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Hustle & Heart

Put Up or Shut Up – My Experience With the 10 Rules of Brand Building (Part 1)

10 rules of brand building branding

Since this might be the first time we’ve grabbed coffee together here on the blog (maybe we met over on Medium?), I want to share with you some stuff that I’m almost sure you’ve never heard of AND something that’ll make a radical difference for you in your life and business.

And I want to give you examples from my business.

You know, what it *actually* looks like.

And I want to give credit where credit’s due. I am MASSIVELY inspired by Bobby Kim of The Hundreds. You’ll hear me reference him again and again in our chats together and it’s because I consider him to be a mentor of sorts.

Bobby and I have met once, briefly, but he’s put out a ton of information for young entrepreneurs and what I’ll be sharing comes from his article called ‘The 10 Rules of Brand-Building.’ Some of the words below are his, and some are mine.

As a teacher, I know if I give a student too much, they won’t retain anything, and the same goes for my friends, like you.

So we’re just going to hit these 10 rules one at a time.

10 rules of brand building branding

Branding Rule No. 1: Put Up or Shut Up

The first rule of brand-building is Put up or shut up. If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything at all.

One time I heard a “guru” advise somebody that if they didn’t have anything to say, and no experience, they should build authority by making it about their “journey.”

This is cringe-worthy because if you don’t have chops, and you have no experience, you really shouldn’t be advising anybody about anything.

If you have a brand, or a company, or a blog, or what the heck ever you have, say SOMETHING. It’s the one thing that makes your product unique and interesting.

I literally started a podcast because, in part, of this first rule. I have a LOT to say about branding, marketing, building a business, being a father, messing up and falling on my face, innovating all while having a demanding full time job.

Re Perez of ‘Branding for the People’ told me that my brand doesn’t actually exist in the way I think that it does. It exists in other people’s minds and what we’re talking about when we say “branding,” is simply trying to influence how they feel about us, our company, or our product.

So we don’t necessarily own the brand.

They do.

What This Means To Me

I started my company, Ok! Kimonos, with a really cool idea. And I made a lot of stuff that people liked, but I didn’t really love it. I would look at what I’d made and not really want to wear it around town, or to tournaments. I got a ton of inspiration from other brands not only in my industry, but in other places, especially streetwear. I have folders and folders of ideas curated from other people and my desire to give my take on it. I just wanted to make something that had more of MY voice in it than what I’d already made. SO I tried.

But I missed the mark. Like, totally missed the mark.

What I ended up doing is just chasing what everybody else had done, but doing it way worse than them.

Case in point: One of my buddies owns, what I consider to be, the best BJJ company out there.

So what happened was I looked at what influenced him and it influenced me as well.

So I tried to make that a part of my brand.

And the thing was, that even though it was a part of me, it wasn’t the same as it was for him.

While I enjoyed making gear influenced by Japan, Japanese MMA, etc. it was actually a part of his D-N-A. He goes to Japan, speaks Japanese, knows Japanese streetwear, etc.

I was a hobbyist and he’s all in.

Want the full scoop? Check out Rule #5, but the gist is that I wasn’t actually saying anything with what I made.

I was just re-tweeting somebody else’s company.

I was effectively doing a product version of ‘that’s what she said.’

And you know what? Some people actually loved the stuff, I *sorta* like the stuff, but most people didn’t. They didn’t get it. It wasn’t what I stood for and despite me trying to, in retrospect, rebrand myself into it, it didn’t work and it wasn’t authentic. And let’s just say that it showed in the sales.

I told you that long story for a reason. It’s important that you know I’m not just speaking theory and ideas here, but actual experience. Experience you can learn from.

What This Means To You

If all you have to say on your podcast is: Listen to me interview other people, you’re wasting your time.

If all you’re doing is retweeting other people and sharing their content, I think you’re wasting your time.

If you don’t wake up in the morning with a fire in your belly to get out and share something that you feel and an idea you have, don’t bother.

So now you’re saying, Brendan, that’s kinda messed up. I don’t feel inspired at all and you pretty much just told me that I’m screwed.

How the heck do I take action on *that* advice?

How To Fix It (And Actually Have Something To Say)

Become interesting.

Have experiences.

You don’t develop something to say just by thinking about it. Expose yourself to a ton of new people, start building your business and make a ton of mistakes and actually learn what to do and what not to do without requiring some $2000 e-course to guide you through it.

At the end of the day, if you’re like me, you’re a maker. And a do’er. So go make something you’re proud of. If nobody gets it at first, that’s FINE. Just make sure it’s yours and nobody else’s. As long as you stick to that, share it passionately with as many people as possible (that’s all that marketing is anyways), then you’ll find your way.

And the best part?

I’m here to help. Comment below this post and we’ll chat about whatever you want.

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