Starting a business or have a great idea and don’t know the next steps? Do you already have your business up and running but not hitting your demographic? In this episode, let’s hear some expert advice from branding and marketing expert, Jane Rowley. Jane explains branding in its easiest definition dives deep into identifying your ideal client base and how you can tailor your marketing accordingly. Check out this informative chat and make sure you know the rules of the game in order to make your business a huge success!
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Hitting Your Demographic Through Branding And Marketing with Brand Expert Jane Rowley
Get Your Brand On With Marketing And Branding Expert Jane Rowley
My friend, branding expert and marketing expert, I have with me the wonderful, Jane Rowley.
Dani, how are you?
I’m great. Thanks so much for joining the readers on The Behr Essentials and me.
You’re always welcome.
She does speak funny like me. She’s from the other side of the globe. She’s a lovely Australian and obviously, I’m the Brit. We’re representing the Commonwealth a little bit. I’m half South African, we’ve got that one thrown in the mix. We’ve got to know Canada to represent. I met Jane and we were working together at a real estate company. Jane and I had that instant connection that sometimes when you meet people in life you were supposed to meet them. The moment I met her I thought, “What a badass. She’s killing it.” She’s very impressive. We became quite fast friends. It happens in life. I wanted to have you on the Behr Essentials to share with all people out there who are looking to start a business may be, already have a business, at the stage of their life where they’ve had their kids and now, they’re looking for a new career. They may have a great idea for something and they don’t know the next steps. I thought who better to have on and help the readers in that branding and marketing realm is none other than you. Thank you for coming on.
Thanks for having me.
What is a branding expert? What does it take to be a branding expert?
What it takes to be a branding expert is to understand what the consumer is looking for and what the client is looking for and marrying those two needs. If you have a company that comes to you and says, “I’m trying to reach this demographic with this product.” Understand where they fit in the marketplace, being able to build a brand that visually and tonally resonates with clients in that marketplace is what makes a successful brand.
This is not my area of expertise at all. I am not a marketing person. In fact, I don’t enjoy it at all. That’s why I love working with people like you because you make everything make sense. You make everything feel it’s possible. If I was to start off a brand or a business, that’s where, not just myself, but most people get stuck. I hear you mention it a lot when we work together, the brand identity. Can you explain what that is and why it’s so important?
Brand identity is the consistency of having your visual brand look the same across all avenues. When I create a brand identity, it’s usually a 60-page document that then goes out to any vendors I’m using that says, “This is how you use my brand.” You use the logo in this manner. You use the colors in these manners. It is a guideline for how your brand appears across every channel. Whether it be print media, whether it be commercials and it goes so far as visually, but also it’s a test that sets the tone of how you want your brand to look and resonate.
Why is that so important?
Consistency is key in marketing. When you see something and it looks the same as it did on social media versus on an advert you might see in a digital print ad, for example, you automatically have an association. Repetition is reputation. When you get repetition and you’re doing it consistently, you build a reputation. Your goal is to move people from the know, like, trust spectrum, to know you, to like you and then to trust you. Ultimately, you’re successful by having a client trust what you’re selling and trust the brand to receive consistency across everything that they do. That means advertising their voice and the product that they’re buying. It’s not useful if you don’t have a product that is consistent across the board. People expect that when they go into McDonald’s, they’re going to get the same hamburger in Kyoto or they’re going to get it in London. It’s going to be the same taste, the same look and the same feel. That means a client is much more likely to trust you because they know that they’re getting a guaranteed product. That’s the same with brand guidelines. It’s ensuring that you get trust across all avenues.
You mentioned McDonald’s. Who are the other brands that you say got it right when they launched?
There are a lot of brands that do it right. There are the mecca brands like Apple, Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson. There are many brands across the world, but I think brand dynamics are shifting and people are more open to being open to new brands. We’ve seen that with Coca-Cola. People are now open to other drinks besides Coca-Cola. La Croix, for example, is a brand that was successful in the way they position themselves. They’ve been around for a long time and they repositioned and made water popular and now Coke is following suit and doing the same thing. There are many brands that are successful, but there are a couple of beacon brands like Nike. Apple obviously is a brand that has done amazingly well in terms of its positioning. They are a more expensive product and aesthetically they’re a product that people want. They are aspiration brands. People are willing to pay for their brand and their product because of the way it’s been marketed and branded.
Why is it that Apple is so successful with such an expensive item that they’re selling? How were they able to, in the world of branding and marketing, brainwash the customer to constantly stay with them, forget the competition and keep buying their products over and over again? It’s super expensive. Not every day you go out and spend $800,000 on a new thing every time a new version comes out. How are they able to do this?
They are successful in showing the population that they’re an innovator. People want the newest new. That’s what they stay ahead of in terms of the statics, not necessarily even in terms of offerings, but in terms of aesthetics. They’re an aspirational brand that people want to have in their pocket. It’s a little bit like Rolex. Are they the best timepieces? No, but they have brand cachet. That’s something that’s really unique and it’s hard to mimic. It’s hard to replicate. That’s why those brands do well as super successful.
Do you see a lot? Maybe you see it more than the average Joe because it’s what you do every day. Are there a lot of brands out there that are based on perception and image and great marketing? It’s more, as we say back home, old phone, no knickers, that the marketing and the perception of it are so far greater than the actual product itself.
There are certain circumstances of that, but I don’t think you can’t create a genuinely successful brand with historic performance if you don’t have a product to back it up. I think that customers are much more discerning than they were several years ago. If the product doesn’t stand up to what it is supposed to deliver, they won’t buy it again. You might put in an initial influx of customers, but you want the repeat customer.
You can fake it until you make it to a point basically. After that, you’ve got to back it up. For somebody starting the business, whether you’re young and hungry, fresh out of school or college, or you’re having a second wind and took time off to have some kids. If you want a complete career change and have a great business idea, what are the first steps for somebody to proceed with this? What would you say the top three or five things you would recommend people to do if they literally have the idea?
They have to have an idea. You have to have a business plan. You have to know where you want to go and what you want to do. A plan written down is a goal breaking out as an action plan. You can’t willy-nilly a business. You have to have a goal. The way I approach these things, I look at the marketplace and see if there’s a competitor. I look at the competitive space, what other people are doing, and see if there’s something I can refine and make the products more user-friendly or more appealing and then go about creating the brand. The brand is the last step. The product innovation has to be there and then the brand can come after that. The brand has to resonate with your client base. You’re not going to be doing something very feminine if your marketplace is men. You have to know who your audience is and backtrack from there. That’s what I typically do. I’ll look at my product. I’ll look at who my demographic, who I’m trying to reach, and then I’ll backtrack into making it appealing to that group of people.
How hard is it to change your brand once you’ve established it? You see companies like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. It’s been a minute-and-a-half and then all of a sudden in the last several years, they’re trying to modernize or slightly rebrand because trends have changed in the market and the customers changed. Is that a hard thing to do? Does that take time? Is that a slow little bit here and there or is it you do one big drastic change and on your way?People want to have aspirational brands in their pockets. Click To Tweet
It is a difficult thing to do. That’s why some of these companies that have recently changed. In the real estate business, which I know we both are in. NIR changed their logo and there was huge flak for it because it was such a departure from where they were.
Why was there flak for it? Is it because the customers feel unsettled because they don’t know what it is anymore? What do you think that is?
In that circumstance, it was a little different. They had announced that they were doing a rebrand and spent all this money. They spent $200,000 on a logo that people felt fell very flat. There was a perception that it was a lot of money for the members spent unwisely. It is difficult to change, but sometimes it’s necessary to change. A great example of that would be a couple of years ago, Google made a change. It kept its colors, but it changed its logo from a Serif font into a more Sans Serif font. It kept the same color tones and there was a minor change. It’s little baby steps, especially if you’re giving a light. Our brands, the idea is to build brand equity. When you step away from that, it’s an interesting proposition because people are confused. People don’t understand. Other people come on and they basically look at it and say, “This is the new evolution.” There are different perspectives. You’re going to lose some and you’re going to gain some. That baby steps are better than doing a full rebrand, especially if you’re a large company.
You want those subliminal changes so people don’t notice it that much but eventually, you get there. Why would people hire a branding company or branding expert? What do you guys offer? What adds value to the average person?
It’s the same thing with hiring anyone who’s a specialist in their field. A person starting a company might be a technician in what they’re doing. They might understand that product really well, but that doesn’t mean that they automatically understand how to market that product. It’s the same reason a realtor would be hired versus trying to sell your home yourself because you are someone who’s made that their last study. You’ve experienced it, you’ve seen the pitfalls of doing something wrong. You have experience with what works and what doesn’t. That’s why people hire people because it’s their expertise.
As they say, if you don’t know how to do it, hire the best people who can. What do you think of the biggest mistakes people make when starting a business or when branding a new business?
Not knowing who their client base is. Not knowing who they want to reach. If you don’t know who you want to reach, it’s very difficult to tailor something that’s going to resonate with those people. It’s much better to be a master of a small domain than to be not a master of everything.
What is your take on when people are trying to create and devise and come up with a name or a logo for a brand? Those superstitions of you’ve got to have a sound or you have to have only two syllables in the word. Are those true or they’ve been proven to work and resonate with the customer?
I think there’s some truth to it. It’s interesting that the shorter the name, the more stickiness a company has. It’s more difficult to remember something that is long. That’s why some of these companies are more successful like Apple, two syllables. Goop, short and sweet. I do think there’s some truth to that. It’s hard to pinpoint. People say things all the time that necessarily don’t pan out. We have very successful companies like Coca-Cola. It is a long name and it has many syllables.
Do you think that’s why they shortened it to Coke to make it one?
Probably, but that was successful before when I worked with Coca-Cola.
If you think about it, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, there is definitely something with the K sounding. That doesn’t make sense when you think of Apple and loads of other brands that don’t have it in at all. As far as somebody who wants to have a career like you of being a branding expert, what is the best way to start a career in the world of marketing and branding? What advice can you give people fresh out of school and college who thinks that this could be a good career for them, a good industry for them?
In the world of marketing, there are so many things that you could be doing. It’s nice to start as a generalist somewhere and get a feel for what and where your strengths are. You can take an artistic route and you can take a data route. Giving yourself the opportunity to work for a company that exposes you to all of those things so you can figure out what it is that you want to do. Also, being exposed to a product that you believe in. I’ve found in the past with my own career, when I’ve worked for a company that I believed in their product, it’s been a much more successful run than when I’ve worked for a company that has got a product that I don’t necessarily love or believe in. I think to find a product that you want to market and that you feel passionate about and being exposed to all the elements that make up marketing.
Do you have any advice on the skillsets and the personalities that bode well to this career? Some things can be learned and some things can be honed over time with experience and education. Are there some fundamental personality traits or innate skillsets one can have to thrive in this industry?
For a generalist, someone who manages the team, you’d have to be more an extroverted personality who’s well-organized. As someone who is in the artistic realm, perhaps a graphic designer or an emotion graphic person, those people are typically more introverted and more creative. I really do think it’s having an understanding of what role you want to play and that would fit your personality. Introversion usually would suit the data analytics type. More extroverted personality who does the pictures and resonating with clients and copy messages, probably a little bit more of an extrovert. It depends on what field in marketing you’re aspiring to be in.
What is the ultimate job in your industry? Where can you get to? What is the ultimate goal to be somebody in your career and somebody with your skillsets? What do they aim for?
I think to be a chief marketing officer in a large company where you can manage the visual brand identity as well as the time of the messaging. that’s probably the highest clinical you can do in marketing, which is the chief marketing officer.
I’m asking very layman questions because this is not my area of expertise. As you can tell, I love asking Jane questions that I have no idea about. In fact, I love asking you all the guests questions I have zero ideas about. That’s why I find it interesting. What are the goals for you in the future? What are you working on? What would you love to be doing? I’ve always said, “Jane is such a lady boss.” Talking about that in itself. Now is the time for women to be running their own show, being their own bosses. You’re a very strong woman. Do you have any advice there for our readers, for women who feel like, “I’ve taken all this time off to have kids. Can I come back? Can I have a comeback and a second career?” What do you say about that?
I think the ultimate goal for any person who’s in business would be to manage their career. I’m working on a couple of side projects, even one with you, to build a brand from the ground up and see it launch. There are a lot of interesting marketing trends happening that I’d like to dabble. We’ve got the rise of AI for personalization and automation. Content is still king.
You have to give me layman’s terms of what that means. Start with the first one, the first trend. What is that? Break it down for me.
We have now artificial intelligence. It is playing a bigger role in how we reach clients. It affects our client’s relationships with the consumer. A company focuses on bringing out emotional connections through physical environments as well as basically personalizing all marketing based on demographic profiles. If you’re sending out flyers to homes, making sure you know what the demographic is in terms of age and race, and then making sure that you’re tailoring that message to them. A home buyer who’s in their 70s is looking for different needs from a client that will be for a 35-year-old who’s looking for a separate thing. They’re probably looking to upsize wherein the older client is looking to downsize. Make sure as a marketer, I have automation in place that allows that to happen to tailor everything in a personalized way.
Do you think AI takes the personalized aspect out of it all because there is zero emotion? Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing?
I will help you identify who the client is and then tailor the message the best way possible. I think it puts it back in. I think you have a better relationship with someone who you’re sending the right materials to. What artificial intelligence is doing is allowing you to understand who that client is and sending the right message.
What was the other marketing trend?
There are lots of trends that are happening that are interesting. These smart speakers with a voice assistant like Alexa, doing advertising through those speakers, which is interesting. People are listening to them.
I don’t want advertising while I’ve got that on. I would turn it off. That’s the whole point of it that there are no adverts. With that said, how did these brands, when the customer is used to no commercials anymore like with the streaming and on-demand. How do you get around that?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed when you do turn on your smart TV and you have your selections to pick Netflix or Hulu. They’re now coming up with these little tile ads that when you click on those, they take you to an ad. There are ways around it that are more of a passive ability and market, but they’re still marketing.
I have noticed. I have to tell you, when I’ve ever got, Hey Google or Alexa on, I feel like I could’ve said one thing or send me this or play this song and the next thing in my email, I have twenty emails about this one product. I’m thinking, “Is this coincidence or is it Big Brother?”
That’s not a coincidence. That’s marketing.
They are listening to what we’re saying and taking every word and using that against us basically.
In essence, yes. I think another interesting trend is seeing the advent of micro influences. You’ve seen all these Kim Kardashians and Kylie Jenners that created these huge brands. Advertisers spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for them to post. What we’re seeing is a shift away from that because that’s become too expensive for companies to sponsor these posts. They are now looking at people who have super high engagement and not necessarily high followers and advertising through those people.
The Kardashians are a prime example of brilliant branding and brilliant marketing by the mother. As somebody who’s an expert in their field, when you look at that and how the mother has created this brand, what do you think of that?
Kudos to her. She saw a nation. I think the platform of TV is incredibly powerful. She’s not the only example of that. You’ve seen many of these. Housewives, Bethenny Frankel is a fantastic example of created and launched a brand on the back of TV.
Which they now have a clause in every TV contract called the Bethany Clause because the network realized that she had launched and marketed and promoted this brand on their platform and realized they got absolutely nothing out of it. Anyone on TV has to give a percentage of any brand that they launch and promote on their show to the networks. She was the first to do it and a brilliant job on her. She sold for absolute millions to the alcohol company.
She’s someone who’s very consistent in her messaging. She found a type of demographic that she was passionate about and had expertise in. Her skillset combined with consistent brand messaging did help her get to where she is now.Content is still king. Click To Tweet
She’s a prime example of taking something from nothing. She found a solution to not necessarily a big problem, just doing a cheat sheet for people. It’s taking four or five ingredients, making it in one, creating ease and convenience for people and branding it up. Look what happened there.
I think she did a fantastic job and I appreciate how much of a branding expert she’s in her game. I think it’s fantastic to see. She piloted that into some course marketing, which is even great as she now has this strong brand that she promotes for helping in distress situations. Kudos to her for what she’s done.
Thanks so much, Jane, for joining me on The Behr Essentials. Jane’s going to be a regular here on La La Landed because she’s super smart. If you’ve got any suggestions or questions for Jane, feel free to make comments on our Instagram page, @LaLaLandedPodcast. We’re also on Facebook at La La Landed. You can always go to our website, LaLaLanded.com and our email is there if you have any questions. If you’d like to book Jane for any or marketing consultancy work, feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll pass all the information onto her. Jane, thanks so much for being on. I look forward to having you back very soon.
Don’t forget to check LaLaLanded.com for all other information and our future episodes. A lot more exciting guests are coming on soon. Thanks so much for your time. Have a great day.
About Jane Rowley
Jane Rowley joined Avenue Homes in 2017 and serves as VP of Marketing and oversees all marketing, lead generation and brand management. Ms. Rowley has extensive REIT management experience and prior to joining Avenue Homes, served and led the marketing efforts for Rexford Industrial Realty, Inc., was a National Director of Marketing at Related Companies and headed the marketing efforts at Hudson Pacific Properties, Inc.
She also has extensive experience in real estate sales and operations and prior to moving to the US, worked for Jones Lang LaSalle where she was a Portfolio Manager for Government business. She spent 8 years in various roles at Westpac Institutional Bank, the institutional arm of Australia’s oldest bank. Ms. Rowley holds a Bachelor of Commerce, Banking & Finance from the University of Canberra and is an active animal rights activist.