secrets to scale

Secrets To Scale Podcast
015 - Building a Powerful Brand with Priscilla Blanchot

015 – Building a Powerful Brand with Priscilla Blanchot

Secrets To Scale is a marketing and entrepreneurship podcast that revolves around hearing the stories of successful entrepreneurs and uncovering their secrets to scaling their businesses. Music for every episode of this podcast was written and produced by Treycen Clausse.

Listen To This Episode:

CONNECT WITH PRISCILLA:

Tanner:

This week on the show, I have Priscilla Blanchot from Carte Blanche. Priscilla is a branding expert, and we talk about how to build a strong brand. We talk about anything from logo design to color selection, and even some product marketing. I really enjoyed this episode and I hope you do too.

Welcome to the show Priscilla. I am so excited to have you. Go ahead and introduce yourself to the audience.

Priscilla:

Thank you, Tanner. I am Priscilla Blanchot owner and strategist and creative designer at Carte Blanche.

Tanner:

Awesome. So what’s your story. Let’s go back to the very beginning. How did you get started in branding and how did your career advance to where you are now?

Priscilla:

So I’m originally from France. I came to the U.S. after the grad in Paris and went from my parish school to a school in Atlanta, Georgia where I spent a year and a half perfecting my design skills. The school was called Portfolio Center and is now linked to the Miami ad school. Anyway, this education was awesome and gave me also a foot in the U.S. and so I went on to New York city with my portfolio under my arm and found a job in a large design firm in Manhattan. And I spent seven years there having lots of variety of experiences working for a very large companies, fortune 500 companies from Denon to Uniliver, Victoria Secret, IBM, Coca-Cola. We worked on just a variety of projects and I spent seven years there until September 11th happened and that kind of halted lots of enterprises. What happened is my husband was transferred to Utah and so I followed along and came to Salt Lake City, right after the Olympics.

And this was a completely different market for me. I had to pivot and adapt was a lot more technology, a lot more natural in ingredients like vitamins and food supplements, medical, very different. My background was food, beverage, fashion, health and beauty product. But really the branding system applies from one market to another, it’s the same process. So I went from an in-house position here to another agency to finally deciding last year that it was time for me to establish my own agency and start Carte Blanche and doing brand strategy and design and servicing clients with my own purpose and meaning.

Which is, I want to give the clients the understanding and the purpose of their brand, not just the design for design. That just is what I grew really tired over the years with companies to not value the power of a brand and how they can really build a company and it’s really foundational for any business. And so that really is what motivated me to start my own business is to wanting to offer small to middle-sized enterprises, the power of large company strategy, and also the, the meaning of that and why it’s important to align your team, why it’s important to think ahead of brand expansion and why it’s important to think of all the elements and so forth.

A brand is not a logo.

Tanner:

Awesome. Yeah. So I agree with you. I think that a lot of businesses are really just overlooking the power of a brand. And I know we’ve talked about this before. Really the design element of building a brand has become a commodity, right? People just are looking for the cheapest option at this point.

Priscilla:

Yes. The field has changed a lot for designers because it’s not just, well there’s lots of elements, right? But it’s like, yes, you can go online and get cheap logos. You can even get free logos. I think with like wix.com or of those, they offer that as a service. That’s all good and fine, but really are you in control of your brand where you’re just putting things together without the strategy and the thinking behind. A brand is not just, a brand is actually not a logo and a brand is not your colors. A brand is not your stationary, a brand is, is not your product, your service, what a brand is. It’s the gut feeling that people have about your product or service now, more than ever with social media, the brand is out there in the people’s hand, the brand is out there in the people’s phone. When they’re putting a review on Google, where they’re sharing on social media where they’re wearing and taking a photo of whatever they’re doing, you know, like that’s the power of a brand.

And my brand guru, Marty Neumeier says it best, a brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is. And so it’s important for companies for business owners and entrepreneurs to not just think, Oh, I like purple and I’m selling shoes and some shoes come with laces and I’m going to call my business the purple laces. Yeah. That doesn’t make sense. Plus that limits you to laces, right? To shoes. What if you were to expand your brand in five, 10 years to hats, or gloves or any other kind of accessories, then the title purple laces is not applicable anymore. So from the naming to the color choices, primary, secondary from the fonts and the icon, like every piece needs to be thought out in a purposeful and meaningful way.

And this is where the strategy is important for clients to understand. And that strategy is been done for years with the big, large agencies. Like Coca-Cola when we were working on the Christmas can for Coca Cola. I will tell you that is or used to be the project for any design agencies to get. If the designer could see we’re getting the Christmas Coke design of the year, you know, they were done for the year. I mean, it was just such an honor, right? And Coca Cola were giving that project to several agencies every year, because they wanted new ideas because they wanted a new take on it and also it’s also a way of spreading the love. But it’s very regulated. The Coca-Cola Christmas can, you cannot, you have to use their approved bear.

Coca-Cola that white bear. You have to use their approved Santa Claus, the big, nice man, white with a white beard, you know, you have to use their approved slate, like everything. It’s like a puzzle that we had to put together. And so that’s where the branding style guide and meaning all this is important because when you put out a new product you want everybody to know this comes from this company. And so this is why it’s important to be consistent and to really think through a few years ahead.

My brand is me.

Tanner:

Yeah. I think that’s really awesome insight, Priscilla. Going back to the name of a company, what do you think is the best way to do it? And I know that this is really open-ended, obviously it depends on the industry and the type of business they are, but I kind of err on the side of caution with this. Where I think it’s better to have a name that no one even really understands, or maybe like a made-up word of some sort.

Priscilla:

Yes. There are companies that particularly all they do is, is naming, right? And it’s amazing because that’s a science on its own. But for a name, it could be a made up word. Totally. And yours actually is good because you have, you have a word in there that means something right. Ranking, but then ranks, what was the SC, why at the end?

Tanner:

It’s really, it’s just a play on the word. I was trying to find a domain and I was like, okay, well I know I want it to have something to do with the word rank, but I kind of just played with it until I saw something that was available. So it was just a play on it.

Priscilla:

Because a name can be made up or can be something. So Carte Blanche, if you’re familiar with French and I needed to own my personality and own also who I am here. Even though I’m trying to get rid of my accent. It’s not going to go away. So people know right away that I’m from France or at least not from Salt Lake. But anyway, I wanted like, my brand is me, what do I do, who am I? And I wanted to pick a name that was pronounceable for people that they knew what it was, but that also was showing who I was. So carte blanche means that you are open-ended, you can do anything really. And that was really a great analogy with branding. Because when you start a brand or even if you already have a brand, you are allowed to do anything you want, it’s just a question of thinking it through.

And so that’s how I picked my name, but a good name has to be distinct and recognizable. An ideal name doesn’t have more than six syllables because you don’t want it to be too long. Think of Nike, Coke, Google, I mean, Nikon, Nikon whatever, all these brands they’re pretty short. Like even now today, Supreme, right? That’s a short brand, The North Face. It’s clean, it’s simple. And it says what it is, right? The north of a mountain. It needs to be appropriate. So, when your name is too descriptive, like the purple laces, for example, you are locked into serving this one service. So think of it more as open-ended. And then people have to like it and it needs to be obviously easy to spell and pronounce but potentially have some extension to it. You know, like, could you add, so I could have Carte Blanche Design or Carte Blanche Strategy, that you could extend it to different products.

Tanner:

Yeah. It should be interchangeable.

Priscilla:

Exactly. Exactly.

You want to be different, but for good reasons.

Tanner:

So let’s take a minute and talk about colors. What kind of science goes into choosing the colors of a brand?

Priscilla:

Oh, there is also people that are experts in color testing. There is a website that, let me see if I can find it. There is a website sometimes if people ask me that I refer to where it’s the science of color. But I will tell you so things I’ve learned. When I worked a few years also in the financial industry and in the finance industry, cash is green. Cash is green and red is bad, right? Red is alert, alert, and to me, every area probably has its own color science, depending on which market they’re in. Right? Because obviously the finance industry has the big take on the green and the red. Look at health healthcare. A lot of those brands are in the blues because it’s peaceful, it’s appeasing.

Let’s see. I’m trying to think. But here’s the trick. When you look at your competitor and you’re building your brand, you also are gonna want to be different, but for good reasons. So if your neighbor has a red logo and you’re going to go and start having a red logo. That’s really close to them, right? So you’re gonna want to differentiate yourself, something else. I was actually working for a brand lately and the icon is a modern take on a coil or like a spiral. It’s a really modern take on the spiral and we were debating colors, but the one color I did not consider at all was red. Because as soon as you put that icon in red, even though it’s a modern take on spiral, all I can see was a red circle and I was thinking targets.

So that was complete different area of business and markets. So it didn’t match at all. So it’s really a question of the psychology of that color in your market, but also being different from your competitor, but with meaning, not just because. It’s not because they’re red that you got to put green. And also the overall look and feel and it needs to make sense. Evidently, our made up store the purple laces has the logo with green laces and it’s written purple laces. That wouldn’t make sense either. So you have to have some logic and when you’re building your brand, that’s a given.

Tanner:

Yeah. And you know, it really just comes down to why did you choose those colors? What do those colors mean? What does that name mean? You got to have some sort of meaning with everything instead of just choosing everything randomly.

Priscilla:

Exactly.

What’s their brand expansion?

Tanner:

I want to take a little time and talk about the company Purple, the purple mattresses. I believe there was some science behind why they chose the color purple. And I think it’s because, you know, it’s mattresses, right? People sleep on mattresses and they didn’t want to use blue because it would, maybe it would feel to cold. They wouldn’t want to use red because you don’t want it to be too hot when you sleep. So they just went right in the middle.

Priscilla:

That’s an interesting example. And I should probably read up on it. I’m not familiar with them with the logic of the purple color, but yeah. But I see the purple mattress that they sell. That’s the thing too, now some companies, they just want to be in one product, right? So the mattresses but the purple mattress, will they be able to sell carpets at some point or rugs? What’s their brand expansion?

Tanner:

I would think that it’s very limited, only to mattresses and pillows.

Priscilla:

And pillows. And so maybe that’s their business model as well. Like we’re not going to expand or just going to do pillows and mattress and that’s that.

How are they going to be transformed by your brand?

Tanner:

Yeah. I think that’s probably a fair assumption. Yeah. So I’m sure there’s a lot of different processes out there, but what is your branding process look like and what are the important things that need to be identified when you first start working with a client?

Priscilla:

My typical process is to take the business owners, the decision makers, the people that are on the forefront, or even on backend, like as many people as are that are involved in the company to come and do this brand precision method with me. Where they actually, it’s like a business therapy. We think through and I take them through this method where we think through, what have they been doing now? What has worked, what hasn’t worked, what’s their goal? What’s their five-year goal? Their 10-year goal let’s make them dream. Also. What is their exit strategy? Do they want to reach a point where they sell the company or do they want to reach a point where they actually happy with what they’ve done and it’s time to just close shop? And if anybody were to write, if they were to write an obituary about their business, what would they say about their business? So really make them envision the future.

And from there we look into, okay, so who is representing 80% of your customers right now? Who is representing the other 20% and really who would be your ideal clients that you would just love to have? And then from there on, we actually look at you know, the experience with your brand. So how people are before your brand and then how are they considering you? How are they hearing about you? What are they thinking and seeing, doing, and then what’s their decision-maker, what’s going to be the thing that’s going to make them say, Hey, I want to go with this brand. And all this is very subtle depending on what market you’re in, it can be very subtle. Especially with the amount of businesses out there. You really have to think through those steps and after how they’re going to become transformed. Every brand, every project, every service, my service, your service, what we’re asking our customers to do is to be transformed by what we’re doing for them. And so that goes for our customers too. It’s like the snowball effect, right? It’s like the same thing happens to them. So how are they going to be transformed by your brand, your service, your product, and then what do we want them to say after? And everything needs to be consistent in the thinking. And so that’s where you are going to think of this brand as a whole, not just, you know, the logo on paper and the colors and how to use it. It’s also going to be on the messaging, the photography, the illustrations, if you decide to do illustration versus photography, and then the words that you’re going to

Understand all these pieces of your company.

Priscilla:

So anyway, after we have this overall global view, then we can start thinking about the person, like different, you know, and everybody does. The personas, right? Who this person is. Is she female or male, the age group their income level, their education level, their family situation, their hobbies all this. And it’s very interesting because what happens through the process and this method that clients are going through this there it’s very interactive and they’re really have to think – this business is not about me. This business is about this customer. And really ultimately you want the business owner to be in the shoes of their customers so they fully understand that person. Or usually it’s not just one person, it’s many persons. Right? So there is the point also after, when you think of the emotional aspect, like, what does this person want and what do they need? And sometimes you think, or the client, it gets really tricky. Because sometimes that customer think they need something when they actually might even need something else. And that’s up to us in this strategy, in this thinking – to think of that next thing. And that next thing is probably what’s make your business the only one to do this.

So I did, once you do this with clients you also think about the architecture. You also think then about like your brand’s style, do you want to be classic or modern, economical, or luxurious female masculine, playful, serious grunge or refined, simple, sophisticated. I mean, there’s all these little nuances. Those are the important information that a brand designer needs to create a brand.

When you go to these companies, Fiver and Upwork, these companies that do logos. You’re going to end up with a designer in, you know, Asia somewhere. That’s going to do a logo for you for $25 an hour. Are you giving them all this information? Is this person really understanding what you’re trying to achieve? Is this person really reading your brief and getting where you want to go? Like, that’s the piece of information that these affordable cheap services are missing. And also the power of you as a business owner, to understand all these pieces of your company, to truly understand who you’re working with and the customer, the voice and tone the look and feel your differentiation, but also the culture, the culture of a company. Like the culture of Patagonia, why do people buy Patagonia versus another brand, right? Or Columbia, whatever. Why are people buying Nike shoes versus New Balance? I mean, just think about these two brands, they’re offering shoes, right?

But at the same time, they’re very different. They’re representing different type of athletes, of image, of audience. And also, they look very different. But meanwhile, at the base of it, they’re still tennis shoes. They’re the same product. And so that’s what’s really important in a strategy is for anyone involved in the company to really own this. A lot of businesses are started because they see a need, a solution to a problem. They see an opportunity, but the brand strategy will help them to really understand the whole package. And it’s so powerful for business owners.

For example, one of the businesses that I worked on was a person who was doing audio and visual for large concert halls and large conferences and so forth. And through the strategy, what he wanted to do was offer all this material that he has for more localized event planning in places in hotels or event planning or parties in private homes and then COVID hit. What, what do you do? There’s no party and stuff like this. And because he really understood his client, we had done this strategy for him. He suddenly had the idea, I’m going to make a mobile recording studio in a truck. He built this mobile recording studio that he can take at people’s houses or businesses, he’s bringing this to people, places and adapting to the market and the situation. So it’s just, and I know that he couldn’t have gone to that idea on his own without the strategy we had done before. Because I’m not the one talking in the strategy, I’m making them talk. And so that’s really the power of them understanding the clients, understanding all this for their companies.

Priscilla:

And it’s so helpful when you’re actually creating the brand. And another thing that I love to do in this strategy is also think beyond the one or two things they’re doing, because really in a business you are launching a product. And when that product reaches a peak, that’s when you should be launching your second product. So already getting in a business, you shouldn’t just have one product you should have at least in your mind and in creative mode, like two or three product products ahead of you. Because you should be launching the next one and the next one and the next one all the time. And that’s the thing is just cause it’s November 2020 and yes, Monday yesterday. Yeah. Supreme got bought by North Face, right. And Supreme is such a trendy brand and they have cult followers and really Supreme was already putting their graphics on North Face.

And so why North Face bought them is because they’re buying these followers, the cult, you know, they’re buying the audience. But the thing that made Supreme is that they’re not putting out a season. And I’m not sure about the fashion rhythm where, you know, it’s like the spring season, the fall season and so forth. They’re putting new things like every week. They’re just about having fun with their graphics on their clothes and stuff. So these guys are just keeping, it’s intense. These guys are just keeping their audience interested on a weekly basis with something new. And that’s the power of a brand, but that’s also becomes high-maintenance and just like a marketing plan, branding planning is also important. And I think I can Segway into the difference between marketing and brand, if you want, because I know that was one of your question.

Branding is serving the client and wanting to show the love.

Tanner:

Yeah, that’d be great.

Priscilla:

And so brand comes before marketing, but brand is the thinking and marketing is tactical. Marketing is the planning into blasting that brand out. So that’s where the strategy part, there is a lot of, of brand strategy that overlaps with marketing, but there’s also marketing strategy that the branding side doesn’t cover. So it’s complimentary, but really I love to describe very simply that branding is serving the client and wanting to show the love, versus marketing is asking for an action. There is an ask at the end of the marketing effort it’s, usually it’s by my service or buy my product. So I like to say that marketing has strings attached versus branding doesn’t have strings attached. But branding wants to love, wants the interest of the audience wants to serve and attracts that attention to them.

And so, the big part of brand strategy is to think ahead of that brand so that the tactics of marketing also has a plan ahead. So it can be intensive. And this is why you know, large company has design departments and branding departments and strategist on staff and marketing departments. And so for the middle size, it’s important for them to understand their strategy because when they’re in the meeting, even if they don’t have the department on hand, they can already have that thinking in their head. That, Oh, in the strategy, remember we thought about that client, that client I know will like this, but not that. So the smaller the company, the more important it is for the whole team to really, I mean, any size should be aligned, but for the whole team to be involved in the strategy so they can really understand the purpose of what they’re doing.

Tanner:

Well, that’s really great explanation of that. I’ve never really thought about the difference between branding and marketing, but yeah, you know, it’s marketing’s job to, you know, acquire the customers. But really there’s marketing campaigns still deploying the brand as a tool. Right. And I really liked what you said about Supreme. They really do have a cult following. I mean, their brand loyalty is through the roof. And I think they do that really well because, because of what you said, they are constantly dropping new products and not only are they constantly dropping new products, but they’re dropping limited releases. Right. So everyone wants, everyone wants what they’re dropping because they produce such small quantities, rather.

Priscilla:

Yeah. And then the trick for both marketing and branding is to be consistent. And it’s a long game, no matter what. You are not going to get results overnight. You have to give it time for the followers to see you for the culture to develop and start. And same thing with, with the marketing, right. It just, it takes time. It’s not magic. You have to be patient, but be consistent visually and also in what you’re putting out.

Create ruckus.

Tanner:

Well, Priscilla, this has been absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for joining me. Is there anything that I did not ask you that you think might benefit the audience?

Priscilla:

Ah I don’t think so. I think you’ve asked you asked some really good questions. I talked a lot. I would think, you know, to not be scared by the process, but also I would tell people to not skip the process. I mean, I know everybody says more than ever this is, you know, important. But there are a lot of products out there. There’s a lot of services. It is, we’re all trying to take a sliver of the pie, you know, on the market. And so really the process is important to understand how to be them, but then how to also attract the right people.

Tanner:

Right. And it really just comes down to how are we going to stand out? There’s tons of noise. Everyone’s inboxes are flooded. Everyone’s having constant exposure to ads everywhere they look, everywhere they browse. So it really just comes down to how are you going to stand out? And your brand is your vehicle on the road to differentiation.

Priscilla:

Yes. And I think it’s Seth Godin that says, create ruckus. Create ruckus or be a disruptor. That’s very trendy too. If you have a service that’s like everybody, how can you disrupt that area to be different and innovative so that you stand out?

Tanner:

Yeah. I completely agree. Priscilla. What’s a great way for anyone listening to get in contact with you?

Priscilla:

Ah, yes. Well, you can find me on my website wearecarteblanche.com and my email is just [email protected] or also you can find me Priscilla Blancho on LinkedIn.

Tanner:

Awesome. Well, we will link those up in the show notes and thank you again Priscilla.

Priscilla:

Thank you, Tanner. I was such a pleasure to be here with you.

sTAY cONNECTED
get notified when new episodes are published

Free Download

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE HIRING A WEB DESIGN AGENCY

Free Download

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE HIRING A WEB DESIGN AGENCY

Learn everything you need to know to prevent making a costly mistake. Fill out the form below and we’ll email you the 19 page PDF!