How To Build A Great Brand With Very Little Money'.
Nov 20th. London. £300.
There has never been a better time to start a brand. There has never been a cheaper time, either. But when everyone has the same free tools as you, how do you stand out? The answer is simple enough: By learning how to use those tools with greater skill than anyone else. This workshop will give you some key insights into this.
How do you beat Goliath? It won’t be by out-spending them. But it will be by out-thinking them. It will also come from understanding what you are going to change. Understanding your purpose and how to make that mean as much to your customer as it does to you. This workshop will give you some key insights into this, too.
I am not a theorist. I have built brands from nothing with next to nothing just by understanding a few key basic rules. I shares these insights with you on my course: 'How To Build A Brand With Very Little Money.
What Will You Learn?
How to tell your story.
How to give your brand a voice.
How to get people to love your brand.
The importance of 1000 true fans.
The real advantages of being small.
Is your idea going to change anything.
How to put a moat around your idea.
How to identify a niche before others.
The importance of being first.
How to fund it without losing control.
How to build a great team without employing anyone.
We tend to work the way we do because that is how we have always done it, that is how everyone does it. We all follow a well-beaten path. But how we are currently working might not be the best way to get the most done. Some food for thought:
An experiment in the 1940’s measured men loading pig iron onto train freight cars at The Bethlehem Steel Company. Each man didn’t stop until they managed 12 1/2 tons. By noon, they were exhausted and could do no more.
The next day, they were told to load the pig iron for 26 minutes. Then rest for 34 minutes. They rested more than they worked. At the end of the day, they had loaded 47 tons. That’s almost 4 times as much as working flat out.
A short sprint followed by a longer rest, can get way more done. But, we think of resting up as some badge of dishonour. As humans, we are built for short bursts. Our attention span is built for short bursts. Our creativity is built for short bursts. Yet mostly, we work like we are built for marathons.
I think sprints are a practical way to make a lot of stuff happen quickly with limited resources. I use them a lot for Hiut Denim and The Do Lectures.
Sprints shortcut red tape. They get you to launch quickly. And often. They keep momentum. And it breeds an urgency of doing which I think needs to be there.
You can’t sprint forever. And yes, a longer rest has to follow a sprint. But I have no doubt, sprints work.
This link tells you how Google use sprints. Google Sprint Design
Photo by Jim Marsden.
It supplies your inner drive. It fuels innovation. It finds you your best people. It keeps them with you when other companies come poaching. They will.
It keeps you staying true, when it would be easy to compromise. It stops you from quitting, when times get tough. And, they will.
Purpose gives you a reason to fight like you have never fought before. And to keep on fighting. With everything you have. Nothing spared.
The kid in the school yard that you shouldn’t fight is the one you have insulted his mother. He knows why he is going to kick your ass. And if you beat him this time, he will just keep coming back. He is fighting for something much bigger than himself. Truly.
For me the most important companies in the world, change something. They know what they are fighting for, and they fight. Apple fought on behalf on behalf of simplicity, and complexity was the enemy. Patagonia is fighting for the planet, and we are grateful they continue to do so.
The reason purpose gives you a steel backbone is because the goal is bigger than yourself, you are fighting for something far bigger than just your self-interest.
If you are sitting there right now, and think your purpose is to increase market share, or to become number 1 in this or that market. Those are just numbers. Nobody gets remembered for numbers.
Your biggest gift you have been given is the chance to make a change, to use your company to make a difference. To look back and say, that is what I did. On your death-bed, you will not be thinking of numbers.
Use your gift. Go and make some change happen.
Photo by Andrew Paynter.
I am no expert at this by any means. But here are some things to consider.
1, Find the slowest money you can find.
2, Split shares. A, Voting. B, Non-Voting
3, Sell Non-Voting.
4, Work like crazy to keep promises. Don’t make promises you can’t deliver on.
5, When raising money, ask for advice. When you need advice, ask for money.
6, Use investors for their wisdom as much as their money.
7, Meet up often. Have dinner with them. (I need to do this more)
8, Make sure they use your product, your service. Do they have an interest?
9, Long term thinkers are in short supply. Don’t compromise. Keep looking.
10, There will be setbacks. Your investors will appreciate bad news fast.
Photo by Jim Marsden.
(Pic from the amazing @campovida, home to Do USA. Pic by @jessiewebster)
When I lived in London, I used to ride by a wine shop. Each day it changed the chalkboard outside the shop.I could feel their energy. I could feel their passion for wine. Just from them changing it everyday, I got the fact that they were bursting with love of wine.
When I went into the shop, they were as expected. They were full of young students who loved, like really loved, wine. Their knowledge was amazing. And they just wanted to share it.
I became a regular customer. I loved it.
Then one day they got sold. And almost overnight, the chalkboards just stopped being changed. I didn’t know they had been sold. But I knew it wasn’t the same anymore.
They seemed to lose their mojo. They seemed to hire people less in love with wine. And eventually, they lost me as a customer.
I later learned they had been sold. And then sold again. And they later went into receivership. Only to be saved by another company. They took the name, but not the quest to tell the world about amazing wine. The chalkboards now just say the name. Whereas it used to say: Passion.
And as customers, we love passion.
We gravitate toward it.
Building a mountain is expensive. Making a million cars is not cheap either. Mind you, nor is building a zillion houses. This summer I stood on the edge of a mountain in North Wales just seconds from taking a zip wire down to the bottom. From the edge, I could see a great business. He had used existing assets that were largely unused and got them to do something. Building a zip-wire across a mountain costs nothing compared with building a mountain.
And in a way, he was just doing what Airbnb or Uber have done. Find assets that are doing nothing, and get them to do something. The rooms that were lying idle suddenly became full. Cars that were driving around the city empty suddenly had paying passengers in them. Neither had to build the infrastructure of the rooms or the cars. That takes a lot of money.
By comparison, coding a website to turn unused assets into used assets, well, that is relatively cheap compared to building a million cars, or a zillion rooms. Or building a mountain.
I use an app on my phone called Clear. It’s super simple. I make all my notes on it, from what I read, from what I hear, then I go back to it and use what I have learnt. Keeping notes is good. The brain is for thinking, not remembering all the stuff you have seen or heard. Here’s what I wrote down on my trip to LA.
Guy Webster has new book out. Met him at Do USA. Top human and photographer.
If you love simple but beautiful design for your house, Tom Kundig is a top talent.
This documentary by Louie Psihoyo’s comes out Sept 18th. It is a hidden camera look at the mass extinction of animals and our fish. He also did the Cove documentary.
Rashida Jones guide to happiness at work.
Like discovering a new friend, these books take a deep dive into some great brands.
Comparison between one way of doing it, and a newer way of doing it. Clever.
Climbers are different. They just are.
Amazing community in Northern California that stands for great design and looking after the environment.
Skateboarding in California between 1975-78. Seminal time.
Podcast from the people are doing it.
A podcast about ideas and curiosity.
This American Life. America’s most popular podcast.
Instagram feed of radavist. If you like bikes, this will be for you.
A housing trust that is getting people off the streets of LA. Innovative. And truly inspiring. My notes from the tour: Average age 52. Housing first: Strategy to solving the problem. A homeless person costs government $100,000. Housing them automatically saves $40,000. “You don’t have a lot because you can’t carry it.” Every system has failed them: School, family, government, friends etc. Permanent supportive housing is what they supply. 6000 people within 50 blocks of here are sleeping on the streets.
Avery Dennison are leading the way. The stuff they showed me that they are thinking about is truly pioneering.
Bringing old denim back to life.
Getting fit with your community.
Building a bike company through humour and great design.
Startup to watch:
Omata. I met with Rhys and Julian in Venice Beach. If you like bikes, great design, and great utility, you are going to love what they are about to launch.
Place I wish I ate at:
N/Naka, by Niki Nakayama. Watch her on Chefs table on Netflix.
Bike Gang culture in LA.
Blue Bottle Coffee. Beautiful coffee shops. And the coffee is insane.
Inspiring. Using coffee for change.
Le Pain Quodtidien. Belgium company. Downtown LA. Great breakfast.
Uber. Not used it before. Not much demand in Cardigan. Technology is pretty amazing. See the car come around the corner.
A visit to The Southern California Institute of Architecture is well worth it. Oh my, robots, 3 d printers, kids skateboarding down the corridors.
It has taken us 7 years just to get to the start line.
Two weeks ago, there was a list of the 21 best brands in Wales. The Do Lectures found itself on that list along with Gareth Bale and W.R.U.
This week Seth Godin put up a list of Templates for Organic and Viral Growth. Along with Airbnb lists, Farmers Markets, Alcoholics Anonymous, The Do Lectures was on it too.
It has taken 7 years for the Do Lectures to get to the point that it has started to get some recognition. It has taken 7 years to get to the start line.
The Burning Man has been going for 28 years. In their 6th year, they had 600 people attend. Today, they have capped it at 50,000 people. South By South West started in 1994. This is its 21st year. In year 6th it had 3,755 registered attendees. Today, it has over 155,000 people who attend at least one event. Ted is 30 years old. Its first event lost so much money, that it would have to wait another 6 years before the next one.
The Do Lectures is one of the best experience events in the world. (Or so people come up and tell me.) Yes, it can do a better job at diversity of speakers. Yes, it needs to amp up the levels of irreverence. Yes, it needs more art. More comedy. Yes, more tech. More surprises. More silence. More WTF.
But that is the attitude that has got us to here; no one is prepared to sit back. There is no one here that is resting on any laurel. The blessing is it can’t get any bigger. The only thing we can scale here is amazingness.
After 7 years, it is about to stop being a Tuesday company. A company that meets once a week and tries to get as much done on that day. But The Do lectures is about to get all those lovely other days of a week.
Imagine what it could do if it had the same number of days as anyone else. Sometimes, you have to serve your apprenticeship. Like a band, it has sit in the bedroom and learn how to play. Like a footballer, you just have to take the ball down the park and learn how to kick it.
So here we are, at the start line. And it feels good.
I don’t have as many chickens as I did last week. The chickens are free range. And yup, you guessed it, so is the fox.
After the most recent visit by the fox, I thought it was time to go and get an electric fence. Or build a big chicken coop with high-sided fences.
But then I remembered visiting someone who just used radio 4 to protect his hens. The voices were enough to spook the fox. I thought it was clever. But a part of me thought that was far too simple to work. So I never tried it.
I had the data to back up his idea, and yet chose to ignore it. He had never lost a chicken. I had lost loads. But something was stopping me from adopting it. What was it? I had stopped thinking like a child.
"Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."
Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
I thought the solution had to be cleverer than that. It had to be more than just a radio playing. Surely, it can’t be that simple, could it?
But if you are a fox, and you hear someone talking, you don’t think it’s a radio, you think it’s someone talking. Foxes hunt with their ears, as well their nose. They sit still and they listen. They listen for any sound. Especially humans. If they hear humans, they stay clear. Simple, when you think about it.
As Duke Stump, who curates Do USA, keeps saying, ‘We have to learn to quiet our cleverness’. We dismiss simple answers at our peril. Or, at the chickens.
Myths are powerful. They are seminal storytellers of events that may or may not have happened. The most powerful are semi-believable, but contain some element of wonder and magic.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
It’s hard to dream up a myth, like you can think up some marketing campaign: They can feel forced. They can feel like they are selling something. And so they don’t get shared.
The best ones just happen all by themselves. And when they do, they will be shared. And they can really help build your brand. Because, like I said at the start, myths are powerful.
My learning from myths is what you can do as a brand builder is to create a space for myths to happen. And, just wait and see what unfolds.
For the last 7 years we have been building The Do Lectures. It is a gathering of people around ideas and how they can change the world. It takes place on the far western edge of Wales. In an old cowshed. (And, it now takes place in California, Melbourne and for the first time this July in Costa Rica)
At this year’s Do Lectures Wales, we created a secret gin parlour that no one at the event knew was there. On the Friday, we Instagrammed a barman wearing a black suit and tie serving some fine seaweed gin in it. And nobody came. The Wi-Fi is so bad that no one was able to see the post on his or her phones. Instead, we told two people, and before we knew it, you couldn’t move.
The Naim Audio equipment played the music. The Hendricks flowed freely. We had bought enough for the 3 days. But it only lasted 3 hours. One of the rules of the secret gin parlour was when the bell sounded there would be a 60 second disco, and everyone had to take part. Most of that was planned.
But what we hadn’t planned to happen was for Tom Herbert to walking in a 1 am with a sourdough loaf that he had just baked in the Big Bertha’s oven in the back of their Land Rover. It had ‘Do’ written on it. And it was still hot. He gave it to me. I took a chunk of it. And I passed it on to the crowd. I can still see it now, everyone passing it on with hands a loft like someone crowd surfing but with a loaf of Sourdough.
The next morning, it was that moment everyone was talking about. It wasn’t planned. But all we did was to create a space for it to happen.
This week the Do Lectures was voted in the top 21 coolest brands in Wales along with a small jeans maker called Hiut.
From time to time I run a Do Workshop: How to build a great brand with very little money.
Pareto’s Law is named after an Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. It is also known as the 80-20 rule, which Richard Koch wrote about in his brilliant book.
The thinking is this: If you run a business, 80% of your business probably comes from 20% of your customers. If you are a creative person, 80% of your awards/ recognition/income will come from 20% of your output.
So how can knowing this principle help you manage your time?
Well, start by looking at your day. See where you spend most of your time.
The likelihood is you will find out you spend most of your time is spent on the things that you are not that good at.
Too many meetings. Too much admin. Too much politics.
This is called The Law of Oterap. (Pareto backwards).
This is where you spend 80% of your time on the things you are least good at. And where you can make the least difference.
You don’t need more time in the day. You don’t need to work longer hours. You don’t need to work weekends.
You just need to spend more time on what you are brilliant at.
And less time on all that other stuff.