How To Build A Great Brand With Very Little Money'.
Nov 20th. London. £300.
There has never been a better time to start a brand. There has never been a cheaper time, either. But when everyone has the same free tools as you, how do you stand out? The answer is simple enough: By learning how to use those tools with greater skill than anyone else. This workshop will give you some key insights into this.
How do you beat Goliath? It won’t be by out-spending them. But it will be by out-thinking them. It will also come from understanding what you are going to change. Understanding your purpose and how to make that mean as much to your customer as it does to you. This workshop will give you some key insights into this, too.
I am not a theorist. I have built brands from nothing with next to nothing just by understanding a few key basic rules. I shares these insights with you on my course: 'How To Build A Brand With Very Little Money.
What Will You Learn?
How to tell your story.
How to give your brand a voice.
How to get people to love your brand.
The importance of 1000 true fans.
The real advantages of being small.
Is your idea going to change anything.
How to put a moat around your idea.
How to identify a niche before others.
The importance of being first.
How to fund it without losing control.
How to build a great team without employing anyone.
Building a mountain is expensive. Making a million cars is not cheap either. Mind you, nor is building a zillion houses. This summer I stood on the edge of a mountain in North Wales just seconds from taking a zip wire down to the bottom. From the edge, I could see a great business. He had used existing assets that were largely unused and got them to do something. Building a zip-wire across a mountain costs nothing compared with building a mountain.
And in a way, he was just doing what Airbnb or Uber have done. Find assets that are doing nothing, and get them to do something. The rooms that were lying idle suddenly became full. Cars that were driving around the city empty suddenly had paying passengers in them. Neither had to build the infrastructure of the rooms or the cars. That takes a lot of money.
By comparison, coding a website to turn unused assets into used assets, well, that is relatively cheap compared to building a million cars, or a zillion rooms. Or building a mountain.
I use an app on my phone called Clear. It’s super simple. I make all my notes on it, from what I read, from what I hear, then I go back to it and use what I have learnt. Keeping notes is good. The brain is for thinking, not remembering all the stuff you have seen or heard. Here’s what I wrote down on my trip to LA.
Guy Webster has new book out. Met him at Do USA. Top human and photographer.
If you love simple but beautiful design for your house, Tom Kundig is a top talent.
This documentary by Louie Psihoyo’s comes out Sept 18th. It is a hidden camera look at the mass extinction of animals and our fish. He also did the Cove documentary.
Rashida Jones guide to happiness at work.
Like discovering a new friend, these books take a deep dive into some great brands.
Comparison between one way of doing it, and a newer way of doing it. Clever.
Climbers are different. They just are.
Amazing community in Northern California that stands for great design and looking after the environment.
Skateboarding in California between 1975-78. Seminal time.
Podcast from the people are doing it.
A podcast about ideas and curiosity.
This American Life. America’s most popular podcast.
Instagram feed of radavist. If you like bikes, this will be for you.
A housing trust that is getting people off the streets of LA. Innovative. And truly inspiring. My notes from the tour: Average age 52. Housing first: Strategy to solving the problem. A homeless person costs government $100,000. Housing them automatically saves $40,000. “You don’t have a lot because you can’t carry it.” Every system has failed them: School, family, government, friends etc. Permanent supportive housing is what they supply. 6000 people within 50 blocks of here are sleeping on the streets.
Avery Dennison are leading the way. The stuff they showed me that they are thinking about is truly pioneering.
Bringing old denim back to life.
Getting fit with your community.
Building a bike company through humour and great design.
Startup to watch:
Omata. I met with Rhys and Julian in Venice Beach. If you like bikes, great design, and great utility, you are going to love what they are about to launch.
Place I wish I ate at:
N/Naka, by Niki Nakayama. Watch her on Chefs table on Netflix.
Bike Gang culture in LA.
Blue Bottle Coffee. Beautiful coffee shops. And the coffee is insane.
Inspiring. Using coffee for change.
Le Pain Quodtidien. Belgium company. Downtown LA. Great breakfast.
Uber. Not used it before. Not much demand in Cardigan. Technology is pretty amazing. See the car come around the corner.
A visit to The Southern California Institute of Architecture is well worth it. Oh my, robots, 3 d printers, kids skateboarding down the corridors.
It has taken us 7 years just to get to the start line.
Two weeks ago, there was a list of the 21 best brands in Wales. The Do Lectures found itself on that list along with Gareth Bale and W.R.U.
This week Seth Godin put up a list of Templates for Organic and Viral Growth. Along with Airbnb lists, Farmers Markets, Alcoholics Anonymous, The Do Lectures was on it too.
It has taken 7 years for the Do Lectures to get to the point that it has started to get some recognition. It has taken 7 years to get to the start line.
The Burning Man has been going for 28 years. In their 6th year, they had 600 people attend. Today, they have capped it at 50,000 people. South By South West started in 1994. This is its 21st year. In year 6th it had 3,755 registered attendees. Today, it has over 155,000 people who attend at least one event. Ted is 30 years old. Its first event lost so much money, that it would have to wait another 6 years before the next one.
The Do Lectures is one of the best experience events in the world. (Or so people come up and tell me.) Yes, it can do a better job at diversity of speakers. Yes, it needs to amp up the levels of irreverence. Yes, it needs more art. More comedy. Yes, more tech. More surprises. More silence. More WTF.
But that is the attitude that has got us to here; no one is prepared to sit back. There is no one here that is resting on any laurel. The blessing is it can’t get any bigger. The only thing we can scale here is amazingness.
After 7 years, it is about to stop being a Tuesday company. A company that meets once a week and tries to get as much done on that day. But The Do lectures is about to get all those lovely other days of a week.
Imagine what it could do if it had the same number of days as anyone else. Sometimes, you have to serve your apprenticeship. Like a band, it has sit in the bedroom and learn how to play. Like a footballer, you just have to take the ball down the park and learn how to kick it.
So here we are, at the start line. And it feels good.
I don’t have as many chickens as I did last week. The chickens are free range. And yup, you guessed it, so is the fox.
After the most recent visit by the fox, I thought it was time to go and get an electric fence. Or build a big chicken coop with high-sided fences.
But then I remembered visiting someone who just used radio 4 to protect his hens. The voices were enough to spook the fox. I thought it was clever. But a part of me thought that was far too simple to work. So I never tried it.
I had the data to back up his idea, and yet chose to ignore it. He had never lost a chicken. I had lost loads. But something was stopping me from adopting it. What was it? I had stopped thinking like a child.
"Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."
Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
I thought the solution had to be cleverer than that. It had to be more than just a radio playing. Surely, it can’t be that simple, could it?
But if you are a fox, and you hear someone talking, you don’t think it’s a radio, you think it’s someone talking. Foxes hunt with their ears, as well their nose. They sit still and they listen. They listen for any sound. Especially humans. If they hear humans, they stay clear. Simple, when you think about it.
As Duke Stump, who curates Do USA, keeps saying, ‘We have to learn to quiet our cleverness’. We dismiss simple answers at our peril. Or, at the chickens.
Myths are powerful. They are seminal storytellers of events that may or may not have happened. The most powerful are semi-believable, but contain some element of wonder and magic.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
It’s hard to dream up a myth, like you can think up some marketing campaign: They can feel forced. They can feel like they are selling something. And so they don’t get shared.
The best ones just happen all by themselves. And when they do, they will be shared. And they can really help build your brand. Because, like I said at the start, myths are powerful.
My learning from myths is what you can do as a brand builder is to create a space for myths to happen. And, just wait and see what unfolds.
For the last 7 years we have been building The Do Lectures. It is a gathering of people around ideas and how they can change the world. It takes place on the far western edge of Wales. In an old cowshed. (And, it now takes place in California, Melbourne and for the first time this July in Costa Rica)
At this year’s Do Lectures Wales, we created a secret gin parlour that no one at the event knew was there. On the Friday, we Instagrammed a barman wearing a black suit and tie serving some fine seaweed gin in it. And nobody came. The Wi-Fi is so bad that no one was able to see the post on his or her phones. Instead, we told two people, and before we knew it, you couldn’t move.
The Naim Audio equipment played the music. The Hendricks flowed freely. We had bought enough for the 3 days. But it only lasted 3 hours. One of the rules of the secret gin parlour was when the bell sounded there would be a 60 second disco, and everyone had to take part. Most of that was planned.
But what we hadn’t planned to happen was for Tom Herbert to walking in a 1 am with a sourdough loaf that he had just baked in the Big Bertha’s oven in the back of their Land Rover. It had ‘Do’ written on it. And it was still hot. He gave it to me. I took a chunk of it. And I passed it on to the crowd. I can still see it now, everyone passing it on with hands a loft like someone crowd surfing but with a loaf of Sourdough.
The next morning, it was that moment everyone was talking about. It wasn’t planned. But all we did was to create a space for it to happen.
This week the Do Lectures was voted in the top 21 coolest brands in Wales along with a small jeans maker called Hiut.
From time to time I run a Do Workshop: How to build a great brand with very little money.
Pareto’s Law is named after an Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. It is also known as the 80-20 rule, which Richard Koch wrote about in his brilliant book.
The thinking is this: If you run a business, 80% of your business probably comes from 20% of your customers. If you are a creative person, 80% of your awards/ recognition/income will come from 20% of your output.
So how can knowing this principle help you manage your time?
Well, start by looking at your day. See where you spend most of your time.
The likelihood is you will find out you spend most of your time is spent on the things that you are not that good at.
Too many meetings. Too much admin. Too much politics.
This is called The Law of Oterap. (Pareto backwards).
This is where you spend 80% of your time on the things you are least good at. And where you can make the least difference.
You don’t need more time in the day. You don’t need to work longer hours. You don’t need to work weekends.
You just need to spend more time on what you are brilliant at.
And less time on all that other stuff.
1, Stop hiring the awkward ones.
2, Chase the numbers, not the change.
3, Stop innovating.
4, Only back sure fire things.
5, Stop trusting the team.
6, Make slow decisions.
7, Forget why you started.
8, Oust the founder.
9, Let success steal your hunger.
10, Stop socialising together.
It wasn’t supposed to be there. It was only there because the first speaker had problems with a tripod, so he borrowed the chair to have something to put his old camera on.
But, there it stayed. No one questioned its right to be there. Why should they? It was there from the beginning so it was meant to be there, right?
Roald Dahl wrote: “Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places”.
It’s also true that some of the answers are staring at us right in the face, and because they are so obvious we don’t think they can be the answer.
In our lives, in our businesses, we all have lots of ‘Invisible Red Chairs’. We do things this way, because we did it that way yesterday. We put down a piece a plank of wood and it stays there for so long that everyone thinks it’s supposed to be there.
We have our set ways. And yet, it may not be the best way of doing it. Very often, it isn’t. But we stick to our ways, mostly because we don’t have to think too much.
But one habit that a lot of entrepreneurs seem to have is the ability to walk in stupid each day. They don’t mind asking dumb questions. They don’t have any problem asking the blindingly obvious. Like why is that Red Chair up there on stage?
Walk in stupid every morning. That way you won’t just carry on as you always have done.
At Hiut Denim Co, we are learning to Vlog.
We are learning by making one each day.
This is day 3. Young Huw is shooting, editing and re-shooting all on the fly.
He is super keen. But right now, not super experienced.
And yes, there are some very, very good Vloggers out there.
So why bother unless you can be better than them, right?
Just look at Casey Neistat. He is on fire at the moment.
Ze Frank posts rarely post these days. But, when he does, it’s pure gold.
And those Jack’s gap twins, oh boy they are doing great vlogs too.
But I am guessing they didn’t start out as good as they are now.
I reckon they got that good because they weren’t frightened to suck.
They just did lots. Learnt. Did some more. Learnt some again. And overtime, they got good. Great, even.
The downside of perfection is it stops you from being prepared to suck for a bit. And that means you will never get to learn what you need to be great at something. Perfection is a curse in that way.
Bill Withers said it best: You can’t get to wonderful without going through alright.
But when you see ‘Alright’, tell it that you are just passing through.