When someone thinks of your blog and business, what do they truly 'see'?

If I say the word ‘McDonalds’, what images immediately come to your mind?

  • Is it ‘Big Mac’?
  • ‘Golden Arches’?
  • ‘Happy Meal’?

The list goes on and on. But without question, when someone says the word ‘McDonalds’, visions dance around the head of each and every one of us.

The same could be said for Apple and Disney too.

In fact, name any great company/ brand and an image will likely pop right into your head.

Now let me ask you a really serious question…and be completely honest:

If someone were to picture an image of your brand and blog in their mind, what would they see?

[Note**This is when you take a moment to close your eyes and really think about it. ;-) ]

I ask this question because most people have no idea how the rest of the world sees their blog, brand and business.

Why? Some call it the Curse of Knowledge. Others say ‘love is blind’.

Either way, the disconnect that often occurs from ‘owner’ to ‘customer’ with this question is typically quite prolific.

Visual Brand Imaging

I recently posed such a thought to my friend and visual branding artist Ameena Falchetto. Ameena’s story is a unique one, as she has an uncanny ability to mix art with storytelling, producing a collage of images for her clients that perfectly symbolizes what a brand is all about and tells a message in the process.

So when I went to her and petitioned, without any direction, that she draw what ‘The Sales Lion’ brand looked like in her mind, she quickly came back with the image above, one that represents so much of what I’m about:

  • Inbound Marketing
  • Hubspot
  • Community
  • Speaking
  • Swimming Pools
  • The Sheridan Clan
  • And Dirty Dancing (long story, you’ll just have to read this to fully understand)

To be honest, had this drawing been done 18 months ago Ameena may have had a blank page. Why? Because I didn’t really know who I was back then. Essentially, I didn’t know my shtick.

But today I have a clear vision. My content has a purpose. I know what I do well and I don’t try to be something I’m not. And because of this fact, my blog, business, and personal brand have done very well these past 6 months.

So that’s my simple message for you today my friends. As you set your 2012 business goals and look ahead, ask yourself what you need to do to take your brand identity to another level. Seek out the help of others and find out what images they see when your blog or company comes to mind.

By so doing, you just may get on the path to having your greatest year in business ever.

Your Turn:

Ok, a simple question folks—What do you want people to ‘see’ when they think of your blog, brand, and business? C’mon, don’t be shy, I’d love to know your thoughts.


***Finally, I want to offer a special thanks to Ameena for her unique talents. This drawing will be going on The Sales Lion about page, as it powerfully demonstrates, in a very creative and unique way not seen on other blogs, everything I want readers to know of The Sales Lion brand and message. If you’re interested in enhancing an ‘about’ or ‘who we are’ page on your company website, Ameena just may have the perfect visual messaging you’ve been looking for.

105 thoughts on “What do Your Blog, Business, and Brand ‘Truly’ Look Like to the Rest of the World?

  1. Thanks Marcus! If only everyone had such a clear brand! It was a really enjoyable project that’s for sure! Keep rocking :)

    • Ameen – please let me tell you how awesome these B.I.V.’s are. I love them. As soon as I seen it I just had to get more. I haven’t even read the post yet because I got so excited when I saw the creative art. I sent a note to John expressing how great I thought these things are and can’t wait to work with you on developing one for my own business, and for client projects.

      Now I need to read the entire post!


      • Thanks so much JK! Really appreciate your feedback and kind words!

    • Thank you Ameena. The service that you provide is seriously on the cutting edge of art, creativity, and marketing. I can’t wait to see your growth in this field going forward.


  2. Marcus, I am addicted to The Sales Lion. You are helping me transform my business. You rock!

    Thanks, David

    • Awesome David! And just think, this is one of the few addictions that doesn’t hurt your body or wallet! Yee Hawwww! ;-)


  3. Love Ameena’s drawing and your continued focus on your “shtick”, Marcus. As @ameena said…keep rocking!

    • Thank you Erica!! I think we can all learn a little if we take a hard look at the visual perception of our brand.

      Thanks for stopping by my friend,


  4. Great stuff, Marcus! As the producer of the “Is it Soup, Yet? Tastiest Small Biz Brand Awards,” I can’t nominate you (but your clients certainly can!: http://thewordchef.com/2011/11/branding-contest/)

    When people think of me and my brand, I’d love for them to “see” a smiling chef (maybe a little on the plump side). Someone who happily welcomes them into the kitchen to cook up tasty marketing dishes with her.

    • LOVE IT Tea!!! Sound like you really, really understand who you are and where you’re going.

      Keep on smiling :-)


  5. Marcus,

    A clear self-image and self-realization is extremely important because you can’t change or more importantly improve upon what you don’t understand. I hope to never be so arrogant as to believe I completely understand the external view of me…

    Ameena has created a Visual Tag Cloud for your brand… Awesome!

    This is an important topic and not one I’ve read that much about. I’m very glad you’ve created this discussion.

    As always keep killin’ it!

    Ryan H.

  6. Sounds like a good exercise. Given how I’ve shifted the focus of my consulting business to startups in the past six months, the picture would be dramatically different than it was going into 2010. I’ll take you up on your challenge!


    • I’m going to hold you to that Mr. Evans!! ;-)

  7. First, I’ve never heard of what Ameena does and it’s really cool. Thanks for sharing!

    Okay, now, I’ll venture into the question at the end of the post (insert big gulp/deep breath here :-))

    I’ve been working on my identity/schtick etc. this year too. I don’t have a character like Tea, but I’m hoping people sense at least some of the following: a casual Friday type approach, business/professional but not a ” corporate suit” by any means, provider of intelligent, practical content marketing help for small businesses, approachable, respectful.

    OK Marcus, I know I’ve got some feedback comin’. I’m ready :-)

    • Actually Cheryl, Ameena invented this concept, and it’s awesome. The reason why it’s so unique is because most ‘about’ pages are too similar, and don’t truly ‘show’ and ‘tell’ a story. That’s where Ameena’s shtick comes into play and it’s dang effective.

      Regarding what you want people to see, I clearly think you’re on the right track. The only suggestion I have right now would be to add a few more very defined things you want to be known for. It can be a style of writing. It can be the way you look (see Mari Smith). It can be the way you use the word ‘dang’ (see Marcus Sheridan ;-) ), it can be the way you understand completely how to integrate content marketing campaigns specifically for small businesses. Does that make sense?

      Anyway, as long as you continue to write and produce Cheryl, it will happen, I promise.

      Thanks so very much for your support,


  8. Marcus. Great post and visual by Ameena! Great challenge to us..

    I’d like small businesses to see someone who’s down-to-earth, patient and who can be their guide through the complicated world of marketing online. Someone who can help them look behind the curtain to understand how things really work and someone who always answers a question directly even if it’s to say “I don’t know but I’ll help you find out”.

    • Love that answer Tom, I really do man. Keep running with it brother!!


  9. That is an awesome picture Marcus! Ameena – you are very talented!

    When people think of my “brand” (Leaving Work Behind), I definitely want them to think about quitting their jobs. I have a huge passion for helping people get out of their ruts and into self-employment (which I will be able to do much better once I have done it myself!), and although I cover various topics on my blog, it all ultimately comes back to that.

    I have been recently thinking about a logo, but I just don’t have the budget to cover it at the moment…that would probably help a great deal though!



    • Thanks Tom :)

      It’s interesting how you say you think a logo will help you – a logo isn’t a brand. One mistake I see small business owners making is holding on to the idea that they need a logo for their brand. This is really a myth. If you are a solopreneur the only thing to brand is YOU.

      What’s Madonna’s logo? Or Lady Gaga’s? Their presence IS their brand. Marcus doesn’t have a logo – the cool font on his header is just that: cool font on a header!

      Repeat your message, use a limited number of photos that make you instantly recognisable on a tiny avatar and BOOM. Brand message received.

      • I completely second that Ameena. It certainly ain’t about logos anymore. In fact, I wonder if the concept of logos has really passed us all by anyway in this new age of marketing and branding…

    • Hey Tom, I’m with Ameena on this one brother. It’s not about logos, it’s all about you have a strong base of teachings and opinions. For example, I’ve used the Dirty Dancing example again and again to explain inbound marketing. It’s funny, it’s quirky, and it’s all mine. People remember that, and that’s why it’s on the drawing. The same with Hubspot and INbound Marketing. I’ve talked again and again regarding those two subjects. They are smaller niches but I don’t care. I want to be known as the Hubspot guy, and because of the direct focus, there is a direct benefit.

      Hopefully you understand what I’m saying brother. You’re up to some great stuff my man, and now you’ve just got to continue to push harder with even more defined direction.


      • Whoa! The logo was a bit of an afterthought to the comment, but you guys really latched onto it! ;)

        I honestly do think that a logo would help (I would be surprised if you thought that a memorable logo wouldn’t be a good thing), but I certainly don’t think it is the be all and end all.

        Marcus, you mentioned McDonalds and their logo (the golden arches), so I do still think that logos have a part to play when it comes to brand.

        Just to clarify – I agree with what you guys are saying about brand being far more than just a logo (far, FAR more), but regardless of that, a memorable logo staring people in the face every time they read one of my blog posts can do no harm to my brand at all.



        • I know you weren’t thinking a logo was the ‘end all’ Tom, it’s just that what I think Ameena and I are saying is that we wouldn’t waste a second of thought or energy on a logo, especially right now, because you’re still in the process of self-branding awareness. (That’s a phrase I just made up btw ;-) ). But as you walk this path, keep producing content, and learn more about yourself– that vision will start to take more shape.

          Hope that makes sense bud. Thanks for being awesome.


          • Tom,

            From my personal experience still being in the very early stages of blog growth I would say wait on the Logo. I know that it was not part of your main comment but it is an important part of your Brand.

            I agree with Marcus that waiting till you have a firm grip of what your Voice and Image is going to be (which is not always what you want or what you it out being…).

            Then you can go to 99designs.com or even Fiverr.com and get a simple but powerful logo on the cheap.

            Great discussion here.


            • Ryan/Marcus,

              That does actually make a lot of sense – I’m with you now :)

              Screw the logo for now ;)


        • I actually think logos are more important than ever, but I’m thinking more along the lines of corporate ID, NOT personal branding. Companies need to differentiate themselves even more in such a crowded marketplace. Also overall branding is so important … so companies have a cohesive look and feel across ALL media. I spend quite a bit of time convincing clients of this ;)

          • Hmmm, I don’t know Craig. It’s a tough call. My pool company doesn’t have a logo. We don’t have uniformity. The only thing we have is the content—-the stuff that makes the country feel like we know more about fiberglass pool than anyone in the world…and this is all Google cares about to. Which, btw, this is the other point to make— Google doesn’t care about logos. Customers do…just a little. We see massive companies who have been successful with building their logo imaging yet we forget that 95% of all companies we do business with, we could say what their logo was if someone were to pay us a million bucks….just my thoughts.

            • Hi Marcus,

              But a logo is a great way to show what a company is all about and another important way to show uniqueness. It makes a statement and if done right truly symbolized the business. Google doesn’t care about logos, that’s for sure, but I still think it’s vitally important to visually communicate what a company does with a logo. A logo ID is a really just a visual representation of a company or organization, a visual marker and something people will remember … most people are visual thinkers and will remember a logo better than something they’ve read. It’s just one component of solid branding, but I don’t think logos are going away anytime soon.

              With all that being said, yes in some industries logos are one of the most important parts of a branding strategy, but others can certainly survive without one as you’ve demonstrated.

  10. Cool graphic Marcus and I recently connected with Ameena on Facebook. Didn’t know she did such amazing work.

    Wow, what do I hope people see when they are presented with my blog? First off, that big old smile of mine and a very welcoming feeling. Support and help at every turn and a sense that someone truly cares about them and their success. Someone very personable and an open book. Yep, that’s what I hope they see. I might have to ask them now.

    Great post and thanks for sharing this with us Marcus. Once again, love the graphic.


    • Oh how I could see what your brand image would look like with that electric smile of yours Adrienne! In fact, I don’t know if Ameena has colors bright enough to represent it. ;-)

      Always so great of you to stop by and share your thoughts Adrienne,


  11. Hi Marcus,

    Ameena is awesome, her drawings are amazing and your clan is exactly the image I would have drawn if I was able to (but I’m terrible at drawing). I don’t have a clear vision of my brand just yet, but my vision is very close to what you have accomplished. I want to become the Norwegian version of The Sales Lion :)

    • Hahaha Jens, I loved the clan too!

      And btw, I think you should become the Norwegian version of Jens Berget!!! ;-)

      Thanks bud,


      • That’s true. I can’t talk about Dirty Dancing :-)

        … and 2012 will be my best year every, things are happening :)

  12. I absolutely love the drawing! It reminds me of when I used to keep a visual journal – though my drawings weren’t meant for anyone else to see, it was still fun to represent my life that way, and such drawings really represent concepts in a way that words often don’t.

    Marcus, one thing that you wrote really stood out to me:

    “To be honest, had this drawing been done 18 months ago Ameena may have had a blank page. Why? Because I didn’t really know who I was back then.”

    My question for you is what was the turning point? Why or how do you know today who you are, when you didn’t know that 18 months ago? I’m asking because I’m in transition and trying to define this myself a bit better!

    • Love the question Rebecca, and thanks for asking.

      I don’t think there was a defining moment, and I honestly don’t know if that’s possible. Little by little a blog is formed, with each article, with each action, with each learning experience.

      I can tell you that this blog was not really about content and inbound marketing at first, nor was it a platform for my speaking–the thing I love most about all of this.

      Time and experience really do have a magical effect on direction, and I’m sure this will only continue as the future rolls forward.

      Thanks again for this Rebecca!


      • Thanks for your response, Marcus.

        Time and experience — isn’t it interesting how there really isn’t a huge shortcut to those two things? Of course, we can increase the speed of our experience, though really hitting things hard, but even then, things take time.

        This is encouraging for me, though, as sometimes I feel pressed to have it all figured out, right from the start. I know that it’s good to define target market, early on, but I think it’s also important to realize that as things unfold, that may change, at least when it comes to the finer details.

        • Have I told you how much I’m digging the way you think more and more and more Rebecca? ;-)

          • Well, you did now. And the feeling is mutual. :)

  13. Hey Marcus,

    I loaded up your from site this morning while sitting still in traffic and was completely blown away from the visual. I love creative art… especially when it’s used creatively. And Ameena is using it that way. I immediately had a thousand ideas run through my head when I saw that.

    The question you asked is a huge one. Sure, only one simple questions…but it’s loaded (and you know that)!

    I’m currently redesigning growth effect…yes, already. The more I look at it it just doesn’t scream what I want it to scream. It’s a little too flashy and lacks personality. So I’ll be infusing some character in there and simplifying the design (but still make some complex coding breakthroughs…the fun stuff).

    On the other hand, Hustler’s Notebook tells the story well, I believe. The word hustle still throws people for a loop but I believe that now more than ever I’ve delivered an environment where it’s clear that my mission is one of a positive nature, in less than 3 seconds of checking out the site.

    And finally, after 18 months or so of having hustler’s notebook, I can speak to exactly what the site is about and what it represents to me. That stuff takes time!


    • JK, love this man, and so glad you got something out of the article. It is a loaded question, no doubt, one that I think many people would rather not answer because it’s like stepping on the scale after the holidays. ;-)

      Also, I think it’s interesting that it took you over a year, as it did me, to really define the brand and direction of Hustler’s Notebook. In fact, I think it’s almost impossible for a business to clearly know their ‘it’ without experiencing the day to day, and the high and lows that come with such efforts.

      Keep rockin brother, and thanks for all you do.


  14. I would quickly mention that if you are working hard on your branding, you might also want to consider protecting your brand if it gets big enough (or I guess if you just think it might get big enough!). Yes that means legal issues and paperwork but if you have a memorable logo you will want to make sure nobody takes it out from under your nose. When you should go down that road is an open question though..

    • Robyn, great point. That’s exactly why I had The Sales Lion trademarked very early on in this process. I knew it was going to really be a major part of my brand, and thus made the investment to secure the future.

      Appreciate you stopping by,


      • Robyn

        Thanks Marcus, and great call. It is a very catchy name. :)

        • Thanks Robyn, I kinda like it! ;-)

  15. You really want to know?

    Aliens zooming around dropping pots of gold in the laps of my clients. All for just $49.99. Ready to sign up?

    Branding is one of those kind of hokey areas of Marketing because it is where image meets substance. When Chrysler paid all that money for the gritty M&M superbowl spot I still though ‘Chrysler makes shoddy clap trap cars’. And when Saatchi & Saatchi won awards for Every Day Matters in 2008 for JC Penny’s Ad campaign to re-brand them, people walked in and saw the same old JCP and poof the image is gone.

    So Ameena’s great drawing covers that for you. Too many people don’t understand that colors, images and copy are just that. I think it is important for people to look at their business in an all encompassing way. Image. Product/Service. Core Competency. Price. Competitive Positioning.

    That said we had better do this exercise because it is really critical to one’s success. Because if you are selling something different than what your prospective customers are seeing that is a huge disconnect.

    OK now where do I drop this pot of gold my back is killing me.

    • Wisdom and Wit, all wrapped in a nice little comment by Mr. Howie ladies and gents ;-)

      Because if you are selling something different than what your prospective customers are seeing that is a huge disconnect.…Amen to that brother. And that’s exactly what I hope people get out of this post.

      Keep rockin my man,


  16. Raj

    In one of my sites, I just use two colors – Black and White. It has become famous (in that niche) as a black and white site! :) BTW, the image has been done pretty well…

    • Awesome idea Raj! Love the black and white concept man!

  17. This is definitely something to think about, Mane man. I don’t quite know what to answer to that last question of yours. Means I got to work on it a lot more, huh? XD

    • That’s exactly the thing Josh, if you don’t know what it is, your thoughts need to be at least moving in that direction. You’re still very new to this, which is cool, because time and experience will often dictate your direction. Notwithstanding, you must keep pushing and creating to truly know.

      Keep me updated on this man, I’ll be curious to know.


  18. So brilliant. I’m in the middle of re-branding myself, my life, and my business and I can feel how powerful it is. It’s hard to imagine a more powerful thing, than focusing on who your really are, and what you’re really good at.

    I have an interesting story, as I didn’t know who I was for years and years, and lived in what was for me, mediocrity and failure.

    Now I teach clear, creative success ;)

    • Jason, I love that man! Yes :)

      If you don’t mind me asking, what specifically are you now doing differently so that others see your brand the way you envision it?


      • My pleasure Marcus! Thanks for embracing me in the community, that was my first comment on The Sales Lion, and I’m touched :)

        Thank you for asking about my re-brand, I’m very passionate about it.

        The brand I’ve had since I was 17 is SpiritSentient.com: Success-Consciousnes for Creative People.

        I started 100% from scratch.


        1. Clarified, listed, and ranked my skills (physical, mental)
        2. Clarified, listed, and ranked my interests
        3. Clarified listed, and ranked my qualities (principles, values)
        4. Chose my preferred expression style (funky, sexy, serious, etc.)
        5. Clarified and ranked the main audiences I can reach (based on reachability and attractiveness)
        5. Developed a ‘Dream On A Deadline’, (you can google this fantastic model, or wait until I release my take on it.)
        5b. I made sure that the Dream On A Deadline model embraced and championed all the top-ranked, clear values, skills, and interests from the first 4 steps.
        6. Enlightened my team (and removed anyone from my life who was anti-brand/anti-me)
        7. Plotted my brand’s position versus any similar brands.
        8. Re-purposed, re-freshed, and re-designed all marketing materials, of any kind, from a lowly e-mail, to a monster website launch (coming on New Years, prepare yourselves!)

        That’s the quick overview, but it was quite the process. Coccoon -> Butterfly, and I’m actually still ‘between brands’ (but not for long :D)

        (Note: I offer free excerises on my site to complete most of the above steps, and more :D)

        So all that re-branding is to get ready for…

        Ryze Online: Helping You Rise

        ! Woo !

        • Oh, and after reading Leon below, I forgot to mention I spent tremendous time and energy creating a logo, font, color-scheme, style, and templates which all align extremely purely and consistently with what RYZE stands for :D

          The new brand is a 100% targeted, focused, guideline for all creations and value coming forth from me.

        • I don’t want to beat a dead horse Jason, as everyone has absolutely loved how much you’ve added to this discussion, but this break-down was awesome….dang awesome!

          • ;) It is always good to see appreciation and praise, of any kind. It encourages, thank you so much, everyone!

  19. G’Day Marcus,
    My image of you is the bloke in the classroom. The picture you sometimes post: teacher, enthusiast, iconoclast, challenger, raconteur, entertainer. Most importantly, it’s a picture of a person, not an imprecise cluster of disjointed, competing, impersonal graphics.

    Mate, I’ve been a great supporter of yours for quite a while. Although we’ve never met, I count you as a friend. Please, be very careful. Marketing is all about focus. Focus is about the one thing,I repeat ONE thing, that you want to represent yourself as to your clients and prospects.

    Go and reread “Positioning” by Al Ries and Jack Trout. OK, it was written in 1981, almost before you were born. But only this year it was voted “Best Marketing Book Ever” by the readers of “Advertising Age.” You seem to be trying to be all things to all people. That can be fatal. Al and Jack have stuck to the same message for 30 years. They’ve done OK.

    I read once, that early in his career, Bob Dylan was “seduced by his environment.” You must choose. You will seriously damage your “Brand”- what a misunderstood notion that is-by trying to represent yourself in so many ways.

    You keep saying that your pool building, sales lion days are over. If so, give it up. It’s the Law of Sacrifice. You’ll find out all about that in another Ries and Trout book, “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.”

    If I was looking for an image to represent me, It would probably be the bloke on the donkey from Don Quixote who tilts at windmills.

    Apple’s apple: Nike’s tick: Maccas golden arches. Find your equivalent Marcus. Did you know that the only category of cheese for which Kraft holds the dominant market share is Philadelphia. It’s the one cheese whose name doesn’t start with the word “Kraft.”

    I’d hate to see all the work you’ve done in recent years be jeopardized by fuzzy thinking. If you want to be seen as a jack of all trades you’ll also be seen as a master of none.

    Bloody Hell! We curmudgeons do take liberties don’t we? What I’ve said above is exactly what I’d say If you were paying me $250 an hour. I’d just use fancier language.

    Dare I say it? Make sure you have fun.

    Best Wishes


    P.S. Read those bloody books young man. What would your grandfather say if you ignored an Aussie Celt like me?

    • Leon, fantastic stuff man. This is a very important thing to bring up in a discussion like this, and 100% agree. Deviating from one’s brand or dissipating energy into endeavors that aren’t understandably aligned with it, can be ‘dangerous’ :D

      I’d like to add my story, because I suffered from exactly what you’re describing.

      I had fuzzy thinking and lack of focus. I was a jack of all trades, and masterful at many. I consider myself a modern day renaissance man, which is great, but FOCUS is absolutely vital.

      There is a community of people over at PuttyLike.com who champion the idea that “liking many things, and having many passions” is wonderful, and a sustainable way of living/succeeding. They call themselves Multi-potentialites.

      So I combined these two ideas, (Leon’s idea of focus, and PuttyLike’s idea of multi-passions) by synthesizing them into something powerful, freeing, and beautiful.

      I created a new brand, Ryze, which encompasses everything I’ve done previously (coaching, art, media, music, books, community, education, tech, etc.) but is focused on helping people rise, across the board.

      A brand is an umbrella that can encompass almost anything. Anything can fit into a person’s brand, but the magic of this is how creative you are about it.

      Jay-Z has 16+ businesses, some of which at first, did not seem likely candidates for the rapper (Translation Marketing for example, which seems utterly logical now, but was a bit of a stretch when he debuted it), but he was able to fit them into his brand.

      Richard Branson broke Virgin up into a ton of smaller ninja-companies, but all fit into his brand.

      Google has invested in many projects over the years, and failed or successful, they were all integrated into the brand. (Buzz + Wave to Google+)

      These companies moulded and shaped many things to fit beautifully into their brand, but it takes creativity, energy, and inspiration — and it’s sometimes a fine line.

      A person may end up fuzzy and unfocused as Leon suggested, or they may incorporate some unique ideas and aspects into their brand, launching themselves further than before.

      Just my two cents :)

      • G’Day Jason,
        Like you, I have a number of passions:Classic Jazz, my beloved Essendon AFL team, Cole Portes’s words and music, the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II, The acting of Merryl Streep to mention just a few.

        But my business has one focus. It’s none of those things. And you may find it illuminating to read the blog “Ries’ Pieces” for an analysis by Laura Ries Of Google’s line extensions.

        But you have to admit that the Hole Digger from Virginia stimulates lots of discussion.
        Make sure you have fun

        • Hahahaha. you should be on those Dos-Xs commercials Leon:

          “Leon Noone, the coolest man alive….”

          Thanks for making me smile buddy :)


        • Yeup, and I’m with you, 100%. My business, and any successful business, requires focus. I’m glad you seem to be such a champion of it, and super-glad you brought it so eloquently to the discussion.

          I have a tendency towards balance, and allowing others to follow their own path, so I my intention was to help make sure that doors remained open for each individuals creativity + personality, and not closed because they got confused and took your warning a little “too” seriously.

          A story:

          The creativity + personality of Ferrari’s designer (cant recall name), got him to bring his passion for women’s fashion-design, and the curves and flow involved with it, to the hard-edged car-industry, and skyrocketed Ferrari ahead as a brand.

          Most people would’ve told him he was wasting time + energy pouring his interest into dresses and shoes, but he knew what core aspects of himself he could creatively bring to the table, while maintaining focus.

    • Oh Leon, I read this comment with a smile, and as always, I appreciate your honest and adore your way with words. :-)

      I’m going to have to disagree with you though my friend. Why? Because I’m not trying to be someone I’m not. I speak about blogging for business. Hubspot is a focus because that’s where I started, and so naturally inbound marketing goes hand in hand with that, and this is also why most think of me as ‘the voice’ of Hubspot (outside of the company itself). The ‘Sheridan’ Clan is obviously pictured because that’s my fam, my backbone, and the base of many of my stories. River Pools is also the base of my content because that’s where I learned all this crazy junk, but I’m not a pool guy anymore. I spend little time with the company, but it’s still there. It pays me each week. And I use it as a means of experimenting with this field of inbound and content marketing. Without the River experience and story, I’m just another ‘guru’ (yack) that hasn’t actually applied anything but instead spouts off all day about stuff they’ve never done.

      Actually Leon, I’m more focused than I’ve ever been. I don’t talk about retail selling anymore, or selling in the home, or some of those other subjects I talked a lot about at first. Also, I don’t try to be a Social Media jack of all trades. I don’t talk much about Twitter. I rarely mention Facebook. I don’t teach anything about Linkedin…..None of these things are my shtick. I want to talk about blogging and content, and that’s what I do. That’s what I speak about. I happen to have a strong community, but that’s all a part of how I blog and produce content.

      Hence, my dear curmudgeon, I think my friend Mr. Ries would say, “Hey young Lion, you’ve found a nice little path to walk these past two years…now keep walking, keep learning, and report back to me in another 24 months and we’ll see where the roads have lead to.” ;-)

      • G’Day Mate,
        In the words of the old song, “You took advantage of me, and now I’m falling for you…” Helen Ward vocal with the Benny Goodman Orchestra circa 1936 is my favourite version.

        Not for a nanosecond-trendy word for an old curmudgeon eh?-did I mean to suggest that you didn’t have a zillion-GDslang- good reasons for all those images in that graphic. Nor did I mean that I thought you were losing focus.

        What you’re doing is spot on. It’s the picture that’s wrong. You’re focussed personally and professionally. Fabulous! The picture says you’re not.

        If that’s a good graphic to represent you in 2012 and beyond, then The Golden Arches
        should appear surrounded by the original store, the first hamburger, a big mac, Ray Croc’s first car, a picture of a queue in a Macca’s store etc. etc. all superimposed on a shot of one of the so called wholesome things they just introduced. And the Nike tick should float above Michael Jordan’s feet.

        Marcus, I realize I’m taking liberties. But thank the lord for small mercies. I’m resisting like mad the temptation to say, “when you’ve been around as long as I have son……” A curmudgeon sure: but a cheeky one!

        To borrow from the wonderful words of Bill Gove back in the 1950s, “Marcus, be
        yourself.” It aint easy. I’ve been ‘aving a bloody good go at it for decades. But remember: Bill Clinton does not have any pictures of any interns on his business card.

        By the way, My fee for free advice just rose to $500 an hour. Of course you get , as we call ‘em in Oz, “mate’s rates.” Shut up Leon!

        I shall take my own advice and go and find some Sunday fun. Incidentally, is “Jason Fonceca” the pseudonym of one of your children?


        • Hahaha… Marcus’s son? Nope, new kid on the block maybe :D (Although I do feel closer every second :P)

          Leon, dude this is EXACTLY what I wanted to hear. You’ve brought out the core of the issue because I believe what you`ve raised here is a semantics/classification issue.

          What I’m understanding so far:
          1. Ameena has drawn up (not sure of official term) a Visual Brand Story, and
          2. I believe you are comparing it to the incredibly powerful and incredibly focused McDonald’s Brand Symbol (logo, assets, identities… these terms blur).

          I say this is Apples-and-Oranges, and I`ll attempt to clarify:
          1. Ameena provides a Visual Brand Story, a visual mish-mash/collage of various key aspects of a brand, which is not an official corporate face presented on marketing materials, and is displayed rarely, or perhaps internal to the company.
          2. McDonald’s displays it`s primary brand symbol, basically everywhere, on everything.

          These two materials both have a place, and even interact. One acts as a visual, single-page story-board, the other as a consistent, easily ‘digestible’ and pure symbol of a brand.

          I’d love to know if this example clarifies anything:

          Let`s say Marcus had the word “SALES” with a lion rising out of the ‘S’, as his logo, right?

          Okay, so he has his SALES logo.

          Now, Ameena provides this beautiful visual storyboard, but across the top there is a horizontal white bar with Marcus’s pure, pristine, SALES logo centered in the white bar.

          So now it’s a Visual Brand Storyboard, with Marcus’s focused, symbolic, corporate logo front-and-center.

          To me that is Ameena’s idea, and the focused Brand-Symbol concept I’m getting from you, working in harmony.

          Please excused my insane love of clarity and synergy :) Thanks for listening :)

          (Note: It’s funny you should mention $500.00 / hr, as that is the coaching rate I get paid eagerly, and regularly.)

        • I am personally very much enjoying this conversation :-)

  20. Leon and Jason, both of you make some excellent points here. I’m one of those multi-passionate people and it can be hard to settle into just one thing. In fact, when I made the decision to quit my day job, I decided to do both writing and editing work, as well as virtual assistant work. The reason I decided to do VA work was because I was afraid I would get bored if I did nothing but write and edit all day, every day. The variety does my heart and mind good, and keeps me from burning out on writing.

    But I am keeping the VA stuff off of my website, as it’s hard to make that fit with the rest of it, in terms of my brand. My VA work is strictly word of mouth, or as a result of me approaching people who I think I’d be a good fit for.

    But I definitely see where you’re coming from with this, Leon, and you have given me some good food for thought.

    Regarding Marcus, it is clear that he is more focused now than he was a year or so ago, and I think that is the way it will be for a lot of us. Sometimes it takes doing a variety of things for a period of time to figure out what that special focus should be.

    • Amen to that Rebecca! Good for you. Thanks for the feedback and I’m glad you’re finding value in the discussion, it’s definitely food for thought.

      One thing people don’t mention too often I’ve found, but that is very powerful, is:

      Once you commit to “focusing on focus”, it’s a tipping point. It’s like a ball rolling down a hill, and if you really, truly, in your heart, commit to “ever-increasing mastery of focus”, the results are huge.

      It might take some time, and people might look at you and judge, saying “you’re not focused”, but you know that you’ve made a personal commitment to focus, and because of that, it will only get better… watch out world! :)

      It sounds to me like you’re on the right path :D

      Who knows someone here may take you up on your VA work… word of mouth style ;)

      • Jason, you wrote:

        “It might take some time, and people might look at you and judge, saying “you’re not focused”, but you know that you’ve made a personal commitment to focus, and because of that, it will only get better… watch out world!”

        You make an excellent point about people looking and judging. It’s great to consider input from people, and honestly evaluate whether or not it’s true, or if there is even a little something you can apply from it, I think it’s important to know deep down what is true, what you’re focused on, etc. even if others can’t see it or don’t agree.

        • Rebecca! I love it! Glad you found value here.

          As for that bit… Well, I`ve experienced it :D

          I launched out on my entrepreneurial journey 7 years ago, and went through many ups and downs (8 failed businesses, homeless-in-a-park, arrest, lost all possessions, and then betrayed.)

          During that time, I was committed to success, and nothing made me turn around.

          Others looking on judged and gossip`d but eventually, they all saw what I already knew:

          I was focused, and moving forward, no matter how it looked.

          I`m really glad you highlighted this, because it`s definitely something to be aware while moving on any project.

  21. HUGE hat tip to Ameena for the drawing, that is CLASSIC. :-)

    Now for the hard part, branding myself since I’m still not sure how best my ‘jill of many marketing trades for SMB’ translates visually. Well, the acronyms and silly quips.. that’s certainly part of my brand. I’ll be working on this as I look back on what I did and didn’t accomplish this year, look ahead to what I can do about it. FWIW.

    • Thanks for the Ameena hat tip Davina, I know she appreciates it.

      I think it’s great you’re willing to take a hard look at your brand, and see the successes and failures of 2011. That’s something we all need to do but most of us simply do not.

      Good luck lady and thanks for being awesome :-)

      Oh, and go Tigers today in the SEC championship ;-)


  22. I really enjoyed your post, Marcus, and the drawing, too. It really made me think of what I want my business ‘to look like’ not only in my eyes, but in the eyes of clients and other people. I guess this will be one of my New Year’s resolutions: to come up with a good brand image that represents me/my business.
    Thank you for the inspiration.

  23. This is very top of mind for me at the moment Marcus. I’m in the process of moving back to WP and incorporating my art website into the mix. Even though my art website has been up for over 10 years I realized my blog, zero to 60 and beyond, is the brand. I’m going to incorporate it all under one umbrella. With that in mind I intend to keep my header, which is my ‘time lapsed’ life.

    It took a blog to create the clientele I needed for my art. I’m very hopeful about how this will play out. Everything is a process!

    Love Ameena’s art!

    • Hey Barbara! Love what you’re doing combining the two, and I think that will absolutely work for you and your brand. Can’t wait to see it happen and thrilled for your direction!


  24. Hi Marcus,

    Great stuff as usual, and of course you have some incredible comments here. Always do.

    And GREAT stuff by Ameena. I love the lion. In fact in real life you might want to apply that look. How would Marcus look with a beard? Hmmmm. Very Lion-like?

    I love the comments and think something Jason said really summarizes a good part of this: “These companies moulded and shaped many things to fit beautifully into their brand, but it takes creativity, energy, and inspiration — and it’s sometimes a fine line.”

    With my design business I would say my branding is pretty clear and focused, but starting in this fun little social media / blog world and talking about personal branding (not crazy about that term) … well it’s taking a little time. Coming up with branding for my site is a slow fleshing out process and I figured it would be. A little bit of trial and error and a lot of “creativity, energy, and inspiration.” Thanks, Jason.

    Now that I’ve seen more of Ameena’s great work, I would love to see her take on about, well … 100% of the blogs I read ;) I mean, mix art with storytelling and present a Gini Dietrich collage, a Danny Brown collage … and of course a John Falchetto collage (I’m sure there are a few). We need more of these! ;)

    • Yep, lovin’ this community :)

      Ah, I definitely appreciate that you got something from it Craig, and I’m especially pleased you resonated with that line in particular, because it really does sum things up well, for anyone who chose not to wade through my words ;)

      My brand was an 8 year fleshing-out process, but there was no measuring stick or road-map for me. I had no idea how long it would take, and of course there’s always this:

      A brand, like a person, is an ever-evolving thing… it never finishes ;)

      I am extremely artistic, and would consider making something similar to Ameena’s fantastic creation.

      And I agree she rocked it… if she wanted to develop this further, it could be a service, a sort of micro-scope collage of what the world sees in your brand – a very powerful and valuable outside visualization. Ameena could make a killing, eh ;)

      I’m off to read how late bloomer artists can rock hard, thanks for this Craig!

      • Hi Jason,

        Yes hanging out here will make you smarter and Marcus always draws a large crowd. I would honestly say he’s pretty focused. ;)

        Your words certainly summed things up :) I do like what you had to say regarding a combination of PuttyLike – Multi-potentialites thinking with Leon’s idea of focus. You CAN combine many disciplines and do many things, even though your have a core focus, which is very important.

        With an eight-year fleshing out process imagine you’re in a pretty good place right now :) I look forward to checking our your site.

        Yes, Ameena did rock it! Maybe you guys need to have a brainstorming session. :)

        • Woohoo! Thanks Craig!

          I’m in the middle of launching the new brand, and the energy is fantastic! Much of my content is on SpiritSentient but the new brand is RYZE.

          http://ryzeonline.com if you want in on the ground floor :)

          I’ll swing by Ameena’s and see what’s up :D

          • Thanks Jason and Craig – yes, this is a product/service. :)

            I feel that it can really help clarify what your brand stands for and consists of. All too often (myself included) entrepreneurs wear so many different hats that they end up neglecting the concise clear message every brand needs to communicate.

            Also, having it on one page laid out visually definitely reinforces the fact that a picture really does speak a 1000 words :)

            • Amen, amen, amen….and an awesome product it is.

              • I’m considering it myself for my new brand!

                ORRRrrr… even better, you could have a service for people switching brands.

                Here’s your OLD Brand Story, and here’s your NEW Brand Story.

                Pro :D

        • Awesome comment Craig. Love it man and appreciate all you do. :-)

      • A brand, like a person, is an ever-evolving thing… it never finishes —-This is one of the best points of this whole discussion Jason (in which you’ve rocked btw). Today, although I am quite focused, I also realize things could be very different again in another 18 months. And in reality, if they’re not at least somewhat different, then that likely means I’m not growing as I should.

        Again, great stuff Jason.


        • Rock on, Superstar(s) :D

      • G’Day Jason,
        Sorry about the Marcus’ child thing. It’s one of a number of “running jokes” that have evolved over time between the Virginian Hole Digger and this Curmudgeon from Down Unda.

        Let me make this perfectly clear. I reckon that Ameema has put together a wonderful poster.It would look great framed and hanging on Marcus’ office wall. But I’m not talking about posters or logos. I’m talking about positioning.

        Jason, have you read either of the two books I mentioned in my first comment to Marcus?
        If you have, you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from. If you haven’t …..please go and read them. They are about marketing. Marketing isn’t selling of, for that matter, harmony or branding. A brand should be a consequence of a marketing position.

        If as you suggest, a brand “keeps evolving” I haven’t noticed anyone tearing down Golden Arches lately. Incidentally, I know the answer to that argument. But it illustrates the importance of sorting out your marketing position.

        You see, I have the distinct advantage of not being an expert in any of these fields. I have learnt all I know about marketing as a working businessperson. And I prefer eating to starving.

        We have to stop meeting like this. We’re only boosting the VHDs comment stats. Is he worthy?

        Make sure you have fun.


    • Hahahaha, we’ll have to turn it into a verb Craig—“Ameenafied!”

      I know what you mean about the phrase ‘personal branding’. It sounds a like fake in some ways I guess, but that’s the best I can come up with or have heard, and its importance goes on and on. I mean, if you really look at it, and ask what the difference is between the great businesses and blogs, versus the average one, it usually somehow goes back to clear understanding of this branding issue.

      Again Craig, thanks for all you do buddy.


  25. I knew that was an Ameena drawing the moment I saw it! :)

    I guess I’m still working on my brand. Maybe I can ask Ameena to draw something for me six months from now to see if I’m presenting a better picture of who I am and what I do.

    • Yes I would love to draw it Erin!! Once you’ve finalised where you are heading and your got your message clarified in your mind we can talk! :)

  26. I would love to have people see my Dust Bunny Mafia, http://www.dustbunnymafia.com and think, “Killer branding and cute bunnies,” honestly. That would be the best way to describe the image I am trying to portray.

    • Hahaha Bret, love it man! Good luck with your branding!


  27. You did such an amazing job in this site Marcus. I think it’s awesome and it can help a lot of people, too. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge through this blog.

    • You’re very kind to say that Vivien. Thank you. :-)

  28. Cracking graphic Marcus, that ‘power of community’ part is spot on for you. The question is a toughie because it’s one that I’ve not encountered before so a high class one then! My legacy is to be one of making mountains smaller, self-belief bigger like a giant inside, and reaching for your destiny as natural as the sun and stars. Goodness knows how your draw that! I want to make those feelings of drive, confidence, and inner spirit come alive in life, in people, in teams, and in any environment. Like blood in the veins. But whether that’s a brand is perhaps another matter.

    • Hahaha John, yes, how would one draw that?? But hey, at least you’ve got a vision, and are on a path with a direction.

      I’m cheering for you big time my friend!!


  29. Marcus,

    I hadn’t thought about this before but will seriously consider how to change the way my site feels and move into a clear direction. Thanks, I’ve got to do some serious thinking now.

    • Awesome Chris, so glad to help, and thrilled for your direction.

      Good luck my friend and thanks so much for dropping by!


  30. G’Day Marcus….and all the rest of youse,

    I just have to say this. I’m talking about marketing. I have a sneaking suspicion that this topic has been engulfed by all the chat about personal branding, personal focus and personal motivation and all the personal rest of it.

    Folks, marketing is not about me or you or us. Marketing is about the customer. May I quote that curmudgeon from Down Under: “Marketing isn’t everything; but everything is marketing.” It’s a discipline.

    As Merryl Streep kept saying in “The Devil Wears Prada.”,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,”That’s all.”

    Y’know, It’s surprising how tolerant people are of Grumpy old men.


  31. I never thought about my “brand” from a visual point of view. This has definitely given me a bit to think about and I’m off to visualize my brand and read a few more articles.

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