Hate sales? Us too.

Most who run small service businesses don't like the idea of sales, they are an unfortunately means to an end. Selling to people can be frustrating, and as any consumer can attest, being sold to is the worst.


However, sales is the lifeblood of your business. Without sales techniques, how are you going to seal the deal and convince people to buy from your brand?

Well, there is another option:

Build a Badass Brand that Sells Itself

While this sounds too good to be true, my personal experience says otherwise. We help create kick-ass, self-selling brands for clients on a regular basis, without the yuck factor.

Personally, when I think of icky sales, I picture someone trying to convince me to buy something. I don’t like being in that position, so I avoid putting other people into similar situations. Most consumers, it turns out, feel the same way.

But let's play with a different scenario. How do you feel when you're shopping for something specific that you really want or need? In that situation I know I don’t feel like I'm being sold to; when there’s a problem that needs solving and I'm happy to find the solution.

For example, how would you react if your roof was leaking, and a roofer showed up at your door, claiming he could fix the leak?

When you frame your service as a solution to a dire problem, your audience won’t hesitate to hire you. Instead of thinking, What is this company selling to me? they’ll wonder, Why haven’t I done this yet?!

The difference between using this as a sales technique, and having a badass brand, is that when you have a badass brand you are genuinely looking only for the people who are looking for you! This approach helps potential clients understand what you do, why you do, and how well you do it--an understanding that sells.

Cats out of the Bag: When you're "selling" nobody likes you

Salesy talk can pollute the conversation, reducing trust and creating doubt on both sides. Simply put, when you’re worrying about selling, and potential clients are worried about being sold to, conversations aren’t 100% honest.

But when your message is clear, you don’t have to spend time convincing people to buy from you. Instead, interactions become discovery sessions...for you to figure out if they are the right clients for you.

This clarity gives you the opportunity to learn about a potential client’s challenges, and whether your unique skills can solve them. Rather than talking up your brand, you’re asking strategic questions to dive deep into someone’s mindset.

Also, you may not even want to work with every prospect that comes your way. Why sell to someone you can’t help—or someone who seems toxic? If you realize a client isn’t right for you during the discovery conversation, recommend some other options. This helps build trust, and prospects will know you aren’t just trying to close the deal.

The Opposite of Sales is Integrity

Integrity goes a long way in the services industry. Even if you don’t end up working with certain people, they will have a deeper respect for what you do—and it often leads to well qualified referrals! By establishing your reputation as a brand that sticks to its beliefs, and serves clients who honor theirs, you can carve out a nice niche for yourself.


Want to eliminate the sale completely?

Focus on working with the right people. Develop clear, committed messaging for your business. Create a brand that knows what it does well and lets its work speak for itself. Get really clear on what you do better than everyone else.

Need help? Download our Minibrandshrink questionnaire and find out what makes YOU so special.


Branding can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars up to multi-millions for larger corporations. What's the difference in what you get and how much should you invest in your business' brand?

Here's a general list of prices that start-up and small growing businesses should expect to pay for a professional branding project that may include a combination of the following: naming, positioning & strategy, messaging, logo & identity design, copy, website design and development, creation of marketing materials, company culture and messaging.



New businesses typically don’t have a lot of cash to spend on branding, so it’s understandable that they would look for low-cost ways to get the logo and website they need to be competitive. Between, which offers all kinds of design services for $5;, with its free and almost free logos;, which offers crowd-sourced logos, identity, and website; and the infinite freelancers on Craigslist who will design anything and everything at all price points, it is possible to piece together a logo and maybe website for under a thousand dollars.

The question is: will it have a brand and badass business behind it that will actually make money? What if you could get more than design, but an actual business and brand that attracts clients, and is easy to sell? Learn what you should and shouldn't spend time and money on here:

How To Build a Badass Brand on a Shoestring Budget: Free & Cheap Resources



If you have a little money to spend, you will be able to hire a more seasoned designer, but he or she will not offer the strategies and marketing insights you can find with a brander. A designer will create your logo, brand identity, and website, but will not build your brand. A designer cannot help you answer why people will buy from you instead of your competitors, and then design your brand to support that message. Instead, you must trust your own knowledge about branding and marketing.

Because so many small businesses need a brand but don’t have a big budget, Worstofall developed an affordable all-in-one branding package that strategizes your message and builds it out into all your materials. We’re able to deliver agency level strategy and work for less than an agency because we built a unique process that allows us to execute the entire brand in 1-2-day intensives called Brandups. Clients are people who want to start selling now with a badass, professional brand and don't have six months to waste working with a company. Read more about our process here.

3. SMALL BUSINESS w/ $1 million+ in Revenue: $15,000- $60,000

For small businesses that have been in operation for a number of years, this is typically the price range for a rebrand and redesign/development of materials. The price is determined by a number of factors: the size of the company and its overhead, the size of the website, the number of deliverables, and the team’s experience level. Unfortunately, price does not always equal value. Plenty of small agencies deliver design, rather than brand. Vet your agency carefully. Be sure the team will go beyond merely executing what you are thinking. (If that’s what you want, you can get it for less.) On the other hand, unless you’re a branding expert or have a background in marketing, hire a strategically minded company that you like, and then trust them to do what they do best.


For larger companies or institutions with a lot of decision makers or big websites that require high functionality, the bill can increase pretty significantly. We won’t go into details here, because companies at this level usually aren’t reading articles about the cost of branding. 



Should you charge... what other people charge? Less? More? As much as you can?


If the goal is lifestyle and freedom, try starting from the goal and working backwards.

Pricing is a nuanced game, and it's useful to revisit and evaluate pricing often. But to go from "always looking for more clients" to a business that has control over its cash flow, is never desperately seeking clients, and affords its owner financial and lifestyle freedom, it's useful to start with pricing goals. 

Instead of an arbitrary "as much as possible" goal, we've developed a formula that is a great start for any entrepreneur who wants freedom and flexibility. It's called the 50/25/25 rule.

First: Define Freedom

First: would you rather have 50 clients paying $1,000 per project, or 10 clients paying $5,000?

Both scenarios yield $50,000. But this isn't a trick question. In the first scenario, you’re working for 50 clients, which leads to extra churn created by having to manage and service a large number of accounts. In the second scenario, you are merely looking to delight 10 ideal clients that understand your value—and are willing to pay more for it. 

This smaller workload would leave you with extra time—so what do you do with it? You could use the time to go out and get more business. Or you could take a psychic break, relax, tackle a personal project, or work on your business, rather than in it. 

If fewer, higher paying clients sound like your speed, read on for my recipe to identify your pricing sweet spot and achieve freedom and flexibility in your lifestyle. 

How to Use the 50/25/25 Rule

To integrate the 50/25/25 Rule into your business strategy, first figure out how much money you need to make annually to cover all your expenses and live comfortably.

If you need $120,000 a year, then your monthly goal is $10,000. With the 50/25/25 Rule, the first goal is to reach that figure by spending 50% of your time on client work—or two weeks out of the month.

Next, determine how many clients you can take care of within that timeframe. If you can complete four projects in a two-week span, divide $10,000 (your month’s goal) by four (the number of projects). In this example, you’d look to charge about $2,500 per client to reach your monthly goal.

Take Control of Your Business & Life

Now, this number may be drastically different from what you’re charging now. But this exercise gives you direction for how to increase your value for ideal clients—the ones willing to pay what you’re worth. When you begin reaching your monthly financial goal in 50% of your available working time, you have the luxury of pursuing other business goals.

With this newfound freedom, you can focus 25% of your time (or the equivalent of one week of the month) on branding and business development. Everything you do during this week— such as competitive research, content marketing, social media, and email campaigns— increases the value of your service, allowing you to charge an even higher rate in the future.

And the final 25% of your time? If you’ve done the proper legwork for the other 75%, you’ve earned the right to do whatever you want with it. Devote time to learning more about your industry so you can better serve clients, or take on more work to boost profits. You can even fill this last week of the month with your own creative hobbies that have nothing to do with your business. Travel, knit, learn to surf—the point is: When you build a Badass Brand, you have freedom, flexibility, and control over how you spend your time.

The only question is… What exactly should your brand focus on to achieve the 50/25/25 balance?

Take our free minicourse where you can plug in a few numbers and find the price you need to charge to achieve freedom in your life!


Saying "no" to the wrong clients is one of the hardest and most important ways to build a reputable brand that attracts clients and commands a premium price. We already shared the first time we said no and how pivotal it was to our profitability. That time had to do with price. This next time was totally unexpected, and it came out of nowhere...

It was summer 2015. We’d been flying high for about nine months, only doing Brandups, steadily raising our prices each month yet always filling our calendar with clients. 

I got a call from someone with a slightly different request.

His e-commerce website needed a new design, and he was also open to a new logo and possibly even a new name. He told me he needed it soon—or more specifically—within two weeks. 

I told him we don’t really deal with e-commerce or products, and usually we do brand strategy and website design for service businesses.

But he was desperate to get something soon, and he loved both our approach and our package.

Couldn’t we make an exception?

Well, technically we could. We are always booked solid, but we also normally leave a week open for internal and personal projects, and that week happened to be coming up. For $10,000, I could make an exception, and Steve—though usually unwilling to give up his art time (smart man)—succumbed to my pressure (he doesn’t anymore, and I’m fine with that).

Stick to your process

I said we would start with a Brandshrink and take it from there. The client and his partner were in the office the next day, and to see if this was even possible, I wrote the brief that night and sent it the following morning.

They were sold.

And because of the tight timeline, we agreed to do the Brandup a week and a half later.

In the meantime, we needed feedback on the brief, which outlined what the client was looking for, our plan, and advice for how to execute it. They needed messaging, and they sent me “brand documents” someone else had prepared for them.

Now, these brand documents were pretty typical. There was a lot of info and tons of ideas—a lot of fluff, all pretty sweeping and generic.

I told them their documents weren’t too helpful, because it was just the same thing over and over again. The reason there was so much info was because they hadn’t picked an angle yet, and they desperately needed to. 

The client’s business was delivering brand name goods to Africa from all over the world at affordable prices. Their mission was smart, and their model made sense.

Ask your client the important questions

But what was separating them from other companies like this? Even if they were really “better,” there were too many details to explain—too many details they insisted needed to be part of the message.

They were falling victim to one of the most common problems I’ve seen: a startup with little to no funding who didn’t want to be known for anything in particular. Instead of specializing, they wanted a brand broad enough (“like Amazon,” they said!) to appeal to everyone.

They made brands available with cash—a big problem solver in Africa—but they also took credit cards and didn’t want to seem like they didn’t.

They allowed deliveries to kiosks, solving the postal service problem for people living outside of delivery zone, but they also delivered directly to people, so they couldn’t own that.

They delivered fancy brands from America and Europe, but they did so at affordable prices!

To sum up: This client offered the cheapest, easiest way to get your goods from the U.S., Europe, and Asia, with guaranteed quality that can be delivered to your home OR kiosk paid by COD OR credit card.

Okay, let’s sum that up now: They wanted to be everything for everyone.

Identify the problem (if there is one)

Even though they kept saying they trusted us, they really didn’t want to budge. They wanted something generic, something that—in our opinions—wouldn’t work.

How could we execute this properly? They wanted our expertise, but they weren’t letting us give them our expertise.

There was also another problem here: this was not our specialty. We know small service businesses like the back of our hands. Not only have we successfully built one ourselves, but we’ve worked with hundreds of them and can confidently say what will and won’t work. 

Large e-commerce delivery services on another continent, though? Well, we know that the branding principles still apply, but I just couldn’t confidently put my foot down…

The situation was becoming clear: we had a client who wanted to work with us but didn’t want to let us do our thing...

They needed to separate themselves from competitors, but they weren’t willing to focus on one detail of their business. They wanted to be everything for everyone.

So, this Brandup was going to be a lot of back and forth, just trying to make something they like, and then them looking to us to tell them it’s good.

“No, it’s not good, but it’s what you’re forcing us to make…”

It was a shitty situation with a client that I’d turned into a bad client.


We prepped anyway, and we made some great looking designs that were both in-line with what they wanted and modern. (Seriously, anything would have been better than the site they’d currently had.) We also wrote some generic copy they wanted, attempting to make it unique and different.

All prepared, Steve and I walked to the client’s office early to start the first day, both kind of dreading this project.

Why dreading it? Because we were going to charge them our fee to do something we didn’t believe in. Even if they were ultimately going to be happy, they shouldn’t be paying a premium rate for this. If they wanted a designer to just make something that looks nice according to them, there are waaaay cheaper options.

And me? I was going to have to manage the entire thing, simultaneously trying to please them and convince them that the generic fluff they were forcing me to write was actually going to work? (Not like they needed much convincing anyway.)

That’s when we turned down $10,000 the morning of a project, even though we had done all the prep work and could have easily just done it and made them happy.

Best “No” we ever said.


Of course, Steve and I called the client up and apologized. I explained why: I didn’t think they were going to let us provide the service they were paying us to provide, and I couldn’t charge them for the work we were going to do. I said we would just give them all the prep work anyway, and that they could take these awesome designs and find someone cheap to implement them if they wanted. I figured they basically got some great design work without having to pay for it, and that that would make them happy.

They understood, no hard feelings. They were happy to receive the designs for free, and Steve and I danced down the street excited to have escaped this nightmare couple of days.


This experience solidified it: we were for service businesses only. Now, we knew we wouldn’t even entertain products because it just wasn’t worth it. There are plenty of service businesses in need of our Brandups, and we know we can crush it every time. The value of what we are selling is highest for those types of clients. 

And that’s the main point of saying no in the first place: to create time for the clients you love—to work with the clients you can do your best for.


One of the most important words in business, and also the hardest.

Almost a year before our now-famous fall into debt—before we doubled our prices from $16,000 to $32,000—we were increasing our prices slowly with every client.


Our strategy?

For every client, we went above and beyond, delivering more value than they’d anticipated. By doing this, we were breeding both happy clients and great referral sources, and building our own confidence.

Though difficult, we felt optimistic about our price increase every time.

At the moment of our first "no," we were definitely looking for clients. So, I did the only thing I knew to do to find work: I went networking. Luckily I met a potential client who needed a full rebrand with a logo and website, which is exactly what we were selling.

I poured my heart into a beautifully devised, long-ass proposal, rich with benefit statements and fancy design to make them go WOW.

It worked. They loved us. 

But they didn’t like the $16,000 price, so they asked us to bring it down.

Be realistic

Now, $16,000 is nothing to scoff at. And this was also the most we had ever charged at that stage of the game. But I also knew that for the amount of work we were doing, we needed at least $16,000. (This is before we had a tightened-up badass process—when we assumed this project was going to take 4-6 months and I had to pay my employees the whole time.)

I told them we could do it for the $13,000 they were asking for, but I’d have to drop a few things from the proposal. They couldn’t make that deal, they said. They needed everything.

We had a couple of phone calls, and they told me they were looking at other companies who were charging even less than $13,000, and they couldn’t justify paying $16,000. But they definitely wanted to use us and we were at the top of the list.

Perfect, that’s exactly where I like to be.
Top of the list and just a little too expensive, but the client wants it anyway.

Make the tough decisions

The knot in my stomach tightened, and I politely told them on the phone, “Look, this would be a great project. I know we would kill it for you, and I’d love to knock this baby out of the park. But if you want everything, it has to be $16,000. And if you need to pass and use someone else, I’ll totally understand.”

He said ok, that he was disappointed, and then he hung up.

And that was it. I told Steve what happened, and I just couldn’t go into a project like that. I couldn’t accept just taking a discount before the project even begins. 

I’ve been in this situation a few times, and that’s often the end of the conversation. It’s hard, but I always look at it as dodging a bullet. Though we needed work, it freed me up to find a client willing to pay what the work was worth.

Confidence pays off

In this instance, however, that same client called me up a week later. Surprise! He hired us for the full $16,000. I still get butterflies thinking about it. Victory!

Victory because I stuck to my guns. Victory because I knew what we were selling had value, and I wasn’t going to compromise.

Victory because now this project was going to be a breeze. They hired us—the most expensive company on their list—and shelled out way more than they wanted because they knew our work was the best.

And, as long as I maintained control of the situation, this project was going to go smoothly.

By hiring us in this manner, they were also saying that they understood we were experts in our field, and they trusted us. And so, they were wonderful clients every step of the way, and they got great work from us.

Especially because—for them, too—we purposely did way more than $16,000 worth of work. After that project, we doubled our rates. Then, with a few unexpected twists, our story really got going.


There are no bad clients. Or, more precisely put: all bad clients are your fault. Here are 4 Mistakes to Avoid When Taking on a Project:



Here’s a typical scenario:

You’re a graphic designer.

A potential client reaches out and says they need a logo and website designed.

You write them a proposal.

They read your proposal.

Maybe they get back to you,

maybe they don’t.

Let’s say they do, but your quote is a little more than they had budgeted…

MISTAKE #1 - Just giving a discount

Can you do it for 10% less? You need the money, so you’re happy to give the discount. You start working and ask them what they want—color preferences, logo specifics, etc. They’re going to send over examples of what they like.

Why it’s a mistake: When you give a discount just because, you’re suggesting your original price was an arbitrary number, not based on any sort of value you put on your work. You can immediately lose the client’s trust this way.

MISTAKE #2 - Just asking what they want

The client sends over tons of information about their company, as well as examples of designs they like. Great! You see some patterns, and you get to work.

Why it’s a mistake: The first rule of creating a great client is developing a relationship of trust. They must trust you to do what you do best, that you know what you’re doing and that you’ll deliver. You are the expert, so you should lead the process. If you ask the client what they think the logo should be, you’ve created doubt around your status as a design expert. If the client were an expert, they would’ve made a logo themselves. And if you allow the client to lead the process, things can get messy…

MISTAKE #3 - Emailing work without explanation

You create dozens of logo designs, and you send your ten best in a PDF.

They call you up: “We liked logos 3, 4, and 9. We’d like to see #3 in a couple of different colors, #4 with the font from #5, and we like #9 but can you make the logo icon just a little more... modern?”

Why it’s a mistake:
You’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping something sticks. You don’t trust that you know what is good or right—you just hope the client will like something. Doesn’t sound like something an “expert” would do. It’s your job to educate your client so they can make an informed decision.

Sending tons of options makes it harder for clients to make that decision. Most clients are terrified of paying for a service and not getting what they want out of it. But again, you’ve put them in a difficult position—you’ve given a novice the job of making an expert judgment. This will result in requests to see more options because of uncertainty.

MISTAKE #4 - Doing whatever the client says

You get back to work. You make another PDF with all the edits, which ends up being another ten logos—all variations of their three favorites. You send it over.

They call you up again, with more revisions and requests. These communications go back and forth for days, maybe even weeks. The requests have (d)evolved from small and straightforward to frustrating and outlandish.

And now you have a shitty client. You haven’t even begun the website yet! AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.

Why it’s a mistake: Well, this is what happens when you let your client drive the ship. You can become their whipping boy before the project even begins. By doing whatever the client says, you are not using your expertise. That’s what they’re paying you for!

This is why you must stay in control throughout the process. 

In the end, it’s not the client’s fault—it’s yours. You are responsible for leading your projects and your clients, for building trust and rapport. Make sure you listen to the client and then give them exactly what they need to achieve their desired results.

*Caveat: Some people just suck.

Do everything you can to avoid working with people like this. Have a screening process before you start projects with new clients. In these cases, $1 does not equal $1.

Even if you need the money, a shitty client will cost you time, energy, and sanity. This may, in turn, cost you money anyway—and it can keep you from finding the clients who love, respect, and pay you what you’re worth.

And they’re out there! We can proudly, unequivocally say that we have loved working with all of our Brandup clients for the last two years (and if any clients are reading this, that means you!)


Why the old wisdom of "The Customer is Always Right" is just that, old.


I’ve been saying it for a long time... Sometimes it pisses people off because it goes against everything sacred from the golden age of Leave It to Beaver and whatever the term "good old days" refers to (also B.S.)

AGAIN, The customer is never right.

Many people believe the exact opposite, which explains why tons of small businesses are flailing—overworked, underpaid, and always desperately searching for clients. They bend over backwards because of this lame misconception, and then they still end up with clients who aren’t satisfied.

Here’s why.

When someone hires you for a service, they are not merely hiring you to perform said service. They are hiring you for your expertise in delivering said service. If they knew how to execute the service, they would save their money and do it themselves!

But they don’t.

Case in point:

Many boutique branding companies start their initial conversation asking a client what they want their website to look like.

You may have heard it before… "Show me websites you like. Tell me what pages you want on your site. Send me your web copy".

These web designers/developers are turning themselves into a commodity. They are merely technicians—the hands that execute your vision. But there’s a huge problem with that.

Your vision of the pages and content you want on your site… what is that based on? Are you a website expert? Do you think it’s appropriate to build a website to the specifications of your personal tastes and thoughts, rather than those of your target audience?

What if, instead, the web developer asked you what you are looking to do with your website? That conversation would go a bit differently… Why do you want a new website? What challenges are you currently facing that you think a new website could solve?

Now we’re cooking with gas!

You see, ultimately, when someone “needs a new website,” what they are usually saying is they need help with their business in some way, and they think a website is going to solve their problem. 

Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But wouldn’t it be nice if the website development company—a company that supposedly knows a lot about websites—could help the client figure that out?

By asking the big questions, we might discover that a new website won’t help the client fix their problem. I suspect that’s one reason most companies don’t ask those questions. But you need to position yourself as an authority, as someone with valuable insight the client doesn’t have. That’s what they’re paying you for.

Steve and I have our “core values” prominently displayed on our wall. One of the values that stands out is #4: “Always be in control for the sake of the customer.”

It’s your job as the expert to lead the way. That outdated “customer is always right” mentality suggests that the customer knows more than you about the subject at hand. When that happens, all bets are off. 

This is why it is in your best interest to take the reigns of any and all conversations and projects. For the sake of your clients, get down to the root of their problems and offer up effective actions.


“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art” -Andy Warhol

warhol dollar bill is brooklyn brand.jpg

There is perhaps no better industry to look at when trying to understand the power of a brand than the fine art world. That might seem a bit counter intuitive since when one pursues an art career, they don’t usually start with a business plan, marketing plan, and brand conversation, they start with the art (or product) itself.

But it’s possibly the best example because the art world sells a product that has no inherent value in it. Though some artists are certainly more talented than others, no artist is millions of dollars more talented than their colleagues. Art is a product that exclusively sells on the basis of its brand.

roy-lichtenstein perfect brooklyn brand example.jpg

Pollock is not the only painter to drip paint on a canvas, Lichenstein is not the only artist to make cartoons fine art, and Picasso is not the only cubist painter. Nor were they the first or arguably even the most skilled. But when you see a painting in one of those styles, you immediately think of those artists and those artists alone. And those paintings sell for millions more than their similar counterparts.

Are they better paintings? Not millions of dollars better! You’re not paying millions because there was more skill involved, or more inherent value.

Jeff Koons ballong dog badass brand.jpg


The reason they are so valuable is because those painters in particular OWN that brand of painting. If you are even mildly familiar with the masters, the association is so strong that anything that even closely resembles their work will conjure up that artists’ name in your brain automatically. Jeff Koons occupies the image of balloon animal dogs. I mean he OWNS that space in your mind, because he has such a dominating brand.

And that brand is incredibly valuable. The person who dropped almost $60 million on a Jeff Koons Balloon Dog could have had a custom made sculpture for much less. But then you would just have a piece of art (product), not a Jeff Koons (brand).



If you’re like most companies, you try to make a better product than your competitors, and sell it at a competitive price. The equivalent of that in the art world would be to drip a bunch of paint on a canvas and sell it for a couple hundred dollars. Last year a Pollack sold for $58.4 million, so you can definitely undercut that price! You should be golden, right?

Like most companies that do this, you could probably sell some product. You might even sell TONS of product. Maybe your drip paintings would be flying off the shelves at that price! But here’s the bigger question: would you rather sell 1,000 $100 paintings, or one, $58.4 million painting?

We use this extreme case to illustrate the point, but it applies at all levels of art, as well as to your business' brand. Owning space in people's minds is the holy grail, and a brand is what gets you that space. It allows you to sell fewer products at a higher price with a higher profit margin. Investment in branding will pay off every single time you make a sale and will actually increase in value over time. The better the brand (i.e. the more badass the brand), the higher the payoff.


Inevitably, after each art show we host at our other company #SELLOUT, the number one question we got was "How much art did you sell?" 

Well, we sold a bunch of art, if that's what you're wondering, but that question shows that the real value of the show isn't obvious to most people. It's not about the immediate sales (though they are a nice bonus!) it's about brand awareness, this buzz word that is easy to define but difficult to put into action. It's about sales that will be made for years to come. So without further adieu-

I've heard of brand awareness.... Now what?

In this Article:

1. Brand Awareness- insight into the buzzword

2. #SELLOUT- how & why we did it (hint: brand awareness)

3. Applying the big business examples of brand awareness to your small business


brooklyn branding uses art.jpeg



Having a badass brand is important, but if your brand is the best-kept secret, it's not really working for you like it should be.

Brand awareness, created by being visible to your target on a consistent basis, ideally strengthened with badass visuals and press-worthy experiences, translates your "brand" into "more people knowing and buying your stuff."

Most branding articles will use examples like the Nike swoosh, or the Apple experience, to demonstrate the strong relationship we have with those brands because of incredibly powerful and consistent brand-awareness campaigns we've experienced over time. But how does this relate to your small business? 



We created #SELLOUT, an experiential art event, as a brand awareness campaign for artists and sponsors. The goal isn't direct sales, but to create awareness for all parties involved, increasing their value and Brooklyn cool-points by being associated with a scene.


  • Plan shows with artists who are into the idea of shameless self-promotion

  • Pitch the idea to brands who want to be associated with a cool Brooklyn art scene

  • Develop a badass brand that inspires curiosity and has a clear message

  • Design all the materials to reinforce the simple message that everyone can understand

  • Be really clear about the event's message in all press outreach

  • Host events, this past one being a badass, week-long event in Brooklyn with 2 opening parties, interactive art and lots of ways for people to #SELLOUT



  • All the people who were aware of the events, viewing the marketing campaign, reading the articles, and coming to the parties, have a specific association when they see the logo for #SELLOUT.

  • As we continue to host these events, the people who are currently aware of it will continue to strengthen that association and understanding of the brand, and new people will join that awareness.

Have you ever seen an event with a bunch of "unknown" artists garner that much attention? That's the power of a brand awareness campaign with a badass brand. 



The disconnect for many when they read about brand awareness is that it seems like something only large companies can afford because we usually talk about brand awareness in terms of the corporate companies building awareness nationally and worldwide.

But the exact same principles apply to you and YOUR PERSONAL WORLD. Think about all the people in your immediate network: colleagues, friends & family. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that just because they know you and what you do, that they are walking around with you top of mind, referring you whenever the opportunity arises.

What Nike does in brand awareness for the world is exactly what you need to do for the people in your world. Smaller scale, same power.

There are many ways to do it, but the overarching theme is that it must be done consistently and with a consistent message. It's why we are going to take #SELLOUT to SWSX this spring, then Chicago this fall, and then back to Brooklyn in the winter. Repetition is a crucial ingredient.

So whether it's valuable newsletters, or informative seminars, badass parties or fabulous cocktail hours, book clubs or poker nights... find outlets that make sense for your brand and then make sure you do it consistently and over time. This type of effort will create brand awareness, it will pay you back in spades as you become more and more top of mind to everyone who knows you, and it will create exponential value for you the longer you do it.