Two experts discuss branding and relationship marketing and
why your business needs it.
Story and photos by Joey Phoenix
If there is a fast track to business success, it isn’t through traditional networking and outdated marketing strategies. It’s through a combination of solid brand identity and a new form of business connection called Relationship Marketing.
Tale as old as time business advice is that “you need to network to build your business.” But there’s often no roadmap to expert level networking and building business connections. Many new business owners wander into intimidating rooms full of strangers armed only with an elevator pitch and a wavering sense of resolve.
Creative Collective Members Mikki Wilson of Dot Connector Consulting and Matthew Eriksen of Good Brand Coach and Good Brand Partners have spent the last year working together as colleagues, continuing to hone the skills they know contribute to business success: relationship marketing and brand identity.
These two marketing and dot connecting experts have years of experience between them in the worlds of traditional (i.e. “classic”) marketing and business strategy, and they have learned some incredibly innovative secrets along the way.
The spark of a new mutually beneficial partnership
Mikki and Matthew initially connected through Creative Collective in September of 2021 when Mikki needed to overhaul her branding from an outdated cutesy look to a more professional web presence with powerful colors and symbolism meaningful to her and her brand. She hired Matthew Eriksen of Good Brand Partners to build this new brand identity on her behalf.
“I knew that the colors in my brand felt too soft and muted, but I couldn’t figure out the next step of what I did need for my brand. I knew I needed to work with somebody that I could externally process with until we were able to figure that out together,” said Mikki, “and Matthew was the perfect person.”
“I’ve always taken pride in my ability to really listen to my clients and help them problem solve,” added Matthew.
Not long after this project, Matthew started to work with Mikki on his own business strategy. He needed help developing systems for the new, educational branch of his business: Good Brand Coach — knowing that getting advice from outside his business was the key to his own personal progress.
“Sometimes you need to partner with someone who does something similar to what you do to look at your own process from an outside perspective,” said Matthew, “I couldn’t see my own gaps and Mikki really was able to help me see where I could go deeper, and what I could let go of.”
This back and forth hiring and collaborating sparked a mutually beneficial partnership that is still going strong in late 2022. Matthew handles and envisions all things branding and brand identity and Mikki helps connect the dots and give clients critical perspective.
A Mini Masterclass: Brand, Brand Identity, and Branding – What they are and why they’re important
Matthew breaks it down for us.
“On the surface level, we often associate a brand with its logo. And while that is a very important part of its visual identity, it’s not the brand itself,” Matthew explains.
He goes on to say that there are three different aspects to a brand. There’s the brand, its brand identity, and the process of branding.
“Think of Disney, Lululemon, Sprite, Starbucks – you will have quick associations whenever you hear the name of these brands. You’ll also have emotional connections, either positive or negative with those brands. That’s what the brand is: it’s this intangible experience or connection with consumers, that we, as the owner of the company, actually have no control over,” he described.
On the other side of that, he explains that brand identity is the area of the brand that the business owner decides on. It’s how a business can influence its followers, fans, friends, customers, and anyone else who interacts with it. The goal for the brand identity is for it to shape the brand and add an element of control. Brand identity is how you’re introducing yourself across everything you put out into the world—from your biz card to website, t-shirt, stickers, emails, you name it.
“Brand Identity is not just the logo,” he said. “It’s the entire visual experience including color, typography, photography, videography, illustration, and even the hold music that people get when they call a business’s land line.”
Then, lastly, branding is taking the intangible and making it tangible. It’s a process of taking the values that you’ve worked so diligently to build into your brand identity and present it as a product, service or solution.
Want to learn more about brand identity or see how you can update your own? Contact Matthew to learn how to build your own clear, confident, and cohesive brand.
Website: https://www.goodbrandcoach.com and https://www.goodbrandpartners.com | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Mini Masterclass : What is Relationship marketing and why do you need it for your business?
Mikki breaks it down for us.
“In a nutshell, marketing is really just articulating your value, communicating it to the people you serve, and then converting it in the form of currency,” she explained.
Basic level Marketing is formulaic and follows a linear path. It’s often a grind, but there’s an aspect to marketing which is much more purposeful and far more rewarding.
“Relationship Marketing is very intentional. It’s very authentic and aligned with who you are. You’re not just meeting people to meet people, you’re actually meeting people for a purpose,” she explained.
She adds further that relationship marketing is the emergent networking model for modern business owners. But it’s more than just walking into a room full of strangers and leaving with new connections and a handful of business cards, it’s a marketing strategy that comes with a database. Keeping track of these relationships and asking yourself how these relationships are valuable and mutually beneficial is a core part of relationship marketing.
“I’m in the business of creating, building, and sustaining relationships versus networking. I’m here to connect the dots,” she added.
Want to learn more about how you can connect your own dots?
Website: https://dotconnectorconsulting.com | Email: email@example.com
So now that I know the concepts, how do I go about making this happen for me and my business?
The easiest answer is to message Mikki and Matthew and scoop up one of their free consultations, but if you’re not ready to dive in just yet, here are some additional ideas for how to make it work for you.
“When you approach networking, community connection, etc. with this idea of intentionality, and tapping into your own humanity, it all starts with good listening,” Matthew advised.
For Matthew and Mikki it’s about connecting dots and solving problems. You don’t need to invent problems out of thin air, the problems already exist, and you probably have some of the solutions. You just need to find out what they are.
“I aim to get the other person to talk first and work to be genuinely interested in what they are doing and what they have to say,” Mikki said. She described how in most networking situations, the people she would talk to would always bring up a problem or a sticking point that would spark ideas for her.
“I quickly realized this pattern where I knew somebody that could help these people with what they needed, I would connect them, or if I didn’t know, I would start looking for that person for them,” she explained, “and I could easily see the value in that, and so could my clients.”
And it was similar for Matthew.
“At the end of the day, design, branding, marketing, whatever you want to call it, exists to solve a problem or help move things forward for people,” Matthew added. “But that has to start with listening.”
Both of them agree that if you don’t know what problems need to be solved, you can’t solve them. At its core, Relationship Marketing is a mutually beneficial relationship where both parties have their business needs met. It’s a way of intentionally fostering community and connection that makes everyone who is a part of it a more successful member of the business ecosystem.
Couple that with a solid brand identity, and you’ll be unstoppable.
Joey Phoenix (they/them) is an interdisciplinary artist and the Director of Brand Strategy and Innovation at Creative Collective. As the resident storyteller and town crier, they encourage you to send story ideas, inspiration, or pictures of adorable critters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Creative Collective?
Creative Collective is a group of economic development strategists, small business supporters, activation specialists, and believers in the importance of the creative workforce. We foster growth, sustainability, and scalability for small businesses, creative thinkers, organizations, entrepreneurs, and innovators. Learn more and join Creative Collective at www.creativecollectivema.com/join