Gretchen Cawthon | Your Brand Isn’t All About Your Image — So What Is It About?

Adam LeanPodcast

In this episode of P is For Profit, we sit down with a branding strategist who says a proven threestep unlimited impact process will help you get clear, get noticed, and get paid. Our very special guest is Gretchen Cawthon!

Gretchen is a marketing and branding expert who has worked with countless entrepreneurs from former pro athletes to trained physicians to TV personalities. Gretchen is also the co-founder of Left Right Labs— a fun play on words to show both her and her co-founder’s strengths in the business. 

We chat with Gretchen about how to create bigger, better, and more beloved brands, how to have an unlimited impact, as well as…

  • The most common mistakes in branding
  • The three-step unlimited impact process that will help you get clear, get noticed, and get paid
  • How Left Right Labs narrowed down their ideal client
  • The differences between branding and rebranding
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

Osbert Duran: In this episode, we’re going to talk about how to create bigger, better and more beloved brands to having unlimited impact. We’re going to talk to a branding strategist who says a proven three-step unlimited impact process will help you get clear, get noticed and get paid. This is P is for Profit.

Osbert:; Welcome to P is for Profit. My name is Osbert:, and I along with the rest of the team at The CFO Project are passionate about helping business owners improve the profitability of their business. My guest today is Gretchen Cawthon. She’s a marketing and branding expert that has successfully helped entrepreneurs from former pro athletes, trained physicians, to TV personalities. Gretchen, welcome to the show. We’re excited to have you.

Gretchen Cawthon: Thank you, Osbert. I’m happy to be here. 

Osbert: Perfect. Yeah, we’re, I think we’re gonna have a really interesting topic here. But before we dive in, if you could just kind of give us a little bit about yourself and maybe even just segue into like how you started this whole venture?

How Gretchen Became a Marketing and Branding Expert

Gretchen: Well, my name is Gretchen. And I am the left brain of Left Right Labs. Our name is based off of me being the left brain, the logical one, and my business partner, Trina being the right brain, the creative one. She started with doing all of the design and I do the development. Our short answer to that is, she makes it pretty and I make it work. 

So we’ve been doing this together for probably close to 14 years now. I think we’re coming up on the 14-year mark. It started out as I love to build things, so I have a massive Lego collection. So I’m always just building little Lego models here and there. And I love building things out of software. I got my first computer when we were in the seventh grade way back when it was the Commodore VIC 20. 

And you plugged it into your console TV  and you sat on the floor with your keyboard and your tape recorder which is where, we didn’t have disk drives yet. We put everything on tape recorder. And I learned to program. I’d buy books from Radio Shack or get it from the library and I would just learn how to program and I love just creating things. So long story short, I actually was into music for a while but we won’t go into that, down that road yet. 

But I built a website in 2005. It’s called Girls Can’t What. It still exists. It’s girlscantwhat.com. And it was kind of just me drawing these characters and putting them out there and letting people color them with whatever hairstyle they wanted or eye color, uniform color. And it was girls doing non-traditional things like playing hockey or becoming police officers or firefighters, things like that. You could go and you could color the design to match you or your child or your niece or whomever. 

And then you could push a button and it would print it out on coffee mugs, t-shirts, tote bags, whenever you wanted. You basically create your own gift items. So I created that site in 2005 and it took off. And all of a sudden, people are asking me, Hey, can you build a website for me? And I was like, sure. Because I know, the way I learned to build is I went to the library, and I got books, and I’d watch videos on the internet until I figured it out. And I got really good at it. And that, so I consider myself an accidental web developer. And that’s really how I got started into web development.

Osbert: Wow, I mean, that’s a very interesting story. I think you said it, right, just how you kind of accidentally became a web developer. But, you know, I think that also shows kind of your expertise in something that you just did it and you were, you happen to be You’re really good at it. And I’m, you know, I’m sure too, it took a lot of work from your end. You know, you said that you went and studied for this and read the books, watched all the videos that you could watch. So I think that’s a very, very cool story. 

I appreciate that. I always just like to start off, you know, kind of get your background on that. Which I think, you know, I want to bring it to like segueing a little bit with the brand, the whole branding concept. And I’m curious to hear from you is like you, so you help a lot of folks with branding, correct? And I’m curious to know, what is the common like, mistake, or not maybe mistake, but what is the common area where you see a lot of these people who want to brand something not do well at or can improve? Or what’s the common theme that you see across where they need areas of help?

Your Brand Is Much More Than Your Image

Gretchen: Sure. I think the biggest misconception is that people think brand is about image. It’s all about how they look. And a lot of times when we work with some celebrity wellness experts, typically they could be athletes that are kind of at a crossroads in their career like they’ve retired from their professional sports career and they’re looking to sell a product or become a motivational speaker or something like that. Usually in a transition. And they come to us and they’re like, one of our clients literally said was one day, my brand is dusty, meaning, he was all about how it looked. 

And it did look like he made supplements in his basement. It was not a pretty website to begin with. But when we dove deeper into that, it really, there’s more than just giving him a new logo and a new look and feel to his website. We really had to dive into Are you serving the right customer with the products that you have? Are you reaching them through like the language on your website? So copywriting is a big part of brand strategy. And also, your brand has its own personality. And a lot of people again, they think oh brand, I just need to change my logo or I need a nicer looking website and they don’t think about how their brand has a personality. 

And personality is usually an extension of the person who’s creating the brand. But that brand needs, that personality of that brand needs to carry across all of your messaging. It needs to go through your social media, it needs to go to your website, to go to any materials that go out all the way down to even the labels on your products need to reflect your brand. If you’re a funny brand, then your labels on your products should reflect that humor. And another thing that people don’t necessarily recognize right off the bat is their brand actually has a purpose. 

Somewhere deep inside of them, they have generated a purpose of why they’re doing what they do. Excuse me, we work almost entirely with entrepreneurs. And they are people who have a purpose. They started their business for some reason. For example, I started my Girls Can’t What business way back in the day because I felt a need to show my own daughters that girls can be anything they want to be. And for my brand, Girls Can’t What, had to purpose. And that’s one thing that I think that people who come to us like, sometimes just don’t recognize right off the bat. They just think my site needs to look better.

Osbert: Yeah. And that’s a very common thing across like a lot of entrepreneurs is, you know, everyone has a purpose for their business. And I think what you mentioned too is this trying to kind of create maybe like that brand vision and having those things in line so that you can relay that purpose to the right audience and to the right people that you’re trying to attract to. 

And even like, from, you know, our side we deal with this a lot, too, is everyone that we work with, you know, they’re very passionate about what they’re doing but sometimes they struggle financially. And that’s where we come and help. So I think it’s, you know, experts like yourself that really helped kind of carry the torch all the way through the finish line, even though someone may feel like they’re experts in it. 

There’s just sometimes that extra push to get your branding portion correct. And, you know, you went into a little bit more of like, what’s the purpose and the goal. And I think I want more focus on like, why? Why is it important to have a clear vision in terms of like branding? Because a lot of times I think we can get overwhelmed and say, I want to basically go with everyone. I want everyone to get into my product. But why do you think it’s important to have a kind of a more focused brand?

Gretchen: Oh, and actually, I can answer that from our own personal experience. 

Osbert: Sure. Yeah. 

Figuring Out the Market You Want To Serve

Gretchen: Yeah. So when we first started out, so to continue my story from the Girls Can’t What for a second, when people started asking me to build websites, my best friend, Trina was just getting out of college with a graphic design degree. And she was working at a local print firm, and I said, Hey, can you just, you know, I’m better at the code, you’re better at the design. Let’s just partner up and just do this stuff on job style. 

So we took on these odd jobs and eventually that turned into a full-time business for us. We at that time, we’re just taking on any client that wanted a website. They come to us and we are essentially we’re really quarter takers. We’re like, Oh, you need this? Okay, great. We’ll make this for you. And we were serving all kinds of different businesses, all kinds of different industries. 

And we didn’t necessarily know that much about each individual person’s business beyond maybe just having a couple conversations with them. And we were, we found ourselves literally feeling like we were at the circus spinning all the plates. We had so many things up in the air, so many different things we didn’t know and we were so we were constantly trying to research and figure this out and figure that out. We’re trying to do everything for everybody. 

And it was really killing us in terms of productivity and profit. And so what we decided was we really need to figure out what market do we want to serve and focus on that one market. Then we decided it was wellness experts. And one, and it wasn’t just like, we flipped the switch and overnight Oh, look, everything’s great. We were like, Okay, this is where we want, this is the direction we want to head. So let’s focus on that. If someone still comes to us and they’re not a wellness expert, you know, we’ll still work with them in the interim to try to, you know, make that transition. 

But our real focus is to work with these celebrity experts. And the reason we chose that particular niche was we had already been working with a bodybuilder who was absolutely fantastic to work with. He was local. His sister and my sister were in the same high school class. We knew a lot of the same people. We grew up in the same hometown. And he was just, he has an amazing personality. He was super positive about everything. He was engaged in his marketing, but he also trusted us with our expertise and didn’t try to override and say well, I think you should do this. 

We would have conversations and he recognized that, you know, we’d had all this expertise in marketing, we could help him. And just loved working with him. And then we had a couple of other clients who also the same way. They were in some area of health and wellness and they were positive, upbeat people that really trusted us. So they had a mission too. And that’s one of the things, I said the brand has a purpose, our mission is to reach as many people as we can with messages of how to live a healthy lifestyle. 

And what we realized is, Trina and I, we’re really good at design and development but we don’t have the platforms to reach as many people as some of these celebrity wellness experts do. But we can be the cogs in the wheel behind the scenes that can help propel them forward so they can reach more people. So that’s where our mission is at. And so what we did is we switched to that niche and over time as we started focusing more and more on that, our work became so much easier because it was, we’re working with the same type of marketing over and over again. 

We’re working with the same tools over and over again. We’re working with similar people. And all these people are really not in competition with each other, so that was also a plus. So they all seem to want to work with each other because they all have the common goal of helping people to live healthier lives. So we really haven’t run into this I don’t like this person, I don’t like that person kind of competition. So that’s been fantastic. And of course, that obviously impacts the profit because now we are way more efficient. We’re able to build systems and tools that we can replicate easily. 

We don’t do cookie-cutter work, but the stuff that is kind of cookie-cutter or templatey is there. And then we can, that way we can focus on what we do best, which is that custom design, that custom branding, and doing all that research to figure out what, you know, what that connection is between our client and their customer and helping them build a more profitable business. We’re able to focus our energies there, which is really where it needs to be. And then, of course, that just, the profit just comes naturally after that.

Osbert: Yeah, well, I mean, can you be our spokesperson? Because, I mean, that’s exactly the common issue we see and I think is probably a general topic of like being able to focus and like, trying to have a one, not one product, but like you said, it’s the ability to focus on helping like a specific niche because then it allows you to become like a subject matter expert in that and allows you to reach more people. 

And I think like you said, the folks that you guys are helping, and kind of your mission statement of this whole, like, health and fitness, they have a lot of followers, they have a lot of social media influence. They’re influencers as well. And I think that model in itself is just a ripple effect. And it goes a long way. Which would, I mean, I think it’s very powerful just in concept. But I mean, and just curious for the health and fitness, I mean, is there any particular reason why you guys decided to kind of stick with the health and fitness market?

Gretchen: Sure. Yeah, Trina and I both have personal reasons for that. For Trina, she lost her mother at a young age because her mom had some diabetes and a lot of underlying health conditions. And for me, it was similar. I have family members who had multiple heart attacks and diabetes and all this other all these health conditions that were treatable, but at the time, you know, back in the 80s, and 90s, not a whole lot was known in terms of diet, nutrition and things like that. 

I mean, yes, they knew eat healthier and work out, but not to the degree of knowledge that we have now. And so it’s kind of been, that’s why we tie our mission into that because we really want to see our own family members and our kids and so forth, to learn how to eat nutritiously and learn how to do exercise and build that into their lifestyle and just live that healthy lifestyle. So it’s great to get to work with people who are out there reaching people like our own family members. 

Osbert: Yeah. Wow. I mean, that’s also very powerful. I appreciate you letting us know that. I think when you have a kind of personal impact or relationship to what you’re passionate about, it makes it that much more, I guess, impactful in a way. So I appreciate you letting us know that. I mean, personally, too, I think, you know, health and fitness, just the health piece a lot is something that we’ve, you know, in my family as well, we’ve seen a lot of diseases come and there’s a lot of things that I would say maybe 10 years ago, I had no idea about. And I think it’s also like a trend of all of us changing to try to become healthier beings. 

Because I mean, I think 10 years, the kind of things that were marketed to eat. It’s way different than it is now. Yeah, I appreciate that. And I want to actually, I’m curious about branding and rebranding. Because when I think what a lot of folks think about branding something, I imagine it, I have a new product, I have a new service that I want to, you know, let the world know. Versus rebranding, I think is a little different. It means you, maybe you can elaborate more on that. What do you think is, what is the difference between branding something and rebranding something? And then who is it for?

Branding vs Rebranding

Gretchen: Sure. So when a client comes to us and they want a rebranding, typically, so they’ve already had a brand that they’ve either, it’s either been, it was done, you know, seven to 10 years ago, or it was something that they’ve put together themselves and it’s not really a cohesive brand, it’s just bits and it’s like, Hey, I like this color. Hey, this is my logo. You know, I got this on Fiverr. 

Or, you know, just, and it’s not I don’t really like it. You know, they have just all these little hodgepodge of things. And it’s kind of a brand, but it’s kind of not. And so they’re coming to us wanting us to really put together the whole package. Like, you know, the branding, again, not just the color schemes and the logos, but the messaging behind it. What’s their purpose? Really connecting the messaging that they’re putting out there with the audience that they’re trying to serve. 

So that’s what our I would say rebrand is. Branding your product is what what you just described, it’s a new product, it has no real life of itself. It’s an infant, so to speak. And, you know, you’ve got to figure out what that brand looks like. And while we can do that, that’s really not what where our strength lies. Our strength really lies in taking things that were where the person has had the business for seven to 10 years, has an idea of what they want, already has a following and has the customers in the market, because that actually helps us with the type of research that we do. 

We’re able to dive in and talk to customers. In fact, we did this yesterday, we were on a call with a client and we’re doing a deep dive into doing some rebranding for her. And she just said, Hey, I have a couple customers here. Let me connect you with them. And we actually had conversations with her customers, that give us a real insight to what they’re looking for in the program that she offers, the products that they buy, etc. 

And then when we’re as we’re helping her with her rebrand, we’ll be able to pull things that we, from those conversations that will help her retarget her messaging to connect with those types of people and get more of those types of people because those are her raving fans, so to speak. And you obviously, in any business, you want raving fans. You want people who absolutely love your product and want to come back and buy more from you. And you’re only going to get that by actually connecting with those customers.

Osbert: Yeah. That’s very interesting. And it’s always good to hear also that just like the process that goes into it. And maybe you can even go, and I’m sure you’ve already touched on this too, but maybe you can explain to us a little bit what that, on your website, I see you have a three-step process. And kind of the saying goes, right? You gotta get clear, get noticed and get paid. So can you kind of give us an overview of what that process looks like?

Get Clear, Get Noticed, Get Paid

Gretchen: Several years ago, we were sitting down trying to figure out, you know, just our overall process. We were breaking into that health and wellness niche. And we were like, what, you know, what did these customers, what is that they’re really we were, of course, trying to dial in our own messaging for our own brand. And we were listing out all the things, all the services that they came to us for, and I listed them all on a Google Doc and I just kind of stared at them for a little bit and I started regrouping a little bit and said, Okay, this, you know, these things go together, these things go together. 

And all of a sudden, it kind of emerged out of all that. I said, Oh, whew, they’re wanting to just get clear, they want strategy they want to basically discover their voice. They want to find their ideal customer. And you know, they’re just looking at how to really have clarity around their business. And so that was get clear. And then the next grouping, I was like, Okay, next grouping is really all about eating that brand. And it’s getting people to notice them. 

It’s how they look at their image, but it’s also the messaging that their brand is portraying and the purpose behind their brand, I’m like, Okay, so what our customers want at this step is they just want to get noticed, they want people to see them. And I was like, and then then the third grouping of angles, like okay, then the final pieces, kind of the obvious they want to get paid. You know, there’s no point in having to brand if you’re not gonna make any money off of it. So the getting paid pieces are all the services that we offer that helps them become like basically irresistible to those raving fans. 

And it’s positioning them as the expert in their niche and then helping them get paid with their words. Some of these, even though some of our clients are celebrities and athletes, they still sometimes struggle after their main career has ended. Or Hey, I’ve got this revenue stream going I’ve got kids now I’ve got a lifestyle to maintain. I’ve got, you know, a mortgage. I’ve got this, I’ve got that. And so those are the main things that our clients are coming to us needing. They’re like, I need to get clear, I need to get noticed I need to get paid. 

Osbert: Wow. I mean, yeah, that’s very interesting because we see it all the time, right? We have like a very popular athlete and then yeah, after that, you know, all the spotlight goes away after their career kind of finished, what happens afterwards? And I think that’s right where you just talked about that’s where you guys come in also and help them get noticed so that they can ultimately maintain that current lifestyle that they have or the family, or whatever the need is, right? Yeah. So I appreciate you also explain the three-step process. I think that’s very clear.

Gretchen: Yeah. Also when they’re at crossroads, they’re the ones in charge now. Prior to that, when they were on a sports team or whatever was a sporting career, a lot of the marketing for them was done for them. They didn’t have to do a whole lot. They had promoters, they had managers, they had, you know, other people that handled those pieces for them. Now, after their career is done, it’s just them. You know, they might have some PR people here or there, but it’s just them. They’re the ones calling the shots. 

And it’s a whole different game for them. And especially when it comes to online marketing. They’re really not as knowledgeable as they would like to be in that arena. And so we look at our clients more as having a partnership with them and being like their team, part of their team, an extended version of their team and working with them versus us, our clients don’t come to us and just go and say, here’s what I want, just do it. We actually have conversations with these celebrities. We’ll be on phone calls with them every week face to face through video. 

And then talk about their brand, what they’re trying to achieve. We set goals with them, we check-in, we set quarterly goals, work through things. And then whatever our quarterly goal is we sit down, we work through that over the quarter. And then at the next quarter, we set another set of goals. And so everything’s very strategic in what we do, it’s not just, oh, here, make my brand and then we make the brand and then we’re done. It’s a continuous relationship.

Osbert:  Yep. I don’t think well, what you mentioned about, it’s not as easy as it looks. They weren’t doing it before as far as a branding piece, and now they’re kind of on their own. I mean, I see a lot of the also like, the social influencers, that more than likely, I feel like they all have a team that’s helping them with that because to manage all that on your own, the whole branding and marketing side of it, of the things. It’s very difficult from what I’ve even just personally experienced myself in trying to brand certain things that I’ve done in my own ventures.

Gretchen: Yeah, a lot of them will handle one or two parts of it, like maybe they do their own Instagram or their own Facebook or something like that. But the majority of the ones that we’ve encountered, they don’t even touch their website. They have no desire to try to do any of that. I’ve had one or two that have maybe fiddled with Squarespace or something like that. But they, even then, they struggle because that’s just not what they’re designed to do. But so yeah, they, almost all of them have teams doing the different pieces. 

You do have some direct interaction like the ones who do handle their actual social themselves. But like I said, it’s very limited. It’s usually only one or two platforms. And even that it’s not all them. It’s, a lot of times, it is a team behind them that has set up a scheduled series of posts and various things and then that celebrity athlete comes in and posts, you know, at random times when they have the downtime because they’re busy people still, Even in retirement they’re busy people.

Osbert: Yeah, I could assume so. But anyway, I think that’s a perfect place to stop. Again, thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate having experts on the show, I think because you guys really know the subject. You guys are the experts out there. And then what you do, I think helping just the health and fitness industry, it’s very powerful. So just one last question is where can people find you?

Gretchen: Oh, yeah, you can find us at leftrightlabs.com. That’s our website. We are also on Facebook and Instagram under the same Left Right Labs moniker. Yeah.

Osbert: Okay. Perfect. And we’ll include that also in the description as well. So leftrightlabs.com. I would like to thank, again, Gretchen, thank you so much for being here. If you have any questions for Gretchen that you would like for her to help your business, please reach out to us. I’ll put her info notes on the show podcast. Thank you for listening. Remember, the goal of your business should be to make more profit than last year and turn that into cash. Thank you for listening.