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On Invisible Details we talk about a lot of brands, from giant, well-known corporations to local coffee shops. We’re not afraid to talk about the popular ones, and we absolutely love the unknown ones.
This show is going to be a little different. You’re going to get a fly-on-the-wall experience as Kyle and I have a conversation about our own brands—what we’ve learned, what we want, the struggles we face, and some of our big dreams.
In the episode, we’ll be talking as if we just sat down for coffee and weren’t streaming live or recording. You get a special, behind-the-scenes look at how we run our brands, what our goals are, and how we’re working to accomplish those goals.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- A brand is perception—what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
- To focus on your brand full time, it has to be sustainable.
- Make your goals so big that they seem ridiculous.
- A name means nothing on it’s own—it means whatever it represents.
- When you build your brand on your personal name, anything you do goes into the perception of your brand.
- Success is not strictly monetary.
- Sort out your mission because your personal brand develops out of that.
- Find creative ways to make all the things you’re interested in fit into your overarching passion.
- 02:02 Kyle: My store launched today. We’re going to talk about our brands today, so while we’re on this topic, I actually had a store before. I had two digital products sitting out there, not really doing much. I didn’t prepare and launch them like I would a product. Honestly, I just wanted to get a store figured out for my website. Now, I’m saying “store launch,” and it’s kind of awkward. This really is my first launch of a store where I’m trying to make money from it, but I’ve technically had a store for a while.
- 02:50 Cory: I think it works. It’s also appealing to a different audience now, too. It’s not just people who want to buy digital icons, digital products. Kyle has gone physical now.
- 03:08 Kyle: Yeah, that’s a much different audience. It extends beyond the design community that I’m typically sold to, and it could apply to people who want to support my brand who aren’t necessarily designers but who know my wife, know me, or whatever it is.
Our Personal Brands
- 03:40 Cory: Invisible Details is a show where we want to help people build their audiences and grow their new and growing brands through storytelling and authenticity. We talk about a variety of things on the show, everything from really well known corporations and big brands like Apple, Microsoft, Starbucks, and Facebook, down to smaller brands like local coffee shops, Mom and Pop stores, or online stores that our friends have. We want to be able to cover branding in a way that’s cohesive but is also well spread.
- 05:09 There was all this stuff we were preparing for, but with all this stuff with work, and personal stuff going on, we wondered what it would be like if we just sat down in a coffee shop, talking to each other, and just hit record. What if we pretended we weren’t recording or live-streaming to a live audience—what would that look like? That’s where we are.
- 05:49 This is unscripted. This is raw. We just want to sit and talk about our personal brands, what that looks like, what that means, and where we’re going. We talk about bigger brands sometimes, and it feels a little bit unreachable. We can talk about multi-billion dollar corporations all day long, but I’m guessing that most, if not all, of the people in our audience don’t have multi-billion dollar corporations. Kyle and I have smaller brands based on us as people, so I thought it might be helpful for some folks if we talked about that.
- 06:37 Kyle: I think this is not only relatable to someone growing a brand, but it also gives a lot of context to where we’re at and what our goals are. We haven’t spent a lot of time diving into who we are. We introduced ourselves in episode 1, and we’ve talked about ourselves throughout this time, but we haven’t gone in depth on what we do, specifically.
This episode will give people a little bit more context for who we are.
- 07:22 Cory: We’re going to start off with you, Kyle. I’m really excited about your store launching today. There are a lot of really cool things happening with your brand. Your brand is Kyle Adams Icon Design. That’s the name of the brand. How do you feel it’s doing with it’s direction and new things happening or even things that have happened earlier this year? How are you feeling about the progression of your brand this year?
- 08:12 Kyle: I feel really good about it more recently. There was this big disconnect for me. I’m really passionate about icons and building an audience around that, and I have this mission to get other designers to understand and appreciate icon design. That’s been a big focus of mine, as far as audience growth goes. The clients I’ve taken on also have a high appreciation for icons within their brand and what that could do for their brand. Especially in recent months, I’ve realized that although I’ve had a high level of energy and focus for what I was building for my brand, I wasn’t focused on money.
- 09:03 I wasn’t focused on making money or any income. Although that can’t be and I never want it to be the primary focus, it has to be something you look at with your brand. Your brand can’t survive without income. I’ve realized recently that my priorities were displaced. Fortunately, this came in the midst of already preparing physical products to launch. From here forward, it’s a lot of focus on what I can do to bring in revenue. I took a job with seanwes as the Visual Identity Director earlier this year, in January, and I love it there.
I want to focus on my brand full time but I can’t do that without it being sustainable.
- 10:07 Cory: It’s this catch-22, in a sense. “I need to have an income. My brand can only be sustained if I have money,” because you’ve got to pay for stuff. You have to pay for web hosting, the lights in your house, being able to turn on the stove in the morning. You have to pay for all of those various things. If you have a subscription to Adobe Illustrator CC, you have to pay for that. Even if you’re just making stuff digitally, your life and your brand require that there be money. You think, “I want to focus on my brand full time, but it’s not generating any income. If I take on this other day job, that’s going to take a lot of my focus, which is not going to be on my brand full time, but I’m going to have the money that I need to survive and sustain my brand.” That’s tough to balance.
- 11:13 Kyle: It is tough. A big passion of mine is helping people and getting them to a different place. There are a lot of people really interested in icon design, and what has sparked a lot of interest in those people is finally being able to attach a purpose and meaning to icon design specifically, understanding how to design icons in a way that achieves goals and has a more specific purpose than many might assume that they do. I love sharing stuff. I love giving things to people. I love seeing people’s reactions as they learn new things. There comes a point where you have to be able to sustain yourself, and that was failing to happen in my brand. My brand has been around for about two years now.
- 12:19 Cory: I remember Kyle in the chat room saying, “I think I’m going to do it. I think I’m going to quit and take this full time.” You quit your stuffy, golden-handcuffs, corporate job. You were doing this other thing, but you said, “I’m passionate about this. I want to do this, and I think I can make it work.” When you started that off, how were you able to sustain yourself during that time? Were you taking on clients right away?
- 12:53 Kyle: I’ve been taking on clients for a long time, even during all of the jobs I’ve had in the past. I still take clients on the side. I was just ramping that up. A big way I was able to take the leap was a little bit of a non-traditional route. My wife and I are very much about no debt. That’s a staple of our financial situation, not having debt or going into debt. We haven’t been in debt. We had a significant amount of reserves, and that allowed me to leave my job, focus on my company, and start to build it. That sustained me for a while. We got to a point where that was depleted and we had to do something.
- 13:49 What’s funny is that, the whole time, it seemed very much like a success, and it was successful for the things I was focusing on—growing an audience, getting featured different places, stuff like that. The marketing side of the brand was going excellently, and most people thought I was having huge success in that time.
I was successful in the things I was focused on, but not in anything that could sustain my brand long term.
- 14:39 Cory: What are you struggling with right now? I know that you’ve been launching a store and that’s been kind of a struggle. I know that you have a lot of big dreams and big goals, so what’s the struggle right now? What’s holding you back from the next thing?
- 14:59 Kyle: I think my biggest struggle at this point is that I don’t think I can reach the levels of income that I need. It’s not that I want a specific income. I see a cap with what I’m doing currently, and I’m not sure what to think about that. I’m working on a course for icon design, and I don’t have a lot of details about that yet, but I’m working on it. Courses, the store launching with physical products… overall, these are fairly minor things. I don’t really know how to take it big and have that fit into the icon niche. I think that there are things I can do, but I’m trying to work through that. That’s been a big struggle for me—what are my next steps? I’m not sure.
- 16:12 Cory: Do you think that this next section of your brand is about making physical products? Obviously, you want to go to courses at some point. Do you want to add more? At a certain level, the people who will buy from you will have bought from you at that certain level. There is still going to need to be growth and acquisition of new customers and new attention. Is the focus on holding steady for a little bit, on new acquisition, or on something else?
- 16:49 Kyle: Growing the physical product line is something I want to do. The big staples for me going into this brand have been to eventually move into physical products and teaching. Those are the big things for me. I love client projects that I take on and I like the end result of seeing those things, but there’s something about making physical products that is really awesome, something about it being tangible. With the icon design industry, I get to paint a picture of this. Most of the people in that industry are very focused on digital. It’s very much people who are user interface designers or user experience designers. They’re focused on the digital rather than the physical.
When you take digital design across the line to physical, it suddenly becomes this whole new world.
- 17:53 I love the beauty of that. One of the products I’ve recently created is called Coffee Love, and it’s what I’m calling an icon collection. These icon collections are the physical embodiment of what most people traditionally call icon packs. You can go buy icon packs online, and it’s a collection of digital assets. These are a physical icon pack. It’s launch day today, so I don’t know what everything looks like for the future, but a majority of the orders so far have been the icon collection. I’m feeling good about that, and those are something I definitely want to expand on going forward. I already have some plans for some new ones, but I won’t give those away yet.
When People Don’t Understand How Much Your Work Is Worth
- 18:46 Cory: What’s stopping you from being more prolific with your digital offerings? You make a ton of stuff, and it’s really good. I know that there are all these things that go into an icon pack. I remember with your launch of the digital icon packs that you did, they were really intense. There was a lot of stuff in there. Is anything holding you back from making more digital things that people could buy?
- 19:17 Kyle: There isn’t a lot holding me back. The problem is that icon packs are very under-valued. That doesn’t mean that I can’t launch a high-quality icon pack. I didn’t market the icon packs as well as I should have, and that factors in very heavily, but I made very few sales of icon packs. I think it’s because my prices are fair for someone who designs an icon pack, and there’s a huge under-valuing across the board for icon packs. We’re talking thousands of icons for $5. They’re not high quality, but most people don’t realize that. They just think that’s how it is. Getting across that they aren’t high quality and showing people what high quality is isn’t impossible, but it has been an uphill climb, and I have to determine whether it’s worth the effort to make that climb. Or, should I focus on things that are unique and different from packs?
It’s really difficult to sell something of greater value at a premium to people who perceive it as a lower value.
- 20:56 Cory: For instance, I used to do web design. At the time, let’s say that I said, “My rate is $100 an hour,” and someone would say, “Wait, I just saw on Fiverr that someone will make me a full-blown WordPress website for $5.” I can’t convince that person that my work is more valuable, that the value I’m bringing to the table is greater. It’s really difficult to do that. That’s why you get people who say, “Why would I buy a pair of jeans for $80 when I could go to the thrift shop and buy it for $0.25?” In your case, it’s really difficult to sell something at a premium to people who say, “But wait, I just saw it over there on GetYourDigitalGoodsMarketplace.com for $0.10 for a million icons.” It’s just really difficult.
- 22:05 Kyle: It’s really hard to change someone’s perspective of how much something should be worth when they’re used to purchasing it for a lower price. I don’t think it’s impossible. I do think that there are people who will follow through with it, and most of that starts with those who are already invested in my brand and trust me specifically and the quality that I put out there. Those people are going to buy, tell other people, and then spread the word. It’s a tough line to cross. Do I try to do that? Is it worth my time and energy? Or should I look at different digital products, ones that other people aren’t producing?
- 22:59 So far, the answer has been to not really focus on packs, even though that is really weird as an icon designer. The marketplace has been very devalued, and it’s really tough to figure that out. It’s not worth anybody’s time to sell thousands of icons for $5. Products are worth less than your time, and they add up because you sell them in bulk, more than one product at a time, so there’s a different valuation, but $5 doesn’t even add up to an hour of my time.
- 23:47 Cory: How many of those would you have to sell to make the time that it took to make? That’s ridiculous.
- 23:55 Kyle: Hundreds, if not thousands, of orders. For most people, that’s not going to happen. I’m not at a point to make enough sales to justify it.
Focus Your Brand
- 24:13 Cory: We’ve been talking a lot about the nature of what your brand provides, but how do you feel about the brand itself? A brand is perception, what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s how people think, feel, and consider you. I just sent out a newsletter a couple of days ago entitled How You Feel About Your Brand Doesn’t Matter, ironically, but how do you feel your brand is doing?
- 24:48 Kyle: It’s going really well. The context of Cory’s question is how my brand is going based on my goals, and it’s going really well.
It’s hard to balance between being seen as a premium brand with high quality products and embodying a fun aesthetic at the same time.
- 25:45 I like a childlike, whimsical aesthetic, and those two have been difficult to mash together. My designs are whimsical with lots of rounded corners and people don’t usually associate that style with high quality. I think I’ve struck a good balance, because a lot of people have said that they expect high quality from my brand. Several people have said that they find it quirky, and that summarizes it pretty well. There’s an imbalance of the aesthetic vs. how the brand is put out there. That’s the best way I can put it. I feel like brand perception is doing really well. The marketing for my products and things has helped me establish what the physical side of my brand looks like.
- 27:30 I’ve struggled with that for a while, because my profile picture wasn’t ideal for what I wanted to do for the brand. I changed that recently. I wasn’t sure what I wanted my physical products to feel like, things like product photos and promotional material. That’s helped me work through that. The physical is finally coming into play. For a long time, my brand was mostly associated with the digital. Although I’m mostly a digital designer, I really enjoy the print side. I love bridging the gap between digital and physical. In fact, when I was taking photos of the prints I came out with recently, I did some close-up shots to show detail, and they almost looked digital. I loved that about them, because they’re so precise and fine. It’s a physical print that you can hold in your hand.
- 28:03 Cory: I love it. I’m so excited for mine to come in the mail.
- 28:20 Kyle: Let’s rewind to your brand, Cory. Is Cory Miller the official branding you’re projecting?
- 28:32 Cory: This has been kind of the tough thing. My journey through my own brand has been very interesting. I’ve tried a bunch of different things. When I was doing web design, I was doing my own designs on the side. I called it Clyr, and I don’t know why I did that. It was terrible. From that, I went back to my own name. In 2014, I started Three Words Apparel. That was my big push into having a brand that was bigger than myself. As we’ve talked about before, it never really went anywhere. It lasted about eight months with consistent sales. I launched in October of 2014, and in April of 2015, I started working at seanwes and my entire focus changed.
- 29:40 I didn’t have the time to focus on a brand in that way, doing shipping and fulfillment. Doing a physical thing like that wasn’t tangible. I wasn’t marketing it or doing any of that. At the time, right before I joined seanwes, I changed my newsletter. That was where people were getting access to me, and I’ve been sending out weekly emails since August of 2014. That was where people were finding me, so that changed to be the Cory Miller newsletter. That was my first step into this being my name, and I wanted people to place trust in my name. Then, Invisible Details started last year. This is episode 36. We’ve been doing this for a year!
- 30:59 Invisible Details came around, so I wasn’t doing Three Words anymore. I thought, “I want to be known as the branding guy. If someone has a question about branding, I want them to come to me, to hire me, send me an email, or shoot me a tweet. I want to know that stuff and be that guy.” Kyle and I have both read The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone, and one of the things he talks about is that you don’t want to just be in competition. You want to dominate. Make your goals so big that they seem ridiculous. Have more ridiculous goals! Then, you push harder than you would if you had a small goal. I thought that my goal was to be the brand guy.
- 31:51 I literally wanted to be the guy where you type in “branding” in Google, and there’s my face. That was my goal. We started Invisible Details, and the newsletter became the Invisible Details newsletter, my podcast was Invisible Details, and that became me. I wasn’t the Cory Miller brand anymore, but Invisible Details.
My biggest struggle has been figuring out what my brand is and what I’m doing.
- 32:21 I also work full time at seanwes. This is where it really starts to get crazy. My brain and my focus is so split. My primary passion is working with international, culturally displaced teens in Europe. For some people, that comes out of the blue, and they’re thinking, “What in the world?” That’s something I do with my wife, and that’s why we’re moving to Ireland—so we’re closer to work with these kids. seanwes is, in a sense, my day job, to allow me to pursue my greatest passion. Within that is the Cory Miller brand and all the stuff I’m doing: corydhmiller.com, my vlog, and Invisible Details, which is a subsidiary of Cory Miller.
- 33:17 Then it starts to get confusing. Cory, what are you doing? What do you do? To add fuel to the fire, I have side projects that I’ve been working on for a long time. I’m a musician. In 2009, I started working on a concept album project that has taken me seven years to finish. Here I am in 2016 in July, and it’s all finished. I finished it last week during the sabbatical, so it’s all done. It’s mixed, it’s mastered, and it’s sent out for distribution. I’ve been working on the website. I feel like I can’t share that project, because it doesn’t fit in with everything else that Cory Miller is.
- 34:06 That’s a huge struggle for me. I love this thing that I did, but I don’t want to be known as the musician. I don’t want to be known as the guy who plays music. That’s part of who I am, but that’s one of my biggest struggles right now. I have this music project that has taken seven years, a huge part of my life, that doesn’t fit with branding, doesn’t fit with corydhmiller.com, or the other things that I’m doing. What am I actually doing? What am I projecting?
- 34:42 That’s been tough. The Cory Miller brand is that I want to be all about branding and about building trust in regards to my name. I’ve been doing a vlog now for 71 days, a daily vlog, but I don’t necessarily talk about branding there. Some people have asked, “Why do you have a vlog if you’re not talking about branding, explaining, or having lessons?” The truth is, that’s there to help build trust and humanity into my name. Cory Miller, what does that mean? You type “Cory Miller” into Google, and it’s some tattoo dude.
- 35:26 He’s everywhere. That guy is prolific. Cory Miller is the tattoo guy, which is super frustrating. What’s cool about your name is that it’s obvious—Kyle Adams Icon Design. That’s your brand name. Cory Miller doesn’t mean anything. We talked about this in a recent episode about naming (Related: e030 What Am I Supposed To Name My Brand?).
A name means nothing on it’s own.
A name means whatever it represents, the association we place with it.
- 35:59 I think that’s where I’m struggling. I have all of these things in my life that I don’t want to cut out, big passions that aren’t in the same industry as my day job and other side passions that I’ve been working on for seven years, like this music project, that are so close to my heart. Can I even share that on Twitter? People will say, “This guy is talking about business and branding and now he has this music project. That’s weird.” That’s where I’m at right now. I’m trying to build Cory Miller to be the branding guy. At corydhmiller.com, you can hire me for a consult. I’ve got that set up now.
- 36:43 I’ve had a few consultations so far, which have been great, with a couple friends of mine. I was doing it to dial in my process and help establish some clarity for them. I really believe in the projects that they’re doing. That’s been really cool, and I’m gaining momentum in the branding area, but I’m introspective about what I want my brand to be and how to connect that brand with who I actually am. I don’t have a name like The Brand Business—it’s literally Cory Miller, and that’s who I am. I know that a lot of people struggle with this personal brand idea. I’ve been unloading a little bit. Kyle, do you have any thoughts on that?
Building Your Brand on Your Name
- 37:32 Kyle: It’s really tough building a brand around your name. For all purposes, even though mine has Icon Design in it, it’s still building a brand around my name. If a client shows up to my site or someone who hasn’t heard of me, they see my name first and foremost. If that’s not a name they trust or if they’re not looking for an individual, they might just dismiss it quickly. That’s a struggle for you, Cory, for building the Cory Miller name. The problem is that you have to focus your brand. You can’t have all these things going on.
When you build your brand on your personal name, anything you do goes into the perception of your brand.
- 38:29 It’s not just, “I’m Bill Gates who owns Microsoft.” People can differentiate that. They can say, “Microsoft does this. Bill Gates does these things on the side.” You can’t do that when you’re building your personal name as a brand. You have to live and breathe whatever it is that you’re trying to become, and you have to be prolific at that thing. I’ll use the example of Gary Vaynerchuck. He’s a business personality. He’s all about business. He always talks about business. I couldn’t associate him with anything else, except maybe football. Occasionally, he’s about football.
- 39:47 You wouldn’t really know that about him unless you had invested some time into watching his content or listening to him. The main things that are projected on his site, his YouTube, Facebook, or whatever, are all about business. That’s somebody who has built their name associating themselves with something consistently. The same could be said for any name that you instantly think of. Steve Jobs is synonymous with Apple, technology, and the growth of these premium electronic products. He lived and breathed that. He worked in that business so hard that nobody could ignore him as a face of technology.
- 40:49 That’s the tough part. I’m not saying that you’re unsure, but for anyone wanting to build their own personal name, if you’re unsure that you’re going in the right direction, you need to heavily evaluate it. If you want to build your own name, it’s going to take a complete investment of everything you’re able to put into it.
- 41:15 Cory: That’s the other difficult part. If I’m being totally honest, everything that I’m projecting is not my primary passion. Isn’t that crazy? Everything that I do with branding is not my primary passion. It’s a passion of mine. I am hugely passionate about helping new and growing brands to do it right and to build connection with other people. If I could narrow down my entire passion of everything that I am, it’s that I want to see human beings connecting with other human beings in a way that brings about positive change to the world. That’s what I want to see. Everything I’m doing publicly, all my tweets on Twitter, isn’t my primary passion. Branding is not my primary passion.
- 42:33 This is really hard for me. There’s a lot I can’t talk about with my primary passion, just for the security of these kids. I can’t talk about things like the organization that we’re working with, and I’m not even sure that I want to be known as the cross-cultural kid psychiatrist dude. I’m not sure that’s what I want to be known for. It’s so tough. I’m incredibly passionate about branding, and I want to help people. I can help people, and it’s a way to generate income, which is supporting my primary passion.
All of the work I do with my day job is so I can support my primary passion.
- 43:20 Everything with branding, with consultations, if I make a course, and doing a vlog, all of that is in support of building up revenue streams so I can support the primary passion—but that’s everything that I’m putting forth. That’s my whole online persona. It has purpose. It has meaning. I don’t know what to do with all of that.
- 43:56 Kyle: I think I see where you’re coming from. Branding has more opportunity. It’s tangible. People want to build their brands. That’s why people are listening to this podcast right now. You want to build your brand, you want to have a good brand, and I think a lot of people listen to this show because they want to build an authentic, real brand, and you do a very good job of projecting that. You have to discover what your driving factor is with branding. What I’m hearing from you, Cory, is that brands fuel companies. A brand doesn’t have a whole lot of value if there isn’t a successful company behind it.
- 44:52 Success could look like changing things for better causes. It could look like income streams. There are so many things that success could look like—it’s not strictly monetary. Brands, essentially, make the world go round. When you do this work you’re going to do in Ireland, there are brands behind that, whether they’re non-profit or not. There are organizations that you’re working for that have a brand behind them, people working under them, and a system going on. They have to project certain things in order to be seen as helpful, relevant, and the only option for this endeavor. There are other options. There are other people anyone could choose from in any specific category.
- 46:12 In your case, Cory, if you’re going to be successful helping these kids that you’re going to help, there has to be branding behind it and guidelines for people to follow that makes it comfortable for people to even approach you, to come under that organization and speak with you, get to know someone, or be interested in exploring whatever it is. Branding goes really deep. A lot of people associate it with these big brands that make trillions of dollars a year, but branding goes into anything that you do. We talk about personas a lot on this podcast, of a brand being a person, a living entity that creates a sense of purpose and perception toward people. We all do that.
- 47:16 Even as individuals, we have a certain way that people think about us. We create someone’s perceptions of us. Even if we’re not that thing, we create that by how we act, what we say, and even what we wear and what we look like. It’s true. People will perceive you a certain way based on how you carry yourself in all aspects. That’s how a brand is. From what I’m hearing from you, your idea of branding is helping people change things for the greater good by communicating and being perceived in the correct way.
- 48:10 Cory: It’s not like I want to end doing branding. It’s not that I can’t use all of the things I’ve learned in marketing, sales, communication, and developing a strong brand toward my other passions. The question and the struggle is, what is my name associated with? With whom is it associated? For a certain section of people on the planet, my name is associated with something other than branding. With a large chunk of people, especially with my online presence, my name is associated with branding and building brands. Maybe it’s not a tug and a pull. Maybe I need to be honest with myself and see it as a means to an end.
Start With Your Goals
- 49:13 In a way, going back to Kyle Adams Icon Design, in order to sustain your primary passion, you got a day job for the time being so you could make an income and support your business. Right now, with consulting, wanting to do speaking, all of it is a means. It’s not an end. It’s not like I want to be the Grant Cardone of branding. That’s not necessarily the goal anymore. I could do that, but ultimately, it’s a means to accomplish this other thing. Kyle and I talk about goals all the time. We ask, “What is the goal of your company? What is the goal of your brand? What is the goal of the thing that you’re doing?” You have to start there.
I’m not projecting my goal—I’m projecting the means to accomplishing my goal.
- 50:29 Kyle: It sounds like there needs to be a reevaluation of what you’re projecting. If I’m understanding you right, you’re projecting what you think people want to hear.
- 50:52 Cory: I’m projecting myself in a way that will be the most lucrative to accomplish my main goal.
- 51:14 Kyle: Knowing you as a friend and an individual, I see you in this light. When I think of you, I think of People Over Profit. It’s an excellent book. Cory has read it. Essentially, it’s about how you have to make money to survive, which applies to anybody or any company in the world, but there are also these people who are interested in what you’re doing, and you have to take care of them. That’s kind of a summary of the book. That’s how I perceive Cory Miller. You want people to have a really good experience and you want people to be taken care of. You want people to have a better life. You’re sick of companies that are only tied up in their finances and don’t take care of their people. That’s my perception of you, but I’m not sure that you’ve fully embraced that.
- 52:49 Cory: Somebody I appreciate for how he has handled his personal brand is Richard Branson of Virgin. He has positioned himself not just as a business man, not just saying, “Hey, I own the company that owns the airline that has this and that.” Throughout building those things, he’s positioned himself now as someone who oversees a lot of things but has more interest in the state of the world. He’s very invested in sharing about equality and world issues like climate change and environmentalism.
- 53:44 Last week, the UK voted to leave the EU. That’s a gigantic conversation that doesn’t fit within the scope of this episode. Richard Branson’s Twitter feed was sharing about his perspective on that. He wrote blog posts and tweeted about it, but it didn’t feel weird to me. I wasn’t like, “Wait, Richard Branson, why are you talking about this stuff?” I got it. Maybe this is me needing to reevaluate my goals, but maybe my goal should be that the things I project cover these other things. It’s not just, “Cory Miller is the branding guy,” but, like you were saying, that Cory Miller is the guy who is passionate about the care of people, who also happens to have a podcast about branding or a course about building a brand.
- 54:52 I guess I hadn’t really taken it out to that high of a level. For the next 20 years, Cory’s going to be doing this work with intercultural kids, and he’s also going to be doing this podcast or writing this book, but they fall under this greater category that is the mission.
I need to sort out what my mission is, because the brand develops out of that.
- 55:19 Brand is perception, how people see you. It’s not something I can force on other people. I need to reevaluate. I had this a while ago, but it has shifted a little bit. I think I’m doing a poor job of articulating it. I’m sorting out what that greater goal is, because I think I’ve separated it for so long. My work in Europe has been separate from the day job and the stuff that I’m projecting. Maybe it doesn’t need to be that way anymore. My “why” was, “I want to do this thing in Europe, so to in order to accomplish the mission, I need to do these other things.”
- 56:04 Whereas, if it’s a larger span sort of thing, then everything can fall under that. The vlog can fall under that. I don’t know if my music can fall under that; it’s just something I enjoy doing. The podcast can fall under that. Speaking can fall under that. Maybe I need to do a reevaluation and sort that out. I’m at a comfortable place with how I’m perceived, but I need to work on it a little bit.
Build Your Brand Around Your Passions
- 56:32 Kyle: This is an important lesson for anyone who is a solopreneur at this point. They’re the single person in their business, growing a brand. They’re growing that brand because they’re passionate about something, and we see a lot of those people in the Community. We see people there all the time that are building their own brand, bootstrapping it and just going for it. One of the questions people ask a lot when they’re building a brand is, “How do I find that differentiating factor? How do I become unique in the market that I’m going for? How do I keep people interested in such-and-such?”
- 57:25 I think you have to take a step back. I’ll use myself as an example here. My overarching passion is helping people to achieve goals and project what they need to project in order to have a successful outcome. What I enjoy doing the most is icon design. I’m passionate about making icons. As I mentioned earlier in this episode, I saw how undervalued they are, how little effort goes into them, and how misunderstood the topic is. I haven’t lost myself. I haven’t said, “I’m going to be an icon designer. Let me go look at all these other icon designers, see what they’re doing, and do that.”
- 58:21 No. I have a passion for the physical products, for having things that people can hold, feel, and wear. That’s not something that icon designers are doing. That’s not something that digital product makers are doing. You’re not going to go to an app development company and get a t-shirt. They’re not producing t-shirts. That’s something that’s important to me.
Take the things that are central to you and what you want to see happen in the world and compress those passions into the brand that you’re building.
- 59:07 Figure out how they can fit. Too many people see, “I do this, this, this, and this. That’s who I am. Now you’ve convinced me to find a singular focus, so I need to get rid of all these things and focus on one.” That’s not true. In my past, I was a photographer. I’m still taking photos. I took photos for my physical products. All of the product shots in my store are from me. I took the photos for that, so I’m still doing photography. I’m a digital designer making physical goods. I fit that in. It works, and it’s been well-received. People like it. It’s not what everyone else is doing, but it’s something that fits into what I’m passionate about.
- 1:00:02 You’ve got to find a way to make those things fit. Find creative ways to make all the things you’re interested in fit into your overarching passion. That’s the big secret to being seen as something different, not like everyone else. Stop caring about what everyone else is doing and do what makes sense to you for your brand, and people will follow along with that and see you as something different.
- 1:00:58 Having a purpose is huge. I’ve gone through that. I’ve gone through needing to sort through things. I think everybody does at some level while they build their brand. You can’t just sit down one day, write a bunch of stuff down on a piece of paper, and say, “This is my brand. Let’s go for it.” Things change. Your understanding of things changes. Your understanding of who your audience is changes. Your decisions change. Once you get into this thing, you may realize, “Wow, that was a selfish decision,” a short-term decision, or whatever, and you change your direction. We all have to have that reevaluation. I’ve had that in recent months for sure. It’s made my brand stronger rather than weakening it by shifting things.
- 1:02:59 Kyle: It’s tough as someone who manages a brand or owns a company. You have to be a leader. You have to direct people a certain way, and you have to have confidence in what you’re doing. Oftentimes, people don’t see these kinds of conversations, even though they happen all the time, where you’re trying to figure out something new or struggling through a change you need to make. Your audience on the other end just sees things happening and feels like you’re going in a strong direction. That’s really important.
You don’t want people to feel like they don’t know what’s happening in your brand or they’ll feel insecure.
- 1:03:44 They don’t need to experience those kinds of things, but it’s helpful for people to hear that. In a context like this, it’s great for people to hear. It doesn’t create uncertainty, but it brings it to a different level of realizing that everyone goes through these struggles.