How to Rebrand Like a Beast


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hamyaw podcast title graphic for episode titled how to rebrand like a beast.

It won’t surprise you to know that I came out of the womb noisy.

I arrived on this green Earth apparently screaming that I wasn’t ultra fond of being touched (these days I’m more chill, but I am incredibly ticklish), and intensely eager to look at/babble at everything.

From an early age I was terrifying my parents with my unbridled extroversion. My mom tells stories about me hopping out of my stroller at the county fair when she wasn’t looking, no older than 2 or 3, to have conversations with the startlingly patient vendors behind the duck shooting game.

Indoor Voices Please!

I have burningly-clear memories of amusing adults by trying to casually fit in at the grown folks table, straining to hear and understand their stories and try to connect the dots on the million things I was missing on this thing called life.

My voice has always been naturally loud. My favorite colors have always been bright. And I have always – due to my very nature – had no choice but to be myself.

Shh, indoor volume.” was something I heard a lot as a kid.

Hillary? Yeah, she’s a little… much.” was a popular phrase with girls who didn’t like me in high school.

Stop it. You’re being annoying,” was whispered to me in hushed tones by well-meaning family members when I was too excited, or having too much fun.

Should You Tone It Down to Fit In?

Do you remember what it felt like to be told that stuff when you were younger? Cheeks red with shame? Stomach twisting with the knowledge you’re the china shop bull in a world that prefers dainty teacups?

That’s probably why, until very recently, my goal with my brand was to always “tone it down a little”.

You may have noticed on my previous website, the first image wasn’t even of my face – it was me, head down, “move along please, focus on the words ma’am” style. Clean white space with muted blues, blacks, grays, and tans.

At the time, it did feel like me. The me I really wanted to be — sleeker, more understated, and overall cooler.

But as years went by, and my work expanded and skills grew, I finally began to see who I am as a blessing in disguise:

This skyscraper personality in this 5’5 frame made me a perfect fit for the online space. I’m memorable. I stand out. I’m fairly digestible in 10 second increments on IG stories.

Serving up My Statement Piece

And, most importantly, I know that when I show up as the utmost, proudest version of myself, that I act as a mirror, and give other people (from my readers to my students to my clients) the courage and reason to do the same.

And nothing makes me prouder than that.

Thus, when the time came to kick off my latest rebrand Statement Piece Studio, my goal was simple: aside from the strategy, the new offers, and the new ideas, I was here to crank my dang monster personality up to 11 — and whoever didn’t like it could scram (or, you know, peacefully unsubscribe.)

And, most importantly, I was here to help others do that for themselves.

Lo and behold… it worked.

What it Really Takes to Do An Epic Rebrand

Because truly, while the popular marketing quip is always “It’s about THEM — your customers — not about YOU.”, I counter: “If you’re a personal brand, uh, it kinda is though.”

Not in the bragging way. But if you’re not cranking up the volume on what makes you unique, skilled, and awesome in your market AND in life, how will people ever notice?

Which is probably why I had so much fun talking about all this with my fellow Large Personality-d Woman Margo Aaron on today’s Hillary and Margo Yell at Websites episode.

We discuss how the building out of this entire idea worked, and what it REALLY takes to do an epic rebrand that represents who you really are — as well as the changes she’s currently making too.

… And also why, when you’re not clear, rebranding can feel like this impossible mountain to climb (and what to do about it.)

Rebranding Deep Dive

Catch today’s #HAMYAW episode, “HOW TO REBRAND LIKE A BEAST”, to find out:

1:20: why rebranding feels SO exciting at first… and promptly freaks everybody out

3:00: How I came up with the idea for Statement Piece Studio (shoutout to Sarah Ancalmo-Ashman and her MirrorBrand course!) and what it means.

5:15: The absolute WORST way to get feedback on your brand.

6:20: When “starting with why” matters, and when it REALLY doesn’t. #existentialcrisis

7:29: A walk through of my new site, and why I made the creative choices I made, and the sneaky strategy at play

11:25: How Margo’s shifting HER positioning these days with the best pop up ever, and how humor qualifies leads.

14:15: Margo’s new shop page (and the one opt-in spot that never converts)

15:00: Margo’s new positioning statement that TOOK 6 YEARS TO GET TO AHH!

16:59: How the fear of “being annoying” or “too much” holds us back. (Fellow women entrepreneurs, this one’s for you especially!)

So check it out, and let us know what you think.

And let’s dial this bish up to 11.

Write on,

Hillary, the H in #HAMYAW

Episode Transcript

Wait, did I just ruin the lighting?  

Did you? I don’t know, I’m really busy staring at me.  

All right. (upbeat music) 

Welcome back guys from wherever you are in the world, thanks for watching, hopefully on silent, on YouTube, on your toilet.

Welcome back, we’re here for another episode of HAMYAW, and today, we want to talk about something quite exciting that just happened in my business, something that Margo and I have actually been talking a lot about, which is the art of the rebrand.

Or if not the rebrand, at least changing your positioning.

So, last week I launched the rebrand of my website, HillaryWeiss.com under a bit of a new name: Statement Piece Studio by Hillary Weiss. 

I think you guys have heard me talk about it a little on the show here and there, but I’m really excited about it and actually, you know I wanna show you guys a little bit about how it works, talk to you a little bit about how it got put together.

But I think Margo and I most importantly want to talk about why positioning yourself and kind of doubling down in so many instances when it comes to branding, when it comes to putting your message out there is vital.

So, I was talking with someone recently who was repositioning some of her services, and she did what we all do, which is run to her ‘About’ page and start to redo her entire website, and then freak out that she didn’t have enough time.

And she wanted to do the positioning, but like da da da losing your mind in all there is to do, and I think that’s because nobody realizes that when you wanna shift something in your business, what you’re actually doing is rebranding.

And that is a six month long engagement, if not more, of taking your time with how you want to be perceived, and what you wanna shift and what you wanna change, and instead we just go into panic mode.

Like, “I’ve gotta change this copy and people need to know it now, and I totally threw this thing away..!”

(laughter)

So, I think we need to talk about, you’re pivoting, you’re shifting, you also don’t always have to change the whole thing, like sometimes you can just change your homepage copy, or an opt-in form to test enough, or change your service offerings.

So, what I’d like to hear from you, share with us, why did you decide to make the investment in doing a proper rebrand?  

I’m so glad you raised that point because actually this whole process, and I wanna be clear about this, took about two years. I know, I know, it sounds crazy but stay with me guys.

I feel like rebranding in some ways, especially when you’re doing such a big pivot, is almost like moving a cruise ship out of a tiny harbor, it’s like a 36 point turn.

It’s gotta be slow, and you can’t rush it.

I also wanna stress that it took a lot of time because I feel like some people see some of my stuff and they’re like, “Wow, she just poops good ideas for breakfast!” And I want you to know that that’s not true, I also poop amazing ideas for lunch and dinner. 

But what really matters is that this stuff takes a lot of time and effort.

So, I actually came up with the idea for Statement Piece Studio in 2017 when I was taking a course from one of my favorite brand experts, and actually someone who was the creative director for my rebranding, and also a mentor of mine, Sarah Ancalmo Ashman of Public Persona.

And I took her course Mirrorbrand and it was all about sort of figuring out what the next step for your brand is, how to name it, how to create a hook, how to create a clear concept that’s like a golden thread that goes through the whole thing.

Part of the exercises were like, what are you kind of known for in your day to day, like your IRL? What do you think makes you distinct? What do people always compliment you on?

And I remembered that I’m always wearing at least one statement piece of jewelry.  

You are! When I first met you, white shoes.  

So, I was like, oh my God, statement piece, interesting.

I’m always wearing a statement piece of jewelry, statement piece can tie into copy, statement piece developing like a core concept to build your own positioning around, like, oh, this is it!

And I just felt the energy go through me like lightning, and I was like oooh! And then we did exactly what you were talking about Margo where I created my opt-in, the statement piece framework…

Which was testing out this idea of a statement piece, coming at it from this concept that I wanted to build a new brand around which is about helping entrepreneurs figure out what their unique, unmistakable idea is that makes them unmissable in the markets.

It takes a while, there was a lot of trial and error, and I think everyone’s like, “Oh, how did you write your own copy, writing my own copy sucks!”

I will tell you it requires 50 pages of trash before you get to great copy for your own site. But, be willing to go through the swamp.  

Yes, yes, okay that’s the part people miss.

So, I don’t know if a lot of people know this but when I first started my consulting firm I was a brand consultant, I was a brand strategist. When we worked with big companies it was a six- or seven-month thing where you’re establishing voice.  

Yeah.  

You’re clear on your values, you’re doing all the things that brands dismiss as fluffy, because they don’t actually use it or implement it in the right way.

But the reason you do those things is because you’re trying to express those things visually. So, that’s what people misunderstand.

So, when you hear people say stuff like, “Your brand is not just your logo, guys.” When really, when people are hiring branding they really do just want logos, colors, and fonts.

But, they’re wrong, this is what they misunderstand, and this is why the feedback on it always sucks. The thing I always remind people is when you ask someone, because you see this a lot in private groups –

And I know everyone watching here is in private Facebook groups with a lot of entrepreneurs or with a lot of other copywriters or marketers and they’re always like, “Guys, what do you think of these four logos, which one do you like the best?” Like, that is the worst way to get feedback on your brand.

(laughter)  

Why?  

Why? Because it doesn’t fucking matter what they like or don’t like, what matters is did this execute on my brand values?

And so you need to tell them who you are, what you stand for and what you’re looking to exude. So, it could be that I hate it, but it’s on brand for you.  

It’s awful, but it’s you. It was an interesting mental thing for me because I have a large personality and my whole life it’s been like, “no, stop, indoor voice, down down down down, make it palatable”.

On my old site the first picture isn’t even of my face because I was like, “I want it to be about the words.” It was me, like –  

I did that.  

Head down, yeah, exactly. And then I was like, you know what, no, this is a personal brand, this is about me now so I’m gonna double down on who I am and how I come across, and also how I wanna give other people the courage to come across.  

Yes.  

So, the whole thing with the shoe is kind of larger than life.  

This is why people say start with why.

And I wanna make a clear distinction here, because I think that when you start with why, which you should for your brand, matters when you are at Hillary’s level, when you’ve been in this game six to 10 years, that’s when you do it.

When you are in year two and you’re like, “I don’t know! I think I’m aiming for this.” And what happens when you start with why is you get into a fucking existential crisis.  

So true.  

And you don’t know what you’re about, and you’re like, “But I care about the trees! But I also really love shoes, but also I love donuts, also I love my mom, maybe I’m about family.” And you don’t have a clear idea…  

Maybe I’m the Lorax, I don’t know. But no, it’s true, it’s absolutely true.  

You don’t know how to distinguish your personal values from what your brand is and who it’s for and how all of those intersect, and that comes from having been out there doing the work. You have to have a business first, I think.  

100%. It’s like going through adolescence.  

Yes!  

The same website you would want at 13 is not the same website you’d want when you were in your 20s.  

That is a huge commitment. So, it’s like…  

Yeah, exactly, an investment.  

Like marrying your high school boyfriend, like that only works out for Cory and Topanga who are fictional

(laughter)  

So, may I present to you, good people of the internet, welcome to the new website guys, Statement Piece Studio, Big Ideas that Stomp off the Screen, it’s your girl, comin’ out a laptop to mess yo day up.  

The whole thing was, the goal was to do something that hadn’t been done before. And the first step was primary colors, because everybody had done the pastels and the glitters and the golds and the greens and the blues on the white, so I was like you know what I wanna do is primary.  

But you know what it also said to me, because I was actually really surprised by this creative choice, because Statement Piece always to me is something that is the glitter, right, it’s the things that are sparkly and different, and what I loved about, go down a little to…right there, these things are the fundamentals. It’s the boldness.  

Yeah.  

What it sounds to me, like, it’s advanced basics, which is something I always say about my brand, but that’s what I love about you, it’s like let’s go back to the foundations and get louder on them.  

Bingo! That’s exactly it.

Everyone like did Mondrian, who’s the artist who does similar kind of primary color work, he’s an abstract artist who basically distills everything down to its essence, which is technically these three primary colors, and that is what I feel what a big piece of the Statement Piece Studio principle is.

And also, as you say, it’s back to basics, it’s going back to the fundamentals and blowing them out and making them bolder and more powerful. I wanna start with my favorite photo on this site, which is actually Praise.  

I love this one.

(laughter)  

This one I was really proud of and I don’t think it got enough air time.

So, one thing that I did do, and that I’m gonna see if it works, I may change this photo on the work page, but I love these little signs.

The one thing that I did, which I’m gonna see if it’s effective, is that I kept things really simple. On my Work, Learn, and Speaking pages with a call to action to sign up to kind of get the full details.

I have a slide deck for all of my offers actually. So, we’re gonna see if that works.

I may expand on this a little bit, because it talks about the basic principles like who it’s for, what people are ready for, what they want, what I can do, and then invites people to kind of like to get the details via contact form.

So, I’m interested in testing that out to see if it works, I have no idea if it does yet, it’s way too early in the process.

This is the part of the strategy that I wanted to get better at lead tracking, I wanted to get better at understanding where my overall sources were coming from, and I wanted to get better at qualified leads.

Because, in my slide decks I was just really proud of how it turned out, and I love the grid look, and what’s nice also is that the template is really, really easy to customize.  

Is this built on WordPress?  

Yes, it is.  

Oh my God, that is a big deal.  

Isn’t it a big deal? It’s amazing.

I just was really thrilled with how it turned out because people were calling it like a work of art, and I was like, it kinda feels like one because we put a lot of love into this, and it’s all really about being unforgettable, being bold.

And in order to kind of embody that I had to be as bold as I wanted my clients to be.

It was just not the time for be shy, or to be sort of restricting myself, or to be making myself quieter, which is what I encourage people to do the opposite of all the time.

And you and I talked about this, where it’s like, “What I’m gonna need you to do is crank it up to 11.” Because, it’s like being onstage or dancing, if you’re not smiling and doing all of the expressions and movement to the utmost, it’s gonna come across flat.

Nobody’s gonna remember that girl who was modest onstage, you know what I mean? So, if the internet is your stage, you gotta figure out how to sort of amplify what makes you unique and what makes you stand out, and really figure out a way to bring it to the people in a way that’s memorable.  

But what you did…  

Most importantly, it gets you excited to show up.  

Yes, and what you did that I think deserves a lot of praise, is you still followed conversion rate optimization principles here.  

Yes I did, thank you!  

You didn’t put them in conflict, so to every creative team ever, they don’t have to fight, they can be friends.  

I’m kind of excited to see what happens. And I also know that you’ve been working on some positioning shifts as well.  

Yes.  

You wanna talk about that?  

Yes, I would love to.  

Do we have time?  

So there are less extreme ways to test things. Like Hillary said, I am not at the point where I need the full rebrand in the way that Hillary did it, but I have been playing around with the copy on my site to make sure it’s really clear what this is.

‘Cause that’s the real question, if you get the inside joke, it works. And so I’ll share a little bit of my recent changes and why I changed them. The biggest change I made is this popup. 

(laughter)  

So, jury’s still out on popups. I have found this one to be one of the best that I have ever used.

The other one being, and I actually think I’m gonna put this one back up, I had one that said, “Please join this list so it’s not just my mom.”

And the only reason I took it down is there came a point where people were like, “I still don’t get what this list is.” And that was a fair criticism until I realized that people who are in the internet marketing world get it.  

They know exactly what, that’s so true, it’s so true. And it’s also so important, because sometimes your audience can fill in the blanks and it feels good for them to do so.  

Yes. Yes!  

That’s so essential, and we forget, everyone’s like, “It’s not clear!”  

It’s like a head nod to my people. But this one came straight out of our mutual friend Talia, literally said this to me, she was like, “You’re the redhead that lives in my pocket that yells at me to do what I’m supposed to do.”

And I was like, oh my God I am.

But I’ll tell you why I’m showing you this while we’re talking about websites and positioning is that my site was actually fine. What I was looking to qualify was the leads that get into my email list and look at my writing, and where I had a really tough time was I was previously selling The Arena, but also writing a ton, and I wanted people on my email list who are future book buyers and readers. 

And that’s a little bit different than putting them straight into a funnel.

And so what that meant is that the positioning was a little bit more about me than I was comfortable.

I felt like the way you described how you didn’t want your face, like “It’s about the words, it’s not about me!”

(laughter)

So, I totally felt that way and I still feel that way, but I’ve sort of had to reconcile the fact that people want me, they want my books, like when I went and interviewed readers, and I was like, “Why are you on here? Like what are you looking for?”

And they all say the same thing, they’re like “I really like your take on these topics, and I just like your frame, like I like how you position, I enjoy the way you talk about it, I always learn something, they’re like thought pieces.” And I was like, okay, so it’s me. Shit. (laughter)  

I was like, gotta listen to my Hillary and I gotta double down on that, and it’s working. It’s really, really working, way better than any other leads I was using, so what the industry standard says is to always do stuff like, “Five ways to Improve your Headline” which, by the way, my market’s not there, you can fucking Google that, like Google how to change your headline.

So, anyway, you guys have seen my homepage, the things that I have changed, I put a shot page together, which was really, really scary for me ’cause I had to commit. So, I have the opposite of Hillary branding, mine is really, really clean. Actually, that’s not fair, yours is clean.  

Thank you, I thought so too. I was like, mine is dirty?  

No, I don’t know what to call it, less, I use white space more, that’s what I’ll say.  

Fuck white space. (laughter)  

Mine basically looks like a little kid made it. I love it, I like the simplicity. I really am making a lot of what I wished I could find, like I don’t like when I get lost in a website, it makes me feel confused.

I showcase my courses now instead of other things, the book that I’m working on with an opt-in form that’s embedded, and then talking to me.

And then I changed the bottom to be about where’s Margo’s best stuff, which, by the way, footer opt-ins never convert. So, this should be like a menu. Just FYI.  

I love this new positioning and I also know that you’ve kind of shifted not just from talking about marketing, but also a nature of creativity and helping creatives.  

Yes!  

I believe, in your words, punch their lizard brain in the face  

Yes!  

Which is a personal fave of mine, and I think that’s such a powerful positioning and shift for you, and I can feel in our conversations, since you kind of hit on that truth for you, the momentum kind of building and the confidence building as well.

And I think that’s why it’s so important to really sit down and figure out what the clear idea is, like what Statement Piece is, because it’s the foundation for everything. It’s hard to find, and when you land on it you’re like, zoom, so.  

No, I think this is really important, I’m glad you said that because what people don’t realize, like, it took me almost six years to get to my positioning statement.  

Yes, it did.  

It was always changing. At least to one that stuck. Like now I can say I help creative entrepreneurs punch their lizard brain in the face and everyone’s like oh yeah, that makes sense.

That’s usually when you know you’ve nailed it, is when you say it and people are like, “Oh, yeah.” If they go, “What’s that?” or if they’re like, “Hmm?” you’re usually off.

Or if it doesn’t feel like it’s something you wanna show off, that’s the other thing, like you have to be really, really proud of the thing that you stand for, and if you can’t lean into that, there’s a natural discomfort that comes with putting yourself out there, but then there’s also like, no, this is fucking awesome. My people get it.  

No, this is amazing. And I think it’s absolutely true.

And I know for me, again, it was really the instance of feeling like I’ve spent my whole life kind of trying to be like, I’m too much. I’m just this big, amoeba explosion of person, and I need to make myself neat and tidy and smaller, and doing the opposite of that has actually helped me build so much momentum in my business.

And again, inspired others to kind of see where the edge of their own powerful personality or what their thing is. And that’s if I want these people to do that then I’ve got to embody it, so, away we go.  

Yes, I love that! Let’s make that our ending note, because I think that’s so, so important about embracing your extra and owning who you are, and showing up as that person, and despite what people are gonna say about you, like my big thing was always like, I’m annoying, like  

Yeah, same! I’m too much for people, like, all of those things, and it’s really awesome, by the way, when you find other people who are too much, ’cause then you just like can be too much, you should see Hillary and I’s text messages.  

Yeah, oh my god.  

I think normal people would have a stroke. (laughter) 

We are gonna wrap this up with you gotta check out Hillary’s Statement Piece framework and studio, it is a work of freakin’ art, where she does the beautiful dance between conversion rate optimization and functional utility of her website with truly embracing who she is, and it comes out on the page.

You guys are gonna go look at it and you are going to feel warm and fuzzy inside, with a little bit of jealousy, but in a good way, where it’s like, “I have a little bit of this in me, I’ve just gotta find it!”  

Yes you do!  

And she can help you find it. 

This has been HAMYAW, I’m Margo Aaron.  

And I’m Hillary Weiss.  

We’ll be back in two weeks. If you liked this video, like it, comment, subscribe, and tell all your friends. We’ll see you.  

Bye guys. 

Photo by Juliet Clare Warren

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