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Building A Brand Experience With Erica Kelly

FFE 106 | Building A Brand Experience

 

There’s so much that goes into building a brand experience that not everyone might be able to see. Getting the right help to build your brand is the best strategy to ensure that you have all your bases covered and your identity figured out. Erica Kelly is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative at Flourish Collaborative. She talks to Jared Orton about the process of building a brand experience from scratch. Let Erica help you figure out what your brand needs to flourish. After all, branding is what others say about your business.

Listen to the podcast here:

Building A Brand Experience With Erica Kelly

Thanks again for being here. We’re appreciative of people who take time out of their day to come here and to comment and to email us and check in. It means a lot. I want to make sure that you, as the reader, understands where we’re coming from. When we started as the Savannah Bananas, or Fans First Entertainment or Savannah Bananas, we had been in Savannah for about 5 or 6 months without a name, without a logo. We were a generically named entity, if you will. Our name was Savannah Baseball 2016. We had a little logo drawn up that was on our website. It was embarrassing to say the least because nobody knew who we were, what we were doing and what we were a part of, why we were doing it. It was crazy. It was tough.

Most of you all know the story, but if you don’t, in those 5 or 6 months, when we first started, and this wasn’t because of the branding, but we had sold four season tickets and one sponsorship package in those 5 or 6 months. It wasn’t until February 25th, 2016 when we named the team Savannah Bananas. We had one lady suggest that we should be named Savannah Bananas and we took her at her word. We announced to the world that we are going to become the Savannah Bananas. It was chaos. People hated us, people loved us. Merchandise was being sold. Also, people were saying that they’d never come to a game. It was insane. We finally had an identity. Fast forward, our conversation is with Erica Kelly and she is the Co-Owner of Flourish Collaborative in Savannah.

They did not do our logo, they did not do our branding, but they are doing some amazing work in this branding space and creating a brand experience. What you’re going to see throughout this is branding is not just, “I have a logo and I have a website.” She kicks it off with this statement where she says that branding is not what you think. Branding is what other people say about your business. That’s the mission we’ve been going on for a while now, is that it’s not about advertising. It’s not about marketing. It’s not about any of that. It’s about what people say about your business. That is when you know that you have fans or the lack of fans. Fans are out there doing the marketing for you.

Your brand has to be an extension towards that, so that your fans know exactly what to say to people about your business and about who you are and what you do and why you do it. This conversation is fascinating. She goes through that theme. She uses the term, brand book or brand bible, a ton. She talks about getting outside your bubble and understanding how you’re perceived in the marketplace. Some powerful things as you start thinking about your brand experience. This isn’t businesses who are just starting out. This can be any business who is questioning if they have the right brand. Do they have the right brand experience? What are other people saying about your business? A lot of people are going to be able to benefit from this. Here’s my conversation with Erica Kelly.

Erica, how are you doing?

I’m doing great.

Thanks for joining us. You are a local. Savannah Flourish Collaborative is affectionately known as FLOCO. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that or not. That’s a little bit unprofessional, I suppose.

You are allowed and encouraged on the topic of branding. I appreciate you know this thing that happened organically with our business. Yes, you can totally say FLOCO.

I guess the whole branding is now out the wall now because you have two names and that’s unclear on people’s expectations of a branding conversation.

Branding is what other people say about your business. Click To Tweet

It’s like a nickname, like if you know, you know. A lot of people affectionately love calling it FLOCO, especially to me and my business partner, Caty. We’re tickled and shocked every time. It’s awesome.

You started this branding collaborative business. What is Flourish Collaborative? How did it start? SCAD, that’s an amazing place to start. Where does it come from since then? Where did it all come from?

Our love story, as we like to call it in between Caty and I, we both went to SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design, for Interior Design. We were a year apart. We didn’t know each other in school honestly, but we were one of the very few graduates of that time to stay in Savannah. The cityscape has certainly changed and evolved since then. You’ll see a lot of graduates planting roots here and choosing to stay here and do art here, which is so fantastic. This will be my first back in the day reference. It was rare. A lot of people went to larger cities where a lot of the bigger jobs were. It was one of those things where I was working for a local interior design agency, fresh out of school. Caty was working for a materials company and we would see each other in passing due to the nature of our jobs.

It got into one of these things like, “What are you doing? Let’s have a drink.” A lot of Savannah stories start at the bar. It evolved into Flourish Collaborative, what this thing is now. Initially, Flourish Collaborative was a branding agency. We had a lot of artistic maker friends who were trying to hustle their way into entrepreneurship. They had great craftsmanship abilities, but they didn’t know how to market themselves. They didn’t know how to position themselves from a branding perspective. We saw that struggle where maybe if your branding and your packaging was a little bit more high-end, you would get a higher price for your product.

That was when we were looking at what problems can we solve now. That’s how Flourish got started. We’ve since evolved into a full-on creative agency from that. We have three pillars to Flourish, branding still being our primary pillar. We’ve brought back interior design into our wheelhouse, which Caty, my business partner, heads. That’s commercial and high-end residential. We also weirdly organically brought in social media management and content creation as the third pillar. I’m sure we’ll get into this later, but branding is such this relatively new organic beast that tips into marketing, tips into PR, tips into graphics. What happens is when you get happy customers, they say, “Can you do this for me? Can you do that for me?” It all leads into one, especially when you’re talking about something like building a brand foundation. It’s almost like you build a foundation and the customer goes, “What about the bedroom and the living room in the house and everything that goes on this foundation?” That’s naturally how Flourish has grown into it.

I think it’s an interesting conversation because when the Bananas started, that was a major decision in our entire history of where we could go and be a company. We had a moment where we thought, “Could we do it on the cheap? Can we get by and do something cheaply?” We started reaching out to some people who had this mindset of like, “This isn’t creating a logo. This isn’t coming up with a team name and some colors and a logo. You’ve got to think 2, 5, 10 years from now and what it could be moving forward?” What are those conversations that you’re having with people to say, “This isn’t just I’m designing a logo for you,” you’re talking about that foundation? How are you sharing with them this is the foundation that could lead you down the road and creating that full experience?

It’s funny you mentioned that. I would say a good majority of people that come to us, they’re asking those same questions. It’s whether you have done business before, you understand true investment before. When you’re starting a business, I understand because I’m a business owner, you want to keep costs low. There are certain things that we’ll argue that you should never DIY or try to do yourself or hire some service on the cheap because it’s going to directly affect. It’s like a domino effect after that. The conversation we have is a frank one because we get so many inquiries monthly of people who maybe did it that way to start and now they’re like, “I want to do it now. I want to invest the money now. I’m not happy with what I have the first time.”

A lot of work that we pick up is their second time around dealing with it. If I can, if that business owner hasn’t been through that already, I’m very frank with them and saying it’s so important to do this now. What we pride ourselves on in Flourish is that the design work that we do, it might pull from maybe some contemporary trends that you see in the design world, but we’re here to build classic long-lasting brands. Brands that maybe need small tweaks over the course of 10, 15 years, but it’s not something that we produce now and in five years it’s like, “That was such a trend.” That’s one of the things I would say for anyone working with any branding agency. Make sure that you’re with a designer that understands it is a long-lasting investment and a commitment and should treat your business well for years to come.

FFE 106 | Building A Brand Experience
Building A Brand Experience: It’s up to the customer to craft what they think about your business. What they tell their friends about you is ultimately what you’ll be known for.

 

How do you feel like that initial brand experience relates to the overall customer experience? When a customer interacts with this brand, how are you all working with businesses and teaching businesses like this is so vitally important to the customer experience? Because these are all the things that they’re going to start touching all the way through as related to the brand.

One thing I heard previously is so true is at the end of the day, branding is what other people say about your business. What you can do by hiring a branding agency is at least start them in the right direction. At least create that foundation or that nudge that this is what we’re going for. Maybe we’re a luxury brand, a playful brand, a family-friendly brand. You want to set those foundations so that the right audience finds you. At the end of the day, through things like experience, collateral, online presence, it’s up to the customer to craft what they think about your business. What they tell their friends about you is ultimately what you’re known for. The investment of branding is the best of your capability, trying to narrow in and focus on what you want that end message to be.

Do you all ever think about the emotion that you want the customers that feel about those brands? Is that ever a part of the conversation? You’re trying to entice this emotion to come out of a customer through the message of the brand?

Absolutely. What has lasted since day one in Flourish and even to now is our branding process. Whenever a company, no matter how big they are or what type of business they are, we take them through this same six-week process. It’s twelve weeks when we first started. I’m a very visual person, so all I see is the giant pieces of paper on my living room floor of, “Here are all the things that we need to know before we design and all of this stuff.” As you do, you hone in and you refine. It’s a six-week process from start to finish. That is assuming that there are any design revisions or shifts in focus or that we’re able to meet frequently with clients. The very first time we meet with a client is all about their messaging and it’s all about the story. Why are you doing this? Why does it matter? Why would anyone care about what you’re doing? It is more of a candid conversation with the client on digging at the root of this business.

I know you’re a big fan of Simon Sinek, but it’s this whole idea that you’re not selling a thing. People buy why you do it, not what you do. That helped influence this entire process. We get into on the next meeting target demographic and it’s not give me the age annual revenue and the occupation. Let’s assume your branding is finished and they went to your website. What do you want those first remarks to be? What do you want that emotion to be? Let’s say that your package got delivered and they opened it, what is their first reaction? You would think on the surface level, “I want them to love it. I want them to say it’s awesome.” If you keep asking those why questions, you get in the deep of, “I want someone to feel like they are loved unconditionally. I want someone to feel so catered to,” or whatever those emotions are. That all gets compiled into ultimately a brand book and where we lay out the client’s messaging, who they’re trying to reach.

All of that of course influence is the design. We can design, we say this all the time. Any skillful designer can design a pretty logo. It’s not hard. Great fonts, you have great capabilities, but does that logo and does that branding truly reflect the end result that the client is after? Within those six weeks, it’s messaging target. We do a competitive analysis. We’re not designing in a bubble. Let’s look at adjacent businesses within this market and in other markets to see what’s working well for them, what’s not working well, then we get into design concept and delivery.

That’s crucial and so key because I would imagine most of these businesses that you’re working with, some of them, it’s their first time being in business. Literally, it’s the very first impression that someone goes on the website or gets that delivery for the first time. We had the conversation here with our merchandise. “Could we ship it out in a Brown Box UPS?” 100%. “Can we throw it in a UPS box and ship it out and put a label on it?” 100%. Our merchandise director, Lizzie, started asking the question like, “What else?” Our brand, our theme is fun. We want every touch point to be fun. You go on our website and it says, “We make baseball fun,” and this crazy banana mascot. We have all the dancing players and all this nonsense. She realized that our delivery process wasn’t fun. We were missing that stuff.

It was like, “Can we get yellow boxes?” “Yes.” “Can we get yellow tissue paper?” “Yes.” “Can we get koozies and stickers? Can we put more stuff in there?” Can we call them immediately and say, “Thanks, we got your order. We’re shipping it now. It’s going to be there in two days and we can’t wait for it.” Is it easy to do a regular box, regular shipping, regular website?” “100%.” Is that the brand experience that you’re wanting to create? For you all, is it hard for people to get past that notion of like, “This seems like a lot.” How do you simplify for people and say like, “Start here and then let’s take the next step?” How are you simplifying this big branding strategy for most people?

A great designer can design a pretty logo, but does that logo truly reflect what the client is after? Click To Tweet

I think the example you gave is so perfect because you took something like a line, which is, “We make baseball fun.” That is your mission statement. Once you have the conversations that lead up to that statement, it is almost like a lightbulb goes off. If you have the right people on your team saying, “We make baseball fun,” what isn’t fun? How can we change this? That’s a perfect example of how a brand foundation led to a better brand experience. To answer your most question on how do you make that doable, how do you put that in bite-sized pieces for the business owner? When you’re starting a business, everything in your brain is going from branding, but also shipping and packaging and receiving a customer service, if you’re in that industry. It is that brand foundation that is crucial first. We deliver what’s called a Brand Book, which is like a Brand Bible in a lot of ways. It has all of your brand usage guidelines. Please don’t stretch your logo. Don’t put your logo on purple.

That would be so cool. Why not purple color?

Once you have all of that laid out, it almost takes away some of that anxious business owner real estate in your brain to where you don’t need to think about brand and it allows you to reallocate energy towards, “Let’s make baseball fun, now let’s dissect whatever that means.” That’s where we ended up keeping clients either on retainer or working with them in future because you have the foundation. Caty says this as well. I would say that our biggest asset to clients is being outside of their head and being a soundboard. I’m sure when you’re a business owner, everything is in your own head. You don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of, you feel overwhelmed. It’s almost like when we have conversations with clients and we’ll pitch an idea. It’s not maybe necessarily a genius idea half the time. It’s that we have the mental space and the energy to think about those things like yellow tissue paper. You’re thinking about janitorial staff and marketing and all of this stuff. That’s what’s so cool about our clients as well, is being able to offer that outside view.

It’s almost like this brand book is, “Here’s the goal. We’re trying to get there.” We’re trying to get to a point where our customers are doing our marketing for us. You can bounce off the rails from time to time, but don’t go outside these rails because it’s going to be chaos if you do. I’m sure you get that from time to time.

Clients who go through our experience, they value the work that we’ve done. They’re so grateful for those rails that it’s not often that we see people bouncing off, unless it gets into the wrong hands. To your point, it’s like one of the first ways that you as a business owner can have that better tunnel vision with your business. Because when you’re starting a business, it can be anything. To your point, you’re not a baseball team. You are this other recreational experience.

We call ourselves entertainment. We use baseball to get us there.

That is the same mentality that we try to teach our clients all the time. You’re not really a leather bag company. You’re not really a photographer. That’s one of the products that you offer. That’s one of your revenue streams maybe, but that’s not why people love you. It’s not like that person’s like, “I love the material of leather, so I’m going to be attached to you.” What we try to teach our clients and what we try to set up through the brand guidelines and foundations is like, “What do you have? What is that sauce? What is that thing that people are going to attach themselves to?” Because at the end of the day, that’s what business is. You choose to buy your bread from where you buy your bread because of the person making it or you don’t have that connection. That’s how people work. In a world where it’s buy and sell, it’s advertising overload. People are looking so much more towards, “Who do I have connections with? Who’s treating me well? Who’s giving me that experience?” That’s where they’re putting their money.

What element of the branding experience that you think people dramatically overlook?

FFE 106 | Building A Brand Experience
Building A Brand Experience: People are putting their money on who they have connections with, who’s treating them well, and who’s giving them a great experience.

 

When I think of the word, brand experience, it’s tough because it’s one of those buzzwords going around now. If we look back, any business has always had a brand experience. It’s probably been crappy up until this rise of branding and identity design. I know that clients that invest in what we consider to be branding, which is logo, color, aesthetic, font, all of that stuff. What we see happening most naturally next is your printed materials. They’ll go the next level and say, “Let’s put this stuff on other stuff. Let’s have the Indian branded materials.” That’s what I’m seeing as being the most natural thing.

What’s still missing as well in terms of a branded experience is all of the zeros and ones behind your business, that is still in my mind branded experience, which is the tone of your voice when you’re talking to people. It’s the actual process of your business. I’m going on your website and I’m trying to buy a product and it’s super confusing or not well done and I don’t get a confirmation right away. What happens if I want to return something, and I know this is all eCommerce space, but to me that is as much a part of your brand experience as your Instagram account. They’re all one in the same. That’s one thing that we don’t touch on from a service perspective, but it’s one thing that I know gets overlooked a lot.

For us, we call that re-imagining the journey that the customer goes through. For us, it’s asking that, “What’s next?” question. When someone buys a ticket, what’s that journey? Someone buys a ticket, what’s next? What happens? Do they get an email? Do they get a phone call? Do they get some crazy video? Heaven forbid it’s nothing. At least do something, make something happen. What’s next? We call them the transition points. Between the time they buy the ticket and then the time to come out, it might be two weeks, it might be six weeks, it might be two months. What is happening along that way that we’re still infusing fun? We have to go back to fun. We have to still use the lens of fun. They come to the game. What’s that look like? If they show up at 5:30 and the game doesn’t start until 7:00, there’s an hour and a half of a transition right there that still needs to be fun, entertaining, enthusiastic. What we haven’t gotten yet is what happens after.

You were mentioning it, businesses go, “Sale,” and then go to the next one. What about the person who bought from you? What about day one after that? What about two weeks after that and six months and a year? What about after they become a customer for you? We think about the customer journey all the time and it’s something that people overlook because it’s all go. I believe that, and see if you think that’s the same way, you have to have that foundation of the brand experience to help craft that journey or all of a sudden, you’re all over the place and people are confused.

That’s where when you get into the nitty gritty of your user journey before, during and after they experience your brand, which is a lot, especially something like you that you have this full on operation. I start to geek out because there are so many branded opportunities. No matter what the customer is getting, are they getting an email? Are they getting a call? Are they getting a ticket? Are they getting something printed out? For me as a designer, all of those elements can be cool. You have to have the brand foundations first, and then you think you need to go immediately to the journey or to be doing those simultaneously at the very least. A lot of times, even when I’m designing, let’s say I’m doing a logo suite and maybe a new fun icon or a mark comes out of the branding, it’s not until that very moment that I’m like, “You should be wax sealing your invitations. You should have this as a sign on your building.” I think design naturally begs the question of where we can put this brand. Those two conversations of journey and brand are hand-in-hand.

What are some projects that you had this lightbulb moment where you’re like, “This makes so much sense, we have to do this in this way for this brand?” You don’t have to give specifics or if you want to, you can. What has been some amazing moments where you’re like, “When we do this for this brand, it is going to light their customer on fire?”

Immediately, I think of a local brand here called Yum Yum Smile Shop. It’s owned by Libbie Summers, who is a dear friend. That project was so fun. One, because we have a level of camaraderie and trust from client to designer. It was one of those things where if something cool came out of the design process, it’s like, “That would be great on an enamel pin or that would be great on a sticker or on a product,” Libbie was like, “Let’s do it.” When you have that type of relationship where the design influences a lot of those tangibles, it’s super fun.

People always think about the ideas of promotional products and all that nonsense. What you’re talking about is very specific and intentional products and ancillary things that you can say, “This makes sense within your brand.” You’re not putting logos on people’s cheapo nonsense. You’re trying to be very intentional. With that brand, it’s like, “If we’re doing this, if we’re allocating all this time and effort, energy, logos and colors and this entire experience, it’s got to fit all the way through.” When you’re sharing these ideas with people, how do you explain to them this is why it makes sense?

Design naturally begs the question of where you can put the brand. Click To Tweet

I’m looking at your shirt with your logo printed on the shirt and it’s the difference between you handing out some big pens with Savannah Bananas on it and it’s a difference between sending a very high-end luxury banana scented candle to your VIP guests. It’s no different than your banana underpants. It’s thinking outside the box in the sense that hopefully if you have established a strong enough brand, people are going to know it’s you. I could have a t-shirt that instead of Savannah Bananas, it says Happy Holidays in that same font and I know it’s a Savannah Bananas t-shirt because that’s such a strong branding element. Promotional materials aside, it’s thinking about what makes sense for your branding. I have another client who’s opening up a multiuse art space in the downtown district called West House. Completely different, funky, almost like this Willy Wonka, Pee-Wee play house style vibe, which is ridiculous how I go from one brand to the other. I’m like, “Back to birds. Back to Pee-Wee,” but it’s so fun. I love it. That client is going to have a very different merchandise than another client would and that’s the whole point.

When we were walking people through the workshops and things like that, we always ask the question like, “What does your brand need to do that people who would wear your t-shirt? How cool can your brand be?” Think about Yeti coolers, we had this conversation with two guys wearing Yeti shirts and Yeti hats. We asked him like, “Why do you wear the shirts?” They were like, “We don’t know.” “Do you own their product?” “We actually don’t.” “Why are you wearing Yeti shirts and Yeti hats?” They’re like, “We don’t know. They’re cool.” If you were a bank, if you were an art studio, if you’re a hotel, how do you need to build your brand where people would be like, “I don’t know what they are, how they do things but they’re so cool. I’m going to wear their t-shirts because they’ve built this brand affinity.” On your website, you talk about doing a brand audit. How can businesses begin to audit themselves and audit their brand? You all do it professionally. How could someone go back to their website or go back to their team and say, “I need to start rethinking what my brand is?”

I would offhand say hire professional because it is the outside perspective that is so crucial to an audit. Auditing yourself is going to be tough because you’re not going to know what to look out for. To you, it’s going to make sense. It’s like, “That sentence on my website makes total sense to me.” I’ve been seeing it for years, but then someone else might go to your website and be like, “I don’t know what that means or it doesn’t make sense.” In terms of auditing yourself, if you have a website where there are various user journeys like telling someone, contacting us and filling out a form or buying this product or returning the product. Those are very simple things you can audit yourself in terms of process. When you’re auditing a brand, because a brand is truly at the end of the day what others think of you, you have to step aside and let the public speak. Do you see luxury when you see my brand? Flourish, we rebranded ourselves. We have a FLOCO logo mark.

Did you hire someone though?

I will say that I was torn on that because I’m a very particular person. Throughout the process, we gave sneak peeks of the brand as it was developing to a wide range of people. Both my friends, people I didn’t even know, people in the design industry people, and not because it was so important. We didn’t want to be designing in a bubble. We gathered a lot of user feedback as we were going through and not even as soon as we have a logo. We asked people about our new messaging and what they think when they heard about this. When it came time to having a logo, I have this list of descriptors, what three really ring true to what you’re seeing and checked bases with that.

It’s interesting because earlier you said your brand isn’t what you say it is or what you think it is. It’s some of that, but it’s what the customer perceives it as. It’s what they go out and tell their friends or tell their family when they get that sweet, swanky package in the mail with their merchandise. They open it up and then they go tell someone about their experience of getting that package. It’s that unboxing moment of when you get an Apple product. It’s like all of those things. I love that you mentioned it. It takes outside influence because I would imagine most businesses, we’re probably the same way. It’s personal. It’s the thing that I created. It’s my idea. You, as the expert, has to come in and then massage that I would imagine and say, “It’s also what the customer says.” I’m sure you’ve had to have some of those tough conversations.

This conversation comes up most when the client that we’re working with is a real dreamer is what I would say, in the terms that they’re so excited by the process of creating and starting a business that the sky’s the limit in what they can do. As professionals, it’s our job to take that outside perspective and say, “You could do that, but here’s what I recommend you should do.” Thinking back to the type of customer you want to truly be your biggest fan, that move is probably not going to be suitable to them or that experience or that color or that font isn’t speaking to that person. We’re always that voice of reason throughout the design process of, “I know you love this, but are you your end user?” A lot of times, people build businesses around people like them. A lot of times people say, “My target customer is me.” That’s partially true. Right now with branding, you can become attached to any random or what, but understanding is this a personal thing of yours or is this what’s going to lead to a successful business down the road?

How are you all seeing this paying off? You’ve been in business for years now. You’re working with clients, you’ve got this back road of customers and clients you all are working with. How are you all seeing this start to pay off for people?

FFE 106 | Building A Brand Experience
Building A Brand Experience: Auditing yourself is going to be tough because you don’t know what you’re going to have to look out for.

 

Starting your business off with the highest legitimacy possible is crucial in the market. There are businesses that are created within this conversation. It’s a two-sided point. People can sense a lack of authenticity, like what you were saying. Everyone’s getting advertised to. They can sense when something’s up, they can sense when something as maybe been put as much effort into something as others. On the same note, you have to start your business in a way that when people see you, they go, “This is a legitimate business. If I give them my money, I’m going to get the thing that they say I’m going to get,” especially in the commerce way. If I employ them for their services, I’m going to get in return the level that I expect. It’s crucial to have when we’re thinking about an online presence and then your user journey has to be cohesive and consistent. I’m not saying that a business can be successful trying to start with smaller beginnings and work their way, but authenticity is crucial.

When we first got here in Savannah, we didn’t have an identity and that was part of the plan in a way because we wanted to drum up. We’re a little bit different because we’re such a public figure of a team, of a brand. Part of the strategy was let’s get people excited about this thing. Let them bring on their ideas about what we want the team to be named. We got here in October of 2015 and we didn’t have our identity until February. For five months, we were a red, white and blue Savannah Baseball 2016. You don’t want to talk about confusing. You get on the phone and you call up, “We’re the new Savanna baseball team at Grayson.” You have to go on this long spiel. They’re like, “Who? Are you looking for donations?” It’s like, “No.” It was Savannah Baseball 2016. We didn’t know any better. We didn’t want to commit to a name immediately because we wanted to drum up some interests, but it was a struggle. It wasn’t until we had that identity of, “They’re what? They’re the Savannah Bananas?” It was chaos every which way. What we reminded people was we’re going to be fun. It’s what you can expect. Come to one game and check it out and you’ll realize that it’s all about the fun. It’s all about the entertainment, it’s all about the experience.

We’re not going to take ourselves very seriously, but that’s what you get when you come to us. I can imagine so many other companies go through that of not knowing who the brand is, not knowing their identity, coming up with some random name. It’s not until they commit to building that entire experience where people trust them and believe in them. Especially in the eCommerce world where it’s like, “I don’t know the person. I don’t know though the human behind it. I don’t know anything about this, but they have a legitimate process, a legitimate branding experience. That’s why I trust them.” We went through that tremendously.

It’s one of those things where I know for you in particular having community involvement in your name and development was so crucial, but could you go back and if that year didn’t exist in the terms of people knowing that there was a Savannah Baseball team, 2016. It would be a blip on your map. You’d probably rather not have that. People come to us for brand development in many different stages of their business. It’s hard to say which is the best time. People ask me about a lot like, “What is the best time? Is it day one? Is it year one? Year three?” I would say the best time to get into branding is when you already know for sure what your core values and elements are going to be. To your point, you didn’t know you were going to be Bananas, but you knew you were going to be more than baseball and you knew you were going to be fun. Maybe you get to that place with a professional before you get into branding. People hire us for consulting before we even enter that process. Maybe you already know, but you have to know at least that, so that you can better speak to what you want this thing to look like and feel like.

Two final questions. What is one thing that someone should do that could shift their brand experience forward? What’s one thing they should look at and go immediately change? What’s one thing that someone can do to shift their brand experience forward for their customers?

I’m going to recommend they do the scariest thing that any business owner can do and that is to ask your customer base directly what they think about your brand, about their experience and about your product. Those are three things that in my mind when you look, you have to know those things in order to grow and be better. It’s something that I felt that a lot of business owners, it’s like they don’t want to know, “What did they say? They hate my brand.” It’s like, “That’s why we’re here. It’s a good thing you know. Now, you can change your brand.” The thing you don’t want to know is not know. That would be the thing. Get a survey together, send it out to people that you know and trust. Send it to people who maybe you only interacted with them once. Send it out to total strangers and hear about the brand that people are saying about you, so you truly understand how people are perceiving you. That’s the only way you’re going to improve.

What are other people saying about your brand somewhere else? Most of the time, we always talk about people complaining about this thing. Complaints are nonsense, “You have two-ply toilet paper instead of one-ply or instead of three-ply.” Complaints or fake. What are people doing with their feet? People talk with their feet. People talk behind your back. People talk to their family. What do they say about that brand for you as a customer? We’re all customers. What is one experience that you’ve gone through as a customer that has been over the top, memorable for you? It can’t be a Banana’s game.

This one is going to be so tough for me. You’re asking my most memorable brand experience?

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A memorable experience that you’ve had with a business. It could have been on a vacation somewhere or it could have been at a local restaurant. What’s something where an experience that you have that you remember and you always tell someone about. You’re like, “When I went here, they did this for me or when I was at this place, you wouldn’t believe what happened when I was there.”

The first thing that comes to mind, and this is because I frequent this business so much, is Coffee Fox on Broughton. I’m going to give them props and call out. I do frequent there a lot. I am a return customer. Their baristas always do their best to try to remember everyone’s order, which is no small feat given the amount of people that walk in there. When they notice that you’re waiting for your coffee, they always spark up conversation when they could put their heads down and get their job done. I feel like I know their staff more than any other local business staff, and this is speaking to how much colder I drink. When you ask a question like that, for me it’s any business in town that takes the time to gather data they don’t need.

That is a huge point. No one needs to know my name. No one needs to know where I work. Why not go that extra step and get to be personal with your business? There’s always this line between business and personal. Business is personal. Business is literally a person to person transaction, whether they’re hiding behind a name or a website or they’re behind a coffee counter. Get to know your customers. Ask them what they think. Don’t be afraid if they think ill of anything because now you know. It’s like having a bad review. The first thing you should always do is, “Thank you so much for allowing us to respond.” Because otherwise, that bad review is what they’re whispering at the dinner table. It’s what they’re texting their friends and you can’t control it. Get control of your brand in the only way that you can and that’s knowledge.

Collecting the data that you don’t need, but in an effort to become more human. Business should be more human. Thanks for hanging out with us. Talk to you soon.

Talk to you soon. Thanks so much.

I hope that interview inspired you to potentially go back and start thinking about what the perception is of your brand experience in the marketplace. As I was looking through some of my notes that I make when I do the interviews and listen to them back and start thinking about what this interview is about. I love some of those things that she said throughout the conversation there that your brand foundation is why people love you. She referenced Simon Sinek on the Start With Why. It’s why people love you and it’s not what you do.

This one resonated with me and I hope it resonated with you, but she said that everyone has a brand experience, but a lot of people don’t realize it. How true is that? It doesn’t matter if it’s a logo on a piece of paper or a business card or a full-blown website with collateral and a marketing strategy behind it. Everyone has a brand experience and maybe you don’t realize it. That’s so crazy to think about, but it’s that foundation of why people love you that can lead into that journey. We talk about the merchandise and all that Lizzie does here, but it was interesting to hear Erica’s her take on it where she was explaining like, “This is why it makes sense. It’s because you all knew that it was make baseball fun and you weren’t doing that in the journey of the customer for the merchandise.” That’s true to people.

What’s your ‘why’? What’s your foundation? Why are you in business right now and then how is that transforming your journey for your customers? Our ‘why’ is make baseball fun. We want people to leave our games and say, “That’s the most fun I’ve ever had at a baseball game or it was like a circus and a baseball game broke out.” We know throughout the journey of our customers that fun and circus-like mentality has to go through that. This wasn’t a branding thing but at the end, I loved when she said there’s this line between business and personal. Rip that line in half because business is personal. Get personal with your customers, get personal and collect the data that you don’t need. Collect their names, collect their hobbies, collect where they work. Maybe you can be human with your customers. Business is personal. Thank you so much for being here, going through these conversations with us as we continue to figure out how we can turn customers into fans and fans into our biggest marketers. I had a great time. I hope you enjoyed it as well. If you have any questions, if you want to get in touch with us, go to FansFirstU.com. We’ll see you next time. Thanks.

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About Erica Kelly

FFE 106 | Building A Brand ExperienceErica Kelly is the Co-founder and Chief Creative at Flourish Collaborative. Erica’s interest in crafting personalized experiences began with an Interior Design degree at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). It was there that she honed her graphic skills and later applied them to a local design studio with a focus on branded environments. After working with several brands looking to instill their values into a physical environment, Erica discovered her true passion of the brand discovery phase; that is, helping creative business owners dive deep into their purpose well before it manifests itself into a logo mark or retail space. She brings that same cohesive thought process to the table at FLOCO, offering tangible strategies on how creatives can build a lifestyle brand from the inside out. When not at the office, she’s likely in a different zip code; making new discoveries and taking note from cultures other than her own.

Jared Orton

Jared Orton

Because of a relentless focus on entertainment and ticket sales, the Royals were fortunate to see tremendous growth in attendance and revenue during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Jared is now taking those experiences, along with the experiences of Fans First Entertainment, to develop a value-packed, non-stop, entertainment experience for Savannah fans. Jared currently lives in Savannah with his wife, Kelsey.
Jared Orton
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