In Episode 73, we are talking about branding your first online product. Branding has been around a long time, and has changed considerably over the years. And yet a lot of the earlier basics of branding still apply.
To help us understand more about how to brand that first product, we have invited Kim Doyal, who specializes in product development and online marketing at theWPChick.com. She shares with us how she has helped others bring their brand to the forefront, as well as her own lessons learned while branding her first app.
We chatted about:
- How Kim defines branding and what it means today
- Figuring out whether to brand a new product under your existing brand or a separate brand
- The common challenges in branding a product
- An example of what she felt was a perfect launch for a first product— and why it was successful
- How going back to the fundamentals can help you with branding your product
Thanks to Our Podcast Sponsor: Bluehost
Bob Dunn: Hey everyone and welcome back to the WP e-Commerce Show. Bob Dunn here, also known as BobWP on the web. Today we are talking about branding, particularly around products you are planning to sell. Over the years, the concept and meaning of branding have taken a few twists and turns. To help us understand today’s world of branding, I’ve asked my friend Kim Doyal to join us. Hey, Kim. Thanks for taking the time to be on our show today.
Kim Doyal: Thanks for having me, Bob. I am happy to be here.
Bob: So, Kim, we have a lot to cover today. I’m not sure how long I’ve known you, but it seems like forever. Would you tell us a bit about what you’re doing these days?
Meet Kim Doyal, Online Marketer and Podcaster
Kim: I am proud to say I am out of the client service space. You know, I got my feet wet and really dug into WordPress. But my focus these days is really two things. Content marketing is one; I love creating content, leveraging it for traffic and all that good stuff. So I’ve gotten a little obsessed with content marketing.
The other thing is, I’ve partnered with someone to develop a web app called Lead Surveys. We’re a couple months out from getting that open and, you know, I love my tools and stuff. And I have always come from this place. It needs to be simple. I shouldn’t have to hire somebody to manage a tool that I’m using for my business. But yeah, it’s it’s all about marketing and content for me now. Creating that and growing an audience. Like I said, I’m kind of out of the service space.
Bob: Yeah. Branding is interesting because it’s so much content now and there’s so much branding around that.
I’m going to pick your brain, what you’re doing, and all of your experience you’ve had with branding. You’ve been involved with it throughout your career or at least your online career.
So let’s start with this. Talking about branding in general, I know many moons ago when I was first in the space and doing print branding, it was, “Hey, I want a logo.”
What about the client who knows she needs branding but doesn’t really understand it?
At the time, it was just like make sure all your print materials match your logo colors and, believe it or not, that was branding for businesses. And then the web grew, other factors came into play and now it’s huge and covers so many aspects. So my challenge to you is how do you describe branding when a client comes to you and says, “I know I need branding, but, you know, what exactly the heck is it?”
Kim: Yeah. I still do some coaching, so I am going to approach it from that perspective. I’m going to recommend a book that really shifted my perception on branding. It’s called “Hello, My Name Is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names that Stick,” by Alexandra Watkins. Super quick read and a lot of work to do in it. But it’s like you said, a lot of people will start from that logos and color space and gone are those days. This stuff matters. But you’ve got to start with the end in mind and one is the story that your business tells: what’s the problem you’re solving?
And so I let people know it’s pretty much their voice online. Your brand is is you and that’s how you represent what you’re doing. And the problems you are solving for your clients.
Bob: Now when I approach you on this and branding being such a huge broad subject, I have some questions on the challenges around that, whether it’s a physical or virtual product.
Should I launch my first product under my current brand or as a separate brand?
Let me ask you. Let’s say I’m an individual. There’s a brand around content in my specific field. Everybody knows what I do: all this content. I’m going to launch my first product. What should I do? Bring it under my current brand or launch it as a totally separate brand? It’s a conversation people have with themselves. You know, what should I do here?
Kim: You can not get too specific with a hypothetical situation, but it really depends on if it complements your other stuff. As an example, I’m moving into this web app space. Does it make sense to leverage the brand I’ve already built? So first of all, you have to define: does this complement what I’m doing or does this not have any value to my current audience? That’s how I would start. If it supports what you’re doing and is completely in alignment, then absolutely. But I think it needs to complement your current brand. If it does, I would totally leverage that. There’s a lot of doing this with WordPress.
I would love your two cents on this but there is this perception of WordPress that things should be free. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year diving into the psychology of it. I’m not sure if you’re on my list anymore but I do this daily e-mail and really connecting through the words. When it comes to the name, you have to think “clear is always better than clever” but if you can speak to someone’s pain point, you’re going to go a lot further with it.
To get back to your question, if you can use the current brand you’ve already created to leverage it and it’s not, you know, something totally separate, then I would use what you’ve created to support the other one. Another question is, are you going to be selling it off that site or are you selling it somewhere else? It’s kind of hard to tackle that question without knowing more details, but you know what I mean.
Bob: Yeah. I think it’s exactly that. It depends on the product. If it’s something totally different, will people be saying, Why is Bob suddenly selling cat leashes on this site?” That’s an extreme but it is interesting that when you talked about WordPress, the free part of it it had me thinking about if your brand is around working with very beginner WordPress people, a lot of those people are just diving into it and taking advantage of everything that’s free. Actually, this is something that would make a great podcast. If I were starting to do certain things and then I began to ask for money, is that free audience going to pay for it? That throws another wrench into the thing. Will they find value in it or say, “Hey, you know, I’m just starting in WordPress and it was free and now it’s not going to be free?”
Is knowing your audience crucial when moving from a free product or service to a paid one?
Kim: Well yeah. I’ve gone backwards in ways, back to all of these old direct response marketing principles. I’m reading books that were written in the 60s about advertising. So of course it comes back to who is your audience. I built a list of freebie seekers for the first few years. And still to this day it blows my mind that somebody will have an issue with paying. Quick example is Beaver Builder, they just came out with Beaver Themes and they are pricing it at $147. And there was uproar over that. For a yearly license, you know, where with marketing products, marketers won’t blink an eye spending $300 a month on a product when they can measure the ROI on that, right? There’s a different perception and a lot of it comes down to to knowing your audience. So, depending on where and what you’re doing with e-Commerce, you have to define who your customer is, right? And make sure that who you’re targeting has money to spend.
What challenges do many people face when launching their first product?
Bob: Now let’s jump into some of the challenges around branding your first product. Can you just give us a couple of the big ones off the top of your head that you’ve experienced over and over when you’ve helped people to brand their first product?
Kim: Yeah. The first thing I would say is you need to know it’s not about you, it’s about the customer. It’s very easy to get hung up on an idea or a name and some things are a winner right out of the park. But you have to step back and that’s why I recommend that book because she has you go through exercises. When it comes to branding,the voice and the name of the brand have to be defined before you even get into colors and logos. You have to know how you want your customers to feel and that’s a direct parallel to the content, right?
Ask any web developer. Sometimes it’s like hell to get content from clients. It’s the same thing. People don’t look at that as really doing the work. But you know, in going through that book, I would drop 10 words down that I would associate, say with this web app, so these are 10 simple words, you know? Then I would dive in and do research on each one of those words. And so you have to take the time to do the work. And people often don’t connect the dots until you get in there and do it. You know, I’d never built a web app.
I mean I love looking at tools. But I started diving in, signing up for so much stuff and watching it, that I understand, that when you’re selling something in e-Commerce, you don’t want someone to have to dig around to really understand what your product is or what problem it solves. Again, that’s where the clear versus clever comes in. And the challenge that people get hung up on, is they know what they want but they’re not objective. You can go sideways with that. I definitely think it all has to tie together so I keep using the web app as leverage. At first we thought about using a mascot and that seemed a little bit dated. Well the more and more tools that I tested and walked through, onboarding and retention are so relevant in that space. So I was, like oh, there’s there’s sort of this association with this mascot and it’s part of the onboarding process. And I’m beginning to get the feel for the voice of this brand. And I think the biggest challenge is not doing the legwork first. To really spell out who you are and what you’re about. The voice of your brand. The problems you solve and who you solve them for. People think, I’ll get to that, but that really should be done before colors and logos.
Bob: Exactly. Good stuff.
Is there someone you followed in the launch of their first product who did a great job with the education and marketing?
I loved how you when you were approaching the app you were looking at other successful ones, which kind of leads into the next question. Like I said, since I’ve known you, you’ve tried a lot of tools. You continue to use them. Is there somebody that you really followed in the launch of their first product? It could be in the WordPress space, it could be something else, could be in the content arena, whatever. And they did such a great job. And can you tell us why you think it was so great?
Kim: Absolutely. It’s CoSchedule. When it first came out as an editorial calendar, I was one a solo writer you didn’t really need an editorial calendar but I played with it and whatnot. Then I realized its power as a built-in social sharing tool and it’s got a lot of features, right? So I started looking at it more and then I started paying attention to their content and in launching the app. My goal was to emulate the way they’ve done this because gone are the days of just having a tool. It’s like you have to have the documentation ,the content, the training, all of that. And so watching how they went from here’s an editorial calendar where they were blogging and I wasn’t totally paying attention to it. But once I got back into it and I started looking at how they’re doing weekly webinars or, you know, they’ve got massive content upgrades.
One of the things I watched recently was when they were doing a four-week content certification thing. And to sign up for it it was an opt-in form but then there was like two or three questions and then you’d already signed up with their email so then you just had to create a password for a free trial schedule. Their content is great. They have great content.
They automatically got you into CoSchedule to use the tool. And I thought this is brilliant because they had already built a ton of trust with me through their content marketing and through. They do like I said a lot of free training so to watch where they evolved from to where they are now has been amazing. Now on the flip side of that, because I do love the tool, It’s gotten pricey for the solo entrepreneur and I know a lot of people are not using it anymore. And I look at some of their content I’m like I really don’t need 39 ways to do something. You know it’s like it’s such epic content that it’s not digestible at a certain point. I feel like I need to block out a couple of hours to digest and implement a schedule post. So it’s great content but I’d rather see three posts with thirteen reasons to do this or that, right? But I like how they slowly build the brand and add features and every time they add features, you know they are providing the training. Like I said, massive content.
So I think a lot more companies are doing great content marketing around that because they’re connecting with their audiences better. And then they’ve got great documentation too. So I sort of looked at CoSchedule as the standard in terms of building an audience for content marketing to support an app.
Bob: I’m also a huge fan of CoSchedule.
I was thinking, OK, I’m a single blogger. You know, my wife and I work together on it. But I started dabbling in it and started doing more and more and I signed up for a free trial at first and I got hooked on it. And I agree, it’s not the cheapest service out there and everybody else is using them. But the fact that I could do it right in there on the post, I could create my social strategy, I could customize it, I mean, I take a lot of time doing all that stuff. I don’t just pump them out and share these same things over and over again. But now they’ve got me hooked where I can’t get out. I guess I can live with that. Every day I spend a massive amount of time just with that app and I don’t know if there would be anything to replace it. And there’s some stuff that I haven’t even had time to dive into yet. Like you said, they’ve come out with so many features. And when they come out with another one, it’s like, whoa. This is totally new. This is incredible. So, yeah.
And I agree with you. Their whole approach to training and keeping you updated. Even their support has been amazing with the few issues I’ve had. If there’s a little hiccup, they’re right on it, back and forth and and before I know it, OK, that’s working. So, yeah, they’re pretty amazing.
Kim: Yeah. It’s a great tool. It’s sort of a challenge in that space with a web app, where knowing your audience in terms of the brand because CoSchedule is doing a lot of things that are geared towards bigger companies. I actually messaged them, I said, you know, it would be great if you guys would segment your e-mails. And they’re like, oh well. I think they’re hoping that oh maybe you’re going to want these features coming up. But I don’t pay for it now because I have so many referrals, so to jump to $300, just to get a more in-depth analytics kind of bugs me, you know? I’s a brand and it’s like they’re obviously serving online content producers. But there are businesses that have massive staffs for writing and editorial calendars and then there is the solopreneur, so I think they as they grow, they could differentiate that a little better.
Want to add anything to your comments on launching that first product?
Bob: Right. I agree. I get certain emails and I think, wow, this is really cool. You know this might be something that I go look at but then I realize I have to bump up my level or my membership. OK, maybe it wasn’t quite as cool as I thought it was. OK. We talked about a few things. This is a huge topic we could talk about all day, like I mentioned at the beginning of the show. But is there anything we haven’t covered that you really want to leave our listeners with, as far as branding your first product?
Kim: Yeah I think at the end of the day it’s this: go back to the fundamentals. Last year, I was in awe of how a Facebook ad agency did his business because he really spent time on mastering his craft. And so I went back to all these fundamentals. And in e-Commerce, that’s shifting as well: the storytelling piece that’s involved with products and how you present them and communicating so I think if I could end this with anything, it would be to go back to some of these old school direct response marketing principles, understand the psychology of what makes people buy when it comes to the brand, what makes people loyal to certain brands and others. A quick side note. When I was doing some podcasting with Dunphy’s service a year and a half, two years ago, we came up with the name brand. I specifically researched higher-end brands; it was a high-ticket service offering. And so I looked at Audi, one of my favorite brands. And so you know I looked at the fonts they used and you start looking at the colors that incorporate across all these different brands and the styles. And so you don’t have to become a brand expert.
But even starting with that book you know would be great but really take the time to do the discovery piece before you just brand something because it’s a fun name.
Where can we find Kim Doyal on the web?
Bob: Well, this is good stuff. Like I said, it’s a huge topic but I think you’ve given us some good direction, especially for people thinking about that first product. That’s always a challenge. Now I know you have the app coming out and we’re all going to be on our edge of our seats to see what that’s all about. I know I’ve been looking. So where can people find you— your Web site, on social?
Bob: All right, well, thank you. I know you have a busy schedule. You’ve got to get back to getting ready for that big launch and all the other things you’re doing. So I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to be here.
Kim: Thanks so much for having me, Bob. It was great.