreneurs to be Googleicious!

The Audacious Audit is something that we will use to help us on-board clients, but regardless of if they work with us or not, entrepreneurs and business owners can use the audit to get focused and avoid the overwhelm and waste of time and money which generally happens with SME marketing.

We are hoping it becomes an incredibly useful tool for many global businesses to brand themselves better so they can stand out and shine.

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

There is so much pressure today to be ‘everything for everyone’ and to be constantly creating content, but in reality, we are drowning in information. Burnout occurs when you are being dragged in all directions at once and constantly feel under the pump. How often do you say “Who else wants a piece of me?”.

One of the most overused words is ‘hustle’ and it’s really not good for mental health in business.

My advice to avoid this is to have a workable strategy, and know exactly who your ideal client is and what you want to provide for them. Then limit what you say yes to, so you can ensure you stay on track and invest your time and money into what takes you closer to your goal.

There is so much distraction and loads of stress and pressure to get things done fast and to be ‘perfect’. It takes time to build a brand, so it is vital you remain focused but also reward yourself, be realistic with what you can achieve and set long term goals with shorter-term tasks.

I also find ‘batching’ works well to be more productive and to sustain bursts of focused activity. I have a planner that provides monthly themes, weekly action planners and daily projects. This helps me be clear on the purpose of my activity over the year, while maintaining a ‘to-do’ list that’s manageable.

Then, at the end of each day I do a daily review and ask myself three things:

  • What did I do well today?
  • What didn’t go well and can I put that in perspective?
  • What can I improve on?

I find this helps calm my brain and keeps me realistic about what I can achieve, positive about what I am doing and focused on continual development rather than being stressed about what may or may not be occurring.

When you are marketing other peoples businesses, your own marketing can suffer and you can loose sight of what’s important, so planning your day is vital and making sure you take time to review and consider what’s going right as well as the stuff that’s not working ensures more balance.

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?

To me branding sits at the centre of all your communications, marketing and promotional activity. In my experience, branding sits in the middle, with advertising, marketing, publicity, online presence, traffic generation, sales etc circling it. Your brand drives your focus, message, targeting, channel selection, imagery, spend.. which is why I believe it’s vital to invest effort into getting clear on your brand BEFORE you implement those other actions.

With a solid brand, you can go back to your core each time you do something to check if it is going to give you any return on investment.

In terms of explaining the difference between branding and advertising; Branding is all about recognition and recall. A great brand is instantly noticed and selected, engages emotionally and connects with the ideal audience. Advertising is about a specific benefit, offer or opportunity.

Branding is consistent over time and is more difficult to measure, and when it is measured, it’s about awareness and loyalty. Brand marketing gives people a reason to buy from you.

Advertising is all about specific timeframes and ROI — return on investment, measured in terms of leads, conversions and sales. Product marketing gives people a solution to their needs.

They interact because you want your ideal clients to be loyal customers who keep buying your products/services, experience the entire range of what you have to offer and refer you to others.

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?

In the 1970’s it was estimated that the human brain was exposed to around 500 brand messages a day. Today that’s closer to 5,000. So it’s a no-brainer that it’s getting harder to be seen and heard and having a stand-out brand is an ideal way to get noticed.

There has also been a huge shift to online shopping, where your brand has to do the selling for you because you are not physically there to create a relationship with your clients and sell to them yourself.

Building a brand creates a connection and an experience that can be used to create trust and develop a connection.

Brands connect by creating an emotional response using colours, shapes and imager, to burn an image of themselves into your memory, so that when the need arises, your brand is top of mind.

This is called Reticular Activation. There is a part of your brain that filters what it is exposed to, only bringing to your attention the things you have indicted you are interested in. That is why for example, when you decide you want a particular brand of car, suddenly you see them all around, you notice the adverts and the logos and dealerships pop up everywhere. They were always there, it’s just that your brain had filtered them out until you decided to be interested and now your brain is bringing them to your attention.

This is why it’s so important to invest time and effort into your brand development, knowing how you want your brand to make people feel and the #1 emotion you want to convey, so when they are ready to buy, they instantly notice and choose you.

It’s called Neurobranding and it’s amazing how many hidden messages there are in brands — the arrow in FedEx and Smile of Amazon are a few good examples of this. Clever branding can subconsciously create a physiological reaction in the mind of your ideal client.

Once you know what you want your brand to stand for, you can create marketing, advertising, publicity and promotion that you know will resonate and engage with your ideal clients.

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

If a business has outgrown it’s brand, or has pivoted in direction and the brand is no longer serving the business, then rebranding can be required. Rebranding often occurs when a brand has been originally developed poorly or with no strategy in line with the products or services offered or through a lack of clarity for the goals for the business.

In these instances the audience or selling environment has changed, the business has outgrown the initial brand proposition or there is a misalignment between what the brand promises and what the business actually delivers.

This happens when the business creators underestimate the power of the brand and don’t realise that they should have developed an ‘umbrella brand’ that encompasses not just what they start out to, but what they might potentially do in the future. Suddenly they realise their brand is not working and they need to rebrand.

Rebranding is sometimes presented as a ‘brand refresh’ which shouldn’t be confused with rebranding. Refreshing is more of an updating of an existing brand, possibly because the branding cannot be reproduced well in new technology, or there is a need for different formatting.

A rebrand usually includes a change in name, visual identity and core messaging and is the result of the current brand no longer resonating or properly communicating the brand values and proposition.

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

Dysfunctional branding is the major reason for rebrands and they can be mammoth effort effecting everything from company structure and processes to signage, vehicles, uniforms and marketing so it shouldn’t be undertaken lightly.

Also, be aware of falling into a ‘brand refresh’ trap mentioned above, where most likely, the CEO, designer or agency has gotten bored with the logo and wants to ‘freshen things up’ to appeal to a younger audience. There are many cases where brands have tried this and got it so very wrong — Gap and New Coke are two of the most well known ‘brand refreshers’ that fell flat with their audience,

The human brain likes what it knows, so don’t go freaking out your current audience with some new-fangled branding if it’s not absolutely necessary.

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) Clarity

When you are rebranding, don’t try to help every Mary in the diary. Get 100% clear on what your brand is about, who it’s for and who your tribe is. It’s hard when brands start out and have pressure to make sales that they tend to fall into the trap of saying yes to every opportunity and trying to rebrand to ‘attract a new audience”.

Kumfs shoes, who developed orthotic style comfortable footwear for many years decided they wanted to move away from their ‘oldies’ and target a younger market. Unfortunately this put massive pressure on them to design shoes that looked more elegant and they ended up falling in between the market that loved their brand for comfort and those who wanted looks. Instead of investing in the audience who was loyal and prepared to pay more for quality and comfort, they wasted time competing against mainstream shoe brands and trying to convince younger people to pay more for comfort — which was something they didn’t really want.

With service brands its even more important to get clear on your ‘niche’. When I met the ‘voice of Siri’ in New York she told me that the #1 thing that directed her personal brand was closing doors that she had previously tried to push open, instead saying no to the temptation to try doing everything and focusing exclusively on what she wanted and who she wanted to help. She told me how once she got clear, much larger doors opened up to her with far less effort, because she had decided to focus on her niche.

When you rebrand, get totally clear on where your brand will be in 3 years time and exactly who your ideal client is.

2) Conviction

Brands that stand out, stand up for something. What do you believe in? What is happening right now in your industry that you want to change? A rebrand is an opportunity to share your story and stand out from the crowd.

An Audiologist we worked with saw how the hearing industry was using “free” hearing tests to lure people into the clinics, only to provide a basic test before selling them aids and then not fitting them properly, so the investment in their hearing basically lived in the bed-she draw.

She decided to NEVER offer free tests, and to promote proper hearing tests and refitting of hearing aids, rrelaunching her brand to target this market and within a few months she was fully booked with those who came in with aids they had hardly worn, leaving with hearing support that worked and many of them were in tears of gratefulness. Word spread and she had a very successful clinic.

Part of the rebranding process is shedding the stuff that didn’t work, don’t be afraid to cast off things that no longer serve your industry, your brand or your business and consider what your brand stands for.

3) Recognition

The brain buys with emotion. How do you want to make people feel? What #1 emotion does your brand convey and communicate? How do you want to be known? Rebranding should be 100% focused on how you want to change the way your audience feels about you.

Maya Angelou said “people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”. When I stared running workshops, each and every attendee was asked what they felt before and after the event. I used the words they used to describe how they felt in all of my marketing and the common theme of clarity and direction gave me my one-word brand strategy ‘orientation’. Having an emotional centre to your brand enables you to have a consistent message across everything you do.

When we develop brands one exercise we make our clients do is to record. a’day in the life’ of their ideal client, using the self talk, feelings, reactions and words the ideal customer uses. We then ensure these are embedded into the brand’s core message. This is an awesome way to communicate the emotional essence of your brand and if prospective clients feel that your brand knows them almost better than they do, you know they will recognise and recall your brand more strongly.

Consider how you want your new brand to make people feel and how that is different from the feeling your current brand creates and conveys. Think about the #1 thing you want your brand to be recognised for.

4) Reputation

Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room — what words do you want people to use to describe your brand? How do you want them to refer others to your brand? What reputation does the brand have now and what do you want it to be? Rebranding is a great time to shed some old skin and start afresh.

Airbnb changed their tagline from “Feel Ordinary With Us” to “Belong Anywhere. Makes sense doesn’t it. No-one wants to feel ordinary, regardless of the idea that you are staying in someone less home just like an ordinary member of the family. We all want to belong, and to be able to feel at home anywhere, so the brand reputation is changed to being more inclusive and inviting.

Nike famously tried changing their positioning statement from “Just Do it” to “I Can”, and quickly reverted back to the slogan we know and love, proving that change isn’t always a good thing.

Many clients have asked me from the outset if they ned to rebrand and my answer is always the same — we won’t know until we’ve uncovered what your brand stands for and what you want to be known for. Only after a branding process can you decide if the brand you have is saying the right things about what you, your business or the products or services you offer.

Even better, if your brand can create a reputation in the market which becomes generic for your niche you really do have a top brand presence. For example stating you will ‘google’ something or giving the house a quick “hoover” means you have used the genercide of a brand. If your brand reputation can grow to this magnitude, you have captured a space in the market and created a reputation that sticks.

When rebranding, write down your core message, practice it and make it part of your brand culture, so everyone knows what your brand means. Consider the words used to describe your brand and how you want your market to react. Do you have a brand name that could become a generic name and rule the space?

5) Respect

Been around for years? Many business owners fear rebranding and worry that they will lose the trust built up in the old brand if they change.

One of the easiest ways to win respect is to be single minded and clear about what your brand does. An example of this was and office products rebrand we managed, which had been around for many years, but used a name that was confusing. Sharpe Office Supplies.

This wasn’t the Sharp company, who are globally known for office machines, copiers etc, this was a local stationery supplier and they were constantly having to correct people who thought they were the other brand, their staff regularly said “…it’s Sharpe with an ‘e!””. The logo even had the e underlined to try to explain it wasn’t the other brand.

The rebrand process included a move to a new name and contrary to the business owners concerns that they would lose customers, they actually acquired more and have gone on to purchase two other companies and are in the process of branding them Ezi Office Supplies as well.

By including every aspect of the brand promise in the new brand, the staff began delivering the core message with ease, saying ‘thats’ Ezi” when they spoke to customers and making sure the brand delivering in ways that make things more productive for businesses. Now the brand is focused on what they are really good at — making life easier for their clients, rather than wasting time trying to explain who they aren’t.

The other thing that builds respect is being talked about and in business there is no place for modesty. Self promotion and third party endorsement can be a massive assistance when you change a brand, especially if you have been around a while.

Sharing your brand story and why you have rebranded is as good as winning an award or achieving a win. It can help you get media coverage, testimonials and gives you something to talk about on social media. People are genuinely interested in your story, especially if you sell services.

Over the past few years we have had the privilege of helping hundreds of entrepreneurs enter, win and leverage awards. A highlight is the Stevie Awards for Women In business, where we take a group of business women from Australia and New Zealand to New York to collect their awards. The transformation that occurs, when these women realise that an independent panel of judges has deemed them award worthy is incredible.

To see them overcome self doubt and stand on a world stage, giving their acceptance speech is particularly rewarding for us, but the biggest kick we get out of it is when they start levering the awards to get media coverage, sharing their stories and telling the world about their journey.

When you rebrand consider how you will explain the change to your audience, what will intrigue them and have them congratulating you and telling others about you. Also consider the awards you can enter to add layers of credibility and the media channels you want your brand to be featured in.

These should be goals in your branding and marketing strategy, to cut through the noise, clarify your brand message and level up your brand awareness to firmly position your brand as a leader.

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?

MasterCard is a good example of a rebrand getting it right. They have totally simplified their brand identity, in the knowledge that after 50 years, consumers do not need to see the brandname smeared across everything, it’s enough just to see the logo.

They have joined the ranks of Apple and Nike, where much like the bitten apple or swoosh, the distinctive red and yellow circles are enough to recall and recognise their brand without seeing the brand name.

Instagram is another who has successfully rebranded, moving with the times and with consumers needs, desires and demands. No longer a clunky, retro camera, it’s a multicoloured ‘eye’ on the world.

To rebrand like this you need to be simple, focused and clear on what your brand is trying to communicate. Whatever you come up with during a rebrand, see if you can simplify it.

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. 🙂

Tolerance. I firmly believe the world needs to take a deep breath and have a massive movement towards inclusivity.

We seem to be so easily triggered and incredibly damning of peoples opinions. Unfortunately, when you shut down the ability to engage with the opinions of others, you shut down the ability to learn, grow, understand and gain insight.

Tolerance enables us to speak more openly about what we care about, why we stand for certain things and to voice our concerns so that the world can become a better place.

Tolerance leads to openness and the willingness to accept that we are all different, we all have opinions and that we can change them if we are tolerant and open to understanding each other.

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

Your brand is your expertise — the things you do with ease that others find difficult. That’s why it’s called expert-ease.”

The thing is, many people undervalue the way that their brand makes a difference and how it can provide solutions your ideal clients didn’t even know existed.

I realized early on in my own personal brand development, that I had forgotten about all the things I was good at. Because I knew my area of expertise so well, I could work on autopilot and I undervalued how much of a benefit I was to my clients.

Many professionals, entrepreneurs and consultants have this same problem and they don’t charge enough for their expertise, because they think everyone can do what they can do.

It took me a while to understand this, and once I did it made perfect sense to me that what I had invested years of effort into learning was not going to be given away for free.

Everyone has the most amazing gifts and talents that the world needs, it is vital that we share them and ensure our brands communicate our expertise, so that others can ask for our help and benefit from our knowledge and experience.

How can our readers follow you online?

Join us in the Rocket Launch Your Business Facebook Group for tips, tools and training and check out

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

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