BONUS Episode Nina Kovner on Branding

Bestie of Passion Squared and the beauty industry Gordon Miller recently launched a new podcast, Social Beauty Makers, and invited Nina on his pod.

From Social Beauty Makers
A renowned coach, marketer, and thought leader in social and digital media, Nina Kovner, Passion Squared CEO, gives us a 15-minute master class on the fundamentals related to ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ -two words too often used interchangeably… in error. Today perhaps more than ever before, the essence of who we are and we show up (as businesses, professionals, or as humans) matters to those we connect with day-to-day. And just as education matters in your craft, so does it matter in raising the bar on your marketing game. Listen in for more.

You can find Gordon on the socials @gordnm and Nina @passionsquared

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Your experience matters. We would be so grateful if you shared your experience with our podcast by leaving a review wherever you enjoy your podcasts. It matters to us, and so do you. Thank you- Nina

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Nina L Kovner On Reading Online Reviews + Gratitude

In this episode, Nina takes it all the way back to the beginning of the podcast and reads the reviews our awesome listeners have shared along with the wisdom, power, and intel that comes when you take the time to dig deep into the experiences your clients are sharing online. This is a must-listen episode for all creative small biz folks, in particular, if you are one that fears review sites. You can find Nina on the gram sharing on behalf of her company @passionsquared. Thank you so much for listening!

You can also listen to our podcast on:
Google Play

Your experience matters. We would be so grateful if you shared your experience with our podcast by leaving a review. It matters to us, and so do you. Thank you- Nina

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Give Me A Reason To Believe

Stories are attempts to share our values and beliefs. Story telling is only worthwhile when it tells what we stand for, not what we do. Simon Sinek

(This post was originally published on April 8, 2013. Over three years later, it remains as relevant as the day I wrote it.)

When you hear the word “marketing”, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? For some, it may be fuzzy, for some, you may think about the services and products you sell, maybe some of you are thinking about promotions, brochures or advertising. Or maybe some of you are saying, I have no clue, but it’s not my job. I am here to tell you if you are trying to sell something, it is your job. Your job as a brand owner is to give me a reason to believe.

I Feel Stories
When I hear the word marketing, I see, hear and feel a story. I always have. And now more than ever, both online and off, people want stories. They are looking for meaningful relationships with businesses. They are looking for your why. Your purpose, promise, and passion.

You see, there are so many products and programs and so many platforms to scream about them, about how awesome they are, and how they are so much better than everyone else’s. But guess what, the consumer is smarter than ever, and with all the noise in the marketplace, products get lost, but compelling stories stand out.

I Know You Cut Hair, But Why Should I Care
I never received a formal education in marketing. Yet I was responsible for marketing one of the biggest global brands of professional hair care in the world. And I was good at it. Why?

Because I did not see products as products, I saw them as solutions, as part of a bigger story and worked tirelessly to bring meaning and value to each and every thing I marketed. The same idea goes for your biz. Why should I come to you to get my haircut? There are a gazillion other options I have. Why you?

Creating A Relevant Story
When it comes to marketing something and creating a compelling story, I ask myself these simple questions:

1. Why am I creating this program, product or service?

2. What problem am I solving?

3. What is the brand purpose WHY) and promise (HOW)?

4. Who am I creating this for?

5. Why will they want my product, service, program or business?

Give Me A Reason To Believe, Please
So what’s your story? Your why? Your purpose, promise and passion? I want to know before I choose to engage with your business. And here is a hint. If it’s hype and BS, I will see right through it. If you promise me the world, I will doubt you. I want the truth. And I want you to give me a reason to believe.

Are You Ready to Create Awesome?
Are you an owner or independent entrepreneur and want to learn more about marketing your biz and creating compelling stories that connect with the ideal client you would love to serve? My A School for Owners online coaching program may be a good fit for you.

Check it out and as always, if you have any questions or just want to say hi, I’m listening.

Love + Awesomeness- Nina

PS: Our stories now live on multiples platforms, both online and off. To learn how to get your story onto your social pages, you may like this weeks Passionista Biz Tip About The About Section. Enjoy.

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The Miseducation of A Brand

“A cool logo does not make you a brand.”

My life’s work has been about creating brands, building brands, growing brands and reinventing brands. And each day I see the term brand used, is another day my heart breaks a little bit more as the word seems to become more misunderstood. And don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly OK to simply have a great business, but a great business is not the same as having an awesome brand.

What A Brand Is Not.
A logo
A website
A trademark
A name
An Instagram account
A building
A paint color
A business card
A business
A product
A service
A sticker

What A Brand Is
A brand is an entire experience. How I feel when engaging with you and the decisions and actions I take (over time) because of that feeling. i.e. click, call, book, tell my friends.
A brand is…
An experience
A feeling
A connection
A culture
A relationship
A story
Which ultimately leads to a decision and choice to take action. Over time. Again and again.

According to Seth Godin, the master of all things marketing and one of my most early mentors of marketing… “A brand’s value is merely the sum total of how much extra people will pay, or how often they choose, the expectations, memories, stories and relationships of one brand over the alternatives.”

Several elements go into creating a brand of long term value. And yes, brand identity (logo, colors, fonts, image, etc.) is a part of creating an awesome brand, but it is not the brand. Big difference.

You can have a beautiful logo and no brand recognition.
You can have a cute sticker but no brand value.
You can have a beautiful building but no clients.
You can have a killer Instagram following but no relationships.
You can have a beautiful paint color but no connections.
You can have a fancy, overpriced website but no visitors.
You can sell a product or service one time but have no repeat clients over time.

So let’s play a game…
When you think of Passion Squared, how do you feel?
When you chose to do business with, follow or subscribe to Passion Squared, why did you make that choice?
When you recommend Passion Squared to your friends, what do you tell them and why?
When you engage with a Passion Squared coaching session, workshop or class, how do you feel when you leave?

If you said you feel empowered, have more clarity, feel loved, inspired, informed, you trust me, it feels like I understand you; that is when my brand has created some form of value for you and you made a choice of exchanging time and money for that experience.

And know this… All the work I have done over the last 5 years building the Passion Squared brand got us to this point. Each move I make, each workshop I teach, each program I create, each story I tell, each piece of content I share, each blog I write, its all strategic. Its all by design. And quite frankly, it has nothing to do with my cool logo. Cause the reality is, I had the logo long before you chose to engage with my brand. And the logo was meaningless and had no value, without all the other efforts I have put into creating something of value for you, consistently, over time. Again and again.

However, when you see my logo, if you know my brand, it inspires a feeling. A feeling I work daily to create. You see how this works? It’s not as simple as someone saying, “I am going to teach you branding”.

Creating a brand of value is much more than a cute logo or a bunch of followers on Instagram. Remember that.

Love + Awesomeness-

PS: I also wrote about this topic a few years ago here.


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My Tools for Creating Awesome

You can’t expect to meet the challenges of today with yesterday’s tools and expect to be in business tomorrow. Unknown

Here is the audio version of this post. Thank you so much for listening.

So many tools, so many ways to create awesome. I am asked often what my preferred tools and platforms are. And some change quite often, some stay the same. But before I get into the actual tools, here is what you need to know…

No matter what tools you have, they are meaningless without choosing to create, choosing to be consistent, choosing to engage, choosing to create value, choosing to commit, choosing to find the courage to do stuff that matters. And with that, here are just some of the tools I use for creating awesome every day at Passion Squared…

WordPress (I recommend Squarespace for my clients)
Professional Web Designer + Programmer (You can’t afford NOT to!)

Audacity (audio blog)


Social Platforms + Communities
YouTube (video hosting)

WHY these? Because my community and clients engage there. How do you learn where your clients engage? Ask.

Professional Designer (always start here!) (blog graphics, Facebook covers, and so much more! (words on graphics in my own brand font, WIN!)
WordSwag (quote graphics, words over pictures)
PicStitch (lots of graphics in one graphic)
Afterlight (framing graphics)
iPhone #duh

QuickTime Player (for shooting #QandAwesome)
iMovie (for editing #QandAwesome)
Flipagram (graphics set to music)
PicPlayPost (graphics + video)
iPhone (Instavids, Zen snoring, stuff like that!)

Webinars + A School Workshops
Go-To Webinar

Client One On One Sessions + Client Team Meetings
Go-To Meeting

Proof Reading + Copyrighting
Spell check (try it some time!)
#teamawesome at Passion Squared

Keeping My Mind Right
Energy Healing
Serving Others

Again, tools matter, but what matters more than tools is commitment, consistency, courage and choice.

Want to learn how to create more awesome in your career, life + biz? If you are a creative small biz owner, check out A School for Owners. If you are in school or recently graduated, check out A School for New Professionals. In A School, you get a ton of love, support + brain food, all in a safe, sacred space.

Love + Awesomeness-