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28: Find your Brand Persona with Steve Morris

Steve Morris- Business Breakthrough Podcast
Today we speak with Steve Morris about real design in branding. There are many graphic designers and marketing companies out there, but Steve has a Masters Degree in Graphic Design. We contrast this expertise with what you average designer learns today, and delve deep into high level branding and graphic design strategies. We also discuss the struggle of being an expert who can only earn money one-to-one training people, and how to expand that to create “more of you” in a really novel, win-win-win manner.



My Guest: Steve Morris

Steve is the CEO of Mth Degree, a brand evolution consultancy, a speaker, writer and artist. He’s worked with more than 250 brands, including Samsung, NFL, Habitat for Humanity, LG, and Sony, and over 3,000 global business leaders.He has spoken at national and global events including Creative Mornings, HOW Conference, Social Venture Network, AIGA, American Marketing Association, various business schools, and many in-house corporate events and workshops. His upcoming TEDx talk is entitled The Beautiful Business.He’s author of two books, Brand Love and Loyalty and Humanizing the Customer Journey, and his forthcoming book is The Evolved Brand: How to Impact the World Through the Power of Your Brand.


Pivotal Moments:

  • Fueled by an interest in human psychology and motivation, Steve minored in psychology and philosophy as part of his undergraduate degree in Fine Art Painting.
  • Fell in love with the story-telling aspect of design in the business world, got his Masters in Design from Tyler School of Art at Temple University.
  • Worked himself up inside large marketing agencies on the East Coast to become the creative director of a large marketing agency in Washington DC.
  • Got burnt out and moved to San Diego with his wife in 1994, figureing he would get another job over there.
  • Didn’t find a job opportunity where the quality of work matched his experience, so he started doing some freelancing.
  • Steve joined the board of directors for non-profits servicing causes in the arts and environment.
  • Started his own design studio in the mid-90’s and grew it into a branding group and then a branding and marketing entity.
  • Realized that as his company grew he was only spending 10% of his time on the strategy and brand evolution work that was his passion and primary skill.
  • Sold off the marketing side of his business last year to focus 90% of his energy on the brand evolution work he enjoys and excels at.


The Advice:

  • A brand is how people perceive your business…Touchpoints are the way that people experience your organization… When people experience it they have an emotion which is the brand.
  • An organization’s brand is like the character and persona of a person. Graphical representation needs to represent the organization’s beliefs and values and also how the customer’s experience it.
  • You need to have brand conviction and the confidence to step out and speak about what you think and feel so that you don’t end up parve- not here and not there.
  • Brand loyalty comes by finding clients who have their beliefs and values in line with yours.

As you grow your business, much of your time becomes managing people. [See Estie’s Jbiz video on how to grow your business without having to grow your team.] No one is skilled in all aspects of running a business. You need to understand all of your business processes, so that your employees don’t run away with the expertise or that you become so dependent on your employees that you can never get rid of them. But you don’t need to manage all aspects yourself!  Focus your time and energy on your passion and skill and hire to supplement your weaknesses.

Having a clear understanding of the systems and processes behind a graphical ad, marketing campaign or any business process is vital. You can’t copy/paste from other businesses without understand the background of how and why it works. [Red Fire Bell Estie Story]

Split your target audience into different personas, give them names and bios so that you really can get to know them well. Then you will be able to identify them easily, even when walking past them in the street.


The Struggle:

Steve struggles with expanding his business from a one-to-one focus to one-to-many. He wants to train people with the information that he has and package his expertise into workshop to get his skills out to others, but is not quite sure how to go about it.


The Breakthrough:

Find people already in the business world who have the skills and desire to do what you do. You can give over your strategy & methods to them either by giving a course or some other training program. Then you have a win-win situation where you get paid to give over your skills and you can also pick the best of your participants to be part of your company.



“People won’t remember what you did or said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”


Resources and Links:

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About the author, Estie Rand

I love turning ideas into money, and helping others do the same. I help small business owners with everything from marketing to fiscal management, business plans to staffing, database architecture to work/life balance coaching and I love it all! What do you need help with today?

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