Make Marketing Suck Less

What the Heck Is Branding with Robyn Graham

In the online business world, we tend to throw around a lot of jargon that is never defined, then we're left, scratching our head and wondering what the heck does that mean to me?

One of those words is “brand” or “personal branding” or “branding” in general.

I know some people think that your brand is just your logo, your fonts, your colors, and the type of imagery you use when really that is a very small part of what branding is all about. A brand is so much more, but what the hell is it exactly?

Branding expert, Dr. Robyn Graham on the show to tell us exactly what a brand is, what it does for your business and the steps for creating a personal brand.

My favorite takeaway from the episode was the knowledge that good branding means controlling the perception that your audience has of you.

If you're ready to be more than just a commodity in your industry and be seen as a true expert, this episode is for you.



In the online business world, we tend to throw around a lot of different words, a lot of jargon, and then those words are never defined. Then we're left, scratching our head and wondering what the heck does that mean to me? One of those words is “brand” or “personal branding” or “branding” in general. I see it talked about so many different ways.

I'm not really clear on exactly what branding entails, and I know some people think that your brand is just your logo, your fonts, your colors, and the type of imagery you use when really that is a very small part of what branding is all about. A brand is so much more, but what the hell is it?

That's why I decided to have a branding expert, Dr. Robyn Graham on the show to tell us exactly what a brand is, what it does for your business and the steps for creating a personal brand.

So here's a little bit about Robyn using the power of brand strategies. Dr. Robyn Graham helps multi-passionate women find their second phase and become entrepreneurs. She helps them build personal brands and launch businesses with solid foundations for longterm brand and business success.

Robyn is a wife, mom, too. Robyn is a wife, mom to three, a woman of faith and passionate about serving others. She's the host of the Second Phase Podcast and on the executive board of directors for Face to Face Germantown, an organization serving the marginalized population in Philadelphia.

I hope you enjoy this lively conversation with Robyn, get some clarity around what a brand is and what that means for your business. Then I'll be back at the end of the interview to share with you my big takeaway.

Michelle: [00:02:22] Hi Robyn. Welcome to the Rebel Uprising podcast. I am so excited to chat with you today. 

Robyn: [00:02:29] Hey Michelle. I am super excited to be here. I think the world of you. And so to have this opportunity to be interviewed by you and share my knowledge on personal branding with your audience is just a huge blessing. So thank you. 

Michelle: [00:02:45] You’re welcome. And the feeling is mutual. You are amazing, and I'm so glad we're connected because. This topic. I feel confused as people, cause I don't think people really understand what a personal brand is and why it's unnecessary.

So let's start with the basics, right? Define some terms, how do you define personal brand?

Robyn: [00:03:13] I define your personal brand, as what other people think, say, and feel about you, you will see a lot of posts on social media, that branding is all about your logo or your brand identity. Yeah. What your brand is. And none of that is true because your logo and your brand assets, like your topography, your color palette, all of those things help you become recognizable, but they do not give your audience any insight as to who you are.

When we talk about branding, it's really creating that, feeling, that what that gut instinct, other people are going to have about you and you have control over that. So your personal brand is exactly that, what other people think, say and feel about you. It's not you yourself. It's what they think, say and feel about you based on how you differentiated yourself and how you've created a perception for them to have a view.

Michelle: [00:04:13] Okay. So it feels like there are different components or parts of a personal brand. Am I right about that? And if I am, what are those? 

Robyn: [00:04:24] So here's what I like to do, I like to break it down like this. So you have your personal brand, which is what other people think, say and feel about you. Your branding is how you differentiate yourself so that people can have a perception of you and they can identify with how you make them feel. So that's basically communicating your story and communicating how you can help them, making everything you do about them, not about you, but communicating who you are and how you can help them and why you can help them.

Then your brand identity is those things I mentioned before your brand assets, like your logo, your color palette, right. Typography, and those things, like I said, help people identify with your brand in terms of recognizing you, because you're, you're creating that cohesiveness through all of those things, but your actual personal brand is that, that core. And you're going to love this, that, that messaging that you're putting out into the world.

Michelle: [00:05:29] Yes. Well, and I think you said something really important that I don't want to have it fly under the radar is you said so other people can have a perception of you. And when you said that, I was like, oh, that means. If you don't have a well-defined brand, then people can't actually develop thoughts or feelings about you.


Robyn: [00:05:59] Exactly. Exactly. And you have complete control over that. And part of that is messaging, you know, things like the 3 Word Rebellion or all of that content you're putting out. How are you making people feel? Are you making them feel apprehensive? Like maybe you're too much for them, or maybe you're not strong enough for them, or, you know, maybe you're just intimidating and you seem a little arrogant. And no one tries to put that air out there, but how we put our messaging out there and then how we put those assets, those brand assets alongside our messaging, all of that helps determine what people are going to feel about us. 

Michelle: [00:06:44] That is really fascinating, especially the feeling piece, because I don't believe that most business owners are actually thinking about how this make other people feel.

Robyn: [00:07:03] Yeah. When you think about it and you are a business owner and you're putting yourself out there, what is that gut reaction people are going to have about either your service or your product or your business as a whole? And you can very easily, if you don't control that perception. And if you don't differentiate yourself from all others in your space, you could either be lumped in with other people in that same area of expertise, or you could just make it seem that you're unapproachable or your, you know, not the right fit for them.

But that gut instinct is so powerful. 

Michelle: [00:07:46] And, and when we have that gut instinct, it makes us follow or not follow or follow or unfollow someone on social media.

Robyn: [00:07:53] Yeah, exactly. And the key component to that is when we create our personal brand and we're differentiating ourselves and creating that perception.

What we want to do at the end is build an emotional connection that converts to a relationship that warms our audience so that they begin to trust us because without trust, they're not going to purchase from us. Yeah. This again, the trust trust is a feeling right. 

Michelle: [00:08:30] Yes. Yes. And I can't tell you how many times I've talked to people who bought something signed up for a program, but their gut was like, I really don't trust this person, but the marketing sounds so good.


Robyn: [00:08:44] right. 

Michelle: [00:08:45] Yeah.

So what are some of the biggest challenges that you see for your clients in creating their personal brand? 

Robyn: [00:08:55] So there are a couple of things. One is really showing up authentically and that is linked to everything that we see in the digital world. None of us are the first person to do anything.

There are so many people out there talking about personal branding. I'm not the first one and I won't be the last. I'm not for everyone, but there are people that really truly resonate with me. They like my personality. I make them feel good. I make them feel confident. I mean, So feel secure, but what happens is so many people see all these other things online and I'm guilty of this as well.

So, you know, imposter syndrome and comparison, and we let all the things that other people are doing influence our behaviors, influence our content. And when we do that, we lose that emotional connection because we just start becoming like everybody else. So I think that being your true self is something that is hard for a lot of people to do because they're, they're distracted by all of these other things online.

And we have to go back to the basics of who we are, why we're doing what we're doing and how we can help the people. And then what is that problem that they have? Our expertise can genuinely help them with and save them from stress and frustration or overwhelm or a product that's going to be the cure, offer them whatever the case may be.

I think that the online digital environment is one of the biggest challenges for people when they're building a personal brand. 

Michelle: [00:10:30] Let me ask you this, because I've seen this as well in the work I do around the 3 Word Rebellion and messaging. When you have a client who is in that comparison, who is not showing up as their true, authentic self, like, do you have any like exercises you do or any recommendations that help people to really disconnect from what they're seeing on social media and assuming that that's the right thing.

Robyn: [00:10:58] I love to do mindset work with my clients. I think it's so important. And what happens is when we're distracted and we're being influenced by what other people are doing and saying who are in our area of expertise, we have to take a step back and we have to think really deeply about what our purpose is, what our passion is, what are our values and visions, and really go back and align yourself with what those things are.

And I like to think of your values, visions and passions, as like a Venn diagram at some point, those crossover. And that's where the weight of what you're doing really comes into play. That's going to make you. It's going to be the most fulfilling thing for you, but it's also going to be the thing that really resonates with your ideal audience and how you can help them and serve them the best.

So I like to recommend that you, you take a step back from all of it, and if you have to take a social media break, take a social media break for a week or two weeks, and really just focus on journaling for yourself. Making those writing down all those key things that you are great at, that you're the best at right about, you know, who your ideal audience is right about.

And I think you and I have had this conversation before that it's not necessarily just your ideal person, but it's everybody out there that you're speaking to. That's going to develop a perception of you and, you know, really, really think about. Who are those people and how are you going to serve them?

Because you can't serve anybody if you're not in the right alignment within your own values. So I always suggest you take that step back and really write and narrow down that focus on what it is you're good at. And from there, create your content. Without going onto social media first, create your content and then consume, because that way you're creating from a place of meaning of purpose of passion, versus seeing what everybody else is doing and thinking you have to copy them, or you have to replicate somehow or another what they're doing.

Michelle: [00:13:12] Yeah. I was once working with a client who I swear every session she's like, well, so-and-so says this and so-and-so says that. And I had to put her on a content diet. I was like, okay, not a big believer in diets. No social media, no nonfiction books, no podcast, no audio books for the next month, because she had lost touch with her own voice and her own thoughts.

And every thought she had was filtered through somebody else's knowledge and perspective. And yeah, that it's. It sounds funny, but branding work, messaging work. It's very good. Deep. 

Robyn: [00:13:54] It is deep because if you don't know what your core values are and you're not aligned, then you're not going to be able to serve anyone else.

You have to be aligned with yourself first and in all of your expertise, you know, the value that you're going to provide to other people comes from within you. And it comes from all those life experiences you've had. And if you think about what other people are doing, they haven't had the same experiences you've had.

And so they're not going to be able to help people who need the types of experiences that you've had that have led you to the expert you are today. 

Michelle: [00:14:28] Mm. Hmm, exactly. Exactly. So this is kind of a related question and it's also based on what we were talking about right before we went live.

Where do you see branding fitting in, um, with the online business life cycle?

Robyn: [00:14:52] It has to be first because if you don't have a brand, if you have not created that perception of yourself, if you have not differentiated yourself, how are you going to market yourself? If you haven't aligned yourself with your personal brand and your values, your visions, your passions, and exactly how and why you're going to help your audience.

You don't have anything to market. So I say that your personal brand is the foundation. You have to build a solid foundation for your business before you can do anything else. You can't create a funnel. You can't create an online course. You can't do all of these things, create a membership. If you haven't built a foundation first, I like to use the example and you could use many examples, but I like the, to think of the Potter, the Potter starts with a lump of clay and.

He doesn't say, or she doesn't say, oh, here's a lump of clay. Now it's a vase and it's beautiful. And it's fantastic. And I'm going to sell it for a hundred thousand dollars. No, that person is going to mold the clay. They're going to spin the clay. They're going to bake it. They're going to glaze it. Then they're going to maybe paint it and maybe glaze it again.

I mean, it is an entire process. And without that they can't, if they don't start with the foundation and build it up and take all of those necessary steps to make it beautiful, it could crumble. And it's the same thing with your business. You have to build the foundation first. It's like, you know, another example is building a home.

You're not going to furnish your home before you built the home. 

Michelle: [00:16:30] We don't have walls or a foundation or any rooms or electricity or anything, but that's by furniture. 

Robyn: [00:16:35] Right. You know, it's like, you don't have any place to put it. It's not going to be protected from the elements. So if you think of that, if you don't build a solid foundation for your business first, then.

You're not going to have long-term success or you're going to be backtracking. You're going to constantly be distracted because things aren't working. 

Michelle: [00:16:57] Yeah. Well, and I think that's such a good point. It's because we like to skip ahead to the marketing. It's like, okay, I know what I'm selling. Let's go to marketing and it's like, wait a minute.

You don't know what to say or how to show up in order to make that marketing actually work. And then it can be more harmful because all of the sudden your lumped in with everyone else in your business is positioned by like a commodity and not like an expert business. 

Robyn: [00:17:29] Exactly. And that is a huge problem. It is because you really have to create a strategy and, you know, building that foundation gives you the opportunity to do that. While you're building the foundation, you're differentiating yourself, you're creating your messaging. You're, you're thinking about your long-term plan, what your goals are, who your audience is.

All of those things that become a strategy for your long-term success, because you can't just start a business and expect to make a hundred thousand dollars in a year. And I see that on my website. I'm like, there's no promises of a six-figure income there. But what I can say is that if you build a solid foundation, long-term success will come and you'll be able to have all of those dreams come true, but you have to do the work for them. 

Michelle: [00:18:18] Yeah. Well, and I love that you make that caveat because I think that really stands out in this whole six figure seven figure. Now eight figure business lie, always told in marketing is that, you know, no course no program can provide.

A result like six figures, but what they walk away with is the foundation for a sustainable business that can lead them to success. Just like when they work with me, they leave with the ability to powerfully communicate the value their business creates. And that's what I can promise. And that's what you can promise.

We can't say, oh yeah, you're totally going to make six figures from this.

Robyn: [00:19:01] Yeah. And you know, well, we could talk all day about all that bro marketing, but the reality is I can't promise anybody that they're going to achieve any certain level, unless they're willing to do the work and be committed to achieving.

So as people start following people online and they're thinking, oh gosh, well that person does this. And she said that her clients are making six figures. So I've got to say that too. You can't make promises that you can't keep. 

Michelle: [00:19:34] No. No, you cannot. And that's yeah. When yet, like you said, we can talk about bro marketing all day.

Because that's one of my big problems with the online world. It's all the results. Not typical stuff that we see. That's like, oh yeah, if you take my program, this is what's going to happen. And it's like, Hmm. You cannot guarantee that it's like going to the doctor and saying like, I'm going to absolutely guarantee that you're never going to get cancer.

They can't do that. 

Robyn: [00:20:05] They can't do that. And it's the same thing. You know, the same concept. When you're talking about a personal brand, you have to build the relationships first, you have to warm your audience. Don't just slide into somebody's DM. Say, Hey, I can help you make a hundred thousand dollars or I can grow your Instagram following.

So I would say listeners do not get sucked into those traps because they're, they're not realistic and you don't want to buy relationships. You don't want to buy followers. The key is building them from the ground up because then they're yours. They'll stick with you. 

Michelle: [00:20:42] Yes. Yes.

So how should people start creating their personal brand? What's a great starting point?

Robyn: [00:20:50] I love this question. Love it. So I have what I call my Five C’s of Personal Branding. And the first C is clarity and you have to have absolute clarity around. What you do, who you serve, how you serve them, what your why is so that you can have absolute confidence in what you do, because you can't build confidence with other people without having confidence in yourself.

But once you have confidence, you can build connection, but most importantly, you can build relationships and trust. The second C is cohesive. And we talked a little bit about this before, when we talked about your brand assets, your brand identity, and that's your logo, your color palette, your topography.

So as you're building out your message and you're trying to communicate. All of the things that you're doing and how you can help your audience and all of those incredible nuggets of just beauty about yourself that are going to differentiate you. You're, you're doing that in a way that feels cohesive from your website to your social media platforms.

So if you're sending someone back to your website, they can say, oh yeah, this is her. I can tell because. Look at her website. It's the same colors, the same topography, the same feel, the same emotional connection that I get from Instagram. Whenever I go to her website or vice versa. So that's really key, I think for recognizability and memorability and share-ability, and then the next seat is consistent.

You have to be consistent. And I know I've seen people say, oh, it's really not about being consistent, but if you really want to build the know love and trust factor, You have to be consistent. You have to be consistent in the type of content that you're producing. You have to be consistent with providing value and with inspiring your audience, because if you don't, everything's going to fall flat.

So you want to be consistent with your messaging. So that on your website, your social media platforms, where anybody sees you or consumes your content, it's consistent. You're not saying on your website that you do XYZ, but then on social media, you're saying, oh, well, I do ABC. Well, because that's confusing.

And if you're confusing people, then number one, they're not going to have confidence in you. And number two, they aren't going to hire you. And you've lost all sense of clarity because if we go back to clarity, being consistent helps us build that so that people are 100% clear on what we do. Hm, and how we can help them.

And then also, you know, our presence is important too. We want to be consistent with how often we show up. And this is something that we may dive into a little bit later, but for me, it's, I don't know. Have the energy or the time bandwidth to be on social media, 24 7. I can't post a couple of times a day. I can't be in my stories 10 times a day, but I'll show up three to four times a week in my feed.

I'll share things. Stories I'll connect with my audience, but I'm doing it in a way that works for me so that I don't get burnt out. And so when I'm talking about being present consistently, maybe that's putting a blog post up once a week. Maybe that's putting a podcast episode out once a week. It depends on you and your business, but it's just showing up in a consistent way so that your audience can truly get to know you.

Michelle: [00:24:21] Yes. I just want to stop you there because I think this is such a good thing because there is consistency of message and then consistency of showing up and it doesn't have to be like, I follow this one guy on Instagram whose content is really great, but he's always like, you got to post on Instagram three to five times a day and I'm like, oh, I, I can not.

Even imagine trying to do that, like that's terrible advice, especially with his audience, who's full of people who are just starting out. Like they don't have the bandwidth to do that. That's taking them away from actually making sales. 

Robyn: [00:24:57] Right. And you want to spend time in your business. That's going to actually convert for you.

And if you're spending that much time on Instagram with maybe people who are going to see that content, maybe your ideal audience is going to see that content. Maybe they're not. So I don't know. I just feel like people have to come back to earth and realize that we are human. And if we want to be consistent, we can't put these.

These extreme demands on ourselves because then we'll burn out and then we won't show up at all. There'll be zero consistency. Yeah. 

Michelle: [00:25:32] Yeah. We can't even do the bare minimum. 

Robyn: [00:25:35] Right. Right. And then the fourth C is content. And you know, we're talking about visual content written content. Again, we want that content to be cohesive and consistent.

We want it to provide clarity for our audience, but we also want to always include a call to action. And that call to action is very significant because. As you, I know you say this all the time. Cause you said it on my show too, but it's really about. Communicate what you want them to do. People need direction from you.


Michelle: [00:26:05] Some of the choir here, I'm just 

Robyn: [00:26:06] saying yes. And I'm sure your listeners have heard it from you a million times. So now they're hearing it again. And then lastly, but certainly not least is community. And when I talk about community, I'm talking about, you know, building your community, building those relationships.

Building an emotional connection that ultimately has that trust factor as the end result. And collaborations are a great way to do that. When you think about it. Taking comparison completely out of your business in your life. You're able to build those relationships and then collaborate because the more we collaborate with like-minded people, the more opportunities we have to build trust with them.

And then they will share us, become referral sources and their people will trust us simply because they trust. 

Michelle: [00:26:56] Such a good point. Like, and we need each other, like, we need colleagues, we need collaborators. So I love that your community idea includes yes, the people that you're building relationships with for your business, but also the colleagues you're paying.

So building relationships with and connecting with, because that, I think in my opinion, we don't do enough with that. 

Robyn: [00:27:21] Yeah, and I think it, you know, it all goes back to how we, we're talking about comparison and imposter syndrome and all of that, because I think so many people get stuck in that scarcity mindset.

And when you have a scarcity mindset, you're not going to want to collaborate with people because you're afraid that they're competing against you and they're going to take your clients. 

Michelle: [00:27:40] Yeah, this is so good and so helpful. So Robyn, are you ready for the 3 Word Rebellion questions? The lightning round?

Robyn: [00:27:51] ready.

Michelle: [00:27:52] Excellent. I can't wait to hear what you're going to say.

So my first question, what's one thing you're rebelling against. 

Robyn: [00:27:59] I am rebelling against the status quo of branding. It is no longer just about telling your story, but it's about controlling. What other people think, say, and feel about you and build that trust factor, instead of just telling people what you do, telling them your story and not making it about them.

Michelle: [00:28:21] Oh, yes, yes. A hundred percent. Like I am so over, like the, just tell your story message. I'm like, they don't care about your story unless they understand what the moral is and what they're going to get out of your story. So, yeah. Uh, I've been railing on it. I'm with you in your rebellion. We are, we are sisters in that.

Question number two. What change do you want to create in the world? 

Robyn: [00:28:52] I want to change the thought process that you just start a business and you immediately go to selling and you immediately go to marketing because you need to build that foundation. And I believe with all my heart, that if you build that foundation, you will have success.

And the more success you have, the more good you're going to be able to put into the world. And the more you're going to be able to serve others. And at the end of the day, we all need to do more of it. 

Michelle: [00:29:20] All right.

The final question, if everyone acted on building a foundation for their business, what do you think the world would be like?

Robyn: It would be happy. People wouldn't be competing. People would be walking side by side and supporting each other and they would be growing together. They would be having so much success that through all of these relationships, they're going to be able to serve populations who don't have access to the things that the rest of us have access to, or, you know, able to donate more.

As we contribute as we grow and build these relationships and start contributing back to other people, we're going to have a better society. And to me, having peace in society and being able to help people who are less fortunate than what we are. One way that we can achieve that. Hm. 

Michelle: [00:30:13] I love it. Thank you so much, Robyn, for being on the show and shedding some light on this idea of personal branding.

So why don't you tell everyone where they can find you? 

Robyn: [00:30:26] So it's pretty easy to find me. I am @TheRobynGraham just about everywhere online, and I do have a Facebook group and the Facebook that's called The Female Entrepreneur Insider. And I welcome everybody there. There's a couple of questions. So just answer those questions. And if you don't want to put your email, you certainly don't have to, but I would love to have you there. And then again, just go to my website, and I have all kinds of great content there that you can download for free, and you can find my podcast there as well.

Michelle: [00:31:07] Thank you so much, Robyn, for being on the show, it has been such a pleasure. And I always love talking to someone who thinks like me.

Robyn: [00:31:17] It's magical when that happens, right? 

Michelle: [00:31:22] Yes. Yes. And thank you everyone for listening to today's show, be sure to go check out Robyn, follow her on Instagram and connect with her until next time.

Remember it's about controlling the perception that people have of you, and that's what branding is all about.

Robyn did just a wonderful job, giving us a primer about what personal branding is. And now you know that it's so much more than your logo, your fine and your colors. And what stood out to me the most is that branding is a perception. It's what other people think, say and feel. About your business, and that might feel like it's out of your control, but ultimately you do have control over that.

If you take control, if you, if you set your intention to create. A brand that makes people feel and think, and talk about you in a specific way. So many times online business owners let the market define them based on what other businesses that are like them are doing and that is a one-way ticket to becoming a commodity blending.

In with your competitors instead of standing out. So your brand is foundational to your business. It's right up there with your offerings. So here's a great reflection question for you. What do you want? People who interact with your business to think, say, and feel about your business. Spend a few minutes and journal on that and then think about this follow-up questions.

Are they currently saying, thinking and feeling that, and you can always talk to a few people like your few of your best clients or your business besties to see if you're on track, but. If not, if you're like, Ooh, there's something off. It could be time to take a closer look at your brand and take control of the perception your business is creating in the minds of your customers and audience.

And one big part of taking back control about the perception of your business is knowing exactly what to say in order to out. In order to powerfully communicate the value your business creates, whether you're talking to one person or a million people. And if you're not clear on your message, how to communicate the results you get in a way that is compelling and attracts your right fit clients while also building your audience, I'd love to help you with that in the 3 Word Rebellion Messaging and Marketing Intensive. This is where we create eight all of your brand messaging. So you'll never have to guess what to say in order to turn strangers into clients.

So if this sounds good to you go to my website to get all the details and request a consultation with me.

Until next time remember, brand is a perception and you get to control that perception, what people think, say, and feel about your business. So how do you want your business to be remembered and recognized?

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