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“Boundaries are key.” With Fotis Georgiadis & Alyssa Patmos

Brands with influence, take a stance. They don’t add to the noise; they create buzz because they have opinions that shape the industry and consistently add value for consumers. This is especially true if your product or service lacks a sense of urgency, give people another reason to jump on your bandwagon. Billie, the woman’s […]

Brands with influence, take a stance. They don’t add to the noise; they create buzz because they have opinions that shape the industry and consistently add value for consumers. This is especially true if your product or service lacks a sense of urgency, give people another reason to jump on your bandwagon. Billie, the woman’s subscription razor company does an excellent job of this when they boldly claim, “Fact: Women and men shave differently” on their homepage.


Aspart of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Alyssa Patmos.

Alyssa Patmos has helped quadruple sales for start-ups with her curated brand strategies and now helps women bet on themselves by designing businesses they love. In addition, Alyssa is the creator of Make it Mentionable, an upcoming summit where she and 10 other entrepreneurs are diving deep into the things that no one talks about while building businesses.

When she’s not challenging companies to go beyond traditional marketing tactics, you can find this NLP certified coach pretending she’s on a cooking show in her kitchen with an empty peanut butter cup wrapper sitting on the counter. Who says dessert can’t come before dinner?


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?

It’s really three things that brought me to this point in my brand strategy business. 1). Knowing when to quit. In 2015, I dropped out of a Ph.D. program, and it was the best decision I ever made. 2). Investing in the right learning at the right time. When someone asked if I could design a logo, I said yes and figured it out. I still remember the first time I sat down with Adobe Illustrator tutorials. When someone I freelanced for needed a media kit, I researched and turned one around (it also brought me a client six years later). When that same person asked if I designed websites, I took the time to learn WordPress. When a healthcare company asked if I could write copy for their app, I jumped at the opportunity and started stalking Laura Belgray. This isn’t to say you need to know how to do everything, but I was willing to learn and to say yes over and over, and eventually, that led to me figuring out what I love doing. 3). Very loving and generous mentors who saw curiosity in me starting at 18 and gave me outlets to channel it.

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?

This isn’t really a mistake but a funny story. One of my first marketing strategies had nothing to do with an online presence. Instead, it was allowing the chance for what I’ve come to call professional eavesdropping. I’d work in coffee shops and seek out opportunities to strike up conversations. One day, a guy sitting next to me had been somewhat obviously looking at my computer screen. When he noticed that I had seen, he asked what I was working on. Within a matter of minutes, he was pulling up his company site, I was giving him messaging suggestions, and then before I knew it, he had set up a meeting for me to meet with the co-founders of the company. They’ve now been a client for four years.

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?

One of the more significant “tipping points” came when I began questioning the rules of marketing. When I started taking proven strategies as suggestions that could be molded instead of needing to be followed to a “T”, things began to change. As I got more and more comfortable expressing myself and questioning norms, I was better able to help my clients take the bold points of view necessary to build a great brand.

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

I’m working on two exciting projects right now. I’m going to tell you about both of them because I’m not sure I can choose which is the most exciting. The first is a digital summit I’ll be launching in May called Make it Mentionable. I’ll be interviewing 10 business owners on taboo topics people rarely talk about in business. I can’t wait to reveal what the topics will be.

The other is a project with a client in the healthcare space. They’re helping define what patient engagement means in the market, and we’re about to launch a podcast to dive deep into that discussion with providers, policymakers, and patients.

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

Boundaries are key. But not just boundaries with clients or work hours though those are incredibly important. I’m also talking about boundaries with what information you consume. Sometimes, as marketers, we become obsessed with reading the latest tips, techniques, and strategies of campaigns that have worked or the people at the top of our industry, but that can kill creativity, and when that happens, exhaustion is lingering just around the corner. Protecting your creativity is key to both thriving and avoiding burnout.

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 love this question because there’s often confusion around these two things. I like to take it back one step further and start with brand strategy. Your brand strategy should come right after the business strategy. Many people often think of branding as your logo, fonts, colors — the visual identity of the brand. But your brand strategy includes so much more. It also includes foundational elements like your core values, mission, competition, culture, and offerings.

Brand building activities, or brand marketing as you’re referring to it here is what we do to build trust and brand equity. Specific brand building initiatives can consist of thought leadership articles, story-driven web copy, your onboarding experience, your employee experience, and your customer experience to name a few.

Product marketing or advertising, on the other hand, is how people find you. If you think of an iceberg, product marketing is the flag on top, it’s how you draw people to you. Product marketing usually consists of highly persuasive and targeted messages that exploit the brand equity you’ve built for immediate sales.

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?

Let me ask you a question, are you more likely to buy from someone you like who you know shares similar values, loves giving back as much as you do, and who’s transparent? Or, are you more likely to buy from someone who’s always trying to sell you on their latest product and doesn’t seem to know anything about you?

If you’re like most people, you’re more likely to buy from the first one.

The thing about money is that every time we go to spend it, we have a choice who to spend it with. Why not make people feel great when they choose to spend it with you? That’s the power of branding. You can transcend being a commodity and become an experience.

People buy from companies and people they know, like, and trust. Marketing and advertising efforts typically exploit trust rather than build it, which is why investing in brand building activities is so important.

People can sniff out sales messaging from a mile away. Investing in building a brand is what leads to lasting relationships with customers, premium pricing, and the greatest marketing of all — word of mouth referrals. When you invest in building a brand, you build brand equity, which you can then use during active launch/selling cycles.

My friend Clay from Map and Fire recently researched the Google Trends of the terms brand and marketing. He noted that in 2004 the search for marketing dominated searches for brand. But today, the opposite is true.

This is just one indicator that investing in your brand is one of the smartest growth strategies. More and more consumers are looking for relationships with companies rather than merely being on the receiving end of marketing messages.

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

There are all sorts of reasons companies might consider rebranding, but here are my top three reasons.

1). If the direction of the company is shifting, and they need to build or affirm relationships with buyers.

2). If a company wants to shift how they’re perceived in the market to repair or increase trust (and they’re ready to do the work of a complete rebrand, not just launch a new and fancier logo).

3). If the company culture needs to transform.

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

One downside is the high cost. Rebranding is much more than jazzing up your logo and typeface and the cost to manage updates to ensure a cohesive rebrand can be high. Another potential downside is that change isn’t always easy. The best brands are lived out both internally and externally, so a company undergoing a rebrand must be prepared to think about change management in terms of their customers and their internal culture.

If a company thinks a brand makeover is simply overhauling its visual identity with a new logo and typeface, they’re likely not ready for a rebrand. Your brand is not your logo, it’s a symbol and symbols need meaning. Companies need to be willing to invest the time in the complete strategy of a rebrand, not just the look and feel. It may help to think of it this way. If you want more energy, do you just change your clothes and voila you instantly feel motivated? Probably not. It’s more likely you fuel up with a snack, maybe take a nap, then change your clothes. If you only replace your logo and font, it’s like changing your clothes when you’re tired to get more energy.

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). Know who you are.

Your brand is what people perceive about your company. If you want to re-energize your brand, you have to be clear on who you are as a company so that you can help shape the perception in the market. Revisit your core values, your mission, your vision, and your offerings. Conduct an internal survey to understand why your people choose to work for your organization. REI is a great example of a company that knows who they are.

2). Stand for something.

Brands with influence, take a stance. They don’t add to the noise; they create buzz because they have opinions that shape the industry and consistently add value for consumers. This is especially true if your product or service lacks a sense of urgency, give people another reason to jump on your bandwagon. Billie, the woman’s subscription razor company does an excellent job of this when they boldly claim, “Fact: Women and men shave differently” on their homepage.

3). Evaluate how much of your efforts are spent on sales activation versus brand building activities.

It’s so easy to think only in terms of short-term sales and to allocate a large portion of the budget to marketing and advertising when you’re under pressure to perform quarterly. But more and more consumers are interested in having a relationship with the companies they buy from, and to foster the type of community consumers are craving, companies must spend significantly more time creating opportunities that allow for those relationships to form. Take Trader Joe’s for example, one of the top-rated grocers in the United States. When onboarding new employees, they’re far less concerned with training them on the point of sale, instead they take new employees out on the floor and train them how to interact with customers. They care more about the experience which ends up showing in the sales.

4). Focus on how you’re making people feel across all channels — both internally and externally.

To re-energize a brand, you have to be willing to look at brand as an experience and something that pulses throughout the entire organization. If your people aren’t happy it’s likely your customers aren’t happy either. When you focus on your employee experience, you have the opportunity to turn employees into fantastic brand ambassadors. That alone can bring renewed energy to an organization.

5). Invest in creativity & communication.

I’m a firm believer that creativity is an asset, not a liability within organizations. Yet so often, creativity is only acknowledged in the marketing department even though there are engineers down the hall making art with code. We’re all creative. Investing in creative thinking and permitting people to propose bold ideas and off-the-wall suggestions is the exact type of energy a company needs if they’re considering a rebrand. General Electric saw the direct impact investing in creativity can have on the business after they put a two year in-house creativity training in place and saw a 60% increase in patentable concepts.

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?

Delta has done a fantastic job of rebranding. I remember hearing a joke growing up about Delta standing for Doesn’t Ever Leave The Airport. That’s not the reputation you want in the transportation industry. Now, however, Delta is the top-ranked airline in the US. And it’s not because of a visual overhaul. While they did give the look and feel of the brand a facelift with a new logo and updated uniforms, they did much more below the surface that set a new tone both internally and externally — and it all started with the culture. They got creative with their employee profit-sharing program and became obsessed with their customer experience.

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. 🙂

That’s easy. Make it Mentionable. It’s the name of my upcoming summit series for a reason, I believe (like the wonderful Fred/Mr. Rogers) that whatever we can mention, we can manage. When we have the space to get out of our head and evaluate our thoughts out loud, they become manageable. I believe this is paramount for personal satisfaction and brand building.

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

“Tell the negative committee that meets in your head to sit down and shut up.” When I was 12, my dad gave me a book of leadership quotes. I remember flipping through the pages and stumbling upon this one. It’s stuck with me ever since. So much of business (and life) is how we perceive it. This quote is a daily reminder that we have the choice not to believe all of our thoughts, which is immensely freeing and helps me work through stuck points with greater ease.

How can our readers follow you online?

I share my best stories and tips through email. You can sign up at alyssapatmos.com/sign-up or say hi on Instagram @alysssapatmos.

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

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