I was recently on Al Simon's Show on Business RadioX to talk about company culture (or what I call internal branding).
We spoke about:
- What branding is and what is isn't
- The importance of creating a strong brand both internally and externally
- Company culture and how it aligns with your brand
Al Simon: So we're going to spend a little time at first here with Skot Waldron, welcome Skot.
Skot Waldron: Thanks Al. It's good to be here. I've been following you for a long time. It's good to be on the show.
Al Simon: Yeah, it's good to have you with us. So you're going to have to help us out here because we hear that word brand building so much, it's almost like you don't even hear the word anymore, right? And there's so much noise out in the social media world about brand building. So why don't you give us an idea of what you mean by your phrase "brand first." What is that all about?
Skot Waldron: Well, let's say what brand isn't. I hear a lot of people say, "I want to build my brand." It is not your logo. It is not a color palette. It is not a font? That is not your brand. Let's get that out there. Those are all brand elements. Those are all outward expressions of your brand that help people remember how they actually feel about you. So when I go by a Chick-fil-A, I don't look at the logo and go, "Oh, I hate that logo. I hate Chick-fil-A," right? I either love or hate Chick-fil-A because of the brand experience I have at Chick-fil-A? That logo just recalls that emotion that I feel in regards to Chick-fil-A.
Al Simon: Okay, so we have a real life example right here on this show. All right. Steve's company, Northwest Exterminating, has the mouse, right? Is the mouse a brand or is it more like a logo?
Skot Waldron: The mouse is not a brand. The mouse is an external element to help people recall how they feel about Northwest Extermination. They say, "Man, I hate that mouse because last time they burned up my yard," right? Or, "I still see roaches in my house." But maybe they love that mouse because they're loyal (I mean, I use Northwest), because they recall the good experience they've had with Northwest. When I see that mouse on that billboard everywhere, it brings up good emotions in me?
Al Simon: So why do companies need your services?
Skot Waldron: Because having a brand first mentality is all about being intentional with everything I do. Having a brand first mentality means how is this next thing I do, whether it's an email campaign, a social media message, my website, that handshake with somebody, that networking event, that lunch appointment. How does this next interaction with somebody going to affect my overall brand image? Because it is being affected with every interaction we have with somebody.
Skot Waldron: Now I talk about brand from two different standpoints, right?
Al Simon: Okay.
Skot Waldron: The typical standpoint is number one, marketing, that's the way a lot of people think about brand.
Al Simon: They do.
Skot Waldron: And that's where I've been for the past 18 years as a designer and building brands for companies. The past year I've really started to think about an internal brand for a company and what is an internal brand for our company? Company culture.
Al Simon: Okay.
Skot Waldron: Okay? So branding is all about what people say about you when you're not around. That is what brand is.
Al Simon: Okay, let's say that again, brand is what people say about you when you're not around.
Skot Waldron: So if my customers, my clients are going around telling their friends and neighbors something about me, that's my brand. When all of us leave this studio, what we say about each other is our brand, okay?
Al Simon: Makes sense.
Skot Waldron: Now, companies have internal brands as well, it's called company culture.
Al Simon: That's the culture, right?
Skot Waldron: And if employees are going home at night saying bad things about their job to their spouse, to their friends, that is a brand problem, right, for that company internally.
Al Simon: Makes sense, yes.
Skot Waldron: So what I've done is not only do I shape brands on the external communication side and help build them, position them, strengthen them, differentiate them from everybody else in their market. I also focus on internal brand development with companies with a program called Five Voices.
Al Simon: Okay, this was the new service you've offered?
Skot Waldron: That is a new service, right.
Al Simon: Five Voices, tell us more about that.
Skot Waldron: So Five Voices is a program all about transforming team communication. Again, brand is about communication and how we communicate effectively with our customer or our client on the external side. And how we communicate effectively on the internal side with our employees and our leadership team. So I want to help teams do that. Now, Five Voices is something that was developed by Giant Worldwide. This is something I've learned about in my own leadership training journey and become more self aware of myself and how I communicate and it's transformed my life. And so as a Five Voices certified coach now, I use this with all of my brand clients.
Al Simon: Do you?
Skot Waldron: Every time I come in they want me to help differentiate them, position them. What I do first is I run them also through Five Voices whether they know it or not so I can help them learn what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are in their own communication with their own team.
Al Simon: Now, how long does it take you to sense what their company culture really is, when you start working with a company?
Skot Waldron: It's that first workshop that we'll do together. It's a five to six month process that we walk through with companies and Five Voices to help really structure that team communication. But in that first initial workshop, there's so many aha moments and so many things that come out of that, that people just go, "That's why Jerry in HR does that thing that I hate." So it's always about that dynamic, understanding what it's like to be on the other side of us. And also understanding that not everybody thinks the way we think. Right? Who knew.
Al Simon: Well you brought up HR because HR, in many employee's eyes, is like the bad part of the company, right? They're the watchdog. But yet, people, when they think of HR, they think of company culture, but you're talking about brands. So help me understand the differences and the similarities.
Skot Waldron: Well, you're right, I'm a brand guy first and foremost, brand first in everything. But as I started going through my own leadership coaching and understanding what my brand meant to my employees, I started to understand that brand isn't just an external thing, right? It's an internal thing. And while we may use different language, you call it company culture, I call it internal brand for that company, it's all about effective communication. So really, at the end of the day, I help you, as a business or an individual, communicate more effectively with your customers, your clients or your employees so that you can be more effective in all walks of life, and be more profitable.
Al Simon: So Five Voices is really about communication both internally and externally. Is that right?
Skot Waldron: Yeah, because I see it as, if you can communicate more cohesively as a team internally, you'll be much more effective in your external communication. Teams function at about 60% of their potential because they're not effective or efficient in their communication. 82% of team members don't feel valued, they feel misunderstood, they don't feel appreciated, like they have a voice at the table. If we could increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our internal communication on the marketing side, how much more effective will we be in our external communication if we can create a team internally that is more effective.
Al Simon: That makes sense because I work with sales teams and we typically want to help them with their messaging to the external world. But a lot of times my clients want non-sales people also to participate in those kinds of workshops because they want everybody to understand what is the messaging, or what is it supposed to be externally and how does that relate internally.
Skot Waldron: I 100% agree with you and as a designer, growing up in the design world, we never messed with sales people and we never messed with the people that were dealing with sales calls and customer service, things like that. We just did the design and marketing side. Later in my career, as I've learned to understand that it's not just a marketing problem, it's not just an operations problem, it's not just a sales problem, but it's how do all those things work together. So now when I work with companies, I bring in a sales guy, I bring in a marketing person, I bring in leadership team, I bring in customer service reps so that we can all understand what the message is and what the overall goal is so that we can be more effective all around, right? So I primarily focus on the marketing side, but it's not just a marketing problem.
Al Simon: It's an all employee problem.
Skot Waldron: Right, right.
Al Simon: Okay, so let me understand, when you work with companies, you work with their people on marketing, in brand building, in communication, but you also do public workshops and seminars and things like that as well?
Skot Waldron: I do. So speakings a big thing that I'm starting to do more of, I'm doing six workshops this month alone.
Al Simon: Are you really?
Skot Waldron: Yeah. So this month is a busy month. Last week I did one with a woman named Gabrielle Mills from Sourced, if you know Gabrielle .
Al Simon: Yes, I know Gabrielle.
Skot Waldron: So she spoke on vision and what a vision and how that incorporates into company culture, and I taught the first workshop of Five Voices. So it was a really good marriage on that topic.
Al Simon: Sounds like it.
Skot Waldron: Next Wednesday, at the Whole Foods in John's Creek, I'm teaching one about brand positioning, what brand is, what it's not. So I'll evolve that thought a little bit more and really help you understand how important a brand foundation is to building the rest of the house, which is the business and the marketing side of what you do. And then in two weeks, I'm teaching one more about social strategy because I don't manage people's social media account, but our brands are shaped by how we appear on social media, right? It shapes our personal brand a lot.
Al Simon: That makes sense.
Skot Waldron: So I care about that a lot and I want you to be intentional about how you're using social media in order to shape that brand perception of who you are and what you offer.
Al Simon: Okay, and our listeners can attend some of these workshops?
Skot Waldron: All of them, yeah. So you can go on and register. I'm in partnership with Stephanie Sokenis from SmallBiz Ally, she's helping me facilitate those workshops. And so you can go to her website, smallbizally.com/events and find out more information about those.
Al Simon: Okay, Small Biz with a Z, right? smallbizally.
Skot Waldron: .com/events.
Al Simon: .com/events, okay.
Skot Waldron: You can find out more information there. If you want to get in touch with me, I've created an online company culture assessment. It's 20 questions about your company. And also an online brand assessment, that's also 20 questions to help you evaluate the health of your brand. And if you just email me at email@example.com, I will send you a link to those assessments, they're free. You'll go in my CRM, but I will not spam you, I promise.
Al Simon: Okay, that's a good promise because people are afraid of that.
Skot Waldron: I know they are. So I'm putting it out there, man. I will tell you, you'll go on my CRM but I will not. I will not.
Al Simon: Okay, so it's Skot S-K-O-T.
Skot Waldron: Skot with a K, yep.
Al Simon: @SkotWaldron, S-K-O-T-W-A-L-D-R-O-N, com, right?
Skot Waldron: Yes sir. Yup, email me there and I'll send you those links.
Al Simon: That's awesome. So Skot, what question haven't I asked you that I should be asking you about what you want people to know about you?
Al Simon: Tough question, yeah.
Skot Waldron: How much do I appreciate Al Simon? Is that what you you're going to ask me?
Al Simon: Oh yeah, how'd you know I wanted too, yeah.
Skot Waldron: It's this note you sent me right here on the table.
Al Simon: Pass you notes. Radio, they don't know that. Okay, all right. No, seriously, what about you that people don't know that they should know?
Skot Waldron: My goal, like I said, is to have a brand first mentality. I think a lot of businesses, from the marketing side, focus a lot on tactics, right? We all hear, you need website and your logo, a Facebook page, whatever. But what the pain I feel for these small businesses or entrepreneurs going out and building something is they do all that and then nothing works. Because people see that they have no soul or no authenticity or they're inconsistent in their messaging and how they present themselves to the world, and that hurts me? They're spending all this money, this time, this effort and building, I call them the little fish with big dreams, building something beautiful that's ineffective because they aren't putting enough thought and intentionality into the brand either internally or externally.
Al Simon: This is huge, and I see it with my own experience on social media or when people are trying to message me externally, like salespeople. And I see the brand being manifested in the material they send or the social media posts that they have or on their websites. But so many times, when you have that first conversation with whoever it is, whoever's client facing salesperson, customer service rep, whoever it is, is always, it seems like there's that disconnect, especially the bigger the company. That disconnect between what their messaging on social media or advertising says, and the experience you have with that first person that actually interacts with you. Is that what you work on?
Skot Waldron: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think authenticity is huge, especially in a world of social media where there is so much inauthenticity and we're so guarded now. I think that it's more important than ever to build trust as people. People buy from people, right? I'm sure you preach this all the time.
Al Simon: There you go. Companies don't buy from companies, people buy from people.
Skot Waldron: They do.
Al Simon: They do.
Skot Waldron: And so, that's building that trust with your customers and clients is just as important as building that trust with your employees, so that brand loyalty internally and externally is what's going to drive your profits.
Al Simon: It makes perfect sense. So that's S-K-O-T@skot W-A-L-D-R-O-N.com.
Skot Waldron: Yes sir. I was going to get a longer name, but I decided to...
Al Simon: Yeah, it's going to blow up anyway after this radio show, so.
Skot Waldron: 5 million listeners?
Al Simon: Yes, five or maybe six now.
Skot Waldron: Six now? Yeah.
Al Simon: Probably going to be seven or eight after this episode.
Skot Waldron: Well done man.
Al Simon: But thank you for being here Skot and sharing as well. And once again, this is Al Simon. The show is Simon Says, Let's Talk Business, and we've been talking with one of our guests, Skot Waldron, Terrific resource for businesses when you're talking about communication, talking about building your brand and marrying the two, company culture, communication, really the three, right? Did I get that right? I'm getting all confused myself now just trying to talk about it.
Skot Waldron: You got it Al.