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The Clientside Podcast

Let's Get Visible with Sapna Pieroux

The Clientside Podcast

45 min Sapna Pieroux

Andrew Armitage talks to designer, author, speaker and mentor, Sapna Pieroux about her 6-step branding process that she explains in her new book, Let's Get Visible! The book has been a number 1 best-selling title in four Amazon categories and promises to help you gain brand clarity, stand out in your industry and supercharge your business growth.

In this episode we talk about Sapna's career that has included advertising across a range of media, including radio, print and events, before moving on to talk about her own VISION process that she works through with her clients. She explains how your own personal values need to be articulated through your brand, and why simply getting a new logo won't cut it, in an age where people don't have the time to think about trying to work out what you stand for.

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Andrew:
So welcome back to the Clientside podcast. I hope you're keeping well under these difficult circumstances; so much seems to have changed since our last episode, which was only a couple of weeks ago, but I do hope your family and friends are all well under adapting to this new way of life that has come about very quickly.

Andrew:
Now, I'm really excited to introduce today's guest. We're going be talking all about branding and how your brand can help you stand out and influence your business growth. As a digital agency we work with brand all the time, but it's not something that we offer as a core service. We don't pitch ourselves as graphic designers or logo designers and brand obviously goes so much more than just creating a logo, but we do feel this is a more specialist area and our involvement in brands tends to be making sure that the message and the visual styles are communicated consistently across digital platforms. So my guest today is Sapna Pieroux. She is a designer, author, speaker, mentor. Sapna is founder of brand consultancy Innervisions ID. And she's recently had her book published, which is called Let's Get Visible, and that was number one best selling title in four categories and only last week won an award at the Business Book Awards. Sapna is also a brand mentor for the national program called Shifts to Success, which helps police officers and NHS professionals transition into entrepreneurship. And she's also a business mentor for Westmont Enterprise Hub at the University of West London. After all of that, she's married to Andy and is mum to karate crazy boys Luc and Leon. So, Sapna, welcome to the show and thank you for joining us.

Sapna:
Thank you very much for having me, Andrew. How you doing?

Andrew:
Yeah, really good, thank you. So Sapna, just give our listeners a bit of background, obviously there's plenty in that introduction, but just give a little background in terms of how you got into branding and how you got started.

Sapna:
That's quite an interesting story, actually. I think it's one of those things that you call an accidental business. It was the summation of 25 years of experience that kind of let me here. But I started off doing a graphic design degree, but I very quickly realised that that degree wasn't preparing me for the world of business, and I kind of always knew that I wanted to help businesses so I did a post grad in marketing as well and I thought, well, if I can bridge that gap and actually see how design fits as part of an overall marketing mix, then that would be a much stronger proposition and give me somewhat of a USP if I could if I could speak to business owners in business language, meet them where they were. So so that's what I did, but then I fell into marketing. So I've been I've worked in marketing, in media. I was working for a radio group called Metro Radio Group, which then became eMAP, which has now become Bauer. You know, I've worked for design agencies. I've worked in radio. I came down to London after seven years in radio where I worked in marketing and then went to sales side and was doing sponsorship and promotions, helping brands bring their brands to life on air, sort of with sponsored programming and competitions. You know, when you hear 'all next week we're giving you the chance win'; those things. I wasn't the voiceover, but I was coming up with the campaign ideas and working with brands and making that come alive. So then I came down to London and was bored of radio by then, I'd done seven years in it, and moved across to magazines and eMap cross- media.

Sapna:
So then I was working with national brands, the likes of Toyota, Sony Ericsson or Rimmel and helping them bring their brands to life across media campaigns, content driven campaigns. So, for example, when Toyota Aygo launched, I worked on that campaign and helped them bring it to life in in various brand platforms like More magazine, FHM, Grazia on the online platforms in the magazine, various different events. So it was kind of, you know, across radio, across TV, online, magazines and events. So that's kind of what what I was doing, and I got poached by The Telegraph and did the same there, then I moved into digital advertising because the bottom was falling out of press and moved into mobile advertising. So I've worked across seven different media platforms and all helping brands amplify the message and quite often working with designers to make that happen because I was more in the sales role and the project management side, I was then working with web developers and other designers briefing out, you know, kind of we need this advertorial doing or this microsite building. And so I've basically experienced the trials and tribulations and the challenges of being not only the designer and when I worked at design agencies, but also being, you know, the marketeer, if you like, or the client briefing out designers. So that kind of gave me what I thought was fairly unique position because I realised what the frustrations were on both sides.

Andrew:
Yeah, I was going say you've you've seen it from all sorts of different angles there, haven't you? And particularly the audio must be really interesting because obviously people don't see something that they're really got there ears to get that brand message.

Sapna:
Yes. And I always thought that's actually giving me a real advantage now because you need to get your brand message across in 30 seconds or less in a radio ad and inspire people to take action, so it really did hone my copy-writing skills. And if you can if you can get your brand, you know, kind of message over in that short length of time, that's helped massively now when we're looking at things like websites and brochures and, you know, any kind of comms. So that's what I did, I worked in media until about 2010 and then with child Luc and then went back to being a freelance media consultant. Didn't know what that was going to mean. Just put it on LinkedIn; messaged a few of my previous bosses and then somebody went, actually, we do need you; one of my bosses who was at Trinity Mirror Group at the time. So I went in there was working three days a week, whilst juggling a small baby. And then after my second baby, two and a half years later, I got post-natal depression. So that's when everything kind of stopped for a while for me, I suddenly felt very incapable; was really rocking, loving working in media, rocking motherhood first time around and thinking, this is great. You know I can work three days a week and I've got baby and it's great, and then to actually, I don't know how anybody gets out of a house. I couldn't even get out of a house before 11 o'clock. You know, that felt like an achievement. So the thought of having a career on top of two children was unimaginable. So at that point my husband was actually being made redundant from Xerox at the time. It was a great time if our lives and he'd been working there 16 years. So he took the redundancy and set up his own company Walpole Partnership. Obviously, he used my former talents, you know, do his corporate identity, his branding, his brochure, website. And I would say that if he had gone anywhere else would have been divorced by now.

Andrew:
That would have been awkward.

Sapna:
It would've been a bit awkward, wouldn't it? But yeah, he you know, he he started KPI Accelerator course, which is, you know, the connection, how we've met Andrew isn't it? So he started KPI. I think he was like KPI 16 or something and I think that now on KPI cohort 27 or 28.

Andrew:
Yeah, I think it's 27. I was twenty six which which went through last year.

Sapna:
I was 25, so yeah just before you. His brochure got seen at a Dent day. Andrew Priestley who actually wrote the forward for my book, Andrew Priestly held it up and didn't know me from Adam but held the brochure up and said, this guys is the gold standard. This is what we should be aiming for.

Andrew:
Right. What an endorsement that is.

Sapna:
Well, yeah, he didn't I didn't know who'd done it. He just said, Andy, you know, can you get up and tell us how you achieve this result? So Andy got up and talked about, you know, the process he'd gone through to come up with this brochure and a few hands went up at the end was like, how did you make it look so good? And he and he shrugged his shoulders and he went well, my wife's a graphic designer. I was like, right, ok! So he called me at the break and he just went, how much would it cost you to do X, Y and Z? Because, like, I've got loads of people here who would work with you.

Andrew:
Right.

Sapna:
And I was like, I don't know, because I you know, I haven't been working...

Andrew:
You hadn't seen it as a business at that point, really.

Sapna:
Well I hadn't, I hadn't actually been a freelance designer at any stage of my career. I'd worked at design agencies and I'd worked with designers. But I mean, I couldn't just come up with price list there and then, so and he came home anyway with seven business cards that day of various KPI's who wanted to do business with me; entrepreneurs who'd never met me, but wanted to work with me. So that was that was the beginning really of my business a nd at the time, weirdly, I'd actually been doing another degree in interior design.

Sapna:
I thought that that was gonna be my new career, I was reinventing myself. What should do you do when you've got a toddler, a baby and post-natal depression? I know, I'll start a degree, and

Andrew:
Just a small challenge!

Sapna:
You know, I was like yeah I'll just do one of these 12-week courses. So I think if you're gonna do something, do it properly. So, yeah, took on a three year degree and I was in the final stages of this degree. So I went back to all the business owners and said, you know, thank you for your interest in working with me, however, I'm on a deadline right now, I'm finishing my degree in six weeks time and I'm gunning for 1st, so if you don't mind waiting, I'll be available in 6 weeks time. Three of them said yes, four of them said no. They went elsewhere and that was fine. I started my business with 3 people from the KPI community, which is not a bad way to start a business.

Andrew:
No.

Sapna:
And from that, I was just word of mouth. That was 4 years ago, just over 4 years ago. A couple of years ago decided to do KPI myself because Daniel Priestley, who owns KPI kept saying to me, you should be doing KPI.

Andrew:
And I suppose we should add KPI is Key Person of Influence, which is a business accelerator, which is run by Dent Global. Daniel Priestley, author himself of several books, Oversubscribed, Key Person of Influence and 24 assets, which are quite popular, shall we say, in the in the small business community.

Andrew:
So fantastic stuff. Tell us a little bit about the book then, Sapna, because I really enjoyed the book. I thought it is absolutely fantastic. It came out with an award the other week, as we said, in Startup Inspiration. What were the main things that you'd observed preparing brochures and looking at branding and things like that that you felt you could get across in the book?

Sapna:
Well, it came out of the fact...so basically when I started my accidental business, I was then helping entrepreneurs amplify their brand message and get it out there, and you know, that's basically what I've been doing all my career in various forms, and especially having worked in radio, you know, you kind of realise brand is not about just the visual for the entrepreneur that thinks that brand is just a logo. You know, I was working with brands on radio all the time and there's nothing visual about that at all, but we're still getting their brand message across and still getting them to connect with listeners. So I think my multi-platform kind of media life kind of realised that brand operates on many, many levels. And all of that came together when I was helping these KPI's put their brochures together, and quite often they come to me and go, I need to brochure (because that's another task on the course, isn't you've got to create a brochure), and then I'd look at the stuff that I had or I'd say do you have any brand guidelines?

Sapna:
And they'd go no. Here's the logo, I've had my branding done, here's logo. So I was like no colours; no colour palette. No guidance on imagery. You're asking me basically to build you a house without having built the foundations.

Andrew:
I love that analogy. Yeah, it's it's something we've come across quite a lot with websites, of course. But yeah, it's a great analogy.

Sapna:
Yeah. So you're being asked to act to build this beautiful house, but nobody is giving you a blueprint or dug your foundations. So this was kind of an ongoing thing and so I would be saying, no, you don't need to brochure right now, what you need is a rebrand and you need to actually do a bit more work on this because a logo ain't going to cut it, and quite often they'd give me the logo and be like, I don't really like my logo, and I was like how can I create a brochure that you're going to love if you're giving me something you don't even like.

Andrew:
Yeah.

Sapna:
So. You know, that was an ongoing conversation. And then when I was working with them, Alex Seery, who owns the company, Shifts to Success that we talked about earlier (although by the way, quite a lot of the nurses and the police officers considering going back to the beat, back to the hospitals at the moment because of the need), but you know I was talking to him about it and he had to he was completely new. He was doing KPI at the time, he was it was kind of new to a lot of these questions about branding and about brand. And I always said to him, he's was like one of my best pupils because he just took everything on board. He's a massive learner and just absorbs everything like a sponge. And he was just asking loads of questions, and I found myself, having these really lengthy conversations with him about brand and I just thought, there are other people that need to know this stuff as well, so I did write the book with Alex in mind. I wrote the book with him in mind; what's was every question that you could possibly want to know about brand? And I went on to a website called (which he actually recommended, actually, and he recommended to his cohorts) called Answer the Public. And if you want to, it's even great for if you want to create content for your own business, type in your subject matter, whatever your expertise is, and it gives you all the questions that people are asking online about that topic. So I did that for the word branding and I did it for the word design. So my book actually answers all the questions that were being asked at that time, which is I think, why it's ended up being quite a thorough guide, because you're just going through that and making sure that any question that was being asked was being answered in this book. So, so yeah, and the book now promises to give entrepreneurs, business owners, even people that are brand guardians, people who work in marketing have said that they found it really useful and the promises to get brand clarity, stand out new industry and supercharge business growth.

Andrew:
Yeah. And which I think absolutely does. And although it might have come out with the award in Startup Inspiration, I think it absolutely applies to anybody working in brand at any level, whether you're in marketing and perhaps understand some of these things or even if you're running a business at any level. What I particularly liked about it is you've broken your process down into a series of stages, haven't you? You've called it vision. So just tell us a little bit about your vision process, and if I was going through a branding project with you, what what sort of thing I might expect.

Sapna:
Our 6-step process, it’s quite funny actually, because just as a little aside story, my dad was an eye surgeon and I didn't realise until a friend of mine read the introductions in my book and said, isn't it funny that your Dad was an eye surgeon giving people the gift of sight and then you're helping people get more visible? And I just went, whoa!

Andrew:
How lovely.

Sapna:
And my method is actually in the shape of an eye, it’s got six lashes VISION. So the first part, I mean I'd say the first half of the process is actually nothing to do with design. So I encourage the whole process is a collaborative process. It's been designed to be a collaborative process between business owner and designer, because the main problem that I found was that the communication basically business owners speak a different language to designers. When I was working in agencies, designers would call clients the suits.

Andrew:
Right.

Andrew:
There's kind of very the other person, the other party.

Andrew:
Very much us and them.

Sapna:
Yes. Yes. And I never really felt that way. I just kind of thought, well, I think i always had a bit more of a business head on my shoulders anyway. So this is the whole point to try and encourage business owners and in this book to understand what is, you know, kind of goes behind the brand. So the first stage is visualise and I ask brand owners, and this is a nice little exercise that any of your listeners can do Andrew. If you're thinking about rebranding or you need to kind of work on your brand, and I think the quote that really resonated with me at the moment is Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, famously said that your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room.

Andrew:
Yeah, it's a great way of thinking of brand, isn't it, because it's so much more than just the visual aspect, as you said earlier.

Sapna:
So right now, nobody's in the room, apart from their own room! Nobody is actually going out there meeting customer face to face. So the big question for me right now that we're addressing is like, well, how do people show up? And if they're showing up online, what is that brand saying about them now that they're not in the room? So the visualise the vision process starts off with visualise, which is your 5 aspirational brands. So ask people to think about their FABS and its five brands, that when you look at them, you go, wow, they are really killing it. They're nailing it. When I grow up, when I launch my brand, when I rebrand...

Andrew:
I want to be one of them.

Andrew:
I want to be like them. Yeah. So it's a really interesting exercise to do because I have one one client and she said, oh my God, this like therapy because she just got time to actually sit and dream and actually talk things. Well how do I want my brand to be thought of. And people don't really take that time to do it and hopefully people have now got time to reflect now they’re reinventing.

Andrew:
Yeah. Because people don't really touch their own brand do they. They don't come across those touchpoints that we do if we’re online shopping let’s say, or if we open an email newsletter, or we get an order confirmation through, or even when a box arrives through the post. We don’t do that with our own businesses do we?

Sapna:
No. So actually when they start saying things like, one of our FABS was John Lewis, for example. Yes, not very trendy. You know we’re a design agency maybe we should have gone for something cooler, or a brand consultancy I should say. But no, John Lewis is a safe pair of hands. It's trusted. The customer experience is great. Customer loyalty is brilliant. Great word of mouth. They know their stuff. There's all this stuff that starts pouring out, and it's like, why are you loyal to brands and why do you keep going back to that brand? Why do you recommend that brand? And then can we build some of that into your own brand? So that's that's the first part of the visualise part, and then we look at your vision, which is where you are now what you want to go next 3-5 years. I would say 3 to 5 years because any branding that you get done only think about it in terms of 3 to 5 years, not your forever brand because your business will change. The market will change.

Andrew:
And how it has!

Sapna:
Yes.

Sapna:
You know, and so your branding should be a little bit like the Forth bridge in that it is kind of being tweaked as you develop but certainly by 3 to 5 years. You should look at it and go, is this still serving you? And it doesn't have to be a complete rebrand. It can just be a brand refresh.

Sapna:
That's how Coca-Cola...

Andrew:
Yeah, I was gonna say the Coca-Cola example really stood out in my mind from your book. How they've put some different styles on the cans but fundamentally, the logo has never changed in as many years as I can remember.

Sapna:
It's got it's got tweaked along the way but they‘re subtle subtle changes. But actually it's more about repositioning that brand for the new market and how the packaging has changed to make people more likely to try the low sugar versions because they’ve brought all their packaging in line now, whereas what they used to be very different discrete colours. So all brands do that. And so you should only be thinking three to five years. You know, when you get re-brand done and then the next part of the visualise process is your customer vision, because believe it or not, quite a lot of entrepreneurs don't consider the customer vision when they are getting branded. And they sort of think about, well, I like this colour or I like that typeface, and that will do. But it might not be appropriate for your target market.

Sapna:
So it's who they are, what their problems are, and what's the journey, what's the transformation that you're going to bring to their lives? So that's the first part of The vision process. Visualise. Then we look at inner brand, it’s the non-visual part, it’s what I call the inner brand, because of the eye system with vision, it's the non visual part of your brand, which is your brand values, your brand personality and your brand voice. So the brand values are really important, especially at a time like this.

Andrew:
I was going to say that it's now crucial to be able to wear your heart, your sleeve, isn't it? You've got to be transparent. You've got to be clear in your communication. We've seen already a few examples of where brands have got a little bit wrong, shall we say, without having their names.

Sapna:
I have been unsubscribing last week with a ton of brands that were getting it wrong. I just thought, and I think everybody last week felt and I've put out a post on LinkedIn about it and it was like, you know, and I’ve been quiet on LinkedIn and all my social platforms lately because I just thought there's so much noise around Covid this and Covid that and we can help and jump on here and do this online course. It was just so, and I know everybody was trying to help, and I know everybody is trying to help, but it is too much all at once while we were all trying to us as human beings in a trying to juggle our children. This new way of living, how are we going to get like milk and eggs and how are we gonna get that without getting Covid? And oh my God my gym’s shut and that's my respite from my kids. So there was an awful lot to deal with last week, and it just was an awful lot coming out. It's too much and too soon.

Andrew:
It was overwhelming in many ways, because you just didn't know whether you turn left or right or look in front of you.

Sapna:
Exactly. So it's how I chose to...I generally want to help people, but do you know what, if you can't do something that's helpful, you don't want to say just say nothing until you're ready. So I put this post out, and I said you know, apologies I've been quiet but I've just been a bit overwhelmed but I just wanted to say, you know, if anybody wants to get in touch, you know and just have a chat. You know, whether about brand will just to say how they're going, you know, I'm here and next week we'll be launching this course. But I mean, it was it was just about getting your inner brand, going back to inner brand, the values are really, really important because those brands that flouted, you know, my own personal set of values got deleted. There were people that were kind of being I felt quite opportunistic, say, and trying to sell me stuff off the back of it. And I know what the economy's got to keep going, but it just didn't sit right with my values. So values are really important and establishing your values, maybe looking back at your values and making sure that they're current and right for the mood right now is really important and values are vital as your company grows. Even if you're a solopreneur right now and I realise the value of writing down my values for myself because they were in my head. I operate all those values, but as your company scales and as I start bringing staff on, I needed to know that they staff were aligned to the same values.

Andrew:
And that's a key part of recruitment as well as that public facing side of business as well, isn't it?

Sapna:
Yeah. So. So the values end up informing how you do any part of your business. And sometimes it helps you decide whether you can take on a piece of business or not. Because if that person or that company doesn't align with your values and that makes the decision really easy. So we establish the brand values and then brand personality and brand voice are really how that's expressed and how we're going to you know, what what is the person? If your brand was somebodies friend giving them advice, what kind of a person would they be? What would they be their personality characteristics, you know, all they cool and professional or are they fun and sort of warm and friendly? So we kind of flesh it to give you then a way of, that will inform the imagery that you might use and the colours that you might use and the typeface you might use. We haven't even started designing yet.

Andrew:
No, no.

Sapna:
It does inform all of that when you later come to design. And then the brand voice is obviously the tone that you use, but it's also the vocabulary you know, do use these words and don't use those words. So we kind of work on that. And then the next type, the next day stand out, which I would say is when my favourite parts of the process, because that's the competitor analysis stuff and we start to look at your industry and identify industry norms and industry cliches that were always norms and cliches in every industry. And obviously, if you're following those, you're not going to stand out.

Andrew:
That's right.

Sapna:
For example, if I say organic products, you what comes to mind?

Andrew:
From visual point of view, probably the colour green.

Sapna:
Yeah.

Andrew:
And leaves. Green and leaves, probably come to mind with organic.

Sapna:
Yeah, and brown and probably, you know recycled...

Andrew:
Earthy colours. Yeah.

Sapna:
Earthy colours, browns, greens and as you say, green trees and leaves. So if as an organic range brand you wanted to stand out, perhaps don't go completely down that route, you don't want to be completely unrecognisable. But if you even just twist up one of those elements, there's 3 elements to building a brand which are type, colour and imagery, which are the 3 visual ways that you can represent your brand. And if you if you're doing that, then I'd say, sometimes just twist one of those up and do something different. So you still have a recognisable in your industry. Don't change all 3 otherwise people won't recognise you...

Andrew:
You're conforming with societal norms, I suppose to an extent, but it's it's sufficiently recognisable. But you don't want to just blend in, that's making the difference isn't it?

Sapna:
Doing something different and actually doing something different could just be getting your stuff designed properly because what is quite fun about the stand out and image stage is because you realise how bad so many other companies look, and it's quite reassuring for my clients when they see that there's a lot people in that in their space that actually haven't really invested in design, and so it's quite easy to look a lot better than their competition. So then image is the 4th stage, as I say, type, colour, imagery is when the design comes together, output is when we talk about things like brand guidelines and why they're important, i.e. consistency throughout all the collateral that you put out there, and we look at brochures and websites and how to apply your brand across all those different platforms.

Andrew:
And that helps to scale as well, doesn't it? Because it's not just about having copy of the logo for a business card and a few pieces here and there. But if you going to, if your business, is going to grow, which it should do off the back of doing a branding exercise like this, then inevitably you're going to have to have it scale. And that might mean that you're bringing new people in from time to time and you want them to at least have some framework to be able to work from don't you?

Sapna:
Absolutely. And the brand guidelines end up not just saving you time, but know money, mistakes; you can gift brand guidelines to a designer, you can give the brand guidelines to your PA or your VA, and with a little bit of coaching, which I'll talk about in a bit as well, they will be able to apply them consistently as well so that everybody that you've got on your team who are producing assets, the idea is that you go out looking coordinated across all platforms.

Andrew:
Thats key isn't it, being consistent across the board.

Sapna:
Yeah, because it gives a consistent message. People need consistency, god! We're living in an era right now, which is so much change, right. Politically unstable and the weather is going crazy, and now we've got Covid and you know, it was pretty crazy, it's been a pretty crazy few years, and I think what people are really craving right now from brands, are for brands to feel consistent and reliable and sure of themselves that that they're going in a certain direction and actually a solid brand strategy is going to give you that ballast as you're going through these stormy seas, whatever it is, it will just help you stay on, stay in the right direction and not say, oh, well, this week I'm going to go pink because I want to stand our a bit more, or next week, I'm going to try a different typeface. That gives a really muddled message out to the marketplace.

Andrew:
Yeah, yeah.

Sapna:
So, the last part of the VISION process is nurture, which is, just quickly was that I realised that having handed guidelines over to clients, they then managed to still go away, and if I can swear?

Andrew:
We can allow that.

Sapna:
If your children are in the house right now?

Andrew:
Turn the volume down.

Sapna:
But's its just like you can have the best recipe written by a Michelin star chef and you can still fuck it up.

Andrew:
Yep.

Sapna:
So you need a bit of guidance. So the nurture process is basically 3 months support plan that I build into my large branding packages where they can help, they have me on hand as their rolling out that brand and that includes training their other suppliers, so it might be training their web developers, or training their PA's,or training their marketing department or, do you know what I mean? Just sort of training themselves or solopreneurs, but helping them to get to grips and understand what these brand brand guidelines actually mean, because most people aren't trained designers that end up getting the brand guidelines in their hands.

Andrew:
And brand guidelines documents, they usually look fantastic pieces of work in their own right, but they're not just to sit on the desk are they? They've got to be used.

Sapna:
Exactly

Andrew:
And I think people need that leadership, that guidance. You know, we see that ourselves with with digital transformation as people try and move things to a more digitally focused business. But the digital transformation isn't suddenly going from a piece of paper to having digital content. There's far much more to that process and I imagine it's very similar with branding.

Sapna:
Absolutely. I mean, you know, I did see, you know, quite a lot brands that you hand over brand guidelines and the sort of like look at what they put live and you just go, what the...? What have you done? So I'd sort of call them up sometimes, message my clients privately and go, you know, errr, change that maybe? Put it that way? And I was like, love your brand guardian angel!

Andrew:
Yes.

Sapna:
Just with a little kiss at the end! I obviously have got a vested interest in my clients brands going out looking great as well.

Andrew:
Yes, of course.

Sapna:
For me and my company.

Andrew:
We've talked quite a bit about brand as far as companies, but personal brand is becoming ever more important as well, isn't it? It's not just necessarily branding your business, but there's an element of branding yourself, too, isn't there?

Sapna:
Yeah. I mean, I'll start by saying I'm not a personal brand consultant, but obviously a lot of entrepreneurs, will, who I work with, especially for those that their company's are the same name as their name, you know, kind of do, merge those things together. So there is a bit in the book where it outlines the difference between brand, personal brand and branding, as well. So your brand is obviously everything about business that we've just talked about in the VISION process and then your your personal brand is how you show up, whether in person or online, but I was talking to an entrepreneur about this earlier today actually, who's starting, who's booking a branding workshop with me, and I asked him what he normally wore because obviously we're all in our kind of home stuff at the moment, doing our Zoom calls in a t-shirt!

Andrew:
I've never seen so many bedrooms in all my life recently.

Sapna:
I was like, well, I don't know what you know, I don't know what you normally wear when you're going out to see clients, and he told me what he normally wears when he goes out to see clients. And it didn't align with the brand that he was looking at building. And actually, you know, he said he wore tweed jackets, and yet he was trying to, he was in a fun and modern industry. So I sort of said, well, there is a way that you do need to maybe think about that, and I have referred clients in the past to go and work with a personal brand consultant that actually worked with me. And I did her branding and she did my styling, and so that's why I always wear red for example, when I'm at kind of public events or I'm speaking...

Andrew:
Matches the book cover.

Sapna:
Yes, because it's my brand colour. My whole schtick is about getting entrepreneurs to stand out and red is one of those colours that helps you stand out.

Andrew:
Absolutely.

Sapna:
I realised the power of personal branding when I actually went to do an event and I wasn't wearing red. I was wearing black and white which I thought, well they're still my brand colours, you know, red, black and white, I just not feeling very red that day, and one of my friends had come to see me speak, and she went, 'you're not wearing red!' Really accusing tone. But you're not wearing red? And I was like, yeah, but I'm still in my brand colours, black and white. And she's like, no, no, no, I was going to wear my red dress and I thought, I'm not gonna wear my red dress because Sapna's wearing her red dress, she's presenting. And now, you're not wearing your red dress and I didn't realise it had started to stick in people's minds quite that much.

Andrew:
And then all of a sudden, when something changes, they feel something's different. They're not just that....

Sapna:
Here it was you know, I wasn't taking my own advice because I wasn't thinking about it from, I thought oh, it's a local talk there was probably about 30 - 40 people there, and it was only in Ealing, and it's you know, round the corner, and it's one of my friends that put it on, da da da whatever. But she'd asked me to do a book talk and there I was not wearing red, which is outrageous when you think about it! I've got another client, I'm sure she won't mind me mentioning her, Rebecca Godfrey.

Andrew:
Right, yes I know of Rebecca.

Sapna:
Now she owns yellow. She worked with me and she is yellow on everything. And her branding's yellow and she's even bought herself a yellow bookcase. So when she's doing her video interviews now, she's got this backdrop of a yellow bookcase, which subtly brands her videos without having a logo plastered all over it. And it's quite interesting, she was at an event in a dress that was black with like a ditsy floral print and somebody else taking the photograph, and I actually almost scrolled right past it because I didn't recognise it as hers.

Andrew:
All of these things do click when they work together, don't they? It all contributes to that bigger picture and the bigger impact that you're trying to achieve with brand.

Sapna:
So she's now really taken it, you know, she's not going to be wearing yellow anytime soon, she wears black, but she makes sure that there's a yellow element in there, as far as she can. So it's quite is interesting, because because I doing the same with red now, and it's just these visual cues, because you've only got seconds, especially on social media.

Andrew:
That's right. I was just going to say, because Rebecca posts a lot of videos in to Facebook and on LinkedIn, if you're scrolling down, you know, it's that recognition, the same colour palette that keeps coming up over and over again. And if you don't stop to listen to the content, at some point you're going to think, well, who is that in yellow? It's always coming up and you're then more inclined to stop and actually take note of it.

Sapna:
Yeah. Yeah. So yes, colour is really important, you know, obviously having a similar typeface is very important, just that consistency all the way through and it comes so much more than the logo where you can actually recognise Rebecca's stuff and the logo might not even be on there.

Andrew:
Right. So you were saying that people aren't in the room right now. So given the circumstances, what are the key things that the business should be thinking now around their brand? You know, we are where we are, now is potentially a time to look at refreshing that brand for when we come out of this crisis, but there's presumably things that businesses could be doing in the short term as well.

Sapna:
Yeah. So, I'm currently working with a lovely lady called Lorna Reeves, also a former client of mine now, I've become her client in a beautiful circle, circular way. But she is helping me bring an online event, we start promoting it next week, so I wasn't going to rush in there while everybody else was making all the noise. I wanted to kind of think about what we're going to do, but it's going to be like over 3 weeks. It's a free workshop, but it will be limited numbers because I want to be able to help business owners to get under the skin of their brand. But for, you know, for everybody to go back, the thing where I talked about the FABS. Think about your five aspirational brands, take yourself out of your own business for a while and just kind of dream and think about the vision for the future. How do you, maybe you can't think about the next 3 - 5 years time? How do we want people to think about us over this over this weird, weird period of time at the moment and beyond? Is the brand that you've created still relevant? Because a lot of people are now repositioning their businesses, reinventing their businesses, moving them from an in real-life proposition to a digital one. Is your brand still looking like it's relevant for the business that you're now creating or pivoting to? So as your business evolves and changes, your your branding should keep up.

Sapna:
Otherwise, you're sending out a very strong message to to everyone that your brand hasn't changed, that your business hasn't changed. So it might just be, you know, sort of a tweak. It's not about necessarily throwing the baby out with the bath water, if you've got a brand that you like and that you feel is working for you, but as you move things forward, it might start to look a little bit dated. It might just be, you know I worked with an American client, and she had a really horrible colour palette, and she really liked her logo, but I kind of pointed out there were a couple of tweaks we could make and we just refreshed her logo. It was the same typeface, freshened up the colours, changed a couple of tiny things, and she was like, oh, my God, that looks so much better. And it just looked better for the new decade. So, so sometimes it's just tweak or it might be the time now it to reinvent completely, but have a think about the values because, don't go rushing forward and get, you know brief designer and get redesigned until you've really done the values stuff and really understood what are all the immovable values for your business that your business has to operate, that every single part of your business has got that. And then how does that translate into your brand personality and how does that translate into brand voice? You know, if anybody wants help with this, I'm happy to, you know, just just give us a call and contact me via LinkedIn and I'm happy to set up a call, completely free of charge.

Andrew:
Cool.

Sapna:
I just genuinely want to help people at this time. So if you've got any questions, just get in touch, but the other thing is like, do keep aware of what your your competitors are doing because you don't want to be the ones that are left behind. So it's really looking at the first 3 parts of the VISION, strategy part where you can do that work on your own, you don't need a designer to help you with that part. Once you've got clarity on those bits and pieces and you got clarity on the VIS part of your brand, that's what, that'll put you in a much better position to go briefing a professional designer.

Andrew:
Pull the other aspects together.

Sapna:
Yeah. Yeah. Because you know, what you don't want to be doing is given a half-cocked brief and not actually giving them the vision and that, you know where you want to take it, because otherwise, they're not mind readers, so, you know, you need to help them with the strategy part of things.

Andrew:
You talk about the brief. I think that is such an underestimated document. Sometimes it is so critically important to get that brief because its communication at the end of day and we all know how communication can break down. The brief has to have that clarity. It's got to have a certain amount of detail. It's no good just to say, oh, well, I like this and I like the other, there's got to be a bit more meat on the bone, hasn't there.

Sapna:
Absolutely. I mean, this is why the book was written because, to increase, it was to to increase the business owners communication skills around brand and branding and to realise that they can't just go to a designer and go 'Can you do me a logo?'. And the designer will go, well what kind of colours do you like or what kind of fun or what you know, they might ask who's your target audience, but they're not really talking about what's brand strategy. Quite often, there's a lot of, there are designers that do this, but it's quite hard, if you're going on Fiverr, you're not going to get an in-depth breakdown of what your vision, what's your business strategy and all of that. So the brand, you know, if you're just getting a logo designed that could be damaging your business.

Andrew:
Yeah

Sapna:
If you get it wrong, it might just be giving off the wrong the wrong impression. I've got this model that we, you know, we were talking about earlier Andrew, the do, say, see model.

Andrew:
Yeah. And I think that's a great model, actually. What are people saying and seeing and obviously doing around your brand? I think that's really valuable.

Sapna:
It was it was one of these, but, you know, some of the problems that I saw from working with hundreds of entrepreneurs over the last nearly five years now is is that, you know, entrepreneurs will, and business owners will focus on what they do as in the nuts and bolts of the business. What is the product that I'm selling, or the service I'm selling? How am I going to make money, how am I going to make a difference in the world? What am I going to need to make that happen? What systems? What processes? What do I need? A website? How many staff do I need transport, et cetera, et cetera. So that's the nuts and bolts of business and thats your do. And then they think, well, how am I going to tell people about it? We need to tell people about otherwise, no one knows. That's your say. And that will be you going out on social media. It will be you doing YouTube videos or LinkedIn posts or copy on your blog; it's the written and the spoken word. It's how you show up at events; do you remember those things. Events, We used have those all the time.

Andrew:
How the world's changed.

Sapna:
Right. So it's your written and spoken and spoken word? It's your pitch. It's your book. It's everything about you, about what you what you're communicating. But then the thing they forget about is the see.

Sapna:
So we've got the do and the say. And then the see, is basically the first impression that people get of your business and what people see when they look at your business. And by the time the poor business owner has worked so hard on his do and so hard on his say, he's probably a bit exhausted and he gets that, like, oh that that'll do.

Andrew:
That drops off.

Sapna:
It just drops off. It's not it's not given as much time, consideration, strategy. It's like we'll just shove something at Fiverr. You know, we'll pay somebody to knock up a logo and they slam it on everything. And then, as I say, what that can do is actually damage your brand. The irony is that customers come at your brand so you need to do, say and the see, so actually in the middle when they all align and they support each other, its like a three legged stool I say, if you take one of them away, it topples over. So they're all vital but your customer is coming at it from the see first. So it's first impressions when they go on your website. What happens if you go on a website and it's really slow to load Andrew?

Andrew:
You hit the back button, usually. Go straight back to where you came from.

Sapna:
Lost sales and you didn't even know.

Andrew:
Exactly.

Sapna:
The other day I got approached on LinkedIn by somebody who sent me a private message and a link to their website, went on there and typo. What do I do? I was like, I deleted him and blocked him, because I thought there's no way I'm going to give you any business.

Andrew:
I know it sounds brutal, but thats the modern consumer, isn't it, as well? It's not just you and me who might have an eye for these sorts of things. It's the modern consumer, you know, they they're not going to sit around and wait for pages to load or to try and have to work in their own mind to understand what your message is, trying to communicate that they're not interested, if it doesn't come through straight away, that's just not going to give it the time of day.

Sapna:
And that's not brutal. It's real life because we, none of us have got enough time. I not got enough time, I've got my two children under my feet right now (not right now, they're upstairs). But just, we haven't got enough time, and if you don't get it in seconds, literally seconds...

Andrew:
The moments passed hasn't it.

Sapna:
And that person who sent me that message doesn't know why he's lost a sale and doesn't know why. But it's because it was the first impression. So the see is really important because that's when you make that impression. And if it's a good impression, then people will find out, will carry on to read what you know, what you're saying. And only then will they find out what you do and how awesome you are.

Andrew:
And that's when they really connect with you then isn't it. You've got that deeper connection, which is what leads to then an engagement, somebody doing business with you, someone even just picking up the phone or sending an email. The first impression is the bridge into it, isn't it?

Sapna:
It's like falling in love. You know you fall in love with someone. It's not love at first sight, you kind of see them first.

Andrew:
And that obviously comes back to your nurture. You know, it's something that has to be taken forwards, looked after, nurtured in the same way that plants in your garden do, they don't just suddenly bloom into the most amazing flowers, they need watering and looking after to get you there.

Yeah, your brand is not going to bring you instant global success overnight, its something you need to apply. It's like a fitness plan. You know, I could write you a fitness plan, but you have to actually follow it to get the results. So it's the same. It's exactly the same.

Andrew:
No, that's been a really fantastic conversation. And I'll say again, I really love the book. I think it comes across in a really clear way and talks about different types of bindings around the jargon buster, some good case studies in there, it talks about special finishes on paper. And of course, these are all part of of what people see, aren't they? It's not just a case of doing that logo, but what different paper finishes and textures might communicate on a on a more subliminal level. So I would highly recommend the book. It's available on Amazon. Let's Get Visible; Get brand clarity, standout in your industry and supercharge your business growth, published by Rethink Press. And as we said, available on Amazon and a top seller on there in no less than 4 categories. So Sapna where else can people find you online? Where’s the best place for people to follow up with you if they're interested?

Sapna:
The easiest place is LinkedIn. So you know, if you find me on there and it's Sapna Pieroux, and that's SAPNA PIR, er, no, PIEROUX - I can't even spell my surname!

Andrew:
It's Friday afternoon.

Sapna:
Yeah I know! I’ve not even had any wine yet!

Andrew:
Well it's nearly time!

Sapna:
Well we are...the brand is on all the usual platforms. It's on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Insta.

Andrew:
And as a reminder, your brand consultancy is InnerVision ID, so obviously Googling that you will get to the website.

Sapna:
InnerVisions as in the Stevie Wonder album, and I am a fan.

Andrew:
Great. Thank you very much, Sapna. Really appreciate your time. It's been fabulous to talk about brand and your book. Like I say, it's one that I definitely recommend to anybody who is embarking on a brand project or starting a business; I know they’ll be people thinking about all these things at these times. So thank you again for your time. Really appreciate it.

Sapna:
You're absolutely welcome. Thank you so much for your time.

Andrew:
So my thanks again to Sapna Pieroux for joining me on this episode of the Clientside podcast. I really enjoyed chatting with her, and actually some great takeaways from the show as well. I particularly liked her do, say And see model that we talked about towards the end of the interview. It's pretty similar actually to something that we do on our own website projects that we call empathy mapping. What we're wanting to do with empathy mapping is understand a particular type of user, but not only that, how they might think and feel at different stages of their interactions across the digital channels. We know that as people interact with your online profiles, they're likely to have different intents and goals, so they might be looking to find out who can help them fix a problem, to researching specific information about one of your products right through to them perhaps buying online or reaching out with you to start a conversation. So from a branding perspective, it makes perfect sense to make sure that each of these three points are all in sync with each other. The website that Sapna mentioned answerthepublic.com is a great resource as well. If you're looking to inject new content ideas into your social channels or build up your content strategy, this site produces some fabulous visualisation to indicate the type of answers that people are looking for around your particular subject or sector.

Andrew:
Finally, I'd recommend connecting with Sapna on LinkedIn and keeping an eye open for this free branding workshop that she's planning. Obviously numbers will be limited so she can ensure everyone gets some value from it, but it will cover some of the content she talks about in her book.

Andrew:
So that just about wraps up another episode of the Clientside podcast. Thank you for joining me again, I really appreciate you tuning in. And if you enjoyed the show then please do tell your friends and co-workers, we’d be ever so grateful if you could spread the word. You can also leave a review on Apple podcasts. You'll also find us on the usual podcast channels, and if you've got any feedback, we'd love to hear from you.

Andrew:
I'll be back again in a few weeks time with another interview. But if you can't wait until then, we've now got the Clientside digital community on Facebook. This is a free group with business owners and marketers and we'll be doing some Facebook live panel Q&A sessions in there, as well as trying to offer support, guidance as we look ahead to what inevitably will be a challenging period in front of us. Thanks again for tuning in. Look after yourselves and take care. I'll see you on the next show.

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Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, famously said that your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room, and right now, nobody's in the room! So the big question right now is how do people show up?

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