Interview with Brand Identity Expert Melissa Madgwick

Interview with Brand Identity Expert Melissa Madgwick

The other day I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa Madgwick the Founder of Brand Dominance in Perth, Australia. Her firm has made a name for itself as a brand identity and design leader in Australia and across the world.

After reading one of Melissa’s posts on LinkedIn, I knew she had valuable insights to share with Minnesota Marketers. Let’s take a minute to get to know her and learn how brand personality has helped her create explosive growth for herself and her clients.

The Basics

Tell us your background.

I have a marketing degree and have always been very interested in consumer behavior and why some businesses make a big impact while others don’t grow. One of my first marketing jobs that I really enjoyed was working with large market research firm in Australia that serviced major Australian companies from retail to banks and telecommunications companies.

While working with a telecommunications company in Australia, I realized how much money was being spent on market research, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. At this company, I saw how the board of directors would sit on the other side of the glass and listen. I praise that company because they turned themselves around and went from having a bad reputation to being well-loved.

My role was to take all of this systematic information and turn it into something great looking. I just learned the power of having something visual, having a clear concise message like these market research people. That’s where it start for me with a rare mix of marketing, design, and branding know-how.

In 2013 I had the urge to start my own business and started creating presentations for executives. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with polycystic fibrosis. This hurt my healthy and my self-esteem. I remember going to one particular contract job, stepping off the train, and seeing my face in the mirror. It was full of acne and I said, “I just can’t face people.” I lost a $3,000 job that day and I went home and said, “I’m going to start my own business.”

Since I knew brand identity and visual communication, my first step was to look as big as the companies in Sydney. This meant creating a parallax look, which was just catching on in the Sydney at the time. My team and I created a look that projected high-end, yet affordable. Within a few months time, I was landing $40,000 contracts from my kitchen table because of having a strong brand identity and sales skills.

What are you working on right now?

At the moment we are targeting a lot of speakers and businesses for rebranding, but also presentation design. I started out as a presentation specialist and presentation is just the same as if you’re creating a new brand identity or brand. You’ve got a story, you need the market or your audience, to connect with you, and, in turn, once that happens, it will grow your business, your revenue, and everything else.

We’re actually doing an email campaign to target all different speakers around the world and different businesses to help them with their pitch documents. And then, also, I’m doing exactly what you’re doing, which is cool, I’m actually starting my own show called The Brand Dominance Project, with some large, influential people around the world, on the importance on their visual identity, how that’s helped them, their sales tactics, branding, and presentation. Because a lot of these people are very good speakers, they have that brand, they’ve got that personal brand. So I want to teach people, share that knowledge with my sort of audience as well.

Now that we know more about you, let’s get your opinions.

What’s the biggest brand identity and branding mistakes that companies are making today?

The biggest brand identity mistakes that companies make, I guess not sticking to their values. I think a lot of businesses and brands have to understand why they exist and what they stand for. Because, the internet and, like you know, copy and images and everything is left on the internet forever. There isn’t any delete button. So if you’re doing a campaign that doesn’t stick to your values and you’re just doing it to make money or something, it’s not going to be long lasting.

You have to understand what your market is and get to that bottom line of what they want, because it’s all about, every business, I feel, is coming from a place of service. Well, the best businesses do, the biggest ones do. They come from a place of service, how can they serve their market better.

Why is this happening?

I think a lot of businesses are afraid to tell their story or just have a human connection. People want to know about you, want to know about the founder.

You’ll see the biggest businesses out there, they’re always going back to the founder and people connecting with him or the story or the whatever it is. I think brands need to be just a little bit more vulnerable and personable in this day and age, because I think we’re craving human connection because we’re not connecting with humans like we used to anymore. We’re connecting with humans through a screen, so we want our screen and the copy on a page, or a brand, to be more personable, like talking like a human, if that makes sense.

But, too many companies are afraid to tell their story and express human emotions.

When you look at the marketing-scape in 2018, which concepts, methods, or tools excite you the most?

We have so much connection now and I think that’s exciting. Things like LinkedIn can help you connect with anyone. Sometimes it might take 16 touchpoints to connect with the person you’re trying to reach. I think that sometimes people are so scared to connect with others, but that’s the best way to grow a business.

There’s so much opportunity, but people aren’t tapping into it. Likely because there’s so much self-doubt. But, you need to reach out to people because at the end of the day they’ll either tell you yes or no.

Which concepts, methods, or tools need to die?

I think for the most part old-school sales tactics. Getting into people’s faces with ads all the time. Our attention span is terrible now, so anything that’s fighting for attention needs to change. Even SEO could die in the near future since it’s so expensive to even try to rank on the first page of Google isn’t always feasible.

What’s the one thing our audience can do to push their marketing to the next level?

The thing that’s pushed me to the next level is being myself. I was very scared about getting out there and I was hiding behind my business a lot. My first business was called Digital Graphic Design because was great on SEO, but there was no Mel.

The thing that I’ve realized now is that being raw is the key. I create a video that told my personal story and I got so many leads from that video because I was telling my story.

So, making sure that your visual brand identity and copywriting are working together is a fantastic way to ensure that your marketing has an impact.

Lightning Round

Favorite marketing book: Zag by Marty Neumeier
Favorite fiction book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Software you can’t live without: Screencast-o-matic
Hardware you can’t live without: My Wireless Headphones
Food you could eat every day: Chocolate
Song/band that pumps you up: INXS

The Wrap-up

There you have it! A fantastic interview with a fantastic brand identity expert. Personally, I appreciated Melissa’s focus on telling your own story. This actually inspired us to completely change our about page and I’ve gotten great feedback on it.

We’re looking forward to seeing what Melissa does next. To get in touch with Melissa visit Brand Dominance or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Interview With a Corporate Communications Expert: Michael Robison

Interview With a Corporate Communications Expert: Michael Robison

Recently we chatted with Michael Robison CEO of The D5 Group. Michael has over 20 years of business experience, many of which he spent working on entrepreneurial ventures. In the interview, we learn valuable insights on how to help your leadership work together better by communicating effectively, and the power a unified company voice can have on your success.

Michael tells us about his background

My background like everyone in the entrepreneur world is pretty diverse. In the last 18-20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to serve many different industries in the non-profit and mainstream world. And in that timeframe The D5 Group, my current company, would be business number 6 for me. Some of those have been successes and some failures like any of us who take the risk to do it.

As far as my role in these businesses. I’ve been a communicator and a speaker most of my life. But thinking about my career, I’ve worked in sales and corporate strategy. These roles have required me to be a communicator, salesperson, strategic consultant, and a strategic thinker for my companies.

What are you working on right now?

The fun thing is that now I’m working on how I can help more people. As a communications strategist I get to help corporate teams, startups, and even sometimes solopreneurs really understand the value of communication within their team.

Just the other day I had the opportunity to work with a pretty incredible group here in New York. They’ve been pretty successful working together over the last 5 years. What I was able to do is help their team understand the why and the how of communication with one another which helped to strengthen the unity of their team. Also, we figured out their personal core values and matched them up with where they want to take the company.

When we align our personal values and our operational values it’s pretty amazing how efficient we can become and how much more we can accomplish. With The D5 Group, our focus is not so much on creating healthy companies but on creating healthy leaders. Because healthy leaders can lead healthy companies.

Why do companies need a strong brand voice?

I grew up in a big family, and I have a big family. When you’re in a crowded, busy world the idea of having a voice is super important. The question is: how do you utilize that voice? In a family sometimes you just get louder or out of sorts. That’s sometimes what happens to companies, they just get louder or crazier. That’s because they haven’t found their voice yet, and they don’t have direction. They’re just making noise hoping someone will pay attention.

When one of my kids says in a gentle and calm voice “hey dad”, I listen. In a corporate environment when a company can find their voice and learn how to use it, people listen. You don’t find your voice as a company until you establish a common language as a team.

How can a company’s brand voice contribute to a company’s brand and identity?

When you find your voice, and your common language it’s easier for your team members to feel like they are part of something real. When you can get your entire team to speak the same language and they’re all speaking at the same time, the world pays attention. The consistency and quality of that message makes such a difference.

I use my kids as an example. Four years ago I brought my youngest daughter home through adoption from Haiti. But, she didn’t speak English. So when she got home it was hard for her to communicate her needs and wants. And vice versa, it was hard for us to communicate with her. Helping her learn the language brought her into the entire family.

Another example is about one of my sons who was learning to walk and talk. Right around that time the Subway jingle “Eat Fresh” came out. He saw a Subway sign and said mom “Eat Fresh.” Now, he hadn’t learned to read yet, but the consistency and simplicity with which he heard that jingle helped him remember it. That was about his capacity at the time, being able to remember those two words “Eat Fresh.” But, it goes to show the power of a consistent voice.

What opportunities to contribute to their brand identity are most companies missing?

I honestly think it comes down communication. I’m not talking about your strategy for writing the company manual or some culture map. Sometimes I think we waste a lot of time building culture maps and we’re missing the opportunity to sit around the table and talk more. What ends up happening is that nobody understands each other and they miss out on the relationship portion of leadership. And there’s no strong leadership without relationships.

A lot of times in corporate we forget about that. We just think that we have a system, and we just need to stay in that system. Don’t get me wrong improving communication is hard work. But, if you’re not communicating internally you’re not communicating externally.

I think we get hung up on thinking that what I’m saying needs to be so good that people have to pay attention. When we should be asking is if what I’m saying is authentic. Because the reality is that if what I’m saying is authentic people will listen.

For example, being in New York I’ve passed 15 different pizza joints in the last few minutes. They’re all in business because they have something that makes them authentic. So you don’t need to be doing something completely different, you just need to be aware that you’ve said something truly authentic.

Lightning Round

Favorite book: Holding on Loosely by Pablo Giacocelli
Software you can’t live without: Ntuitive.social
Hardware you can’t live without: My iPhone
Song/band that pumps you up: Africa by Toto
Go-to order from [Stout Burgers]: The Morning After Burger

The Wrap-up

That was an amazing conversation with Michael. If you’d like to reach out to Michael check out his company The D5 Group or connect with him on LinkedIn. It was a blast getting to know and learn from him.

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