I want to share with you some stuff that I’m almost sure you’ve never heard of AND something that’ll make a radical difference for you in your life, brand, and business.
And I want to give you direct examples, the good and the bad, from building my brand.
You know, what it actually looks like.
And I want to give credit where credit’s due. I am MASSIVELY inspired by Bobby Kim of The Hundreds. You’ll hear me reference him again and again in this article (and on my podcast. and on my YouTube channel) and it’s because I consider him to be a mentor of sorts.
Bobby and I have met once, briefly, but he’s put out a ton of information for young entrepreneurs and what I’ll be sharing comes from his article called ‘The 10 Rules of Brand-Building.’ Some of the words below are his, and some are mine.
As a teacher, I know if I give a student too much, they won’t retain anything, and the same goes for my friends, like you.
So we’re just going to hit these 10 rules one at a time.
The Ultimate Guide to Building a Brand That Lasts
Brand Building Rule No. 1: Put Up or Shut Up
The first rule of brand-building is, “Put up or shut up.” If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything at all.
One time I heard a “guru” advise somebody that if they didn’t have anything to say, and no experience, they should build authority by making it about their “journey.”
This is cringe-worthy (at best) because if you don’t have chops, and you have no experience, you really shouldn’t be advising anybody about anything.
If you have a brand, or a company, or a blog, or what the heck ever you have, say SOMETHING. It’s the one thing that makes your product unique and interesting.
I literally started a podcast because, in part, of this first rule. I have a LOT to say about branding, marketing, building a business, being a father, messing up and falling on my face, innovating all while having a demanding full time job.
Re Perez of ‘Branding for the People’ told me that my brand doesn’t actually exist in the way I think that it does. It exists in other people’s minds and what we’re talking about when we say “branding,” is simply trying to influence how they feel about us, our company, or our product.
So we don’t necessarily own the brand.
What This Means To Me
I started my company, Ok! Kimonos, with a really cool idea. And I made a lot of stuff that people liked, but I didn’t really love it. I would look at what I’d made and not really want to wear it around town, or to tournaments. I got a ton of inspiration from other brands not only in my industry, but in other places, especially streetwear. I have folders and folders of ideas curated from other people and my desire to give my take on it. I just wanted to make something that had more of MY voice in it than what I’d already made. SO I tried.
But I missed the mark. Like, totally missed the mark.
What I ended up doing is just chasing what everybody else had done, but doing it way worse than them.
Case in point: One of my buddies owns, what I consider to be, the best BJJ company out there.
So what happened was I looked at what influenced him and it influenced me as well.
So I tried to make that a part of my brand.
And the thing was, that even though it was a part of me, it wasn’t the same as it was for him.
While I enjoyed making gear influenced by Japan, Japanese MMA, etc. it was actually a part of his D-N-A. He goes to Japan, speaks Japanese, knows Japanese streetwear, etc.
I was a hobbyist and he’s all in.
Want the full scoop? Check out Rule #5 below, but the gist is that I wasn’t actually saying anything with what I made.
I was just re-tweeting somebody else’s company.
I was effectively doing a product version of ‘that’s what she said.’
And you know what? Some people actually loved the stuff, I *sorta* like the stuff, but most people didn’t. They didn’t get it. It wasn’t what I stood for and despite me trying to, in retrospect, rebrand myself into it, it didn’t work and it wasn’t authentic. And let’s just say that it showed in the sales.
I told you that long story for a reason. It’s important that you know I’m not just speaking theory and ideas here, but actual experience. Experience you can learn from.
What This Means To You
If all you have to say on your podcast is: Listen to me interview other people, you’re wasting your time.
If all you’re doing is retweeting other people and sharing their content, I think you’re wasting your time.
If you don’t wake up in the morning with a fire in your belly to get out and share something that you feel and an idea you have, don’t bother.
So now you’re saying, Brendan, that’s kinda messed up. I don’t feel inspired at all and you pretty much just told me that I’m screwed.
How the heck do I take action on *that* advice?
How To Fix It (And Actually Have Something To Say)
You don’t develop something to say just by thinking about it. Expose yourself to a ton of new people, start building your business and make a ton of mistakes and actually learn what to do and what not to do without requiring some $2000 e-course to guide you through it.
At the end of the day, if you’re like me, you’re a maker. And a do’er. So go make something you’re proud of. If nobody gets it at first, that’s FINE. Just make sure it’s yours and nobody else’s. As long as you stick to that, share it passionately with as many people as possible (that’s all that marketing is anyways), then you’ll find your way.
And the best part?
I’m here to help. Comment below this post and we’ll chat about whatever you want.
Related Podcast Episode:
Branding Rule No. 2 – The Best Selfie is an Otherie*
*Not a word.
For Rule 2, we’re going to talk about how to do it well, and how to totally screw it up.
I’ll also give you a case study of how a company worth $1.65 billion is totally messing it up as well.
So it’s not just us little guys that can forget this one.
Rule number 2 is “The best selfie is an otherie* (*not a word).”
The best way to define what you are, is by what you’re not. Draw a proverbial line in the sand and tell people what your brand is, but also be sure to tell them what it isn’t.
Pat Flynn has no problem telling people he isn’t a ‘get rich quick’ or ‘make money on the internet scammer.’ By delineating himself and his brand from these people by saying it outright and not leaving it up to other people’s perceptions.
I have no problem telling you that I can’t stand podcasters who take themselves too seriously, or spend the majority of interviews listening to themselves talk.
The Hundreds has done this by refusing to fall into the category of ‘urbanwear’ or ‘skatewear,’ and I’d agree. They’re both. And they’re neither.
They made a brand for skateboarders and hardcore kids, for foodies and gangsters. They make a brand that I see my 17 year old students wearing and my 30 year old dad self still wants to wear.
All of us have reinforced who we were by delineating who we were not.
First I’ll share how you rock this, and then I’ll share how you totally screw it up.
How To Rock This
You rock this by making a blog post, or a podcast, or a commercial, or what the heck ever that let’s people know how you’re different from other people. Like how Mac called out PCs.
I wrote an article for the Ok! Kimonos blog called Drawing Lines in the Jiu Jitsu Apparel Industry.
In that post I really let people know how I felt about other brands that claim to be limited edition to build hype and then post a picture of them moving their warehouse and you see 50 of that ‘super limited edition’ gi laying on the ground in a pile with a ton of other things that are supposedly ‘sold out.’
I let my fans know that I’m well aware of how to use scarcity and false shortage to create hype and demand and we weren’t going to play that game. It’s weak and shows lack of confidence and greed simultaneously. If it’s limited, make it fucking limited.
Another area I tackle is pricing. I know that if I drive up the price it creates a higher perceived value. But that’s not what I stand for. I love The Hundreds because I can drop $200 on some rare Adidas collaboration stuff, or I can get my favorite t-shirt ever for just $10 if I catch it on sale.
Josh from Peas and Carrots put it best when he said, regarding his own brand:
“I just like it that it’s affordable because it just makes sense. Kids are the consumers. Kids are the future. Kids need to buy this s — . So they need to be the ones pushing it and pushing the culture period, so I want them to wear it. And that’s why I want it to be affordable.”
And I love what Josh says here.
Know who really supports you.
If you make stuff for youth culture and price it at $300, know that there’s some fools out there not paying bills and feeding their kids to have your stuff because you hyped it up (see my previous point) and then overcharged for it.
The last place I took a stand was with other brands. We hit this again in Rule 7, but I think there’s a lot of room at the top. If you ask me what brands I like, I’ll tell you honestly.
I was asked a question on Twitter about what other brands I like and I noticed another brand used it as a chance to sell their crap and I think that missed the mark.
I just remember thinking, “Really? This guy asked for a bit of transparency and he asked you because he likes you and trusts you and you use it as a chance to push product.”
I’ll draw another line on this one. If you ask me a sincere question, you’ll always get a sincere answer. Not me trying to make a sale at the expense of building a relationship.
I think there’s two ways to build the tallest building. Either I make my building the tallest or I spend my time trying to tear down all of the buildings around me.
I think you know where I stand on this one.
Here’s How You Mess It Up
You’re the owner of a backwater promotion throwing no holds barred fighting events in local arenas and having to give away tickets to fill the seats. A few guys come along and buy your company and over time, are about to put rules and equipment in place to make the events more legitimate. They sign TV deals and over time grow the brand until it’s now it’s own sport and their company is worth about one and a half billion dollars.
That sport is mixed martial arts.
The brand is the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The U-F-C.
I love the UFC.
Let me take that back.
I used to love the UFC.
I was really into it for a long time. But lately I’ve been feeling underwhelmed.
Recently they signed a professional wrestler to fight in the UFC while there’s guys out there trying to fight their way up through small shows just to make it in. Pro wrestler CM Punk is going to, without any previous mma fights, get his very first mma fight in the UFC.
I think that’s really off-brand for the UFC. Out of one side of their mouth they try to sign deals with Reebok and brand themselves as a legitimate sport. An image they’ve spent a decade building.
And now they’re become “sports entertainment” just like the WWE. They’ll take anybody with a big enough name just to boost their own.
They’ve spent a decade saying they are a “sport.” they have “athletes” and their competition is “as real as it gets.
And then we’re ushered into an era of doing anything to sell tickets.
So here’s how you can take action on this: Brainstorm a few things that really piss you off about your niche and your industry.
Reinforce who you are by deciding who, and what, you are not. If the world doesn’t have a category for you, make your own.
You’ll then be first in your category and you’ll absolutely CRUSH it! As always, if you need help with this one, comment below this post and I’ll help you out!
In next post in our series, we’ll cover a rule that Bobby calls “Jae’s Rule” and if I’m not in a caffeine and high rep squat induced coma, we’re going to have a pretty rad chat.
Branding Rule No. 3 – Consistency Consistently
Rule number 3 of building a brand is “Consistency Consistently.”
Bobby Hundreds calls it ‘Jae’s Rule’ because it’s named after his friend and cultural documentarian, Jae Bueno.
Jae passed away from cancer but he advised Bobby that the key to being a good dad and a good husband was simply ‘consistency.’
I love the book Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. I had the fortune of reading it for the first time on vacation with my wife and my parents. I do most of my thinking and planning by getting away from my normal location and routine and this was no different.
You see, in Outliers, Gladwell says you can achieve mastery in about 10,000 hours of effort.
I slightly disagree, I think that you don’t need the full 10k. You can be dangerous with around 80% mastery, enough to do some serious damage, in far less time.
But 10 thousand hours? That’s some serious consistency. That’s Bill Gates breaking into computer labs and skipping classes to learn programming not once or twice, but every day for YEARS.
You don’t get consistency like that by working 15 different jobs in 10 years or getting a new hobby every January.
You buckle down and do one thing for a decade. If people don’t say you’re obsessed or think you’re crazy about whatever you’re into, you’re not deep enough yet.
The Hundreds is a two part lifestyle project: one part web magazine and one part clothing. Bobby has blogged from all corners of the earth, no matter how he felt. He’s posted over 5 thousand times and when people ask how he gets the traffic he does, that’s his answer. People expect some magic bullet but there isn’t one that accounts for his blog’s success.
I check it every single day just to see what’s new.
I know I can go to their site, every day, and see my favorite articles, watch the best videos, and more.
So when they hit me with an email about their annual sale, I FLYYY to their site to see if the things I’ve seen so much on their homepage are on sale.
It’s literally the only thing I like to buy for myself in the whole world.
Other than coffee, of course. Let’s not get crazy here.
I publish 3 blog posts per week for my jiu jitsu company, Ok! Kimonos.
My podcast comes out 3 times per week. The first episode is on Monday and it’s an interview (okay, so the last few came out later than that. shut up, I’m working on it).
Then my solo show, like the one that formed this post, is on Thursday, and Q&A on Friday. Soon it’ll be on a M-W-F schedule that bad asses like yourself can enjoy three times per week.
Consistency makes a brand dependable and builds trust and familiarity. It makes an unfeeling object like a “brand” come alive and become something you can relate to.
Hopefully, because of that consistency, the Brendan Hufford brand is like a friend. A friend who tells you what’s up, get’s way too excited about little things, points out typography, get’s loud for no reason, and borrows money. But always pays you back.
We’ll get to logos another time, because I have a few fun thoughts on those, but they should be consistent as well. Even if it’s just a color.
Everything about your brand should be the same across platforms. From your voice to the typography you use.
When you become whatever is hot at the moment or abandon your die-hard fans because you don’t feel like answering emails or tweets for a few weeks, you’ve lost your consistency.
Above, I mentioned that consistency also related to parenting and relationships. Everything I write here is catered uniquely to you, the entrepreneur dad. So here’s my thought:
Recently, I sort of came to peace with my nature. My nature is to grind out work without looking where I’m going. I just put my head down and go forward as hard as I can.
But, that makes for a rough life for my son and wife who, while I’m working *for* them, are losing the experience of having an awesome husband and dad in the process.
I took the weekend off from all work and just focused on spending time with them. 100%.
And I’ve committed myself to deliver a more consistent expectation for my Lizzy and Evan. I’ll still be working just as hard because I do want to succeed more than I want to breathe, but it can’t be erratic where one week I’m recording 7 nights in a row and the next I’m not recording at all.
So this is my reminder to you, you who are the hustlers, then grinders, the kids who barely made the team but always made the starting line through sheer grit, brute force, and determination.
You who have discovered (or re-discovered in my case) your aptitude for business later on in life after you got married or started a family.
They’re still there. They still need you. While your business and dream is your end goal, YOU. YOU Are their end goal.
Be consistent. How you do anything is how you do everything. Consistency is your business bleeds over to family and vice versa.
So how do we take action on this?
First, schedule things out. Schedule out time for family, kids, business, sleep, working out, etc. ahead of time. It’ll be easier to see the whole picture and it’ll be easier to communicate it to others. My wife’s phone is hooked up to my google calendar so if I make an appointment, she gets updates in real time (although she and I make big decisions together, this helps for small things).
We know that science shows that human being suck at multi-tasking. It’s far better and more productive to focus intensely on one thing at a time. If you don’t, not only will you be frustrated because you didn’t accomplish your goals, but so will the other people in your life because you’re trying to run your business while you’re spending time with them, and doing a crappy job at both.
At the time I’m writing this, it’s 3am and Liz and I got horrible sleep all last night. My son Evan is both sick and overtired so he’s been up on and off all night. But this is my only time I can record so I do what I have to to stick to my schedule so that it doesn’t compromise my consistency with you, or with them.
So while this is a brand building rule, remember that you’re a brand in business AND in life. As Bobby and Jae would put it, consistency consistently is the key to success in ALL of your pursuits. Being consistent in your product, message, and delivery is key no matter if it’s to fans, customers, your kids or your spouse.
I’m excited for you to read more about Rule 4 of Brand Building (click here to check it out). It’s one that I think a TON of people are missing right now because entrepreneurship is sexy and people want to build a brand and quit their jobs yesterday, and it causes them to miss this huge rule to building a successful long-term brand.
Branding Rule No. 4 – Stay Hungry, Not Thirsty
I’m so freaking excited for our 4th installment of the 10 rules of brand building.
If you want to start at the beginning, you can do so by clicking here.
As always, you can read the full article at the thehundreds.com
And here’s the lowdown.
Stay HUNGRY. Not thirsty.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Let that sink in a bit.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Let’s be honest here.
I have to have quite a bit of arrogance to think that listening to me on a podcast or reading this article is worth your time. Thinking that I have something to say and the world will be better if they hear it tells you a lot about me as a person.
In this rule, Bobby Hundreds says that just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Just because I could try to push some product on you and convince you that I have the keys to building a successful business, I won’t.
Just because I could flood Twitter to inflate my podcast download numbers to look better to advertisers, I won’t.
Just because I could try to sell you 99 designs, or audible or whatever else, it doesn’t mean that I should.
That’s just not who I am.
The best things I’ve ever done in any of my businesses didn’t actually exist.
And you know what?
Let’s Get Weird
I don’t want to hook up on the first date, or the 15th, or whatever number article this is here on H&H. I want to develop a solid relationship where we both know and trust eachother.
I don’t date.
I get married. I play the long game, and so should you.
I run a small brazilian jiu jitsu company. Sure, Nike or Adidas or Reebok could enter my niche and instantly wreck everybody in the space. They could shake things up literally overnight and, while I expect that to happen in the next few years, just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. Should they play in every sporting space just because they can? Is that on brand for them? Is there a solid ROI?
We’re growing up the in age of social media, and while I wish (and think) that social media doesn’t matter, for you it does. You see the people sharing their results and #humblebragging constantly. There’s a few podcast groups on Facebook that I can’t even go in anymore because it’s just a constant stream of humblebrags and it makes me want to throw up.
You see, Instagram is a freaking highlight reel of how awesome everybody is with a beautiful visual to go with it.
Maybe you have a fledgling cooking blog and wonder how you’ll ever get your food to look like the food on some popular Instagram page. But what you don’t get to see is that the photo of the perfect stack of 5 pancakes took them over 3 hours of cooking and 200 pancakes and even when they got the perfect 5, it was 28 shots, upload to photoshop, back to the phone, then to Instagram.
The point is that Instagram and social media totally distorts success. You don’t get to see that that dude has been cooking since he was 4 and still makes that many mistakes.
If you look at my Instagram page, you get to see a preview of a cool new BJJ rashguard we have coming up, but you don’t get to see the stack of 50+ samples of rashguards and MMA shorts that we have scrapped over the course of a year to get to that point. You definitely don’t see the late nights I’ve stayed up scared, frustrated, trapped, depressed, etc.
Becoming a person of confidence the way that I have doesn’t come easily. And none of that path is reflected anywhere online.
Except for here. Having a blog, getting to talk about these things, and teach you in the process, is cathartic.
I don’t want the young, the hungry, the foolish, to confuse being able to do everything and being able to do it all at once.
Some people can. Some people you follow on Instagram. Or Snapchat. They have half a million followers and you have 112.
Because that’s not you. It’s just not.
And you better start being okay with that.
Sure your passion will wake you up at 3am for the first week, or the first month, or even the first year. But will you be patient enough to keep that passion for 5 years? Can you get up at 3am every day for the next 5 years? Because that’s where I am. Can I do this for the next 10? What about the next 20?
I REFUSE to let my passion diminish because I refuse to be patient.
Whatever your business is. Whatever your passion is. The REAL reason you’re reading this. Time is your unfair advantage. There will always be people with better ideas and people more talented. But they’ll all quit. All of them.
If Passion is the jab, patience is the right hook.
It’s the multiplier.
It’s the 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell talks about in Outliers.
I want to help you get there.
I want to teach what I’ve learned.
I know you want to quit your job some day, or have a bit more leverage in your life. And you want to build a side business to do that. You have an amazing idea and you just need a bit of help to make that happen.
But for now you just need to wait. I’m a huge advocate of coaches, but it’s hard to see past all of the gurus out there. I’ve wasted thousands of dollars on courses and coaches where they promised me riches and glory almost overnight.
But just because I could, doesn’t mean that I should have.
Just like that, I want you to hear my mistakes. Of when I tried to grow too fast and burned a ton of money. When I invested in all of the shiny objects and the backlinking service and the crap that didn’t matter. Just because you can do these things, doesn’t mean you should.
Fight for passion, not for payoff. Have patience in all that you do. If you have the passion, and you’re ready to exercise some patience, then you’re really going to enjoy the rest of this series.
Branding Rule No. 5 – Be the Best at Being You
What you’re about to read applies to you if you’re building a brand for a brick and mortar location, an online brand, a clothing brand, a school.. yes, you read that right.
With all of the schools opening up, especially charter schools, I think they forget they are a business.
And even schools that have been around for 50-100 years.
Yes, you have a brand.
Yes, you need to consider that.
You’ll remember that I wrote about this in the very first article in the 10 rules of Brand Building, rule number five of branding, of brand building, is to Be the best at being you.
Be the best at being you. Seriously.
If you’re reading this, there’s probably a 50/50 chance you’re messing up this vital rule.
We need to break this rule down first and then, as always, I’m going to explain how you screw this up, and then how you rock this.
Cause you got into building a brand, of starting something, because you’re brave. You’re a brave individual. 100% of people out there think they have some sort of great idea, to make a product or write a book. Do you know how many execute on that? Pretty much none. Except for you. You’re an executer. A doer. And if you’re not, my goal is to make you into one.
There’s a great quote from Ira Glass that I want to share with you. You might know his name from This American Life or you heard Alex talk about him on the Startup podcast. Ira says:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me.
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not that good.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.
Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.
And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.
I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It takes awhile. It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.”
So why share that with you?
Because very likely you are there right now. You started a podcast, blog, clothing company, pizzeria, etc. and you know what you want to make because you have killer taste, but what you’re doing isn’t quite there yet.
So what do you start doing?
You make what people want. Whatever they like, you make. Whatever other companies are making, you make. Whatever other bloggers are writing about, whatever is hot, you write about.
You start to realize that this is a job, just like any other job.
Bobby Kim uses the example of making a lot of snapbacks because they’re popular. They’re back. And then 5 panel hats, then bucket hats.
And then you wake up and you realize you’ve lost your way.
You *had* a voice but you lost it because you’re just retweeting other people.
How to Screw This Up (Like Me)
I did that with another BJJ clothing company. I got inspired by what they did and did something similar.
And you know what, you don’t learn anything unless I’m totally honest. That company is called Scramble. And they’re awesome. They are, in my opinion, the best ‘brand’ right now in jiu jitsu clothing. From their design to their execution, to their ads, to their facebook posts, everything is ‘on brand’ at all times.
They will never be lost in the crowd because they have their own voice.
But I got lost because, in retrospect, I was just playing off what they did.
I was making t-shirts centered around my favorite Japanese MMA fighters and I planned to make a whole line around them, but as I said in our previous coffee chat, it just wasn’t right for me, and you can tell in the execution of it.
Now at the time, I couldn’t have told you that and right now, you might not be able to receive what I’m saying.
But just start that conversation in your head.
Try to have the ears to hear this: Am I following the crowd? Am I simply Sharing everybody else’s status updates?
How to Rock This (Also, Like Me)
Because here’s the thing, like Bobby and Ira both say,
You want to be the cool kid, but think back to high school. How many of those ‘cool kids’ you wanted to be like are crushing it?
And why? Because what they had was given to them. It came naturally. There’s a reason there aren’t a lot of good looking comics. And there’s a reason the people who are best at what they do don’t come from a background of privilege.
Adversity breeds creativity. It creates hustle.
And nobody is #1 at being you. Except for you. All of these aspects of building a brand go together so once you define what you have to say, stick to it. Even if somebody says something better, keep saying what you have to say.
I bet you’re thinking “Brendan isn’t it a bit weird and ironic that you’re telling me to be myself while your whole series is based on somebody else’s writing?”
(And if you weren’t thinking that, you are now.)
And if you think that, you’re missing the point. Bobby Hundreds isn’t afraid to promote other streetwear companies on his blog because they aren’t necessarily his competition. He’s not afraid because they’re not him. The same with Gary Vaynerchuk, and the same with me.
My brand, Brendan Hufford, Hustle&Heart, defaults to transparency. Sure, I could’ve written all these articles and claimed them as my own. I could’ve spun it enough that you never ever would’ve found Bobby Hundreds.
But my goal is to place myself in service of YOU. And if I steal ideas and lie and deny you resources that could help you build your company and make a radical difference in your life and business, then what am I really doing?
My brand, me, I, also hate fake gurus. People who sell crap and over-hype it and overprice is just because they know a tiny bit more than you.
So this is on brand for me. I teach, and I learn from you.
Take Some Action!
So your action step for this episode is just to, like we said last week, keep YOUR passion but also maintain YOUR patience. It takes a large body of work for your product to catch up to your taste. And that’s okay.
In the meantime, keep the retweets for Twitter.
In our next article in this series, I’m going to teach you how to get rich off your passion. No joke.
Branding Rule No. 6 – Have Heart
Previously, I talked about Branding Rule #5: Be the Best at Being You: When you’re making your product and using your voice and somewhere along the way you lose your path.
You forget who you were when you started and you’ve just become somebody who tries to be like everybody else.
Niche down and stay there. Have something to say. Nobody is better at being you than YOU.
Today we’re going to tackle Rule number 6 of building a brand: Have Heart.
Having heart requires passion.
Today you’ll learn how to get rich from your passion.
How to Get Rich from Your Passion
But here’s the thing. “Rich” is totally arbitrary. Am I rich if I make six figures? What about a million dollars?
Rich doesn’t necessarily mean money, either.
Because you will get rich off your passion.
Here’s the deal: You THINK you’re passionate about building a business. About growing something. Creating something new.
But your real passion, your TRUE passion in life, is where you spend. Your. Time.
If you spend all of your time sniping newbs on Modern Warfare, then that’s your passion.
If you spend all of your time watching old episodes of Firefly (which I may or may not have this past weekend), then that’s your passion.
Your passion is where your time is spent.
And you’ll find riches there. It may not be money, though. It may be hanging out with your friends. Drinking beers with your buddies and watching 4 hours of football on Sunday. That may be happiness to you.
And that’s okay! Not everybody is cut out for being a sidepreneur or an entrepreneur.
But, I’m guessing, since you’re listening to me, right here and now, that your passion lies in your business and your family. Like mine does.
If your time is spent in service of others, if your time is spent taking care of your family, if your time is spend getting up at 3am every day like I do so I can build an awesome business, serve my family, and serve others, then I’ll get rich off that, and so can you.
Here’s where my passion is:
Telling stories and making things.
Helping other parents, especially dads like me, build side businesses to get more leverage in their life
And here’s what I mean, you WILL be rich. You’ll be rich in reaping what you sow.
So the way this connects with building a brand is that you need to be sure your passions align with what you’re trying to build. And that means your passion, as it manifests itself in your activities, needs to line up with what you’re building.
If your actions don’t align with your passion, you need to start questioning what you’re really passionate about.
You’re often told to build a business off your passions. But what are your passions really? And can they change over time?
An Action Step
Doing an audit of how you spend your time to discover what your real passions are, what really makes you happy, can be important and I suggest you do it.
Because if you’re heart is not into this 120%, then it’s not going to work. At least not long enough for you to see the fruits of your labor.
The next rule in our series, Rule 7 of Brand Building, doesn’t play nice. We’re here to make ends, not friends. And it’s a hard lesson and while I talk fast and have a ton of energy, there’s a good chance you’re going to see me go a bit darker than I have before.
Branding Rule No. 7 – Make Ends, Not Friends
I warned you in Rule 6 that this rule isn’t going to be pretty.
We’ll be going dark in this section.
And I think that’s a fair warning because we’ve been having a lot of fun together.
I’ll be honest.
At least this is a lot of fun for me.
And this, building a brand, building a business, building this blog.
But now it’s grown up time.
It’s time to grow up.
Because this IS business.
Yeah, its about being friends and a rising tide raising all boats.
Or whatever that phrase is.
But at the end of the day. It’s you versus them.
It’s me versus you.
Rule 7 of Brand Building is KILL EM ALL. We’re to make ends, not friends.
Because here’s the thing.
The Dark Side
When I’m in the gym and I need to lift something that I’ve never lifted before. The heaviest squat I’ve ever done that would staple me to the floor and shatter my spine in half.
When I lost thousands of dollars over night in my business.
When I’m about to get choked in a jiu jitsu tournament I trained for months just to compete in.
Where do I go when I’m in those situations, I go dark. I go real dark.
I start to consider that what I do is for my son and my family.
When I was young I didn’t have a male mentor in my life and I’ll be damned if my son is going to be without one. I grew up in a single parent household and my son won’t. These are things I’ve decided.
My business puts food on the table for my son. It clothes him. It supplies the heat that is pumping through my house right now that keeps him warm. And when I consider even for a second that losing to somebody else means that he might not have those things. That changes things. Like that moment when Bruce Banner’s eyes change.
And when I consider losing. When I consider giving up. When I consider letting you or anybody else take away what I’ve built. It becomes competition. And I don’t lose.
You vs. The World
Everybody wants to be your friend at the beginning. And you want to be their friend. But when they realize you’re their competition, things change.
True friends will stick around and you need them.
But ask anybody who has built anything significant. They don’t get there without making a few enemies. And if we’re honest, you don’t make a few friends without making a lot more enemies. If you aren’t willing to have enemies, stop now. Because you can’t control them. Get over it.
Get money. Get paid. Built your business. Empower others. Entertain them. Most of all, educate them. But despite that, people will hate you for it. Know that now.
And if you crushing it in your business, in your family, makes them hate you, then you should be doing everything in your power to piss them off.
If winning in your business and for your family means everything you to, like it does for me, then you’re in the right place.
Branding Rule No. 8 – Don’t Listen to the Feedback
I agree with Bobby and James Altucher on this one. Don’t listen to the feedback.
Now hear me clearly.
Survey your fans and your customers.
There’s a lot of value to be gained by asking directed questions to get a desired result. I’ve successfully used surveys to see what product people want me to make next and what they struggle with the most.
As somebody who owns a brand, I can tell you that whether it’s good or bad, feedback distorts my work.
Whenever I share a design, I tend to want to see the feedback.
But my share should be a ‘this is coming, get excited!’
And not a ‘do you like this or not?’
I end up making a design because it got 300 facebook likes and then I sell 20 of them. Where did you all go? Understand there’s a big difference between a facebook or Instagram like and an actual purchase. A VERY big difference.
And I say this honestly. I had a design I made in 10 seconds in ms paint, shared it on Instagram, got more likes than anything I’d ever posted, and I thought I nailed it. I loved it. They loved it.
And I sold 20 of them.
And I still have a giant box of them.
At my house.
I’m a creative person and I like to share, but you need to stay true to your brand and yourself. Be wary that, over time, you could subconsciously start making your brand more about what gets liked and retweeted and not what’s really at its core.
So don’t make your next move based on the number of thumbs up emojis you get. Don’t make it based on the feedback.
Branding Rule No. 9 – Forever Young
The world belongs to the youth.
Rule Number 9 of building a brand is “Forever Young.”
When I was creating media around Ok! Kimonos, my jiu jitsu company, a few years ago, I got really obsessed with documenting people that I felt were truly original. I came across Tyler the Creator, a rapper, yes, but so much more.
I dove into his content and his interviews, speeches, videos he’d made. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the culture of youth captured as perfectly as Tyler does. I saw an interview where he said:
We live in a society where a lot of people are followers and they can’t make their set opinions. I have friends that are going to college for stuff their parents want them to go for and they’re not even happy or anything. They’re just trying to please their parents and in the long run, what’s going to be there? Your parents are going to die and you’re stuck there, paying debt. Paying debt for something you didn’t even want to learn in the first place. So I just try to tell people to think for themselves and they’ll be way happier in the long run.
And that totally spoke to me.
And I bet it does to you too. Because like me, you probably went to school for something people told you you were good at. Or something that would make money.
I think that it’s freaking hilarious that people do all of these inventories and “strength finders” and all of these exercises and techniques when they’re trying to start a business online.
But we just let these idiot college kids pick whatever they want for a major.
At 18, we don’t even trust you to drink alcohol but we’re going to let you decide your path for the rest of your life? No wonder most people never use their college majors.
But don’t worry, that debt is still there. Now you better get a job to pay it back.
Don’t start a business because that loan payment is due soon and you need money yesterday.
That crap will turn you into an old man real fast. At least it did for me.
An Attitude, Not a Number
Youth isn’t just your age. You can keep an attitude of youth. You can revolt a bit and say, I’m not going down that path. I’m not doing what everybody expects me to do.
That’s what I’m doing. And believe me, if I can do it, then so can you.
Odds are, if you’re reading this and you’re really entertaining the idea that you can make your hopes and dreams happen, you’re closer than you think.
Snapchat is flourishing right now. Why is that? Youth.
Political movements, clothing trends, technology: all driven by youth culture.
Young people are irrational and invincible. With their entire lives before them, they see opportunity for change and revolution, outside the borders of reason, financial sense, or cynics. Grown-ups are chained to responsibilities and doubt. They’ve been told No too many times. Their hearts have been broken. Where once lived courage, now resides apathy or hopelessness.
We live in a time and place where you don’t need permission to do anything any more. You don’t need permission to say what you want to say. You don’t need a record label. You don’t need a book agent. You don’t need a crusty old white guy telling you what you can and can’t do. And believe me, I’m totally comfortable saying that because there’s been times in my life where I was well on the path to old white crust-dom myself.
Engrave it into your mind that youth is an attitude, not a number. Ask questions like a little kid. Be a bit ignorant. Push back against the status quo. IF you want your brand to be successful in the long run, and I know you do, you have to keep an attitude of youth.
Maybe if Kodak had done that they would’ve invented Instagram.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Branding Rule No. 10 – Have Fun
We did it!
We’re finally here.
After 10 awesome articles in this series (and the original podcasts they were written for at EandCoffee.com), we’re finally on the 10th rule of building a brand based on Bobby Hundreds articles and lectures.
Rule 10 of Building a brand is “Have Fun.”
So, how do I have fun in my business?
Secrets and Inside Jokes
First, is that I put things into what I do that nobody else gets but me.
I’ve ended most of podcast episodes by saying ‘I’ve been Brendan Hufford’ which is a nod to the Fizzle show.
I’ve also said ‘work hard, be nice to people, and try not to get lost’ which is a nod to Ben Brown, a photographer, filmmaker, and vlogger that I’m really enjoyed lately on YouTube.
And there’s a 99% chance you have no idea and don’t get that stuff but that’s fun as hell for me.
In my jiu jitsu company, I put layer and layer of meaning into my designs. I have a shirt that says ‘Kami No Ko’ on the front which, in Japanese, means, Son of God. And on the side it says Original Kid. And here’s what that shirt means:
- Kami no ko is a reference to my faith and Jesus
- Kami no Ko is also the nickname of Norifumi Yamamoto, an infamous mma fighter from Japan that I watched endless highlights of when I got into MMA back in 2006-2007
- In Norifumi’s case, the nickname also translates as ‘kid.’ Most people know him as Kid Yamamoto. He is the ‘original kid.’
- Original Kids is what the OK in Ok Kimonos stands for
- The typeface that I wrote Original Kid in is a typeface VERY similar to The Hundreds so it’s a nod to them.
- The way that I did the interior tag printing looks exactly like a famous design from the Japanese jiu jitsu company Isami but with different words and phrasing.
So here’s the thing. Literally NOBODY on the planet gets all that. Most people don’t even get 1 or 2. But it’s so freaking fun for me.
The second main way that I have fun in my business is just engaging with people. Doing everything I can on every youtube video, podcast, blog post, facebook post, tweet, email, etc. to get people to talk to me and then talking about with them like a real person and not just a brand. I enjoy Bobby Hundreds’ personal brand WAY more than The Hundreds as a whole. In fact, I’m a bigger fan of him personally than of the brand as a whole. When you engage with people and truly put yourself out there, you’ll start having a lot more fun.
But it isn’t always that way. And let’s be honest here.
Real Talk: It Isn’t Always Fun.
There’s a lot of days that I wake up when my alarm goes off and I have to say to myself ‘do you want to succeed more than you want to breathe’ and I’ll rationalize that my work will be better if I get more sleep and being tired all day with my family sucks and whatnot, but then I force myself out of bed wash my face and brush my teeth (a great way to wake yourself up) and I do my morning routine and get to work.
But hear me clearly, it’s hard. There’s a reason 99% of people make excuses and don’t pursue their dream or create whatever awesome thing they have inside them. The reason they don’t pursue what Paulo Cuehlo would call their ‘personal legend.’
I mean shoot, last night I was recording with my buddy Brett from the ‘Where There’s Smoke’ podcast and we went 30 minutes over the amount of time I told my wife I was going to be working and she was upset.
And rightfully so! I lost her trust in me that when I’m working I’m working and don’t want to be disturbed but when I say I’m done, I’m done.
I don’t do everything right all the time. And this isn’t fun all the time. In fact, I’d say that most things aren’t fun.
Doing the interviews and writing and recording this stuff? Super fun.
Talking directly to you on twitter and email? Sign me up.
But editing podcasts and articles is brutal for me. I can never make them sound right and I’m still working on cleaning up my speech so that I don’t have to edit out so many ‘uhms’ and ‘you knows.’ I still think my writing sounds like I’m in high school.
And you know what, since I’m ranting, I hate printing mailing labels for Ok! kimonos.
It’s the worst part of the job. I’ve tried but found LITERALLY no way to make that fun. The copying and pasting and printing and shipping and then it gets lost and then track the order and the endless emails about that crap.
And the sitting! Let’s not even get started on how much I hate sitting for hours at a time.
In fact, there’s seasons where it’s the worst thing in the world and I hate doing the work that matters. The work that needs to be done.
Steven Pressfield would call that feeling ‘the resistance’ and it’s what keeps us from doing the work that matters. He says ‘resistance is always lying and always full of shit.’ I agree, Steve.
I figured out early that yes, we do have to do the hard work. But we can also make everything fun.
When I became a parent, people told me that the days are long and the years are short.
Bobby Hundreds says something along those lines in that “Life isn’t short, but the chapters are. Enjoy every paragraph.”
And one more for the road:
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
Make your work fun. Put yourself into it. Put inside jokes in there. Make it colors that only you know the meaning of. I have webinars I’ve done and the typefaces I’ve used are Futura and another called Raiders. Nods to Aaron Draplin, a designer I love, and, like I said earlier, The Hundreds.
How much more fun am I going to have on those webinars when I see Aaron and Bobby in my work?
A whole heck of a lot more than I would have otherwise.
So where do we go from here?
This blog is chance for me to teach what I’ve learned in building Ok! Kimonos and I have a lot to share, but I want to know what you want to read.
Comment below and let me know where you’re struggling and what you want to read about next.