george grombacher 0:00
we’re gonna let this is George G. And the time is right. welcome today’s guest strong and powerful. Mike Jones. Mike, are you ready to do this? I’m ready. Let’s do it. Let’s let’s let’s go. Mike is the CEO and Managing Partner of resound their brand, a brand consultancy for b2b service based firms. He is the co host of the AZ brand cast and the co founder of Thrive Phoenix. He’s got a course which has just come out and a book which should be coming out later this year, the beginning of next year. Mike, tell us a little about your personal life’s more about your work, and why you do what you do. Yeah, thanks for having me on. George, this is awesome. Yeah, I’m actually native Arizona, born and raised. It’s kind of prepping for the show. And it’s like, oh, yeah, that’s always an interesting fact, for other people have never left the state officially, in my nearly four decades of living here, and can’t believe I’m still here, but I love it. I’m firm, lover of Arizona, and all things Arizona, not leaving anytime soon. So nice. As far as I know.
Mike Jones 1:14
I’m another weird random fact about me. I am a third generation entrepreneur, something that I probably should have seen coming earlier in my life was that I would own and run and build businesses.
But I in hindsight, is always 2020 realized, my grandfather started his own construction company in Florida, back in the late 50s. And was pretty successful doing that growing it, obviously a really prime time to be building homes. And then my dad actually started his own janitorial company here in the Phoenix area back in the mid 90s. And so I got to see both of them build and grow their own organizations, their own businesses. And I’ve done the same with my agency resound, we started in 2009. And started as just a couple, three, three guys who are creative and wanted to help other companies with our creative skills. And we’ve grown that into a full branding, consultancy and marketing agency. So we help as you already mentioned, b2b companies, particularly with their brand strategy, how are they going to tell their story position themselves in the marketplace? And then how do they go to market with that story and really get it in front of the right people. And so we do a lot of stuff like logo design, naming we do, I do a lot of workshops with clients, helping them around their strategy, we do a lot of websites, video production, a lot of content, writing, all that fun stuff to get that story out there. And in the process. We’ve kind of developed our own methodology of branding. And that’s what I’ve been really working on, especially the last five, six years, I’ve run a ton of workshops based on this methodology. And we’ve taken that directly to one on one clients and, and kind of looking at our vision, we were like, man, there’s so many more businesses, we want to help who are not like big companies that can afford to bring in an agency like ours, but a mom and pop startups, you know, solopreneur type people, and even marketing directors at smaller companies, who really want to work on their brands, but probably don’t have the budget or the time or the energy to bring in an agency like ours. And so I started looking at our methodologies like, hey, is there a different way that we can bring this to people. And so we started working on a book, which you mentioned, is coming out near the end of this year, which really packages kind of our methodology. And we can, we can get into that. And then also a course which funnily enough, we’ve got the course before the book, but we’ve got the course built, and that’s available for people out there, if they want to really easy, inexpensive way to jump into brand strategy, how to create a story that’s really compelling and interesting. And one of the kind of core principles of our methodology is that we believe that branding really starts from inside the organization. It’s not something that you go and find externally, it’s not something you do to just appeal to people, you give them what you think they want, right? It’s about finding the unique DNA of your particular business, and how you can really uniquely solve your customers problems based on your experience, your history, the people in your organization, the context, you find yourself in the work that you’ve been doing, that you want to do, really finding the unique kind of personality and DNA of your organization and bringing that to the market and saying, Hey, this is the truth of who we are. And I think we can help you, right, rather than kind of the inverse, which I see a lot in the advertising world, which is kind of grabbed trends and things that are going on in the world and say hey, let’s kind of attach ourselves to that, and brand around something that really is very transient, right? You know, if you’re gonna build a business, or a brand or
around something, you know, the hot topic of the day, there’s only so long that that’s gonna last. But if you’re building on something that really is like, what are our core passions or interests, our skills, our unique kind of setting that we find ourselves in, then you get to build something that’s really going to last and serve customers for a really long time, we find that that’s actually really attractive to customers, right? They want to attach themselves to companies and brands that are in it for the long haul. And I think there’s more and more kind of insight into that, from the customer perspective, they kind of see through the like, Hey, you’re in startup mode, are you actually going to be around in two years, right, especially in, especially with b2b organizations that we work with who are selling their product or services to other businesses?
The longevity of both how long you’ve been around, but also how long you plan to be around? How long are your products and services going to be available? That’s a, that’s a factor in how people are deciding whether they’re going to bring your product and service into their business and utilize it right. They want something that that’s going to be sustainable, it’s going to last. And it’s really something they can build their business around. And so that’s, that’s a lot of the work, work I’m working on and trying to get kind of our knowledge out there and help more people.
george grombacher 6:16
I love it. Appreciate that. Is your grandfather and your dad’s still with us?
Mike Jones 6:22
My grandfather is not. He passed away about 10 years ago, he actually sold his business in the 80s. So that that business is actually long gone. It’s no longer around. My dad’s still with us. He’ll be 72 next year, which is crazy. But
george grombacher 6:43
it’s yeah, it’s happening to all of us.
Mike Jones 6:46
He nailed his business exit at the perfect time, he sold his business officially, I believe March 1 of 2020. For him, so he got out right before the pandemic. And he had no idea, obviously, but that was kind of had been in the works for a couple years. Got to kind of a long term sale.
george grombacher 7:06
Reason I ask it’s just, I imagine that you would perhaps consider your grandpa to be an old school kind of guy. Yes. And so if he were to, you know, be sitting across the table from you now, and you said, you really need to be working on your brand, Grandpa, what do you think he would have said? And is? How is how is branding changed? Sure, it was important back then how is it different today?
Mike Jones 7:31
Yeah, I think so I think the word brand would probably not be in his lexicon. He’d be like, I don’t know what you mean by that. But if I explained it as well, how do people know about you? And what is the reputation that you’re building with them? I think he would absolutely get that. And I think Case in point at his memorial service after he passed, one of the guests there, got up and spoke. And she was actually an early customer of hers and actually had bought one of his homes, I think it was she was a second owner of one of the homes that he had built. And 20 years after he had built the home, she was in it and had some problems. And she went and tracked him down in his company. And, you know, I think at that point, most you kind of expect if you’re living in a home, that’s 20 years old, you go track down the builder, if there’s some kind of issue with it. That builder is going to be like, Ah, that was 20 years ago. I don’t know why we’re talking. And my grandfather, like this is great case in point of his reputation, and just the way he thought about things. He went and made it right. 20 years later, and it wasn’t like there was some contractual you know, reason he had to do that. I think at that point, everything had expired. But I think he absolutely understood that taking care of people is the purpose of business. And that’s something I’ve learned from him and from my dad, which is you serve people first. And the rest of it is just how do you get to that and do it well, right? The business side of it is, you know, it’s the money and it’s the process, and it’s the efficiencies and it’s about getting the customers and those are all really really important things. But taking care of people without that you don’t have a business and I I always joke with other entrepreneurs and like, everybody’s like, Oh, man, it’s so hard to be an entrepreneur, you know, you got to deal with all these people. And I’m like, Well, if there’s no people, you do realize you don’t have a business, right? Until you can figure out show me that, you know, robots buy from robots, but haven’t seen that happen yet.
george grombacher 9:35
No. It’ll be a scary day. No, not just yet. So. So I appreciate you sharing that. And that’s an awesome I mean, that there’s a great brand story right there. How do you how do you think about is it? Is it values? Is it personality? It’s stories. It’s It’s It’s It’s how, how are you building this?
Mike Jones 9:56
Yeah, so I mean, you just nailed the Big Three I think we talk a lot about there’s really kind of three fundamental questions that a brand is based on. Right? There’s three questions you can ask yourself. The first is, what do we really believe about the world? Right? And in particular, to our specific industry, or the work that we do are kind of the reason we exist, right? What is it we believe? What are the constraints in which we’re going to do business? And most companies that actually flushes itself out as values, right? Core values, brand values, something like that. But really, those are the guidelines to how you’re going to do business? What are the things we’re going to do? What are the things we’re not willing to do? Right? Where are we going to make sacrifices in order to live up to our principles about what we believe about the world. And I think those are probably the most foundational items of a brand. If you don’t have those, then everything’s on the table, right? And it doesn’t really give you any constraints in which you can build your brand. And every organization has a set of guidelines, whether they state them out loud or not, put them on the wall on a poster or not, right, you have some set of like decision making, like matrix that you are making all of your decisions by hopefully it’s specific. Hopefully, it’s something you can communicate really clearly and well on, demonstrate that you actually live by it. We talk a lot with our clients about, hey, like, show us specific examples of how you’ve lived out this core value. If you can’t show it to us, it’s not really yet a core value. Maybe it’s aspirational, but like, or maybe there’s something else that actually is more driving your business. So that’s the first question, right? So what are the fundamental beliefs by which you do business? The second is, well, how do you want to do that? Right? What kind of style what kind of flavor, what kind of culture you building around those core values, you can have a similar core value with another organization and demonstrated very differently. And that’s really your personality. That’s the way in which you go about behaving according to those values. So those are two very intimately linked foundational items. And then the third is really like, Well, why do we exist? And that really gets into more of the story and starts to connect the dots between the organization and the customer, right? Like, what is it we’re solving? What problem? are we solving? What for what kind of people? How do we do that? What makes our solution unique? How do we do it in a unique way? And then ultimately, how does it actually change somebody’s life. And I say that a lot of people are like, Well, my product my service doesn’t, it doesn’t cure cancer. It’s not like saving people’s lives times it is but it’s not doing these, like things were like, Oh, that’s not changing people’s lives. But yeah, but even a bowl of cereal at some level changes somebody’s life, even if it’s just for a moment. Even if it’s very simplistic, obviously, you can think about food, a lot of food products and go, Oh, that changes somebody’s life in that it makes them not hungry anymore. That’s, that’s pretty tactical, it’s very low level on the you know, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we’re really just hitting kind of baseline, maybe there’s something a little bit further up the ladder, that you’re, you’re really able to help solve for people. But at the end of the day, if your product or service doesn’t change somebody’s life in some kind of way, you’re not gonna see them come back, right. And probably, if you can’t explain it to them, they’re probably not even going to buy it in the first place. So those are the kind of the three fundamentals of brand that I think are foundational elements, obviously, there’s a lot more to it, right? How you express your personality, that’s going to include things like logo and your name and colors, fonts, you know, and even the style of writing and communication that you use, or the, you know, kind of ongoing, typical, like sane slogans, taglines that you’re going to use. And that’s not just external in your marketing. But also internally, I think, you know, you’ll look at almost any organization, it’s been around a little while, they start to develop these little mantras inside the company. And that’s one of my favorite things to do is kind of find those and pull them out and be like, Hey, why don’t you own that? Why don’t you like, kind of make that yours, and put it out and really use it not just internally with your staff, or maybe even with your customers, your partners, your vendors, and really make it a part of your unique brand, your unique identity that you’re putting out in the world. So I think, you know, extrapolating out, then you get all the stuff that I think a lot of people think of when they think of branding, but really, it’s those three fundamental questions, you know, how do we operate like by what, by what guidelines, what beliefs, what values? What’s the style that we’re going to use when we do it? What are the behaviors we’re going to use? And then lastly, how do we tell that story of why we exist? If you’ve got those three fundamentals, a lot of the other stuff like clicks into place really easily.
george grombacher 14:46
Nice. Well, I appreciate that. And I love how you talked about how you have these, whether or not you realize it or you talk about it or not. Right, it’s taking place. And so taking the time to go through Through this process, I don’t want to call it an exercise, certainly different exercises, this entire process, how long does it normally take? I imagine if it’s one person, it’s quicker than if it’s a huge company. But
Mike Jones 15:12
yeah, I mean, you can probably get through. So in, in specific. So we’re talking about our course, which really outlines those three fundamentals and walks. You either as a business leader, like if it’s just your business, or if you’ve got a team with you, it’s gonna walk you through those three fundamentals, right, the values of personality and the story, you can walk through those and even do the exercises, probably within a full day, you’re probably going to want to come back, and maybe kind of redo them or rethink about them, take them back, you know, especially if you’re working with a team, have people maybe, you know, individually work through some of those exercises on their own or get some feedback. And so that might take you a little bit longer. And then obviously, there’s a crafting element to it. I never want to say like, Hey, you, you did it in one day. And it’s done, right. I think we’ve all learned if you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you understand that there’s an iterative process. But you can get through probably the core amount of stuff, even less than a day, if it’s just you, you could probably power through it like four hours, if you really want to, but typically, we tell people block out about a full day, maybe six to eight hours. Or if you want to spread that across a couple days, you’ve got two half days or something, you know, everybody’s busy. So you can you can kind of piece it out if you want to. But if you spread it out too far, and if it’s taking you months to get through these questions, I think there’s probably some some other issues that you’re working on, maybe you haven’t quite figured out your business. And that is something that we really recommend, like if you don’t have a product that’s actually officially in people’s hands, these questions, these questions are going to be hard to answer, especially when it comes to the brand story. It’s like I work with a lot of startups. And I always recommend to them like, Hey, if you’re pre revenue, you haven’t launched your product yet, you don’t have actual customers yet, your absolute number one goal is to get a product in front of people. And there’s homework to do, and you can do some validation in that. But the sooner you get your product or your service in front of actual customers who are paying you for it, the sooner you’re going to get real live feedback that this is right. This course will definitely help you in that process, to put some structure in place to create that story to start telling it and start getting feedback on it. But it’s going to be a process to really refine it, if you’re in a more established business, you’re going to get that feedback really quickly, because you’ve already got customers that you’ve already been working with, your team might already even have some really good insights into how to tell that story working through this process in the course. So you know, there’s there’s different ways to approach it. But I would say, if you’ve got a full day, you’re good to go.
george grombacher 17:56
I love it. I see so many great uses of this, obviously, going through the whole process, if you’ve never really, really thought about it clarified and crystallized what you want, or what your values and the what are the three again,
Mike Jones 18:12
so the values of personality and the brand story. Yeah, getting clear
george grombacher 18:17
on those. If you’re an individual, that’s amazing. But what a great exercise to do as an organization, take a retreat or just a day as a, as a team to do this, I think that that would be really great. I’m sure that everybody would love to, to be able to give their input and insight and how wonderful to be able to get that to get somebody else’s view on all these things. So that
Mike Jones 18:39
to really deal with organizations. It’s crazy how much consensus you build in that day, where finally people are able to actually all rally around one table and say, This is our brand. And obviously get everybody’s input. And there’s going to be some differences in that. But to be able to work through that. And at the end of the day, kind of come out and go, Wow, we actually are all on the same page, maybe for the first time about what we stand for what we’re all about. I’ve heard time and time again, one of the biggest values that people get out of just the branding process in general is that now everyone’s kind of singing from the same hymn book. And so sales, marketing, customer service, product development, they’re all thinking about the story from the same perspective. And that’s really encouraging for organizations, and it provides some efficiency and clarity. That really just starts to speed things up. Which is really really cool.
george grombacher 19:34
Love it. Well, Mike, the people are ready for that difference making tip. Yeah.
Mike Jones 19:40
My difference making tip is to remember, do not forget that you are remarkable. This is kind of our mantra in our company. And it’s really this reminder to ourselves and everyone we work with that. You have a unique perspective on the world. You have a unique set of values. experiences, history, context skills. And if you apply this at an organizational level, you have a bunch of different people that are very unique to your organization, and a culture around that. And that, that uniqueness is the purpose of it is to serve people and their specific people out in the world that need you. Right? They need you as you are not copying somebody not being somebody else. So don’t ever forget that you are remarkable.
george grombacher 20:29
I think that is great stuff that definitely gets come up. Come on. Mike, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can I engage? Where can they get the course?
Mike Jones 20:40
Yep. If you want to check out the course and soon to be the book, it’ll be launched on remarquer brand.com REMARKABR end.com. And then if you want to find out more about me and some of the agency services that we offer can go to resound, creative calm or Yes, so you end creative calm. I’m on LinkedIn, I’m on Twitter, you can find me usually at remarquer Mike hopefully you’re seeing a pattern here. Try to eat our own dog food resound.
george grombacher 21:13
I love it. If you enjoyed this as much as I did so Mike your appreciation and share today show the friend who also appreciates good ideas. Find the course at remarquer brand comm R e ma, RK, a br a nd calm find Mike at resound creative.com and then follow him on social media and I will list all those in the notes of the show. Thanks again, Mike. Thanks, George. And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.