Welcome to Remote Start Podcast!
Oct. 4, 2022

E25: The Importance of Brand Strategy From Enterprise to Startup with Eric Barrett

In this episode, I'm with my guest, Eric Barrett. He's currently the vice president of marketing and public relations at Welink. He is in the final stages of launching his own business. Branding is crucial, so we will discuss how vital brand strategy... See show notes at: https://www.remotestartpodcast.com/e25-the-importance-of-brand-strategy-from-enterprise-to-startup-with-eric-barrett/#show-notes


In this episode, I'm with my guest, Eric Barrett. He's currently the vice president of marketing and public relations at Welink. He is in the final stages of launching his own business.

Branding is crucial, so we will discuss how vital brand strategy is, from enterprise-level companies to even starting your own business. Today, I'm excited to talk about Eric's journey.

Eric is a 360-degree brand strategist and marketing executive. He is on a mission to help organizations innovate and grow their brands, products, and customer experiences. I'm looking forward to digging deeper into understanding branding.

So Remote Start Nation…

Let’s get the show on the road!

 

Learn more about Eric Barrett at: https://www.mixlinemedia.com/

Learn more about Remote Start Podcast at:  https://www.remotestartpodcast.com/

Transcript

Jim: What is up, Remote Start Nation. Let's get something started. I'm Jim Doyon. And I wanna welcome you to another episode of Remote Start, where I bring you stories and strategies on how to start a business, build a brand and create your desired lifestyle.

On today's episode, we're going to discuss how important brand strategy is, from enterprise level companies to even starting your own business. Branding is extremely crucial. In order to do so, today, I've brought on a very special guest, Eric Barrett. He's currently the vice president of marketing and public relations at Welink. In addition to that, Eric is in the final stages of launching his own business. So I'm definitely excited to talk to him about both those today. Eric is a 360 degree brand strategist and marketing executive, who is on a mission to help organizations innovate and grow their brands, products and customer experiences. Remote Start Nation, I'm very excited to have Eric join us today, and I'm really looking forward to digging deeper into understanding branding. So without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Eric Barrett. Eric, welcome to the Remote Start Nation.

Eric: Hey Jim, how's it going? I'm excited to be here.

Jim: Thank you, man. I'm excited to have you. I'm very excited for this, so thank you very much for taking the time outta your day. You know, let's get this started, man. What's one thing someone wouldn't know about you if they had just met you?

Eric: Well, that's a good question. First, I gotta say I gotta break protocol a little bit, Jim, cause I just gotta say, you know what you're doing here with Remote Start. I just know there are so many people out there who are desperately wanting to be able to build their business and build their brand, and I think you, I can't over estimate just how important what your doing is, and just wanna say thank you for that, and thank you for having me, I'm excited.

Jim: That's absolutely awesome. Thank you. I appreciate that, and it's a lot of work, but I'm hoping even if one person just takes something and learns from what we're doing here, then it, it makes it all worth it, man. So thank you for that.

Eric: So, but to answer your question, you know, come back to that, you know, it is funny the last couple years, since this COVID craziness. I think the majority of the people who I've met, especially in business type relationships, you know, I've met virtually and I'm once I meet some of those people again, in person, they are blown away at how tall I am, you know, it’s a small thing, but I mean, so I'm 6’6” I'm the same height as Michael Jordan is, you know, I have to compare it to something just, you know, for a frame of reference. I don't have much of a personality outside of work. Sports are pretty much all I have, so, anyway.

Jim: That's, you know, that's funny because we had talked before and then, you know, just a little background for the Remote Start Nation, you and I did launch a little bit and a little bit ago and I was like, it's the same thing I, when I saw you for the first time, I was like, holy smokes, in fact, I think that was my first thing I said to you, how tall are you, man? So, yeah, so Eric, give us a little background on yourself as it relates to branding and marketing and even hit on some of the companies you've helped to grow.

Eric: Yeah. So I started my career. I actually, so I studied design at L’Bri University, and from there I went and worked for an agency in New York City. It was a really amazing experience, small agency called Think So, so founder and partner there, Brett Trailer was just phenomenal. Taught me so much in the short time that I worked there, and so that an amazing experience. I went from there to global branding team in New Skin, and then from there to another small agency this time in Pasadena and worked for, you know, again, a really phenomenal just incredibly creative and thoughtful designer, John Mark, and from and working for this agency called Distinct, we worked for just amazing clients, right? And then coming from there, came back and worked in-house for BI and solar and Sunrun, and currently with WeLink. So in addition to some of these companies, I've worked in house for I've had some awesome opportunities, I've worked Tesla, we've been able to work with Ford and worked with Nike on the city edition jerseys for the Utah Jazz and the launching of that, so that was a phenomenal experience as well, and you know, I've worked with, I guess you could say everything from, you know, health, wellness, skincare we've worked at, you know, banking, finance, nonprofits, renewable energy telecommunications, and it's been a phenomenal ride, you know, I think I'm incredibly lucky to have worked for so many awesome clients. I can also say, you know it's great perspective, you know, the principles of great marketing and great branding don't actually change that much, what changes are the specifics, but I think the specifics are things that you can learn as you kind of move from place to place.

Jim: And now you're about to start a journey with your own agency, so I'm excited to see how that goes and, you know, see all these principles that you've learned and taking those into your own and seeing how many other companies you can help out there, and we'll talk about that a little bit more in detail as the show goes on, but, you know, let's get back to the basics here. Tell me in your opinion, what are, you know, I see a lot of people get confused with marketing and branding and yes, there's some overlap there. Tell me in your opinion, the difference of the two and even just your definition of the two.

Eric: Yeah. That's, you know, oftentimes when I'm talking to people, because you're right, I think there are a lot of, I'll just say kind of misconceptions and how those are created, doesn't really matter as much, right? Let's just, you know, if we understand that a lot of people have some understanding of what marketing and branding are, but they're probably not the same as your definition, right? And if you start from that place, yeah. Typically, one of the things I'll talk about with people is, you know, your brand is not your logo and it is not your sales pitch, you know, those are parts of it, right? But your brand is really whatever people say it is. And you can be branded as the inpatient sales rep who is always looking for an angle or you can be branded as the customer service department that never answers the phone. You can also be branded as the company who always shows up, you know, every time you need them, you can be branded as the reliable product that does everything, it said it was going to do. So I think if you start from that standpoint, I think what your brand really is, is a story, right? And it's a story people tell themselves about you and in part why they chose you, right? So, you know, give you an example just from my own experience, right? Like I don't use Uber or Lyft because I need a way to get from point a to point A and point B. I used, I originally started using Uber or Lyft because I loved the story that I could tell my friends about the Uber driver, who I just met or even, you know, the first few times I used it where it was still kind of new and you know, you can literally summon a driver and a vehicle to wherever you are by pushing a button on your phone, that experience is really what I was buying. It wasn't that I needed inexpensive place to go from A to B, because that already existed, right?

Jim: So now how, so if that's your definition of branding, talk to me a little bit about marketing.

Eric: Well, I think marketing tends to be more channel specific. So you have, say like your digital marketing group, you might have your public relations group, you might have an internal communications group, and so as you start with sort of your what I think of as branding is really a central unifying idea that should be aligned across all of your various communications and touchpoints, but then you need those individual teams, especially when you're working with, you know, some of these larger organizations, the reality is you're probably not gonna be able to scale it by doing everything yourself, so you have to have ways that you can kind of communicate that what your brand is out to people, so that they can also be brand advocates and communicate it through their own channels, so I think one of the things that branding is all about is just taking every opportunity to build brand advocates and I think through the various marketing and sales channels, you can do that.

Jim: That's, those brand advocates. I like to coin as the community, right? Like who's in your community, who's talking for you, who's out there sharing about your brand story. So let's talk a little bit about, you know, this episode and your expertise is in the branding and really how it relates to brand strategy and sitting down with an organization and, you know, helping that organization grow based on brand strategy, so for the Remote Start Nation out there will you kind of define brand strategy for us and how you look at brand strategy.

Eric: So if we think about your brand as your story, I think a great place to start with every organization is identifying who your stakeholders are, because those are gonna be effectively your audience for the story. This is something that a lot of companies do well, a lot of companies don't do well, I've seen a little bit of both, but I think, you know, you want to think about, you know, really who is my audience and then, you wanna start with some really what might seem like high level questions, but are really important things like why do we exist other than to make money, right? I mean, I think a lot of businesses, you know, obviously we're here to make money, but I mean, you get the chance to work with a lot of smart people, and it's like, you know, I think most of the people who I've had the opportunity to work with, it's like, you know, you could make money doing any number of things, why did you choose, let's say solar energy, right? As an example, and so, you know, if you start from that point of view of why do we exist other than to make money, then let's talk about what it is that we do and how we want to do and so there's this concept of sort of first principles or brand values to use a different term, and that really has to do again, kind of from a cultural point of view, how do we wanna do the things that we do and what are some first principles we can use to really guide our decision making on a day to day basis. I was gonna say, I think that story, as you get clarity around it, you know, my college experience and my training is really in design, and so I think, it's really about getting clarity in a lot of ways. And so as that story comes into picture, then the logo drawing the logo become, much easier at that point or riding the headline or designing the collateral. it all becomes much easier once you have that really clear picture of what it is that you're working for.

Jim: It's funny, cause we've you twice and with your background in design and you've mentioned like, you know, don't start with a logo, right? Like your brand is not your logo, it's only one part of it, I have a previous episode just a solo episode, but like I hit on that point so hard in that episode because I have so many people that will come to me and you know, they, oh, I have this brand and I've already created this logo, but they don't know anything else about their company, it's like I bought the website and I have my logo.

Eric: Yeah, absolutely, it is something that you see a lot, right? And I think don't get me wrong, like the logo is important, right? I've Hey, I've, you know, in some ways made a living off of drawing logos, right? Like  right. Logos are amazing, and they're typically on every piece of communication that you create, and so getting it right is important, but you know, something that John Mark used to say, when we were working together in California, don't make things pretty, make things happen, and I think, you know, again, like aesthetics are really important, it's a really important component to design, right. But I think a better definition of design other than making things pretty is really assembling sort of these component parts to solve a problem or make things work better.

Jim: So that's, that's a good point, I like that. So, let me talk to you about more, like we went over a little bit of your process, but do you have, like when you're looking for an entrepreneur out there listening to the Remote Start Podcast and listening to this episode, and they've got a small business, and they want to take it to a next level, maybe they, you know, they went out, they got a logo, they are they're generating revenue and they want to grow and, you know, through brand strategy is, are there some steps you can give them that you think could help them right away?

Eric: Yeah. I mean, even if we go back to first principles, just as like a starting point to inform some of our decision making, I think once you're able to answer those questions of why do we exist other than to make money? How do we do what we do? What is it that we do? Then you can ask yourself some questions that are a little more tactical things like you'll be talking about the importance of stakeholders and understanding sort of the question is who needs to know. The answers to those previous questions, what do they care about and how will they find it? And if you're thinking about that, then you start to go to things like, well, let's take a look at something like, you know, what's your website performance looking like, is that a primary buying channel? And if so, is your traffic growing? Is it declining? Where are you sitting in terms of your authority, is the content on your website relevant to what people are searching for? And there's, I mean, I'll tell you nine times out of 10, there are a dozen quick wins just by looking at your website alone. Again, assuming that's a primary sales channel for you, but you know, if you're primary objective is to grow, I think you also need to look at kind of your organization and be honest about where that is and say, you know, if you think about it from that point of view, again, you can influence so much just by designing, you know, better operations, better systems internally and communicating your vision, you know, your brand vision internally, I think, you know, can't overstate just how important that is that, you know, if you're the entrepreneur, if you're the CEO, let's say, once you understand what that vision is, you gotta find a way to communicate that to people because, like we talked about earlier, you're not gonna be able to do everything to yourself when you start to scale, right, you figure out how to get that vision into the hearts and minds of the people who are working with, so that they can also carry out the different executable tasks that they need to.

Jim: And that's one of my favorite things in our business Woodward Movement, you know, our agency is helping businesses put together what we call our, a brand deck or the brand guidelines, so to your point, all of the vision and mission everywhere that you want to take the company as an ownership or the executive team, you lay out the communication and the guidelines for the rest of the company to follow, so then you're saving yourself a ton of time and a ton of money and wasted energy going back and forth if you have that in place.

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. If you can make a decision once instead of making it every day, I mean, that's, that's a lot of what, you know, something like a brand brand identity guide can do for you, it can make a decision once instead of making it a thousand times. The question is like, you know, what color should the logo be? We can answer that question once we can put it in writing and then we can let people go and then, and use it, right, but imagine if you had to make that decision every time you were using the logo, That's not gonna be a rescue success.

Jim: And unfortunately, with, you know, handling a lot of merch for clients, it's we see that where they don't know what colors they're supposed to use, they don't know what logo they're supposed to use. And so therefore their brand is inconsistent, you know, and it's something else you hit on Eric that I wanna make a good point of and you know, when it, it comes back to your point of the website and you can improve a brand a lot of ways, just by looking at a website, I like to look at it as an overall what's your customer journey, right. And if you can, take that and look at each piece of that customer journey and the website's one part of that and the website in a lot, points or a lot of times and she point is, I think it's one of the most important, because if you want your website, just to be a glorified brochure and tell somebody about your brand, you can, but if you can tell your story, make it easy for them to find what the next step is in the process, are they trying to contact you? Do you want them to fill out a form? Is it going, is it an eCommerce and they're going right to the product. It's maximizing your website and the rest of your inbound sales strategy for your customer experience. Do you agree with that?

Eric: Yeah. So I think you're absolutely right. I couldn't agree anymore. When it comes to your customer journey, I think, one of the books that I love actually is a fooled by randomness. I don't know if you've read this one, but it talks about, you know, one of the core lessons I think I took from that book is this concept really pricing your outcomes correctly. And one of the things that I think is sort of misunderstood when we think about customer journey is that every interaction that a customer might have with you throughout their buying journey from, we can think of it as first touch to last touch from the first time that you're able to them to the last time that you communicate with them is that every one of those interactions leading up to a purchase is essentially a coin flip. And one of the things that we want to do in marketing for instance, is we want to tilt the odds in our favor. So, think about, you know, something like blackjack, right? I don't know. I don't gamble, sometimes I wish that I did. I feel like I need a vice or something like that, all you have to do is walk through a casino floor in Las Vegas and you can see literally hundreds of people pricing their outcomes incorrectly. Right. You know, someone listening to this will correct me, but I think your chances of winning a black Jack hand sitting down or something, you know, 48 or 49% or something like that. And that's something I look at and I'm like, that's the wrong way to play. Right? Like, so when we thought, think about our customer journey and especially kind of tactically through the different advertising or marketing channels or your sales channel specifically, let's assume that's your website in this case then what you're trying to do is kind of optimize each one of those interactions. And what we mean by optimize is really, again, we wanna constantly be working on tilting the odds in our favor. So, if you know, let's say making a lot of ad impressions, but not getting a lot of buyers, one of the ways that we can tilt the odds back in our favor, because you know, the majority of people need to interact with your brand. I think the number's always changing, but I think the number is now that people will interact with your brand, like 17 times before they make a purchase. And so, if you think about that, what are the chances that you're going to get a sale the first and only time you reach them? Not very good, very few people are scrolling through Instagram thinking, man, I wish I could just spend money on the remote start podcast or whatever it is, right? Whatever your brand or company is. So, you wanna be able to use something like remarketing? Remarketing is one of the ways that we can tilt the odds back in our favor, because it gives us more opportunities to interact with you before you have to make a purchase decision. And you know, what we're trying to do is really hone in on what are the critical numbers that are gonna drive that decision making the critical components of your brand. There's this concept that I refer to a lot as performance branding, where you have sort of these two sides to it, where side one is, if you don't know how your brand is supposed to work the chances that you're gonna set everything up to be successful from the beginning on your first try are just very slim. But if you know how it's supposed to work, that's also one thing and you can do everything possible in the beginning to maximize your chances for success, but then you have what I call performance branding or positive branding on the other side of that, which is observing how it actually works. We think so on one side it's we think people want this story and then once you put it out there measuring and saying, well, were we right? Do people actually want this story? And they'll tell us, I think people are getting as consumers, people are getting more and more intelligent and smarter about the decisions that they make and people want to not just purchase products, but they want purchase a brand they wanna purchase what everything that comes with that, a story and a culture and everything. Right. And so, people will vote with their dollars and their engagement. Right.

Jim: That's why I think, you know, to that point, I think it's so important to be true to who you are and understand like, if you're starting for those, you starting a brand out there. So, one of the first things I try to help people with is understand your why? Like, why are you doing this? Why are you starting a business? Like, why are you starting this project? Whatever it might be because if you can hold true to that, why throughout then you're gonna attract the customer, that's gonna believe in your story and what you're doing and get behind you. But it's all smoke and mirrors, then it's not gonna work and people are starting, like to your point of consumers are getting smarter, they're gonna see through to that. And you know, for longevity, it's not a good, it's not a good mix. So, you know, if it's your team that has to be bought in first, like to think that the branding has to start from within first, before it goes out to what the customer believes. Right. And so, yeah, I’m very much agree with your point there.

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, I know I've really talked a lot about storytelling and it's probably exhausting for people who know me personally. I do talk about other things sometimes. But I think, you know, some of the, probably the best piece of advice that I ever got was from, Milton Glaser who, you know, some of the people listening will definitely know who he is. He's you think of him as like a design celebrity? I mean, the good news is everybody knows his work, he does, he did iHeart New York and he designed Brooklyn brewery and madman, right. So even if you don't know Milton and glacier, you know, his work. I was really lucky. I met him a couple of times and you know, the first time I met him, I was pretty young. And he, I remember in that conversation told me that storytelling is perhaps the greatest invention of humankind.

Jim: That's very good advice.

Eric: And you can take something, you know, as simple, we've talked about the importance of a logo, if you take something as simple as  I Heart New York, You know, it's like, you're, you're telling a story and people are telling themselves a story about the city that they love, and it's, it's just perfectly encapsulated in what he's able to communicate with four really simple shapes.

Jim: So tell me, you know, we're, unfortunately we're coming to an end here pretty soon, on the episode, but, you know, I really want to talk about what you have coming up in the future and, you know, let the Remote Start Nation know about your new project, and, you know, I want to kind of hit on what it's like to start, you know, you've worked for agencies, you've worked in house for big companies, and now here you are starting off on your own. Let's talk about that a little bit.

Eric: Yeah, that's, it's been, it's really exciting. First of all, you know, I'm working with you know, my business partner he's, we talked a little bit about measurement and analytics. He's probably the best person in the world at what he does there and, you know, again, I'm really fortunate, that's probably happened to me maybe two or three times in my life where you have sort of this aha moment and you're like. wow, I'm talking to somebody who is the best in the world at what they do and you know, when those couple times that I've had that experience, it's like, man, you know, how do, where do I bet my life savings on this? You know, like, and specifically with Mitch, you know, we've, we've looked at some of the things that we've been able to do for the companies that we've worked for so far, you know, he and I worked together with Viv Stoler and Sunra and, you know, we were able to grow the company from, you know, digital sales were 0% of their sales when we started and by the time, you know, we weren't working with the company anymore, it was about 30% of their overall sales volume, it is massive company, right. And so one of the things that we said is, hey, we think we could do this for more companies, and, you know, again, we understand there are so many people out there who need desperately to be able to build their business and build their brand and we've talked about, you know, what is it that we do it it's really, really, really simple, we empower large organizations to move quickly and small companies to scale.

Jim: That's awesome.

Eric: And so for that's what we wanna do for people, you know, we want those people who want to build their business and their brand, we want them to understand that they can.

Jim: Yeah. So how, where can the remote start nation find you, have you posted your new business yet or is it coming in the near future?

Eric: We have we're working on finalizing the details of the website now, should be up here within the next few days is gonna be mixline media.com.

Jim: Cool. And before that or if they're not looking for maybe services right now, but they want to connect with you, where can they find you personally?

Eric: LinkedIn is the best place to reach out, you know, I used to have in my email signature at one point, it was, I had something like, hey, if I don't respond within five minutes, I'm either dead or asleep, I'm definitely not that proactive about responding to email anymore.

Jim: Good, need some time for yourself.

Eric: Yeah, if you send me a message over LinkedIn, I might not respond to immediately, but you know I will respond to any of the messages when I get there.

Jim: Awesome. And I'll have also Remote Start Nation. I'll have the Facebook, I mean, sorry, the LinkedIn, profile in the show notes, listen on the page, so definitely go check that out on remotestartpodcast.com and you'll be able to find Eric's information there. So, Eric, one more question before we go today, but is there a book that you'd recommend as it relates to branding and marketing?

Eric: Yeah, you know, for any of the YouTube viewers, I'll show you it's hopefully you can see this, titled Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler easily, the best book that I can recommend, especially for anybody who is working today in advertising, public relations, communications, branding, design, any of those or even if it's an adjacent field, you know, you work in a business and you work adjacent or you work with your marketing department, you wanna understand a little more about what it is that they do, it's a phenomenal book, you know, it's, I've probably read it more than 60 times.

Jim: Wow. I personally haven't read yet, but, I'm gonna check that out.  I appreciate the insight there. Well, Eric, yeah, I thank you so much. Remote Start Nation, I really hope you learned as much as I did today and can put some of what Eric shared to work for you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for joining me on this journey as I help you to start your business, grow your brand, and create your desired lifestyle. Remember, leave a comment, subscribe, and the most important thing, share this episode with your community, who you think can learn from what you heard here today.

Until next time, go start something, start today and go build a lifestyle you desire by taking action. Eric, thanks again, man, it's been awesome.

Eric: Thank you, Jim. We'll talk soon.

Jim: And good luck with the new business. I look forward to following you and learning more about it and hopefully working out some projects together.

Eric: Absolutely. I can't wait.

Jim: Awesome. We'll talk soon.

Jim Doyon Profile Photo

Jim Doyon

Entrepreneur

My name is Jim Doyon. I'm a father to three awesome kids, husband to an incredible wife and the oldest sibling to a large split family.I'm currently on a mission and I can't wait to share with you. We sold our house back in 2020, and we've been traveling this beautiful country in a 42-foot Travel trailer ever since. We visited 34 states, and are about to embark on our second loop around the country, stopping at some of our favorite spots again, but also getting to see new areas that the US has to offer.We are trying to experience this life to its fullest spending quality time together. I'm running a business and building brands along the road. We've been fortunate enough on this journey to meet new friends, catch up with old friends and family on many of our stops. We love exploring each City from downtown's to the natural resources it has to offer. I'm passionate about mountain biking and it's not only in my way to get out and explore but to exercise, clear my head, think, and strategize.

Eric Barrett Profile Photo

Eric Barrett

Co-Founder and Partner

Eric Barrett is a Co-Founder and Partner at Mixline Media, a multi-disciplinary and independently owned marketing agency in Salt Lake City, UT. His work encompasses global and nationally-renowned brands, including Nike, Tesla, and Ford. As a 360-degree brand and business strategist, Eric focuses on a human-centered approach that involves innovation, growth, design thinking, storytelling, business acumen, and digital transformation. He works hand-in-hand with clients to help them define and communicate their brand vision, story, and identity. His approach reflects his conviction that great brands cannot succeed without passion, intelligence, and personal commitment.

Before founding Mixline Media, Eric held several high-ranking positions in enterprise-level organizations, including the Global Brand Design Team at Nu Skin Enterprises, the Creative Director and Interim Head of Marketing at Vivint Solar, the Director of Content and Design at Sunrun, and the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at WeLink. During his career, he has worked for world-renowned agencies, including Thinkso in New York City and Distinc_ in Los Angeles. Eric has helped dozens of organizations redefine their brand identity throughout his career and transform their growth strategy through digital transformation and marketing.

Eric earned his BFA in Design from Brigham Young University, where he graduated with honors as a member of the Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society and received 8 academic scholarships, 12 talent awards from the Department of Design, and the Oscarson Discovery Grant.