How To Build A Great Brand With Very Little Money'.
Feb 19th. 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.
Interesting Things Happen When You Do Interesting Things.
It’s an equation, an unwritten law, and a universal truth all rolled into one.
The more interesting things you put out there, the more interesting things come back to you. There is no doubt, that you can’t outspend your rivals. You can’t out resource them. You can’t work any longer hours than you currently are. But you can be more interesting than them.
You don’t have to have a meeting to agree on what pantone colour the coffee cups should be, or whether you can use humour on Twitter. Like, how funny is too funny? You are free of all that.
If you think about it all the things that you don’t have are made all the more magical by the things you do have. Like being fast, like being brave, like listening to your instinct.
Once you realise you have all the tools you need to grow your business to hand already, interesting things begin to happen.
1, Samey idea.
2, Have no story. Or tell it poorly.
3, Have nothing you want to change.
4, Do it on your own.
5, Have co-founders with the same skill sets.
6, Tiny market.
7, No vision.
8, Choose cool over useful.
9, No focus.
10, Too stubborn.
11, Not stubborn enough.
12, Raise too little money.
13, Spend too much.
14, Too early/Too late.
15, Hire a**holes.
16, Don’t build a team.
17, Don’t answer a need.
18, Fight each other.
19, Believe your own hype.
20, Stop innovating.
21, Don’t do the work.
23, Never start.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
1, Stop hiring the awkward ones.
2, Chase the numbers, not the change.
3, Stop innovating.
4, Only back sure fire things.
5, Stop trusting the team.
6, Make slow decisions.
7, Forget why you started.
8, Oust the founder.
9, Let success steal your hunger.
10, Stop socialising together.
It wasn’t supposed to be there. It was only there because the first speaker had problems with a tripod, so he borrowed the chair to have something to put his old camera on.
But, there it stayed. No one questioned its right to be there. Why should they? It was there from the beginning so it was meant to be there, right?
Roald Dahl wrote: “Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places”.
It’s also true that some of the answers are staring at us right in the face, and because they are so obvious we don’t think they can be the answer.
In our lives, in our businesses, we all have lots of ‘Invisible Red Chairs’. We do things this way, because we did it that way yesterday. We put down a piece a plank of wood and it stays there for so long that everyone thinks it’s supposed to be there.
We have our set ways. And yet, it may not be the best way of doing it. Very often, it isn’t. But we stick to our ways, mostly because we don’t have to think too much.
But one habit that a lot of entrepreneurs seem to have is the ability to walk in stupid each day. They don’t mind asking dumb questions. They don’t have any problem asking the blindingly obvious. Like why is that Red Chair up there on stage?
Walk in stupid every morning. That way you won’t just carry on as you always have done.
At Hiut Denim Co, we are learning to Vlog.
We are learning by making one each day.
This is day 3. Young Huw is shooting, editing and re-shooting all on the fly.
He is super keen. But right now, not super experienced.
And yes, there are some very, very good Vloggers out there.
So why bother unless you can be better than them, right?
Just look at Casey Neistat. He is on fire at the moment.
Ze Frank posts rarely post these days. But, when he does, it’s pure gold.
And those Jack’s gap twins, oh boy they are doing great vlogs too.
But I am guessing they didn’t start out as good as they are now.
I reckon they got that good because they weren’t frightened to suck.
They just did lots. Learnt. Did some more. Learnt some again. And overtime, they got good. Great, even.
The downside of perfection is it stops you from being prepared to suck for a bit. And that means you will never get to learn what you need to be great at something. Perfection is a curse in that way.
Bill Withers said it best: You can’t get to wonderful without going through alright.
But when you see ‘Alright’, tell it that you are just passing through.