…I would say to prioritize your health and wellness above everything else. If you’re not filling your cup up internally and physically, how can you expect to be there 100% for your clients? In addition, focus on educating yourself and continuously learning in your field. No matter how many years of experience you have, you can always learn more and grow within your field.
As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview with Hannah Nieves. Hannah is a Hudson Valley native, marketing and brand consultant who specifically works with creative entrepreneurs and brands. She graduated from Pace University’s, Lubin School of Business and has nearly a decade of marketing experience more recently, as Director of Marketing of a national home interiors brand.
In 2019, she founded her consultancy firm, where she quickly became the go-to resource for marketing and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and brands. What started out as a mentorship program-turned-business has allowed Hannah to serve creative entrepreneurs in a multitude of industries and creative backgrounds.
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?
Thank you so much for having me and allowing me to share my story.
I’m fascinated with brands and how some succeed and thrive while others don’t. After working in the Capital Markets Group at Cushman and Wakefield, I transitioned as Director of Marketing for a national home interiors brand where I’ve had the privilege of marketing and branding a business with multimillion-dollar marketing budgets. Since then, I launched my consultancy firm that helps creative entrepreneurs market and brand their businesses.
I loved being able to push the creative limits and boundaries to market this business to deepen the loyalty with existing clients while also attracting new clientele. Trends in marketing change so rapidly and staying on top of them is what fuels my passion for this industry.
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 wouldn’t say it was a mistake, because with every mistake comes an opportunity to learn a lesson. However, not asking deep enough questions and making assumptions about client’s ideas or opinions can result in tons of wasted time on a strategy or design that doesn’t make sense to the brand.
Point blank: ask the right questions from the start.
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?
Throughout my corporate career, there have been several experiences and projects that formed great opportunities to learn. I think once you start truly understanding your customer’s needs and pain points, you can begin marketing to them effectively and with success.
Producing a product or service without proper market research is like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks. Prioritizing market research from the beginning will allow you to market and communicate to your ideal client so they can like you, know you, build trust and loyalty.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes! I’m working with several brands and entrepreneurs who are launching new products and services this year. I help them either from the ground up or to full-fledged brands and businesses who have been around for 20 plus years. I work with them to define their brand strategy and market to their ideal client so they can meet those defined revenue targets.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
I would say to prioritize your health and wellness above everything else. If you’re not filling your cup up internally and physically, how can you expect to be there 100% for your clients? In addition, focus on educating yourself and continuously learning in your field. No matter how many years of experience you have, you can always learn more and grow within your field.
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?
Thank you for bringing this up because so many people think they’re the same thing. They are indeed two different topics that are closely intertwined.
Branding is the base of building a business, think of it as the foundation of the house. Branding is essentially the foundational elements. It all starts with your visual aesthetic, meaning your logo, website, color palette — think of this as the visual elements of your brand.
Focusing on this part of your business from the start is what sets it apart from others in the space, and it’s what forms brand equity as you begin to grow and scale. With every client that’s looking to rebrand we go through a brand clarity exercise, so they have clarity on how their brand is positioned, how it sounds, and how it’s perceived to their ideal target audience.
Marketing on the other hand is the strategy needed to get your product or service in front of your ideal client. Marketing includes organic and paid forms of strategy to get visibility on your brand so you can move people down the funnel from awareness to conversion. It essentially bridges the gap between your product and/or services and your ideal client.
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?
Branding is the first step in the process and must be strategically thought out before you start to market your product or service. As mentioned earlier, thinking about the visual aesthetic, your brand voice and tone, how your ideal client will emotionally feel when interacting with your brand is vital to building longevity in your business.
Think about Soul Cycle and how it relates to the industry in terms of branding. There are tons of other spinning studios out there and it’s a fitness concept that’s been around for years. However, Soul Cycle has built a cult-like following with its brand, and women from all over the world rave about their $40 per class workout. They are a great example of how branding has positioned themselves to be the icon-like figure in the boutique fitness class industry.
Focus on branding from the start.
Let’s now talk about rebranding. What are a few reasons why a company would consider rebranding?
There are a few reasons a company would consider rebranding.
The first is if they’re looking to reposition their brand in their market and looking to attract a new demographic. Now, many companies are looking for ways to market to the fastest growing demographic: millennials. In this scenario, brands must understand how millennials absorb and digest media and what attributes of a brand excite and engage with this demographic.
Target has done a phenomenal job at rebranding to attract the young professional, millennial demographic. They used to be seen as another low budget retailer compared to Kmart or Walmart. Today, the brand has new retail concepts designed to attract the millennial customer by having exclusive products and partnerships with beloved brands like Missoni, Hearth and Hand, Hunter, and Casper.
Another reason a company would rebrand is due to an outdated image. For example, there are successful brands that have been around for many decades and while the product or service is still thriving, the logo and overall aesthetic is lacking or feels outdated. Rebranding the visual elements of a brand could help attract or deepen the loyalty of the existing client base.
Are there downsides of rebranding? Are there companies that you would advise against doing a “Brand Makeover”? Why?
With any major changes made to an existing company, this can cause volatility. Introducing new elements to a brand can have a positive and a potential negative effect on your customers. If not done correctly, it could even confuse your customers if they’re not prepared.
In addition, rebranding can be very costly. Not only are you investing to rebrand the visual elements such as your website, logo, colors, etc., but you’re also paying to have a full brand strategy redesigned (think positioning). This essentially includes all of your marketing, including creative ad campaigns — all of which have to be redesigned as well.
There aren’t any companies I would advise against; however, if you’re considering a rebrand, you should ask yourself these questions first:
- Does your brand message fail to resonate with your clients?
- Are your current customers giving you feedback that it’s time to refresh the brand?
Do proper market research and analysis before attempting to rebrand your company and spending money to hire a professional.
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.
Perform an Audit of Your Brand
Take some time to assess where your brand is currently. What are your values, morals, existing positioning and current target audience? You want to understand how your customers currently view you and where there are existing areas of growth or change.
Update Your Visual Brand Identity
This could mean doing a full rebrand of your website, logo, color palette and fonts. If you’re thinking about repositioning your brand to either appeal to a new demographic or invigorate an existing one, upgrading the visual elements allow for a fresh image.
Incorporate Storytelling and Blogging
Another way brands are able to reinvent themselves is by connecting more with their existing customers. This could mean creating a blog and providing useful information for your customers to get to know you and your brand better but also allow for more engagement. Storytelling allows you to bridge the gap between your customer’s pain points, needs and your product or service.
Form Strategic Partnerships
Forming strategic partnerships can help align your brand and reposition it to attract a new demographic to your business. Whether it’s for a limited-edition product line or partnering with a large influencer in your industry.
Push the limits in terms of innovation in technology and customer experience. Sometimes, the slightest change in customer experience can be the change you need to re-energize your 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?
Yet again, I need to bring up Target because the rebrand of this company is by far one of the best in the last decade in terms of overall brand strategy.
Founded in 1902, the brand was created by George Draper Dayton and it was originally known as the Dayton Dry Goods Company. The brand has been formerly recognized as a discount store where shoppers would go for low cost products when they weren’t concerned with labels and such.
Since then, Target has formed partnerships with brands such as Missoni, Hunter, Lilly Pulitzer, Vineyard Vines and more positioning themselves as a one-stop shop for the latest products. They’re also re-releasing a limited-edition collection of these design collaborations for their 20th anniversary. With that, Target has had an aggressive approach to their store design updates and overall customer service experience. Their teams have dedicated hundreds of thousands of hours to payroll to train the staff members in specialized roles in order to make a better customer experience. Target is one big box retailer who has rebranded and continuously pushes the limits on innovation and customer experience to build loyalty.
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. 🙂
This might seem obvious, but if I could inspire a movement it would be to give back. Giving back to your community and to those who have paved the way to your success. Let’s support those in our community who are less fortunate and give them an opportunity to thrive.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of my favorite quotes is from Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
This quote resonates with me so deeply. No matter what circumstances you’ve been through in your life, you have the ultimate power to shape the trajectory of it.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for these excellent insights! We wish you continued success in your work.