5 Brilliant But Simple Ways To Build An Authentic and Relevant Brand


The world of business has forever changed amidst the numerous platforms and channels that have invaded our personal space with the intent on selling us something. Most companies don’t understand the etiquette or the unspoken rules that govern these prolific social watering holes that we call Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… and it’s only a matter of time before they fall victim to a crime that they committed willingly.

A crime usually means someone has broken a rule of some sort- but here the crime is from not taking action, or simply believing you can keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. – INSANITY.

This past weekend I watched a movie with my wife called “Chef,” starring Jon Favreau, with a host of cameo appearances from Robert Downey Jr, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson and many others. The movie captures a super star chef’s journey of success, failure and passion.  This was a small low budget movie with a big message of – Integrity!

This movie can serve as a blueprint for how businesses (small and large) can build great brands with integrity, passion and creativity. Instead of settling for insanity, companies need and must focus every ounce of their existence in relationship building and that involves extreme transparency.

There were 5 brilliant but simple ideas from this movie that will help any business communicate authenticity in a relevant and crystal clear way.

Brand Compass

Like the late great Steve Jobs once said, “What you say no to is just as important as what you say yes to.”  What he was really saying is, don’t compromise yourself or brand on things that don’t add value to it and aren’t aligned with your values. Conviction is simple to talk, but often times harder to walk. Every business goes through a variety of decisions it has to make to increase its ability to survive and hopefully succeed.

Many times the decisions that don’t serve the company well end up diluting its true value and sometimes killing it altogether. Businesses are like people – feed it the right stuff and it will perform – feed it the wrong stuff and its health suffers.

Brand Obsession

Often an over-used word, passion is what people can see and feel. Yes, it’s great to be passionate about what you do, but it is equally important that your marketplace sees your passion. Love is rarely used in business, but it’s the fuel for a business or businessperson. People and companies who leave us spellbound are usually obsessed about something – a cause so to speak.

Why? It’s a state of mind most of us don’t understand because we don’t have one of our own, and we become mesmerized by those who are so single-minded and purposeful. Find your obsession and it will ignite you and your customers.

Note: To learn more about this watch How The World’s Best Have Obsessed Their Way To Success

Brand Service

Underrated and under utilized by most companies – serving is giving unconditionally. Serving is not a marketing concept but rather an authentic expression of your intent and purpose. Making a contribution to your marketplace shows that your mission is not solely on profit, but it reinforces your company as a participating member of the community.

Starbucks is a great example of a company who serves its community, environment and coffee bean growers. Find the community(s) you would like to serve and get involved.

Brand Micro Stories

Now brand experiences can be shared real time. Pictures and videos of what happens within your company can serve as a portal for customers to get a closer peek at the people behind the company. This helps communicate your brand purpose, essence… in a more dynamic and engaging way. Think of each visual piece of your brand as a puzzle that keeps getting bigger, but continually adds up to create a clearer picture of what you’re about.

Brand Socialite

People care and see value in knowing the people behind the company. The best way to engage with your targeted market is to move to the conversations that are relevant to your brand, and become a part of the conversations. But it doesn’t stop there; you can’t just be involved in the conversations- you have to add value to them.

It’s much like a socialite that attends the right events, parties and gathering relevant to his/her business – he/she eventually becomes a valuable resource to that specific cause. Quit throwing darts at a dartboard blind folded and start getting closer to the people and conversations surrounding your business.

Allow people to follow you on your journey, so they can discover what you care about and why.


Gary Oneil


How To Put The Hustle In Branding


When most people look at their brand or company, they think of several independent parts moving inside of it. Building a brand that truly matters, however, involves a different perspective in which all parts of the brand are moving and working together as one strategic unit.

Great brands build a cohesive structure of interdependent parts that stimulate a singular purpose and message to its audience.

Ultimately, creating consistency involves looking at your brand through the lens of the various touch-points of the consumer. This includes online as well as offline.

Brand Archaeology

So, this brings me to the “A-Hah!” moment that MJ (my business partner) and I came to recently. We kept asking ourselves,…

“How can we better communicate our brand identity in the most authentic way?” 

A question like this forces you to reflect and perform a type of brand archaeology to discover what’s at the core of what you stand for.

As we kept digging we found out more about our brand, but most importantly we found out more about ourselves. In doing so, we identified our most core competency – HUSTLE!

The Digital Footprint

Hustle isn’t a special trait necessarily, as a lot of us do this throughout our lives. In our case, hustle doesn’t just represent the idea of going for broke in a consistent manner, but includes a strategic and creative prowess that helps create value not only for ourselves but also for the people and companies we work with.

As you can see we have changed our name to Hustle Branding because this captures exactly what we stand for and how we want our brand to be remembered.

Yes, ‘remembered’ … past tense! When building your brand it is important to think of your brand legacy and what it should look like.

This was important for us because aligning our personal values with our brand purpose not only strengthens our message but also creates an authentic and transparent view of our company.

A quote by Elon Musk (inventor of Tesla Motors, Space X) puts it all into perspective with this quote;

“Brand is just a perception, and that perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead,

other times it will be behind. But a brand is simply a collective

impression people have about a product”. 

Ultimately, this quote is simply saying, what you decide to be today will determine how the marketplace will view you tomorrow.

Don’t confuse your audience. Be clear in what you stand for and what you stand against!

Brand Recall

The challenge in today’s digital marketplace is rooted in its sheer size. People don’t take time out to read everything they see. It’s like dating – what usually gets your attention first keeps it. So, your brands first impression matters!

When we decided to change our name to Hustle Branding, it wasn’t to have a cooler name (names don’t add value to peoples lives). It’s an ideology that we want to put out in the world – something to live by – our brand creed.

It’s our job to continue to live by this creed in every aspect of our business.

The Brand Shovel

The only way to realize your brand’s potential is to dig deep down and find your brand’s convictions and make sure they align with your personal values – keep looking in the mirror until you are comfortable with what you and your brand will put out into the world.

This has helped us immensely in understanding our brand focus, and we hope it does the same for you.

What We’ve Learned

Creating a brand that oozes values that the marketplace can identify with and respect is the goal for all of us. It becomes paramount that people can visualize and feel your authenticity as a brand. Many companies don’t start off understanding their true brand calling, and become frustrated when their products and/or services don’t get the attention necessary to build a real business.

Your key brand messaging has to come from a place of authenticity. A strong brand essence built on consistent values will drive brand affinity with your audience.

I encourage you to have a productive day and make sure you don’t forget to….

Hustle Hard!



The Death Of Quality Content As We Know It


I recently finished Trust me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday. One of the big takeaways he discussed is that in the media world today, information, more than anything, is all about the speed and not about the value. So much so, information doesn’t even need to be the truth, it just needs to be circulated as quickly as humanly possible. This was troubling to hear at first… but sadly, it happens to be true.

We are coming dangerously close to the point where we will overdose on information and the quantity will overpower the quality to the point that no one will know how to separate the good from the bad. The more information that is created, the more is diluted and the more the quality content gets hidden.

For example, a few years ago Amazon opened up the doors to self-publishing. While this was great in many ways as it allowed unpublished authors to publish their own works, it has also increased the amount of books by such a tremendous multiple that it is now nearly impossible to differentiate the good content… from the fluff.

So how this this information addiction going to affect us in the future?

I think this addiction to quantity over quality is going to make a mess of our content. I also believe we need to get a handle on some other things that are contributing to the problem… like new innovations and new platforms.

New Innovations And New Platforms

I believe we are chasing new platforms as opposed to investing in a few that we can get really good at. The speed in which people jump to new platforms and new mediums to promote content is mind-boggling. Ditch Digg for Reddit. Ditch Reddit for Stumble Upon. Ditch Facebook for Twitter. Ditch Twitter for Google Plus.

For lack of a better example, it is like the new drug syndrome. Before one antibiotic gets a chance to prove itself, there is a new and improved drug that everyone jumps ship and starts taking. The same thing for new fad diets, new vitamins, new ways to make money, you name it people will dump one thing for the next quicker than the speed of light. One article in Tech Crunch will have you dropping what you’ve been working on for the last two years and playing with the newest and shiniest object people are talking about.

Note: For all the articles on this blog on branding and brand strategy, click how to brand a company.

The Good & The Bad Of Innovation & Disruption

Don’t get me wrong. Innovation and disruptive technology is great and it is vital to keeping companies on their toes and preventing them from being complacent. Innovation can, on the other hand, be detrimental, as people who start working on one platform and then switch to another, often times lose all the momentum they have gained from using the platform they have spent so much time learning and getting good at.

Jack Of All Trades… Master Of None

Back to social media for a moment…First there was Facebook, then Twitter, then Google Plus. When most people added Twitter to the mix their Facebook time went down. When they added Google Plus, they diluted their time even more. Personally, I don’t have the time to operate on all three platforms, nor do I want to. I generally stay on Twitter to promote content and I try to perfect myself as much as possible in one area…

Naturally, people came up with the answer to everyone’s problems… AUTOMATE!


When people stopped having the time to sit around all day and post their content manually, naturally a solution was created. Enter Tweetdeck, Buffer, Hootesuite and a number of other tools, which enabled people to put out their content at alarming speed and what’s more, bounce the same information across all the platforms at one time.

At the end of the day, there is a lot more coverage, but the fact is it’s automated… it’s all quantitative, and has nothing to do with enhancing quality. If we were focused on quality we would actually handpick what was right for each platform.

If you read N2ITIV, you know I very rarely talk about social media and I am not really doing so here either. I am simply using social media platforms as an example of how quantity is starting to kill the quality of content. It is how media works in general.

As Ryan Holiday states repeatedly in Trust Me I’m Lying, quality and accuracy are not important anymore, just the speed in which the information hits the media. Personally, I think this is a tragedy as too many people believe what they hear. For this reason, too many people are drinking really bad Kool-Aide… and they don’t even know it!

Note: To view articles for entrepreneurs starting a business, click help for entrepreneurs 

Pick Your Niche

I strongly suggest we slow things down a bit and focus on the quality of our content.

People need to find their own niche and stick with what they are good at. Some people can rock a great Vine. Some are Kings and Queens of Instagram. Guy Kawasaki is rocking G+. Gary Vaynerchuck is killing it on video. Mari Smith and Amy Porterfield are great on Facebook. Lewis Howes on Linked In. Neil Patel kills it in the technical articles he writes on his blog.

Pick what you are good at, find your lane and stay in it and gain the traction you deserve!

Work Hard, Work Smart & Stay Humble!



3 Fearless Ways To Stop Double-Crossing Your Core Purpose


I consider myself a life long student of those who came before me, both personally and professionally. Success is often hard to teach, quite simply because circumstances and timing are hard to replicate – but they do, however, give us a chance to take away core values and principles, two things that rarely change in the formula for success.

Many entrepreneurs make decisions based on a mix of gut and rationale. Entrepreneurs must keep their creative intent and core purpose intact at all times, even when presented with opportunities that may sound unattainable or even too good to be true. Keeping your core purpose will enable you to not only enjoy the ride from start to finish, but also align what you do with how you do it!

 Chase Jarvis- Marc Ecko

I recently watched a video that Chase Jarvis did with famous clothing designer and media mogul, Marc Ecko, who has created a billion dollar empire. As I listened to the video, one part of the interview jumped out at me, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. He discussed how he made some big mistakes when his brand reached the gates of success. Because he was riding a tidal wave of success, he started to lose focus on what was important to him, and he started to make decisions that nearly crippled his company.

He explained that he ‘double crossed’ his creative intent – which was why he started the business in the 1st place. Basically, he got away from the values and energy that made the company successful in the beginning. Once he got back to that place, his passion and ultimately his success was back in play.

Here are the 3 Be’s that will ensure you don’t double-cross your own creative intentions, and help you lead a life and business worth getting up for.

 1- Be The Gate Keeper

The only person that can insure your dreams and goals are met is YOU. Your vision is very specific and vivid as to how you see it become reality. Obviously I’m not saying you will not have to make adjustments and some compromises, but the essence must stay intact.

As entrepreneurs we’re always faced with decisions and opportunities that may ‘double cross’ our true intent, but we must remember that we are the gatekeepers and we determine what goes out and what comes in. If we abandon the gates, then we become what everyone else wants us to be – not what we want to be.

 2- Be More Selfish

I know the word ‘selfish’ has a bad meaning to it, but it shouldn’t. As the saying goes, you simply can’t please everyone, and if you do, you wont mean anything to anybody

So How do you differentiate yourself, if you do? … and If you’re not doing it for yourself, then whom are you doing it for?

It’s your dream and you will be living it everyday, so don’t get caught up trying to please everyone and finding out one day that you are living other peoples dreams. As Simon Sinek says, ‘Connect with people that believe what you believe,’ and you will be happier, and those that you work with will be to.

3- Be Intellectually Honest

Deciding to be more ‘selfish’ doesn’t mean to stop being smart – especially regarding how you assess yourself. It’s easy to evaluate others but ourselves – extremely difficult. As hard as you may try, you can’t lie to yourself and believe it.  True success comes when you are able to pursue the truth and not let your personal beliefs interfere. We can all be accused of being so head strong that we would rather be right than entertain something that conflicts with our beliefs. There’s no learning from that rigid and ‘Mr. I know I’m right” position, and even worse, there’s no growth from it either.

There’s nothing wrong with being stubborn, but be open and smart enough to hear and observe things that can make you better. Being the gatekeeper allows us to filter the noise (the bad stuff) from the things that add value and strengthen (the good stuff) us.

Don’t be afraid or fearful of being more selfish – it can be good as long as it’s not toxic, so don’t get carried away. Use it to stay focused and on the path.

Work Hard, Work Smart & Stay Hungry



How Authentic Leadership Can Build a World-Class Business


Learning what it takes to be a great leader is easier said than done. I believe that motivating your team and developing a mutual rewarding and beneficial culture within your organization is one of the key traits of great leadership.

During my career, I have been fortunate enough to have worked for not only myself but for very large corporations as well. In 2006 I grabbed the opportunity to run a division of JC Penney and, to take a line out of Floyd Mayweather, with hard work and dedication, I ended up running 5 divisions and increased overall revenue in excess of 500 Million Dollars per year.

I have created this video below to give you my personal philosophy of leadership and what I think are the key components to being a great leader.

After you watch this video and if you enjoyed it, I suggest you check out the post 5 Must-Have Ingredients To Be A Transformational Leader as well as The Key Ingredient Of Effective Leaders


Have a great day!



The 3 Key Components To Designing A Brand Identity


Today I am focusing on the 3 Components of Designing A Brand Identity, which is an extended video training module I have created to further our discussion on building brand equity. In the module, you will notice I have used many brand strategy examples that you should be very familiar with in hopes to give you a better understanding of what these companies are doing that set them apart from the competition. Enjoy!

How To Create A Brand Story That Sticks


With more and more entrepreneurs entering the marketplace, how do we stand out and create a social and psychological imprint of our brand in the minds of customers? In this episode of Bear Essentials, I talk about a few essentials that will start the ground-work on developing a ‘Sticky’ story for your brand.