Reggie Holmes is Founder and Creative Director of Enthuse Creative, a strategic brand consulting and design firm based in the DC Metro area. He is a graphic designer who has learned the value of a strategy to inform and influence the design process. He loves to work closely with sharp, growth-focused business owners to help them create brands they and their customers are enthusiastic about.
Enthuse Creative is a strategic branding and design firm based in Tysons, VA that provides brand strategy consulting, graphic design and outsourced brand management and leadership services to businesses and organizations.
In this episode
Reggie Holmes of Enthuse Creative cuts to the chase saying, “business owners and business leaders tend to think of their brand as something that ultimately serves them as opposed to something that serves their customers.” Reggie argues that your brand needs to speak to your customers and isn’t about you or your business.
There is a big difference between how a brand is expressed and how it is experienced. While you’ll come up with the initial definition of your brand, you're inviting other people to help shape and share it. The market is going to have more of a say in what your brand is relative to anything you put down on paper.
Reggie advocates creating a brand that your marketplace can connect with because it leads to faster growth. He feels that tying your brand to a purpose is a way to do this. Customers desire to connect to something that's bigger than themselves. Of course customers are looking for an answer to a problem, but they also want to connect at a much deeper, more human level.
A glimpse of what you'll hear
01:32 Business owners think of their brand as something that serves them as opposed to something that serves their customers.
03:41 Your brand is a dialogue
05:13 Difference between how your brand is expressed versus how it is experienced
06:46 Your brand should be about connection and driven by purpose
09:42 The Dove Soap case study
14:54 What you need to do to create a customer centric brand
17:06 Learn about Reggie. Email Reggie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Centrity Introduction 0:04
Welcome to the Best Kept Secret videocast and podcast from Centricity. If you're a B2B service professional, use our five step process to go from the grind of chasing every sale. to keeping your pipeline full with prospects knocking on your door to buy from you. We give you the freedom of time and a life outside of your business. Each episode features an executive from a b2b services company sharing their provocative perspective on an opportunity that many of their clients are missing out on. It's how we teach our clients to get executive decision makers to buy without being salesy or spammy. Here's our host, the co founder and CEO of Centricity, Jay Kingley.
Jay Kingley 0:43
I am really thrilled today to bring on to the podcast. Reggie Holmes of Enthused Creative. Reggie is a brand strategist and graphics designer. He works with CEOs of small to mid market size business with a particular focus in professional services and non profits. Reggie, welcome to the Best Kept Secret.
Reggie Holmes 1:06
Thank you so much for having me, Jay.
Jay Kingley 1:08
I appreciate that. Look, I like to get right in to the meat, you have a lot of experience serving your professional services and nonprofit type organizations. What do you see, as you look across your breadth of experience. What do you see is the big issue that you think so many of these companies are not thinking about correctly?
Reggie Holmes 1:32
What I observe most often is that business owners, business leaders tend to think of their brand as something that ultimately serves them, as opposed to something that serves their customers. So they lacked that really customer centric approach and focus, they are very close to their brand, strategy, their brand identity. And it doesn't allow them to be able to position their products, their services they're offering, as, as they need to, in order to make the most impact and appeal to their clients and customers. It's really all about them. And that's just not the right approach.
Jay Kingley 2:18
So are you telling me Reggie that would what you find people are doing is when they're creating their brand, they're starting with themselves, as opposed to starting with the people they want to serve?
Reggie Holmes 2:29
Exactly. And brands are created by people in order to serve people. And the ones that are that are getting, the value that you're trying to create to your brand is your is your customers. And to a lesser degree, those that are stakeholders in your business, but primarily it's your customers. And so as you're thinking about what the brand is all about how it comes together, and how it's communicated, the focus really needs to be on those that are going to derive the most value from the brand that you're trying to create. And that again, is the customers that you're trying to serve.
Jay Kingley 3:02
I think it was Seth Godin, who had this great definition of brand that it really represents the aspiration, the statement of who, as a customer, you want to be in what the brand tells the world about you not about the person who is offering you that service. So it seems like you are bang on with that you're seeing that as an ongoing struggle. So what should these companies be doing, instead of driving it from who they are and making brand a projection of themselves?
Reggie Holmes 3:36
I think what hat what should happen first is really understanding that it's a it's a dialogue. Your brand is yes, it's something that you create something that you may come up with the initial inspiration and motivation behind it. But it's it's ultimately something that you're giving away. And you're you're inviting other people to help shape and to share it. And so you can't hold it too tightly in terms of what you create, because you're ultimately going to give it away. And it's going to be something that the market is going to form a perception about and they are ultimately going to have the more of a say in what the brand is not just what you put it down as on paper or what you sort of bring it to market as and so I think first first and foremost is understanding that your yes a brand is something that you create and as the brand steward as the business owner as the visionary behind it, you should feel close to it. You should feel attached to it but you're creating it and giving it to the market to your customers who have said they they have a need. They have a problem that you believe your brand your product or service can solve. And so you're asking them to not only buy your product or, you know, take advantage of your service, you're asking them to form a perception about your, your brand, you're asking them to participate in that experience. And so there's kind of this distinction between the brand as it is expressed, and the brand as it is experienced. And you as a business owner, you tend to have more of a say in how the brand is expressed. But how the brand is experienced is all about your customer. And so understanding that there's a difference there. And that, what the the customer's perception is what actually really shapes the brand understanding that will put you in a much better position, to be able to engage in a little give and take, as you put your brand out into the market and allow people to experience it and shape their own perception. And they sort of define what the brand actually is not so much you, as the one who developed it.
Jay Kingley 5:58
I think these these concepts that you're talking about of driving it from your customers and their aspirations in what it is and how it should speak to them, as opposed to what's in your mind, and really a reflection on you which a little bit backwards. It sounds very compelling. The look, you and I both know that business today is tough, it's getting tougher, yes, you have to have a case, you have to have some real hard nosed benefits for why you should make this change. So in your experience, what type of benefits do you see from the companies enjoy, when they make this transition to becoming more customer centric with their brand.
Reggie Holmes 6:43
I've seen businesses be able to really it's about connection, making a much stronger connection, if you think about networking, which is, you know, something that we're getting back into the the flow of doing a common phrase that's used in networking is that people do business with people that they know, like and trust. And, and building a brand is much the same way you're creating the brand, not just from the position of this is something that I like, or, you know, this is what's comfortable for me or, you know, this is what we feel like we do well, you're really trying to make a connection with customers who who have that problem that you believe you can solve, who have those needs, that you know that your product or service can meet. And so it's really about finding those people and making that connection with them. And so businesses that are able to do that are able to to grow more quickly, they're able to make that stronger connection. And one of the ways that businesses can do that is through purpose, it helps brand purpose helps create differentiation. It also gives people something to connect to we desire, meaning and purpose creates meaning we desire to connect to something that's bigger than ourselves. And when a brand goes into the market and says yes, we sell X y, & z widget, or we have, you know, ABC service. But this is our purpose at the core of what we do, at the core of who we are, is, is this purpose that gives the customer who is yes, they're looking for, you know, an answer to a problem, they're looking for a product or service that meets a need that they have. But they also want to connect at a much deeper, more human level. And so Purpose allows you to be able to do that. So that's just one method that businesses can use to be able to go beyond, you know, this is what we like, this is what we're all about to, yes, we provide this product and service, but we're also we have a we have a deeper purpose, there's a reason for us being in your life, there's a reason why you as a customer should want to have a relationship with us the business of the brand. And it helps them make make it more human and more personal, you know, these businesses and brands, they're their logos, right without that human connection. And so something like purposes are a really great tool that even a small business can use to be able to create more that connection and that connection will lead to loyalty. That connection will lead to them just feeling like not only is this a product or service that I like, but this is a brand and a business that I trust and they they feel familiar to me they feel like family, and those are you know, just like people the ones that you want to go back to time and again and the ones that you want to tell others about.
Jay Kingley 9:44
So as you were talking about that one, one of the brands that came to my mind that I think his took a risk, put purpose out there with with the folks from Dove Soap, and about their body image and really went a against the grain, but took a strong stand. You have any any, I don't know if you're familiar with that. But do you know how that turned out for them?
Reggie Holmes 10:07
I do. So I have some some stats here that I use recently in a workshop that I did. But once Brett, once Dove decided that they wanted to do this body image project, and so they, you know, they sell so they sell body care products. But they went a step beyond that and said, Hey, we actually want to position ourselves with a purpose of really caring about making sure that people have a healthy self image. So when they did their self esteem projects, their senior brand director said that there wasn't a single year, where they declined in profits, once they added this self esteem project. And along with that was sort of the call to action to go in and, you know, purchase the products, but it wasn't done in a very overt way. But it was attached to that project, they grew by 21%. And their products, you know, only give them an 8% increase. But when they added the, the calls to action from the self esteem project, they grew by 21%. And so, Dove is an example of a company that has used this idea of purpose to go beyond selling a product, they still sell their products, but they also are selling this purpose. And it shows that people were looking for that people really resonated with that. And they continue to do that self esteem project to this day, and it's had great success for them.
Jay Kingley 11:35
And I think a lot of us, you know, have seen their ads and appreciate what they're doing. But those kinds of results are crazy. Do you think that these are you know, that smaller businesses, you know, the people that you deal with the small mid market businesses are capable of doing something similar, or is that take the enormous budget of a publicly or division of a publicly traded company to pull off that kind of a program.
Reggie Holmes 12:02
I think that it can be replicated in many ways, obviously, at a smaller level, but no less impactfully. For smaller businesses, by focusing on the market that they operate in people, what I've observed through the pandemic is that people started to look for ways to engage and get involved in their local community, and businesses that decided to not just change their business model because they had to, but because they really saw the need to bring people together in the community and those that have continued to do that. Not just for expediency sake, but because they really want to make an investment in the community. They've they've been successful, and they sustain themselves. And so I think that going forward, what works best for small businesses is to really double down on focusing on what they can do positively how they can live out a purpose in in their own communities. I'm a member of a local Chamber of Commerce here. And we put together a restaurant week and this was last October, November, and you know, restaurants, the hospitality industry as a whole was really hurting from the pandemic. And so the leaders in the in the chamber, and I helped lead the marketing there. So I was responsible for a lot of the branding and communications for the restaurant week you know, they said, What can we do to support our local businesses in the hospitality sector in restaurants specifically, so we put together this Restaurant Week, and obviously, by that time, restaurants had figured out, okay, we need to do curbside pickup, we need to, you know, do takeout, we have various delivery services that we're connected with. So there's many ways to get get the food, we just need to let people know that we are we are here, we want to serve them. And we're here for our community. And that was really the goal, the restaurant weekend, it was incredibly successful in just bringing people out to the restaurants. And you know, everybody was happy, the Chamber members were happy. The chamber was happy with the engagement. Got a lot of great press in the paper from that. And it was just a testament to what can happen when you focus on your local community as a way of creating purpose,
Jay Kingley 14:32
And that was in Tyson Virginia, right?
Reggie Holmes 14:34
Jay Kingley 14:35
You've mentioned one way that a company can implement this change in thinking but take us through some other things that if you are this, for example, professional services, or nonprofit, or really any business that's prepared to be customer centric around their brand, what are some of the things that they need to be doing to make this happen?
Reggie Holmes 14:57
Sure. Ah, so I think one thing that needs to happen is, is talking about what you deliver. And not just what you do. There are in any, in any space, there's a lot of people doing the same thing. And anyone can talk about, you know, what, what they do. And so often we focus on our tools, our are our tactics, our particular strategy. And we as business owners tend to love that sort of thing like, well, this is this is how I make the dish, right. But what's most important is that it meets the needs of your customers. And, you know, people want to know the results that it generated. And so I think thinking about results, and really finding ways to you know, whether it's case studies, but But how can you do that in a way that's unique to your brand? How can you communicate the value of what you produce or deliver, as opposed to just, you know, the methodology, like, we love the methods and the approaches and the tactics and, and that's important internally, but as you're thinking about branding, and marketing, really being a dialogue, that's not what's most important to your customer, what's most important is that if I hire you, you can deliver the results for for me for my business. And so I think focusing on on what you actually deliver and results, as opposed to the methods and all the tools that we use, you know, those things are important. But again, that's less important as compared to how can you move the needle for the person that's, that's considering hiring.
Jay Kingley 16:42
That's great stuff, finding, it's a real, practical, impactful way to think about how any company of almost any size needs to be thinking about their brand, and where they drive things from their clients. Now, Reggie, I just want to understand a little bit more about you, and you as a professional. So you, obviously are working for the small mid market companies that focus on professional services, nonprofits, what are some of the issues that you find yourself dealing with for those clients?
Reggie Holmes 17:14
Well, I sort of alluded to it earlier, but one of them is definitely differentiation. You know, how do we set ourselves apart, there are other consultants, other services firms that do what we do. And many of them are often using the same tools, the same technology. So what I work with business owners, with the owner lot is helping them figure out how to communicate and convey what makes them different, and why that's valuable to, to their customers. So there's that question of, you know, why? And then why you, right? We, you know, so So you start with why, as the phrase goes, but but then the question is why you, you know, why should this other business who's looking for services? Why should they work with your firm, as opposed to your competitor? So that's one thing. I think having a healthy awareness of and appreciation for your competitors, but also not focusing too much on what others are doing? Really. I like to work with people on figuring out what is your unique value? What is, what is the thing that you do that no one else does? And then how do we highlight that, and communicate that in a way that's truly valuable to your customers. And if you don't know, figuring out how to ask your customers, right, they're the best source of business intelligence for you in terms of what you need to do, or what you could be doing differently or better. And so I work with businesses to create ways to be able to start to have that dialogue with their customers. If they're not ready.
Jay Kingley 19:01
One of the things that we really teach all of our Centricity members is people don't buy what you do. They buy how great you are at doing it. So I'm going to turn the tables a little bit, why you what makes you great at what you do, compared to all your competitors.
Reggie Holmes 19:19
So I have really invested time and resources into becoming more of a strategist designer, as opposed to just a designer, I will readily acknowledge that there are a lot of great designers out there. And graphic design as an industry is a little bit commoditized. But I really lead with strategy and how I think through there, my client's needs, I think through the solutions that are going to be most impactful for them. And I'm able to communicate that in clear ways that that add value and so the design part of it is kind of alongside of it, but I no longer lead with that. But when I, when I couple that with the strategy, they're able to work with me and get someone who can sort of see the campaign, see the deliverable through from concept to completion, and really work with them as a strategic partner, who also understands running a business, there's a lot of value in that in not having to, you know, work with a firm that's maybe too large for what they can really afford, or you know, it's not sustainable relationship, they can work with me, and I can grow along with them, as they're as they're growing their business. So it's really valuable for folks who are in that target market.
Jay Kingley 20:46
Yeah, that's, that's absolutely fabulous. Now, I encourage people to check you out on LinkedIn. And when they do that, of course, one of the things you see about people is their career history could call a little bit of their online resume. And, you know, that's just the facts. I'm always interested in the story behind those facts. So what were the key things in your life, be it personal or professional, that you experienced, that really caused you to take the career path that you have and end up where you are?
Reggie Holmes 21:18
Sure. So I'll go all the way back to high school just just for a bit. And I took a class that was a computer graphics class. And this is my first time using Adobe products like Illustrator and Photoshop, this is in the late 90s, I knew that I wanted to do something where I was being creative. If not necessarily a fine artist, I didn't necessarily see myself hanging images in a gallery. But I didn't see myself using words and imagery, and communicating something that was going to add value in the world. And so I sort of started to think about graphic design as a profession. At that point, I went to school for design, and got a fine arts degree, because design was under Fine Arts at that time. And then, a few years out of school, I started to work at a university. And I was the staff designer there. And that gave me the experience of working with a number of different customers, even though they were all part of this university. It was like serving several different clients, even though I was in this in house role. And so that showed me the value and the excitement of working for many clients at one time, which was something that was attractive for me as well, I didn't necessarily see myself in house sort of working on one account working on one type of project, I knew I needed to be, you know, stimulated in different ways and kind of working with several different things at once. And so I was let go from that job for for budget cuts. And this sort of opened my eyes to the reality that, you know, jobs aren't promised, they're not necessarily going to be around forever. And what that showed me was that I needed to create, for myself a platform to be able to drive value, create, not necessarily a name for myself, but just produce something outside of whatever was happening and do for a job and unnecessarily think at that point about, I've got to start my own business. But that definitely sort of put me on on that pathway.
Jay Kingley 23:29
One of the things that I think you can say is that you never know your true character and to deal with adversity. And And out of that adversity that you had. Clearly, you know, you've gone on to much bigger and better things. You know, I think you've made a pretty big impression on on our listeners, really been insightful in terms of how to think about developing your brand, from a strategic point of view, having it being driven by your customers as opposed by yourself. So how is it that people can reach out to you to continue the discussion?
Reggie Holmes 24:04
So my website is enthusecreative.com we've got some work there. We've got some great blogs and, and other content that will just kind of explain a little bit about how I think about branding and design and the strategy of it all, as well. As you know, there's an opportunity to sort of see the work and see some of the people that we've worked with. I'm at Reggie@enthusecreative.com I actually read read your emails if you do reach out. And also on social media @enthusecreative.
Jay Kingley 24:36
I don't like to end this by putting people on the spot. And I'm gonna do it anyway, Reggie. You know, I'm really thrilled to have you on but I gotta tell ya, my listeners like little presence, right? So I'm gonna put you on the spot and say, if our listeners reach out to you mentioned the Best Kept Secret podcast, what is it that you can gift to them?
Reggie Holmes 25:00
okay, okay. Well, what I can do is provide, we have a great digital brand strategy guide. And in it I talk about a approach that any business can take to start to build a digital brand right away. And so I will give that to any listener who reaches out and lets me know that they heard this or saw this. And then we can set up a consultation, no cost, no obligation, would love to chat with you, and hear about what you liked from this interview.
Jay Kingley 25:35
Fabulous. Well, I'm going to suggest to everybody that they take you up Reggie on that kind of offer, you know, brand is really a is necessary to differentiate you from your commodities. If you don't have a brand, you are a commodity, the brand is what distinguishes you and differentiates you. And I think you have given us a lot to think about, but how to do that. You've established, I think, a really good expertise. And I appreciate your offer to share. So let me suggest to people spend some time with Reggie, I think you'll find your return on investment on that is going to be incredibly high. Reggie, thank you again. And hopefully now you'll no longer be the Best Kept Secret. Take care.
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