Episode 135 – Coffee N5 – Go Long or Go Home: Into the Marathon of Branding with Ana Allen

Unlocking the true essence of a brand goes beyond its surface appeal, while beautiful branding and captivating founder stories are the visible tips of the iceberg, there’s a whole world beneath the surface that most people overlook, enter Ana Allen, the esteemed Brand Doctor and developer who possesses an unrivaled ability to fix beauty brands and stay ahead of industry trends through innovation. With her trusty doctor’s suitcase open, Ana delves deep into the complexities and often unseen aspects of brand building and coaching founders. Drawing from her first experiences as once a makeup artist on movie sets, she understands the transformative power of a compelling brand story. Join Ana Allen as she unravels the secrets behind brand restoration, audience connection, and also navigating the ever-evolving marketing landscape. And discover why Ana’s trips to Sephora hold a special significance!

We’ll talk about:

  • The power of brand connection and why it converts 
  • The upside of using private label formulas while building brand and community
  • When PR has the greatest impact on the growth of your brand
  • Creating product testing communities is cost-effective and insightful

For more information, visit Approved by Ana.

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About Ana Allen

Ana Allen, is a clean-living blogger and brand developer with a passionate focus on the world of beauty. With years of experience as an entrepreneur and innovator in the beauty and lifestyle industry, Ana has undeniably played a pivotal role in helping numerous indie businesses grow from concept to reality.

Ana’s expertise spans a wide range of areas, including brand and product development, marketing, and distribution services. As an indie brand liaison, she excels in supporting businesses in their marketplace entry and also facilitating fast-scale development through meticulously crafted strategies.

Driven by a deep love for all things beauty, Ana remains at the forefront of industry trends and developments. Her keen eye for innovation and her dedication to clean-living principles make her a trusted source of guidance and inspiration for both established brands and emerging entrepreneurs.

With a proven track record of success, Ana has certainly earned a reputation for her ability to bring ideas to life and foster the growth of beauty businesses. Her unwavering commitment to excellence, coupled with her extensive knowledge of the industry, allows her to provide invaluable support to clients seeking to make their mark in the competitive beauty landscape.

With her expertise and passion, she paves the way for brands to flourish, surely leaving a lasting impact in the ever-evolving beauty industry.

Lara Schmoisman 0:05
This is Coffee Number Five. I’m your host Lara Schmoisman. Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Coffee Number Five. You guys know me, I’m all about branding, all about marketing. But sometimes brands come to me and they need a little help. They need to get fix, they need to get that run story correct their brand colors, the packaging, and they need so many things that they need. I need a doctor. And today I want to bring on my really good friend Ana Allen, that I love to collaborate with because she’s a brilliant mind. But also she’s a brand doctor. And she is ready. Always prepare with her little suitcase knowledge and ready to help anyone in need. So welcome, Ana.

Ana Allen 1:03
Hi, Lara. Thank you. Thank you so much. And thank you for that introduction. I love it. Yes, I am the brand doctor. I I like to call myself that because it literally describes what I’ve been doing for the last few years. But I wasn’t always a Brand Doctor.

Lara Schmoisman 1:21
Yeah, that’s what I want to hear. How did you begin being a Brand Doctor?

Ana Allen 1:26
Literally, I came up with that name. At one of my presentations. I was speaking in New York last year, and somebody asked, What do you do? And at that time, I had about five different brands that I was fixing. And I said I’m a Brand Doctor, I’m fixing brands and it kind of stuck. But I started off in the industry actually as a makeup artist. I live in Canada, which is the second we call it like the second Hollywood, right? Or TV and film and literally I was a teenager at the time and I went on my first movie set. And I thought oh my gosh, I’m home and i i It wasn’t because of the Act it was the makeup like seeing the makeup trailer with a light and prosthetics and glam and building a character. I thought this is so cool. So right away, I went to makeup school, I went to Vancouver Film School, and I worked in TV and film for a bit. But after I realized where my passion was and it was really cosmetics, I always said to myself I’m gonna have my own makeup line one day and I want to learn about cosmetics, how to build them. And I actually start working for Chanel. What I learned was how to sell cosmetics not how to build them but one Chanel also taught me was really the the story. The storytelling the essence of brand minute.

Lara Schmoisman 2:47
How comeeveryone loves Chanel? I mean, come on. It’s a classic look at me and my podcast was inspired by Chanel.

Ana Allen 2:57
Yes, I love the name of your podcast, by the way and I want my Mate number five I’m -. But literally, I’m yes one thing I’m a health nut. And one thing that I don’t it’s hard for me to not have its coffee. So I’m following you because I love my coffee. I’m always on coffee number three. By this time it’s about you know, I love it.

Lara Schmoisman 3:19
Now let me ask you on our because how do you fix a brand? Because everyone, I mean, this conversation that we always have. And I think that it will be great to open our conversation to the this audience is like a lot of people go and start the brand. And I know how hard it is to niche. I mean, as an agency, I specialize in everything that is luxury, beauty, fashion and wellness, but it took years of specialization and two I look at the market all the time. And believe me when I go to Sephora, I’m not looking at makeup necessarily. I’m looking at packaging, I’m looking x so it’s really specialization.

Ana Allen 4:06
Yes, okay by the way, I think we would be in Sephora for hours because you and I would probably look at every brand and what they’re doing right and wrong.

Lara Schmoisman 4:14
Not only that lovely commenting yes for hours. But I think his like when they get to you is because already most of the brands are want to all the process. And I know how hard is to tell and brand owner or founder because founders are very attached to their brand. That why things are not working?

Ana Allen 4:34
Yes. And to be honest with you, they come to me because it’s not working and the proof is in the pudding. There’s no sales, right? The proof is because they realize okay, I have done something wrong. Why am I not converting? Why am I not building a community? And usually I always say that we’re not only building brands, we’re building founders. It starts with the founder. Right? And part of the reason also I call myself a doctor is like doctors And teachers, right, like, are teachers and I think about, of course prevention a lot, but sometimes like, how do we do to repair it. And that’s really looking at the boundaries themselves.

Lara Schmoisman 5:11
And there are a lot of things I was having this conversation I was at Nielsen, CQ 360. And we were talking about, of course, everyone wants to have safe, sustainable packaging. But at the same time, you need to think about other things like having a glass package, how will it affect your brand pizza brand, it doesn’t pick a run, also, where you’re going to be putting that bottle, if it’s going to be in a bathroom, it’s a first step that they will break, and someone can get hurt, if it gets wet. There’s so many things and elements that can be affecting your brand.

Ana Allen 5:46
Exactly. And a lot of that knowledge that I bring as the brand doctor is a lot of feedback, right? From experiences, whether I build a lot of brands before and sometimes we failed on things or we succeeded and that, that failure or success brings feedback, which may brings down knowledge that I can pass on to somebody and say I can look at their project and say, This is what’s going on, you know, I can fix their problem from a bird’s eye view. Because of of experience. I’ve done it before, right? So I can go back and say, Okay, maybe you you ordered the product too soon, and that you didn’t think about the right packaging. So you had didn’t have enough time to do the stability and do actually human testing, like part of what we do when we create a brand is we do feasibility study making sure that the formula that packaging it works, but also humanizing the product test, test the product? No, no below the consumer group like us, 20 of your friends or neighbors, try the product right under your thumb.

Lara Schmoisman 6:49
That’s something that I always like to ask is like when you’re building a brand is to ask a few people that you feel like you’re your target audience, like, what are the products that you like quality? But what are the products you’d like? Packaging?

Ana Allen 7:07
Exactly, right.

Lara Schmoisman 7:10
So you’ll have an idea of what direction to go.

Ana Allen 7:16
Yeah, I think consumer study is so awesome. And it’s not that hard to do. As a brand, right? It’s literally just build a little community for yourself like 20 to 30, consumers, friends, neighbors, and get them in a local study. And I love using even like a type form Google Doc, where you send them questionnaire every few days, to see how they’re experiencing the product, because you want that. In my experience, when we gather that info, we had that study, and we had we had it on paper. And we had that analysis, which then we build on and we realize the feedback that we will get to shift.

Lara Schmoisman 7:57
And another things that you need to consider are reveals if you already covered product, and you have reviews, listen to what people are saying. Because many good answers are they are why they are not –

Ana Allen 8:12
Such a good point. And actually not another thing to do, oh, reviews it’s like, and gather those reviews, like use a type form to your point, you can use those reviews for your brand when you don’t. Yes, you can.

Lara Schmoisman 8:24
Absolutely. But it’s really, really important that you listen to your audience and you create that community. At the same time, it’s really important that people understand the story behind the brand, because there’s so many brands out there. So how you gonna differentiate yourself from another brand.

Ana Allen 8:46
Exactly. And that’s what I said earlier, I said he we build founders, not just brands. And it’s really because you know, connections convert, right? Remember this. And I learned this from one of my mentors, Amy Jo Martin, I remember when I was building my own brand, and Barry. And I just felt like we were building this great brand. But there was no connection. So I really wanted to understand the connection between like a social media influencer or the connection between, like people and social media. So I took this her course, which was really thought about how do people connect with influencers? So it’s because they connect to them. So connections convert. So when I started thinking about introducing that into branding, like, how do you connect, when you’re messaging, your founder story, right? Your Visuals even when you’re building visual visual identities for your brand as like they need to be a deeper connection to a cause or a feeling.

Lara Schmoisman 9:51
So then it will convert all the trends that I’ve been seeing lately is because we live in this digital world, and we have so many apps and so many any opportunities of doing things, but when people don’t realize that everything costs in your money? Services? So when you start the brand when you need to fix a brand is, what do you do you start removing parts and to see what works, or you analyze everything.

Ana Allen 10:23
I think that strategy is the most important thing for brands. So we have to look at, okay, not just the founder, like building the founder and educating the founder on running a business, but thinking about the strategy was this product built with a strategy, a lot of times we feel like, it falls flat on the strategy part, you know, they just wanted to rush to market with a product. And they felt like the marathon was the product producing that product, but they don’t realize that their thought is running the business excited. Because producing a product is, it’s hard, right?

Lara Schmoisman 10:57
It’s hard, it’s time consuming, it’s frustrating. And they’re always there, it’s more parts and more parts. So you never know when it’s gonna end. But at the same time, when I’m working right now with a brand, and that they starting from scratch, and my recommendation is small, don’t try to get all the results, don’t get don’t spend your money that is spend your money in brand awareness, then when you start making money, you can start getting all the results.

Ana Allen 11:29
That’s why I love private label programs, which, you know, you’re using the resources of great formulas that chemists have worked so many, like, years, on developing, they have all the testing done, because it allows somebody to enter the market faster, cheaper, and spend the resources learning building community, you know, we are right spending resources and brand awareness. Because what happens is founders, I think they love founders love being product developers, okay, everybody wants my job. Love the creative part. And then once you have the brand, they think, Oh, my job is done. I created the prep product, but it’s kind of like having a baby, right? Is the age to time on nine months of incubating,

Lara Schmoisman 12:14
Then the problem is that they have to go away. And then what do you do?

Ana Allen 12:19
That’s the thing. They’re not ready to be parents. Yes.

Lara Schmoisman 12:23
The thing, your kids are gonna age they’re gonna grow. But products have a shelf life. Exactly. So you need to make sure that you are ready to launch. So how do you manage it the launching part or relaunching the part? That part of a brand that it’s been fixed?

Ana Allen 12:47
So this is this is the challenge, right? So not everybody thinks of like, or they think okay, brand launching is like an event, a PR event, and then they fall flat. So I think there’s a lot of misconception about what a brand launches, they’re like, they do this run marathon, it’s like producing your product takes so long, everything has to be timed properly. Because you have to time the formula and the packaging and the stability. And the secondary, there’s so many things that have to be timed properly. And then they’re thinking, Okay, I’m going to launch, I’ll do an event. And then crickets happened after right. So you have to start thinking I always say –

Lara Schmoisman 13:24
It’s so funny, because you told me these stories. And for me, which I know they’re true, because I mean they are than that. But I, for me, the process is the opposite. So do a pre lunch, test the waters, make sure that everything works. Like for example, you never learn to website on a Friday because things can go wrong. And you want to make sure that your team is there to fix it. Don’t rush it for money, even if they’re rushing.

Ana Allen 13:52
Oh my gosh, Lara, I’m so glad everybody is in such a rush, rush, rush, rush, you guys, the only finish line is you’re putting that on yourself, and it’s gonna cost you more money not to do it properly, which is why you have to bring me in after that, then to do it properly from the beginning. So I think don’t set these really high expectations on himself of bottom brands. I feel like we need to launch by September. And I said why do you have a place? Did you place an order with a retailer or No, we just want to launch right they’re setting themselves this expectation. And nowadays, like before you always wanted to launch around Christmas like to be like Christmas in July. Make sure your launch but nowadays, there because the ICO market is so and we’re online. I think there’s a lot of flexibility that you can launch with your own pace, but just have that launch strategy to your point whilst

Lara Schmoisman 14:46
You’re using technology. Remember using technology and you need to make sure that everything works. That’s right. Every process that you gonna ship something cheap, never shipped to a customer before Are you the internship at yourself? So you have,

Ana Allen 15:03
That’s a good tab. See you’re this is write this down that is like, do a test ship.

Lara Schmoisman 15:09
Yes, do a test of everything. If you’re using email marketing, make sure that you are the one receiving the email marketing that this campaign goes to you like, we will never send in agency in email, how they are very wasn’t tested internally, we test everything because technology is not perfect.

Ana Allen 15:27
Right? Right, exactly. Don’t launch on a Friday, we have no support team. And just make sure you have a strategy like work with somebody like yulara that can help them implement a strategy. And sometimes you know, if you cannot afford PR, and usually will say, you know, you work with a PR, you want to make sure, you know you’re being seen.

Lara Schmoisman 15:47
That’s something so interesting, because I know a lot of people think that the first thing that they need for their marketing strategy is PR.

Ana Allen 15:56
That’s right. Let’s let’s dive into that. Yes. Okay. So PR is do’s and don’ts. Why? Why do, Why do you think people think that they need PR?

Lara Schmoisman 16:07
Because it’s what they think that they’re going to give them visibility and authority. And that this ties with another issue that everyone wants to go right now. And we talked about this in so many podcasts already going retail is expensive, too. And your margins are much lower. But so you need to have a strategy, you want to go right out perfect, but you need to work with a consult and exactly like that, know the game, because they’re not going to pay you immediately for the products, you’re gonna have returns you’re gonna eat, there’s so many other issues that are unknown.

Ana Allen 16:46
Absolutely, and retail, I always say to my clients, retail is a tool. Retail is a tool that you can use for more credibility, just like a founder story, you still need to build your community. Like I remember my first business where I was literally building my brand with the community, I had makeup, I would teach makeup classes, and I would have about, let’s say six classes a day, 10 students a class, and I would make my own, I was just showing you some of like the lipstick, which I would have picked up, this is my first brand. And I’m the beauty. And I would mix it because I will listen to what my community saying I was able to shift and grow with them. But that was a good baseline. So I look at it as a more organically grow just like yulara like, start with yourself and your community, like rent it out. We are PR cost a lot of money. And you have nobody’s gonna tell you. And if someone tells you this, I will trust them that they will tell you you’re gonna get this, this and that you’re going to be involved is like, Okay, someone who tells me that I’m going to be involved and in L and this and that I will never hire them. Because you never know there is no guarantees in VR. There’s no guarantees. Exactly. And additional guaranteed that will convert what converts, right is building your community authentic following getting those email addresses. Right. So subscription, email marketing, so much work

Lara Schmoisman 18:12
SMS on something very interesting that had been happening the last few years is that there’s a new part of the ecosystem. Let’s say there’s a new planet, that it’s called marketplaces.

Ana Allen 18:26
All right, okay. Let’s talk about that. Yes,

Lara Schmoisman 18:29
We are talking about so many things that we’re gonna have to come back to

Ana Allen 18:34
All of this conversation is lighting me up. And that again, goes goes to founders, like what kind of founder Are you? Are you here for the right reasons, because if you are conscious founder and a wise leader, you will do things properly, which is why I always go back to let’s build your list of founders. And let’s determine why you’re in business. You know, because if you’re there just to be in Sephora and be a shelf, like be have that success story. You know, and behind the success stories when a lot of hard work, right?

Lara Schmoisman 19:08
And there’s no easy way

Ana Allen 19:10
There’s no magic, there’s no easy way you really have to love the industry, right? And if you’re a founder that loves it,

Lara Schmoisman 19:18
I don’t think you love the industry, you need to be really voracious rational about your product. You can not fall in love with your product, you need to know that your product is not going to be good for everyone, as you need to find that. Who is your target audience and who your product works for because and we’re people will find that like I was just saying about marketplaces like Amazon or Walmart. Even Sephora is the men in marketplace, but there are some people like for example, if you are a consumer of Sephora, and you like to have the point systems in Sephora, probably you’re gonna see this ad in social media, and then will you Gonna go remember the name and go look for evidence for it, that’s the first thing you will do. If you don’t find it, either you’re gonna Google it or look for it in Amazon.

Ana Allen 20:09
Exactly. So use returns is a tool, I got back to what I call my iceberg metaphor, right for building brands, because I feel like this helps people visualize it easier. So you know, the iceberg. People see just the tip of the iceberg. And they see it replicated. And all these seeds, like beautiful branding, like a light tower on the story, they see retail, but what they don’t realize is at the bottom of the iceberg, where it’s a lot bigger, all the hard work all the strategy they went in, right? All the systems all the built up, right? So for you to replicate that iceberg, you can just take the ticket and put it somewhere else is gonna fall. Right? That foundation,

Lara Schmoisman 20:52
Oh, I love that you say that, because that’s something that I say all the time, you need a marketing foundation. And that’s basically why I created my agency, because I realized that most people were working with freelancers that they meant well, but they don’t have a structure, they don’t have a foundation, and they don’t have a strategy. And without strategy. You’re gonna be it’s like not having.

Ana Allen 21:17
Exactly. So you have to build for scale, from the startup, right? Think about scale your organic growth, then? No, that’s just mean retailer. Yes, retailers are a big part of what will help you scale. But that comes on the tip of the iceberg, right? But it’s, you know, retailers don’t come from the strategy part, you have to really understand who your brand is. And think about its long, long map with the strategy, you know,

Lara Schmoisman 21:47
Something that I would say is like, for example, if you essentially you need to decide your price point, and where you want to see your brand. Then when you go to development, you need to see if that price point is real, because you’re not really gonna know how much is your costs until you’re finished development, packaging, shipping, and all those things. But what I do can tell you is that you can go and decide that you want to be in Nordstrom, so go and look what they sell at Nordstrom, and look how you can stand out. Because all the packages are why. First of all, they might be every box white, they’re white. So you need to study that and see if they’re white. How can you send out with a white? If not, how can you package in be different, but still standout for that target audience?

Ana Allen 22:43
Exactly. And you said something so amazing, which we keep forgetting and even the founders of brands that I work where they get, they get excited, they want the product to be the best and have the best. And sometimes they forget with this is a margins business. If your margins are not right, first of all, you cannot scale. If you want to be in retailers, yep, you cannot make your margin. So you will not be able to be in retailers, right? So it’s important to know, also your retailer will you want to sell to to understand their margins, so you can build it for you to make.

Lara Schmoisman 23:16
Let me tell you a little secret. I lot of brands think that being prestige or luxury will give them the best margins, and they will make more money. And it’s not necessarily true. You can make a lot of money being even in this con stores, like even TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross. It says that how you position your product, and for what market? So what you are creating a product is a solution to a problem or to an audience. So you need to understand what are your audiences and what’s their price point also,

Ana Allen 24:00
That was exactly that goes on the bottom of that, you know, again, iceberg, right? is knowing your strategy, right? positioning, because to your point, if you’re going to do a mass product, and have it even at a discount store, that is your strategy. So you’re going to try to get you know, the best cogs cost of goods, then you can you know, play with those partners and know how much you will retail. So you have to do the retail exercise. And I see that a lot of the times when you asked me, Why do brands fail, they don’t have that exercise. They literally created the best product they could and they never thought about their margins.

Lara Schmoisman 24:39
Or like a lot of times also founders think that they are the target audience. They might be but you’re not the only person so you’re you might have similar needs. So you need to understand a little more and also as a founder something you need to understand that we do a lot of research I Go for it as a marketer to when I work with my clients, like I know so much about the product that I’ve not a good measuring system. So outside.

Ana Allen 25:12
Which brings us back to our like focus groups, right? These little focus can really help open your eyes, a brand that I’ve been working with, it’s actually a kid’s brand, Laura, I wanted to work with them, I think it’d be perfect. Oh, I’m so excited to introduce you. Because, you know, I helped her go to market with this product. And we use all her mommy friends for this. And and we use because it’s a kid’s brand is, is basically it’s really cool. It’s the first clean, like 00 toxic ingredients that are considered ew G in this. So we’ve created a playmaker app for kids to play with because, you know, she was telling me how her daughter always tell her makeup. And then you know what, what really impressed me about this when she first called me. She had an Excel sheet of 80%. Moms that said they wanted their kids to play with a clean makeup. So she even went to her. So she went to the schools. And she actually interviewed moms to say, would you KIT? First, does your kid play with makeup? And then she had this study? And that would you want a cleaner that when she done the study? So she approached me with a ready a study, not just she didn’t come to me, it’s like, oh, I want to create a playmaker for my daughter because she likes to play with makeup. You know, obviously that was that’s what triggered her idea. But she’s done the homework. And I said, Okay, we need to work together because you’ve already thought about being a wise founder. Right?

Lara Schmoisman 26:40
And I’m so glad that you say that. Because I see a lot of people doing clinical studies, which I think that they’re great. But they are not studying before they are targeted.

Ana Allen 26:52
Yes. Oh my gosh, exactly.

Lara Schmoisman 26:55
And this is something I always go back and you guys know about this, I always go back to my day that you need to do your back. And all the information needs to be in your data in your branding deck in your communication that and yeah, that not working, then you go back to the drawing board. But I mean, if sometimes you need to really launch a company several times to work, nobody guarantees you is going to work in the first time.

Ana Allen 27:22
I’m going to bring back that that YouTube which I which is so cool. The ordinary was there loving company they launched you have that success or sometimes you right you have to and that’s the that’s the beauty about working with consultants, I have to say is the feedback right now that I have. Because we’ve seen companies launch successfully seen fail. So we can bring that feedback into your company. So you’re learning from the mistakes you’re learning from, you know, you’re able to avoid, like I always say, I’m driving, I’m jumping in your driver’s seat for you. And we’ll, we’ll avoid roadblocks that sometimes you’ll get if you’re by yourself. And

Lara Schmoisman 28:00
When I started in this world, we didn’t have all the data that we have today. And for example, right now we can see what resonates with people. And we have a client that we realize that when we use more spicy tone uppers, or more bold or there, we have a lot more opening grapes.

Ana Allen 28:20
Oh, wow, that is so interesting. The tone of voice is a huge and how are you guys testing that? Is it to social media,

Lara Schmoisman 28:26
Social media, AV testing this for emails or SMS, this we have many tools that we can use. But the tone of voice is something so important how you connect to your audience, and also how many times you think and I see this all the time that they think that their target audience in search and target audience. And this is something that I always recommend, if you’re never did ads, you start with a broad audience. And then you itself is going to give you the data of who your target audience really is. Right? You can start niching but you need the data or otherwise you cannot get information who is your target audience and then if it needs to match with your deck, if it doesn’t match with your deck, then we’re in trouble. So we need to be really looking at what is our audience,

Ana Allen 29:26
Exactly because sometimes you right I see brands start with an ideal audience but that’s chips because of the consumers desire. Right? And that’s another thing that they could do that exercise you know, before launch is really you’d have to get get in the community right like one of the things that we see a lot of makeup artist launch beauty brands and we see a lot of beauty industry professionals that work for Sephora large beauty brands because they have that insight. They know what the customer wants. Because even for myself when I launched my first brand I knew what the consumer wanted, because literally, I was talking to them. When I went on to work with another company where I was developing products. And by working in the office, I felt really disconnected because I wasn’t talking to consumers all day long. So then I started going to events, trade shows, learning podcasts, right? I start my emerging myself into beauty trend research, right?

Lara Schmoisman 30:28
You’re talking about my weight my weekend and after hours. Right?

Ana Allen 30:33
Exactly. Well, you have to live and breathe that, you know. And I was telling him I see possibilities everywhere, right? So everywhere, there’s a consumer, if I’m at a party, I’m doing Consumer Studies, but I’m working for a brand and –

Lara Schmoisman 30:49
My my family know I’m crazy. So I don’t have anything to hide. But sometimes I will go like, in the middle of I was in a concert not that long ago with a family. And there was this woman that amazing lipstick, what’s the brand? What’s the color, I wanted to know everything and I stopped her and because I need to understand what people are using and why.

Ana Allen 31:13
Exactly, like, every day you have an opportunity to interact, you know, and, and really watch, observe, see to see. You know, I truly believe in really understanding your consumer, I had opportunity to speak with the former CEO of Nike, we were on a zoom call with a woman’s group. And I had I had an opportunity to ask a question. And I said, What is the number one tip for branding? And he said, know your consumer.

Lara Schmoisman 31:41
Absolutely. And also be consistent. A lot of brands and newer brands think that something’s not working fast enough, we need to change the messaging, or we need to change our loads or forms. Be consistent. Be –

Ana Allen 31:59
Love that. And even like I think we can take it to the next level in terms of imagery to I find that listen, see, like needs to be like same similar energy throughout all the social plans

Lara Schmoisman 32:10
Literally on the voice, you need to use a tone of voice you need to be the same. Like if someone is talking to Instagram on someone zucchini, LinkedIn is still the same brand using a different native language, but he’s still using it in which be the same person and the same person speaking in English and Spanish, while your brand should be different person in different platforms.

Ana Allen 32:36
Exactly. So again, the fire voice define your audience, right? That fire messaging, your visuals,

Lara Schmoisman 32:44
But I realized that you didn’t tell me about your stake in PR, and when brands are ready to hear.

Ana Allen 32:52
So definitely. So I don’t I think that some brands are ready for PR. They’re built with a solid plan. Like we know, q1, we want to be this retailer that and we have the backup that we have the backup funds, right? We have the funds to backup VR, but if you’re an indie brand, VR is too soon and too expensive.

Lara Schmoisman 33:12
100% I agree with you. Yeah, you shouldn’t go there until you have already some community.

Ana Allen 33:21
Exactly some community ensure you know, it helps to have the be seen platforms be seen and bug as seen in this. Just those are trust symbols that consumers still like. However, consumer also likes clean symbols. And, you know, so there’s never enough symbols you can have right? So you have to also have a symbol strategy. What is our symbols? Right? Are we right? Because those those, those PR are symbols at the end of the day. They don’t they won’t convert into sales right away. It’s a long term strategy right? Because from the time you see it in a magazine, you’re not going to go and click in and buy it online. They had to you have to like you see in it. It’s like brand recognition. You have to read Vogue. So you have to build that again tip of the iceberg below that even NPR build that community build your foundation. The next

Lara Schmoisman 34:19
Let me tell you another little secret when you work in, in your PR your pitches, your press release whatever you growing those journalists before they write about you they will do research about Iran they will see how to follow in the community or once a while deal all those things so don’t invest in PR until you have all those days.

Ana Allen 34:43
Exactly same as retailers right to look at then look at all of that they look at social media and like I’m not talking about bought followers. I’ve we’ve been there with brands before that backfire because you get you basically you get hidden and you want, they want real interaction and they want real realness. So build that community, spend time engaging with people ask them questions, I find people online. That’s why I love social media and I love to be active on social media is because for some reason, a resource is a resource to connect with the community,

Ana Allen 35:21
if I was a new brand, I would literally go online, spend like maybe one or two hours a day, and find people that resonate to my target audience and engage with them and ask them questions, and maybe ask them to send them a sample and get their feedback. And if they like it, they’ll post about it. So I think that you have to be ready for a long journey. There’s no fast way out.

Lara Schmoisman 35:46
There is no, this is a marathon, not a sprint. And you’ll need to build your brand, with a strong branding, strong goals, and be consistent, and keep going. And give it yourself a time Do It Yourself a year, I don’t know. But don’t give yourself three months to be successful. Because it doesn’t work that way. It’s gonna take a long time,

Ana Allen 36:07
You’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. And that doesn’t benefit you as a founder, because you need the energy you need to enter. And I also talked to founders a lot about a lot of spirituality, I’m spiritual in terms of my own practices of, of self care, as you know, a very clean, very clean and my mobile clean eating what I put on my skin and my body, because that gives me the fuel to keep going, even when sometimes we have roadblocks. So I I talked about building founders, I always encourage them to really think about their well being because you have to be strong for those challenges, right to set your expectations.

Lara Schmoisman 36:45
Absolutely. That’s so hard, because it’s not gone, everything gonna go up and up and up, you’re gonna have bumps in the road. And that’s something also plan your budgeting for long term. Don’t think that in three months, everything will happen immediately. Because if you use those all your budget in three months, you might be out of basically,

Ana Allen 37:11
Exactly. So I hope that you guys listening to this are feeling inspired, don’t give up. That’s we’re trying to be realistic. But at the same time we want to cheerlead you on because you can do it we’ve seen like, I’m sure, Larry, you’ve seen so many brands succeed because they had a strategy to have a blueprint. And so I think what we’re saying is, you know, treat it as treated as, like, a marathon, treat it slow. And don’t don’t think of it as a sprint to your point, right?

Lara Schmoisman 37:40
Absolutely. And be ready to fall on get up again, and just get up with a smile and try again, he’s like, you’re gonna have to kiss a lot of frogs.

Ana Allen 37:50
I love that. Okay, we’re so inspiring. US you have us to work with and learn from us and have have have support, you know, I think that it’s okay to ask for support and help.

Lara Schmoisman 38:04
Absolutely. And even something that I say to a lot of people when they come to me, and they’re not even ready to work with me, or because they are behind it, or they are not in that stage. But it’s okay to come and have a consultation and be ready for when they are. And they know what they need to Don’t make me those basic mistakes. Because many people copy Oh, should I start doing my own website? Don’t do it right, or don’t do it?

Ana Allen 38:34
Oh, my gosh, I’m so glad to say you said that. Yes. Do it right, or don’t do it or hold off and do a strategic

Lara Schmoisman 38:41
Yeah, because you’re gonna watch once only, hopefully, and you want to get it right. There’s a lot more than building a pretty website, I There are so many accessibility issues and people having legal threats or suits, because there is no accessibility now, there’s so many issues out there, if you put a website, you want to have it with SEO, and to have the right setup, you just don’t want to be winging it. You know, if you will spend so much time and effort in creating a brand. Don’t try to do it yourself.

Ana Allen 39:15
I love that you said that. That is what a nice take away for people to really see the whole picture and just be it be at ease that you know you’re it’s not you’re not you don’t have to rush it.

Lara Schmoisman 39:28
Absolutely. Like you don’t have to launch. And this is your expertise. But it comes to me a lot of brands so you don’t need to launch a brand with 20 products. You can launch your brand with a little less and have also a strategy that how are you going to start launching new products.

Ana Allen 39:46
I love that you said that too. And I think that’s a good point when I do product development men and IP at all. We talked a bit about this earlier. We mentioned a brand that needs help needs doctoring from both both of us. And it’s because you know They fail because they didn’t have a product roadmap. And now they’re feeling a bit stuck. So sometimes you’re launching with too many skews. And sometimes you’re launching, we’re not enough right to get into retailers. That’s your strategy is one SKU is not enough. However, I’ve seen brands launch with one SKU, but they, they launch with something new after. So even if they want to have one SKU, you should already know what you’re launching, and you should have your apply. You should have your plan and have product already developed. So it’s never too soon to have other products develop in the backend, because development takes long, right? It takes anywhere from eight months,

Lara Schmoisman 40:38
yes. And right to your point, I don’t mind brands that they launch with one product, if it’s their hero product, if he’s the one who’s gonna drive the rest of the line. And it’s a great opportunity to have that kind of a soft launch until you get more product to make sure that the packaging resonates with your audience that the ingredients the messaging, because yeah, then by packaging, trade, and packaging is expensive. Shipping is expensive. Manufacturing is expensive at all things and minimum quantities. Orders are normally a lot. So they’re so you don’t want to do it with 510 20 products. Maybe starting with one is not such a bad idea. And Laura, this is

Ana Allen 41:27
Actually again, I talked about private label, because I think it’s a great tool to use in your favor. So let’s say you’re struggling with your horse, do you are you on your formula, you invested time, money, effort, but you want to create newness, this is where you can strategically work with a great private label manufacturer, okay, there’s good ones. And there’s also great ones. And there’s amazing ones, why not God, one that has the same quality as your formulas. And that will you can be on top of people’s mind because people like newness, right? When you’re doing drops, as been, you know, proven should be very successful companies that do drops because people love that limited edition or the unit. So you can incorporate that strategy. But it doesn’t always have to look like your your same formula as the hero skews, right, you can use private label to like sprinkle in some newness, but it has to still be on brand, you cannot introduce like a SKU that’s totally like off brand. Just because

Lara Schmoisman 42:23
I love the idea of private labeling. And I know a lot of people that are very successful with that. But you need to make it your own. Don’t just slap a sticker on top. And packaging is what is going to sell your product and no one is going to make you mostly if you’re doing private labeling, you’ll need to make sure that your branding is striking.

Ana Allen 42:46
Yeah, yeah. And that’s why I like the mixing of private label use private labels, smartly, to help you create newness. But I also think having your formula is what’s going to build your brand and also give you a brand equity. If you ever want to scale up or sell.

Lara Schmoisman 43:01
Your route or having an exit strategy. Here’s the strategy. Absolutely. Ana, thank you so much for being here. I can talk to you for hours. But I always say that my podcast needs to be a car ride. And I think we are they went a little too far today in the status or stalking traffic in LA, which is great. But thank you so much for being here and for all the insights.

Ana Allen 43:28
Thank you so much for having me, Lara. And I appreciate what you do and you help so much our industry grow. So thank you.

Lara Schmoisman 43:35
And to you guys. I’ll see you next week with more Coffee Number Five. Find everything you need at LaraSchmoisman.com Or in the Episode Notes right below. Don’t forget to subscribe. It was so good to have you here today. See you next time. Catch you on the flip side. Ciao.

GUESTS

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