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Branding With Valerie Forgeard

A strong brand is the centerpiece of successful and influential business and professional activity. Your brand is what you make of it. Our goal is to help you clarify the best route. To build your brand. And help you every step of the way.

Whether you’re a corporation, small business. Trying to build/grow your network or change your career. Your brand is the bridge between where you are now. And where you want to be. It is all too easy to make mistakes while marketing online; even a slight misstep can undermine the personal brand you worked so hard to create. We are here to support you in crossing the bridge to success with ease while avoiding common branding pitfalls.

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”— Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder)

Services | StunningBrand

Stunning Brand provides workshops, Media Training & Support, and Consultancy.

Full Transcript Below

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (00:03):

Good afternoon, everyone. And welcome to another episode of the business of business podcast. I’m Roy have an awesome guest to bring to you today. It’s Valerie with stunning brand. Uh, we’re going to talk a bit about branding for solopreneurs for individuals, uh, you know, smaller businesses.

I’ve talked to Valerie before about doing large corporations. But I know I have a lot of requests to talk about branding, you know, for, uh, an individual basically. Valerie and her team, they bring 32 years of experience in broadcasting, social media, stakeholder engagement, community, building, public speaking, and negotiation to private nonprofit and the public sectors. So first off, Valerie, welcome to the business of business podcast. Thanks for taking time out of your day to be with us.

Valerie (00:58):

Thank you, Roy, for having me with you

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (01:00):

And I’m not being disrespectful, but Valerie has a very, very French pronunciated name that I butcher. So I will let her pronounce that for you as well.

Valerie (01:11):

So yes, my name is Mallory for child with Valerie’s fine.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (01:17):

I try, I tried to practice in the mirror, but I just kept butchering it. So I’d rather he say directly, but again, thanks for being here. Um, you know, this is an exciting topic for me as well, and I, I’m not being disrespectful.

I’ve actually got my pen and paper. I’m going to be taking notes as we talk, because this is important for me. And I want to be sure I ask all the questions I have in our audience. Uh, you know, we’ll give you all a chance to ride in questions for both me and Valerie.

I can pass along to her. You know, we’ll tell you all that at the end of the show. But, uh, branding is so important, especially for an individual, the person. So let’s just get started with the beginning. I want to come to you and say, Hey, I want a brand either myself. Or maybe even a company name. So w where would we even start with this process?

Valerie (02:12):

Well, first you will receive, uh, I will ask you to fill a short questionnaires. About eight questions and then questions. Just so I get an idea of, uh, what you have done in the past. In terms of branding, personal branding and business branding. Also to understand where you want to go with, with your business. Um, usually, uh, people want to do business branding first, uh, because they don’t especially understand personal branding. But it actually goes together.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (02:48):

Yeah. So, and well, let’s just start there. Um, you know, I run a company, basically, it’s under my name, Roy Barker. Uh, so if, if, if I was just out and I really hadn’t done anything, do you suggest that people go with their name or do you suggest that they pick a company name or does it really matter? You can take off and do the same magical branding with either one?

Valerie (03:16):

Well, first I will ask you, who are your clients? Um, and do your clients know you under your name or know you more for what you’re doing or as, so if you haven’t started anything, if your clients, if your ideal, typical clients are more, the people who are likely to be attached to you, for example, a lot of consultants, um, call themselves baby a name, uh, because they’re just wants people to call you then.

Uh, and not especially a company. Um, some people prefer to go with the name of the company because they want to look bigger. Um, so they, they, they want to, they want to give the possibility to hire people also in the future. Uh, so they will go with a company name. Um, some, some people are very successful without them it’s really is the best choice, but I would say, just be aware from the moment you use your festival name, it’s, uh, attached to you for life, we’ve gone through the beads.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (04:22):

Yes, no, that’s right. And it, uh, you know, I think there’s things that this is kind of off topic for branding, but I think there are things that I’ve run into in the past that you need to take. Um, you need to take into account when you think of that is number one.

When anybody calls your company, even if you’ve grown to four or five people, are they always going to ask for you? Are they always going to feel like they need to talk to you? That nobody else is, uh, you know, Roy, so they want to talk to me, which makes it a little more difficult. And then at the end of time, when you go to sell that business, sometimes if it’s branded as your name, you really don’t have much else to sell.

Again, whole different episode, different topic, but, uh, you know, definitely something to give some consideration to, when you think about, I guess the other positive point is like, if you’re on LinkedIn, you have your own account name, it’s easy to make that association with what you do and who you are.

On with branding, uh, you know, a lot of times people think that, well, it’s the branding is the name and maybe a logo, but that’s really where it stopped. Can you kind of get into the, the depth of, you know, what branding really is and what that means?

Valerie (05:36):

Well, as Jeff Bezos puts it’s, uh, your brand is what people are saying about you when you’re not in the room. When they explain branding for people, I try to explain, uh, as imagine a UN a party. The person or the you’re, the person who organized the party. So the party is business brands. You’ll have to make sure people will come in.

And, um, and your personal brand is you. Um, so the, the way you will present, so the way you will present your parties is your business brand. And the way you would present yourself is, is your personal brand. Now, um, if you have a certain type of party, I dunno, you have a party that is, uh, reggae, for example. Uh, but you, you wear something that is, uh, I dunno, like a kind of business suit. Um, there will be a disconnect, the audience.

Valerie (06:34):

So that’s, that’s why I always think it’s very important to think of both, to think of your personal branding and your business branding, uh, together, because, um, people will, will check you out. They will, even if you have a name of a company and it’s not on your name, they will want to know who is behind it, who is the organizer?

So, so your business branding is the same thing. Um, you’re going to have, um, your business brand, which for presence or your products, your services, um, just the story of how you built your business, um, and, and the windows strategy that goes with it. Um, but the way you present yourself is also representing your business, um, and the way you present your business or sort of presence you. So, so it’s very important to, to have this alignment. And a lot of people don’t really think about it like this.

Valerie (07:33):

I’ve got people who come to me with, um, with branding, I want to do branding for my business to work. So I don’t know if it should be business branding or personal branding. Uh, but I don’t want to have the sticker on me. Like, uh, I don’t want to be a project. And then I always find this funny because, um, the, the, the point of branding, okay, it’s always been seen as we’re branding products, but branding personal branding is not exactly like branding a product X.

I mean, you are a product in a way, uh, because, because you’re, you’re the person, the face of your company is the piece of your company is a soft of projects. If, if, if the face of the company doesn’t send, sometimes it can put people off, uh, from getting the products because the credibility is not there. Um, but very often what they suggest to people is, uh, they often get surprised because they think I’m going to come in and start to change everything about who they are.

Valerie (08:38):

And the other day I had someone who was like, yeah, but I like to, you know, be relaxed, wear my jeans, um, wear hats. And yeah, and I said, well, that’s good. Just stay the way you are. This is your brand. This is who you are. But the question is to find what is your strengths, uh, in who you are. Uh, so for example, this person was a take, uh, in the tech industry. There’s plenty of people who look cool in the tech industry and will not wearing business student.

As I was explaining to him, it doesn’t matter. You could work in flip-flops within a corporation with your product or your services. If your services are good, it doesn’t matter what you want. Right. They’re going to go for it. Um, but it’s about really about confidence. Um, it’s like when you, when you see people, we go back to the party, you can have the person with perfectly dressed, uh, with the makeup and the greater impression at, at first.

Valerie (09:46):

Uh, and you have, you can have, uh, the person who doesn’t is not so fascinated physically will just steal the show because that person will have a stronger personality. We’ll have more interesting things to say, and it’s the same thing with business, right. And, and what I find amazing amusing is, um, there’s not of people who are, uh, shouting on social media, uh, please like my page or this. And I’m thinking you’re branding yourself. You know? So, so it’s like imagining the person at the party and say, please look at me when you look at its best and no, you won’t, you just find it annoying. And so it’s important to have this awareness of how other people see you and your company, right?

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (10:36):

Yeah. And that’s a good point. Um, it kind of falls under the social media, but, you know, we, we, uh, there’s a disconnect between that vanity likes versus people that you really engage with you and your brand. And so, you know, my, uh, I guess what I tell people all the time is you could have a million likes, but that doesn’t matter if they’re not spending money with you or your brand it’s.

So you, uh, you have to be careful, really what you go for and where you want to message that. And one thing that you didn’t mention was your story. And so I personally think that’s a very important that we get our story, especially myself being more on the, uh, you know, professional consulting side. People need to know who I am, how I got here, what I do.

But, um, so how much of that story do you, or what is the story that you like to tell, do you like to tell the, like, uh, my history, who I am, how I got here, do you like to tell the story about what I can do for you? How I do it, or some combination of all of that,

Valerie (11:47):

The most interesting stories, um, I, I have helped to put out there, um, is what made them come to what they’re doing now? So for, for example, uh, had the case of one person who didn’t connect them, because I always go for the website for is because the website tends to be the identity and it’s got all the business and the person a finger about.

And eventually, and eventually I found out that, uh, his grandfather and his uncle were in the same activity as what he’s doing. You’ve got to put that story out there. You know, people will trust the fact that you had ancestors who were in that area because it’s a long-term, uh, passing on knowledge. Um, I had someone else recently, which was a very touching story, and I had to assess if, if she was ready for this she’s, she’s lost her husband recently, and she’s doing something around, uh, compassion and trying to help people.

Valerie (12:56):

And so we came to the conclusion that putting the legacy of her husband since we had built the business together was the right thing. And the person was advising her, uh, was just like business minded in the sense that no, it’s about your business. It’s about what you’re giving as a service, and you have to put it this color and blah, blah.

And I was thinking, but you have a real story that can touch people, and that can give the trust to people as well, because through your, your own sessions, you, you went over, uh, you, you, you, you overcame the difficulties. So if you can prove you have been through it yourself, uh, that’s a really strong thing.

I mean, if, if you were looking for, for help, like meditation sessions, would you go for the person who has a great marketing, or would you go for the person who actually has been through a lot of difficult things and managed to overcome? Right. So, so that’s, um, I think it’s really to bring, bring back the human side. Uh, and the human side is always more convincing than the flashy car, right?

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (14:13):

No, and I think that’s a good point because I have to admit that, you know, I’m old enough to remember when, you know, web pages came out and that was the, the, the message back then was be professional. Don’t let your personality come through who you are.

It’s all just business services, but I think we’ve evolved in, we want to know what’s behind that webpage. What’s behind that picture. So it’s important. And another message I think is that, you know, we, especially in the smaller companies, solopreneurs or individuals, we want to use pictures of our personal self, our personal, if you’ve got dogs, you know, you can connect with other people that have dogs. If you have some dog pictures, tell stories about if you like the outdoors.

Um, I think that’s all not only acceptable now. I think it’s really a must to reach out and try to connect because there’s so many websites out there, you know, uh, I think that we have to try to find whatever we can do to jump out of the screen, to, you know, grab somebody’s attention positively. Let’s say that one positive attention. And, you know, just like

Valerie (15:23):

From the moment, sorry. No, go ahead. Go ahead. No, that’s fine.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (15:30):

I was just going to say the other thing that comes to mind is, uh, professionals in suits and ties used to any picture that went up on a website, had to be a suit and tie. Well, that’s not necessarily, sometimes that can be, um, uh, be a negative because people think, Ugh, you’re old fashion, you’re stuffy. You know, they want to see you maybe in a jacket, collared shirt, looking nice and clean for sure. But, uh, they don’t, they want to find somebody that they connect with and they think, well, I can’t connect with that stuffy person. So again, it’s important to really be who we are, but let that personality shine through.

Valerie (16:10):

Yeah. I mean, at the end of the day, um, if for any entrepreneurs who we’re looking for clients, what matters for the cloud to potential clients is what’s in it for me. So what’s in your business. That’s interesting. It’s also, what’s in your story that will make him make me trust you and that, and if, if it’s all playing and, um, and it’s just about, uh, about, uh, about, uh, we have this for you and we have this for you.

People are fed up when you, whenever here that’s all your time, but if it’s we’re doing this and this, and you know that your clients, the potential clients you’re looking for, it’s like the tick box, right. They need to have that tick box. And so you can’t, you can’t have a perfect logo, but if you don’t have the right offer your branding, isn’t going anywhere.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (17:08):

Yeah. Because a lot of professionals, you know, like myself, uh, they want to talk about deliverables, which are important, but it’s like anybody, if I tell you, I’m going to give you an awesome spreadsheet. Well, any anybody can give you an awesome spreadsheet.

That’s, that’s really not the trick anymore. That the trick is what does that value that I give you? Whether it’s the, uh, the numbers, whether it’s what’s behind the numbers on the spreadsheet, or if it’s something you’re giving me, if it’s the interpretation of that spreadsheet, it’s more, what is that needs to be the story too, is what is it because ever, unless you’re in a unique position that have a product or service that nobody on the entire earth has, which not many people are in that great of position, we all have competition.

You are basically a commodity. Everybody can give you the same spreadsheet. They can give you the same widget that we have to talk about. Why is my spreadsheet, you know, my experience and the value that I bring to you to interpret that or how my widget stands out and what value it has over somebody else’s that? I don’t think we spend enough time telling those stories either.

Valerie (18:25):

Well, when I worked in the technology world, um, at the beginning, I didn’t even understand the technology I was setting. Um, but I saw, I thought because people, people like me and that’s the training we had. Uh, there’s plenty of technology projects that are interesting. Um, Apple has, or Microsoft can have, um, they all have the same thing, right?

Um, well, what will make the difference is the person who sent it to them. Uh, I mean, there’s other things, sometimes it’s technical and only this, but someone was completely open to any, any, um, brands, uh, will choose because they’re like the person who’s talking to them, the trust, the person.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (19:13):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We tend to buy from people that we like. And so that’s very important. Sometimes if we, sometimes we pay more, if we liked that person, we feel like we trust them. We have that connection. It’s, uh, it’s not always about the lowest price. It’s about where we perceive that value. And sometimes that’s in the connection that we have, the other person we know they’re going to service us.

We know they’re telling us all the story, so very important to get that out. And so, um, then the other thing is working in conjunction with, we have so many channels out there today, but, um, is there a difference or do you take a different approach from a website to a Facebook account to Instagram? I know the messaging can be different, but our branding is going to be pretty consistent over all of these platforms. Correct.

Valerie (20:07):

Well, what’s important is one side understand, uh, what type of clients you’re trying to reach, what you want to achieve. Then the message will be the same everywhere. It has to be consistent between the website. And so, for example, there’s some people who will make your website as if they’re super successful.

And that is a strategy that can also work. Um, but then on their LinkedIn, they start to bake people on their post for some work. Uh, so without attending them is if you want to come across as the successful breasts and don’t start begging on LinkedIn because your credibility you’re one or the other. So it is very important to be aware of, uh, people are going to check you out everywhere.

That’s jewelry, they’re going to pay you, right. They want to know what we’re paying for. And they want to make sure everywhere is the same consistent.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (21:06):

And that’s important. Um, it’s an important thing to talk about. Um, I’m old school and I admit that, but you know, like on LinkedIn, uh, I want to be professional. I want to, you know, again, add value. I’m not always like, Hey, can I sell you something?

But you know, try to add the value. But, uh, lately I’ve seen so much negative interaction with, uh, you know, somebody will post something that’s kind of nice. And then somebody will say something very derogatory start piling on. And I think, um, who’s not going to look at that and want to do business with somebody who is acting like that. So I think that’s important to, uh, talk about, you know.

We’re looking at small businesses, solopreneur, so we don’t have a lot of employees, but if we do have one or two people that work for us or our own self, we have to be very careful with that messaging of what we’re doing, even though we think Facebook is our own private, personal account.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (22:08):

Um, you know, and I’ll tell you a story that I had. Um, this has been a few years ago, I was trying to hire a part-time marketing person. And I went down through 20 people, found the one that I wanted. And then right before I made the offer, I had somebody that reached out and said, Hey, I’m just now getting around to this. Sorry, can you see me tonight?

This was like on a Friday afternoon, like, I’ll do any, I’ll meet you tonight. So went out, uh, you know, met at a coffee shop Friday evening, had a good conversation. And I thought, wow, I’m glad I didn’t make that decision. I found somebody that I think might be better with the experience. And so, um, I went back home, started doing little, uh, snooping around through Facebook and Instagram or a, um, LinkedIn.

I found some very, um, uh, revealing pictures. Let’s just put it that way. And it stopped me in my tracks. It’s like, well, uh, you know, that was enough for me to say, I don’t need that because you, she would have represented my brand. With this while it was hard to find it still was discoverable. And so I couldn’t take a chance of being a professional, having her name attached to me and somebody finding the stuff. It would’ve been devastating.

Valerie (23:37):

Yeah. Yeah, no, it is very important. A lot of people are totally unaware of the, a lot of people think of what they think is right. Uh, but they don’t actually think what’s another thousand of people are going to check. Right. And people are thinking really quickly. And for those one to reach the millennials, I would say, make sure that you’re there because, um, they’re, they’re checking everything. I work with them, uh, in an organization of built, uh, separated from a stunning Brown.

Um, there’s a team of almost 29 hours of students, uh, among the volunteers. And, um, they’re that, I mean, sometimes we find out something, uh, that I’m not even aware of. I mean, I don’t know, digging for the information going really far. Um, so it’s, um, and, and AI is coming as well. So eventually you’re going to have your AI, you will be able to tell you, so you want to know about John Snow.

Valerie (24:41):

So I can tell you that just John Snow is born at this day and he’s made this post. Right. And it’s going to be small if, if you don’t, if you’re not carefully now of, of the way you’re present, you’re presented, um, you’re going to keep building up things that are going to get harder and harder to pin up from Google. Right. So, so it is very fun to, to, to make sure and also have, for example, um, Elliot’s regular.

I last for when my name is coming up. So for example, recently I found out that the letter of motivation I sent like years ago just appeared online. Oh, wow. And if I didn’t, if I didn’t check it out, uh, people could think I’m actually applying for jobs and not running make competence. Right. So senior, you do have to be aware of what’s going on because everything that is out there is, is branding you. Yeah.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (25:39):

Yeah. And you have to think about it from your, uh, clients like in my business, my client’s point of view is they’re going to usually share very sensitive information with me or, uh, I could be representing them in the public. And so they want to make sure that I will provide a good image for them as well. So they’re protecting their brand.

We have to protect our anyway. It’s just very important that we, we are totally aware of anything that we say. And, uh, sometimes maybe in a lapse of good judgment, people throw something out there on the internet and then they think, well, it just happened one time. But unfortunately that stuff lives out there forever. It doesn’t ever go away. And like you said, you know, something can be discoverable years down the line and, uh, really come back and hurt you.

Valerie (26:31):

Yeah. We’ve always now with the, because there is some laws for the freedom of, uh, uh, having your name on the internet or not. So there are ways now of getting of it. Um, but it’s time consuming. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re spending your time cleaning off your Google.

Um, but that’s why it is important to, um, to make sure from the beginning that your business brand aligns with your personal brand, because, um, from the moment you choose where you want to go, you’re stuck with it. And some people make the wrong choice because they’re getting the wrong advice and they’re taking a direction that is not them.

And years later they realize this is not working because it’s not their personality and both in, in S very often people think, Oh, then if I have to be myself, I don’t need branding where you actually do, because in your strengths, you have to know how to promote your strengths, right.

Valerie (27:35):

And also how to use your weaknesses. For example, my program is sometimes I talk too much. I have to, I have to live with it and know how to include this part of my friends, um, and without damaging it.

So we will all have weaknesses sometimes that can damage our brand. But if we know how to work with it, it makes it a lot easier than, um, than ignoring, uh, who we actually are. And, um, and most of the time keeping our personality for our personal brand is what works best because it’s our personality that created the business.

Right. So, so I never understood why people are trying to change themselves completely according to their business while they have created the business. So the business is them anyway. Um, but it is important to understand what’s can represent, um, the person properly. Yeah.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (28:37):

Yeah. And you make a good point that we need to, uh, we need to be good caretakers of our brand to stay out there, to search, uh, you know, to make sure people with the same name or something else doesn’t come back that way. It’s never a surprise.

We can always overcome it. If you do have somebody doing social media for you, or if you have, uh, you know, one or two employees, it’s always good to have a, uh, to cover that, you know, that you represent my brand when you’re out there. So these are some things that you need to think about and, you know, kind of have that, um, uh, recurring training.

Cause not just when they come to work for you, but just reinforce that, that if they’re working for you, they are representing you too. So they’ve got to really be careful with how they do that. Well, Valerie, thanks so much for taking time to be with us today, uh, before I let you go. So what is one tool that you use either in your business life or personal life, uh, tool, habit, ritual, what is something you do that you couldn’t do without every day? So I

Valerie (29:42):

Do meditation every day, um, to boost the energy in the morning and to help me sleep in the evening, uh, otherwise, um, thing, business all the time and, uh, and my computer and my phone, uh, are very important and there’s something else as well. Uh, I play chess also after meditation every day to stricture the mains and make the right moves.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (30:09):

Do you, um, do you use a meditation app or?

Valerie (30:14):

Well, actually did the meditation, um, like the normal ones, like, uh, with the breathing, like focusing ruin, but since, uh, I’ve got VR, uh, I’m doing the VR meditation and I’ve not been really well designed. Um, yeah.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (30:37):

Okay. Well, uh, let’s tell everybody how they can get ahold of you. You know, who do you work with? I know that you are particular, you do vet your clients because again, that’s going to represent your brand in the end. But, uh, you know, I also know I’ve gone over myself and take filled out the evaluation. So there’s a short form on the website, a few questions that I’ll get you started, but tell everybody how they can reach out and get started working with you.

Valerie (31:05):

So you can check the website and the services at and you can reach me through,, uh, or you can fill the form directly, and then we will be contacted for further discussion on evaluation before we would think.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (31:23):

Right? Yeah. And what an awesome name, stunning brand. I think I like that. It really is a descriptive about what you do so

Valerie (31:31):

Nice. It was very lucky. It was available at the time.

Roy – The Business of Business Podcast (31:38):

All right, Valerie. Well, thank you so much again, this is Roy. This has been the business of business podcast. You can find us on iTunes, Stitcher, Google, play, and Spotify also at www dot the business of business podcast. Please share this episode. I know that there are a lot of people out there that need help with branding and Valerie may just be the one to get you pointed in the right direction. So please reach out to her Valerie again until next time. Thank you so much.

Valerie (32:11):

Thank you.

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