Brand Ambassador Sheila Coates Talks to Blog Wallet
Sheila Coates, the creator of BYOB, brings two decades of entertainment experience with expertise in branding, marketing, artist development, lifestyle & business strategies and creating great images.
Her successful career includes memorable red-carpet appearances and marketing campaigns for “A” list celebrities such as: Diddy, Babyface, Mary J. Blige, Monica, Angie Stone, Faith Evans, Lenny Kravitz, Deborah Cox, Barry White and numerous others. Sheila’s held executive positions with: Sony/BMG, EMI/Capitol, Arista, Virgin, MCA, Perspective and Hidden Beach Records leading multi-million dollar marketing budgets.
Her creativity, visual presentation, imaging and branding talents have created numerous performances for: The Oprah Show, The Grammy’s, American Music Awards, The Today Show and others.
Sheila has the passion; confidence and expertise to help people “Be Their Own Brand” by helping them define their unique “visual” DNA! She recently appeared on the national Steve Harvey Morning Show to talk about branding.
KEVIN ROSS: Greetings Sheila, thanks for talking to the Blog Wallet audience today. From my many years in business, it’s apparent that some people really don’t understand the importance of branding. Can you explain what branding is and why it’s so important?
Sheila COATES: Branding is influencing and persuading as opposed to marketing. You have to get people to see the difference. When you are talking about branding it’s about leaving an impression not so much making an impression but getting people to believe what you want them to see.
KR: How important is branding to a new business? Should you be focused more on money or branding when starting out?
SC: Well you definitely want to make money but I think in order to make your income more sustainable, you have to create a (click next above or below to read more) —————————– brand. In other words, why would I come to your company as opposed to someone else’s. Why am I buying from you? We can get anything we want from several locations right?
KR: So then branding is what brings the customers back…
SC: Exactly… and it tells the client what they can expect. More importantly, if I buy Tide, I expect to get the dirt out. If I go to to BMW, I’m expecting to get the ultimate driving machine. Even if you have similarities you have to tell me what makes you a little more unique.
KR: What are some of the most common mistakes you see with start-up businesses?
SC: I’m in the process of teaching a couple of small business courses and I was talking about one of the ways I was able to get Macy’s in my first year of business. They said, “Your brand looks like it can represent the Macy’s brand.” What many small businesses fail to realize is that a major business is not going to give you a shot to diminish their brand that they have been working on for years. So you have to make sure you represent yourself properly. There is a perception. You may be the only one in that business…but a brand must have the perception that it can handle the business at hand. Macy’s told me they got the same perception from my website, my business card and my stationary. You can’t give people your business card and tell them, ‘don’t use that email address” or ‘don’t go to my website right now.’ There has to be consistency and professionalism. Logos, colors etc. When you get a card from Macy’s you will see there is a consistency. You will see that logo everywhere. A lot of times with small businesses we have too many excuses for not creating consistency which is essential to branding.
KR: Considering more people DON’T succeed in small business would you say that’s what set them apart from those who do? It would appear the perception is reality in the case where someone’s brand is not defined neither is their business?
SC: It’s best to define your brand by looking at what makes YOU unique. There is a reason why some people listen to Steve Harvey over Tom Joyner. They both offer something different. That’s not saying one is better than the other it’s not about competing but businesses have to define what makes them unique and what makes people come to them. There are only two to three things that you need to define that make you different.
KR: So are you saying you should define your uniqueness and ignore your competitors?
SC: No, not at all but when you look at Beyonce, her brand influences. It’s very strategic. Her brand is ‘hot, sexy, pretty.’ Whenever you see her she’s consistent always hot, sexy and pretty whether she’s on stage at a Basketball game or in Cuba. You never see her dowdy unless it’s an acting gig. She understands that’s part of a brand. Then you look at Jennifer Lopez who is also hot and sexy but she is also funky. J Lo owns her lane and Beyonce owns hers, you never see them compete. If you want hot, sexy and pretty you go to Beyonce and if you want hot, sexy and funky you go to J Lo. You can’t let people tell you who you are, you have to define it for your business. The first step is defining. The second step is to be what you define.
KR: What about expanding the brand?
SC: When you look at Apple, Steve Jobs’ thinking was “Think Different” well in order to think different you have to BE different which is why he created the iPod, iPhone, iPad. Had he stuck with the iPod it would have become boring. When I started I took classes and they always said “your business will expand.” I fought that, I didn’t want to do that but now after four years of being in business, I realize it’s true. Create things that go with the brand to help you grow.
KR: I understand that it’s important to state then to be your brand but after 28 years in the business and 18 years doing Radio Facts I have to maintain a level of creativity and determination and that means surrounding myself with positive, innovative and creative people. I think there comes a time when we must grow and let the younger generation enjoy the industry too. I send people that work for me to many events and have them cover it. I was recently told by an industry vet that I need to go to more industry events but I don’t enjoy them in LA. It’s always the same people talking about the same thing. Should you go to all events that have to do with your brand?
SC: You have to pick and choose the events that you go to, to represent your brand. I would suggest asking yourself WHY you need to go or WHY you are going and that should help you make a decision. I think it’s important to show up every now and then.
KR: A couple of years ago, I went to a private event for another one of my brands. I took a friend with me who has not worked in a few years. She got drunk at the event. I was very embarrassed.
SC: Everything that you do to represent your brand is a reflection on you. You have to be strategic. J-Lo will never go down as one of the greatest singers but she has 15 brands because she’s consistent and authentic. Once I get you to see that I can get you to do what I want you to do.
KR: If you have a slip up can you recover?
KR: So what do you think about Paula Dean?
SC: When you hurt yourself people are more forgiving but when you hurt other people it’s hard to recover. Paula will be able to rebuild to an extent but not to where she was before. Look at Michael Jordan. Most football players and basketball players are broke 5 years after they quit. Jordan was always professional, hard-working and first class. That’s the way he is now too. He had handled everything negative the same way, his divorce, his father’s death, gambling etc. His brand is truly what he is. You won’t always be perfect but a MAJORITY of the time there is a consistency.
KR: I am burnt out on FaceBook, I don’t get a lot out of it. How important is it for people who are trying to brand to be on social networks.
SC: I don’t use FaceBook because my interactions with clients are personal and I don’t want to be on there talking about what I talk about with my clients. I do like Linked in.
KR: Thanks so much Sheila, I’m sure our Blog Wallet readers will get so much information from this interview.
SC: Thanks Kevin, Have a great week.