Katie O’Grady

Two of my favorite clients so far in 2019 have been women transitioning from a well-known personal brand to a new venture.

Katie O’Grady, a beloved force in the acting community, wanted to capture her new passion and capability for directing, and had a huge opportunity with directing Nike shorts that required a new brand fast. Savannah Jones had been behind a microphone for 20+ years as a country music personality and wanted to take that valuable knowledge to craft a new career of helping businesses connect to their intended audiences.

The process of creating your brand can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if it’s the first time you’re launching a business, or if you’re changing what you’ve always done. Often, clients don’t totally understand what the “brand” or “branding” is. Let’s break it down really, really simply in the interest of you hangin’ in for this whole article

Your brand is the collection of perceptions in the minds of the customers. It’s the promise your company makes to its customers—its claim of distinction. Your brand reflects your professional reputation — what you’re known for (or would like to be known for). Brand touch-points, all the ways people come in contact with your brand, are the ways in which that promise is communicated: tagline, logo, web site, marketing materials, staff & service

A strong brand will make a claim about your organization that is both important to customers while setting it apart from the competition. It will answer the customers’ question: “why come here instead of elsewhere that offers this product or service?” A strong brand will build a relationship with its customers using their experiences with the brand, to build brand loyalty.

I’ve demonstrated here simply, the key foundational pieces to launch your brand. I can’t stress enough to know what you’re personally capable of handling, and when to hire your skilled team members. My business model is usually directed at small business with smaller budgets, so I always write with the vision that you’re not using an agency, but we can get you to that agency quality.

1. Brand Positioning

  • What’s your unique story? What pieces will connect with your audience?
  • Your differentiators: what makes you special, why should we care? How is your brand perceived in the context of competitive alternatives?
  • Your Product & Services: what exactly do you do? Do you know how to say it?
  • Your voice, values, and personality are all part of how you’re positioned to your target audience

2. Brand Identity

This is what we can see, it’s the design of a brand. It’s your desired perception in terms of visual language. This is your logo, colors, typography. It’s also how the logo is shown on applications. You want to communicate your vision clearly to a designer with your brand positioning and examples of logos, colors and fonts you love. You definitely want an experienced designer (not your friend’s nephew who’s designing as a side hustle) and it’s worth it to invest the $$. That said, I am having huge success finding really great graphic designers on Upwork freelance site, at reasonable prices.

3. Photography

Savannah Jones Marketing

Good photography makes it all come alive. If you’re launching yourself as a brand—hire the best. You can use stock photography for some of the site pictures, but if you’re part of the brand or have a unique product that needs personal images, invest in this invaluable asset. Images on this page are the genius work of Jennifer Alyse.

4. Content Writing

Now you need to pull this all together—all that good brand positioning and messaging and make it pop on your platforms: website, social media, newsletters, collateral. Many fancy themselves good writers. It must flow, draw you in, while also being strategically written. There are some good courses out there if you have the money and time. Marie Forleo’s The Copy Cure specifically focuses on content for your marketing platforms, and she has an easy breezy “your best girlfriend” style that is wildly successful.

5. Website Build

Seems anyone can build a website these days, and you can, but will it look DIY (and I don’t mean that in a good way)? If you can handle the tech piece and you have a really good design aesthetic, go for it. But there are a ton of experts who are building sites for you in the $1500-2000 range and they look pretty damn good. Squarespace is a favorite of mine because they have lots of design options. I don’t find Squarespace easy or intuitive, like a WordPress or Weebly site, so be warned. There are 100s of video tutorials if you have the luxury of time.

Savannah Jones Marketing

This has been a skim of some of the key elements to build your brand. I personally offer the positioning, content and website build piece in my business and pull in experts for graphic design and photography.

Consider this a Phase I, your foundation. And then think of Phase 2 as how you’re going to get your brand out there. Your launch, your ongoing marketing, your content marketing plan, your biz dev, your advertising, your partnerships—this is just a start. Are you ready to jump in?

As a marketing contractor, I have so many diverse clients and ways to interact with them. Some are remote and some are right in my city of Portland.  The remote client is challenging for obvious reasons but great technology allows an almost seamless communication flow with project management platforms like Basecamp, screen-shares with JoinMe and video-conferencing in Zoom Rooms (some of my favorites!).

My client, Tamara Childs Collection, is a fine artist creating gorgeous high-end home accents and operates in Seattle. She’s been in business for 25 years dealing with only wholesale accounts up until 2 years ago. A website was built to attract direct sales and I was contracted for SEO & SEM copy-writing.  This led to my web traffic-driving questions:

This team was thrilled to have someone take it over. Artists need to be artists – and this artist was BUSY.

Digging into their content marketing, I had a ton of stock photos to start with, but that can only take you so far. Content needs to be FRESH. They were too busy to be sending me new photos for social media and Blog posts. I was stuck.

Here are the steps I took so I could really light up their social media, newsletter marketing & Blog posts:

  • I created a brand positioning brief which detailed the client’s personality & voice, and received their approval.
  • I asked the client to ship me product—I entertain a lot and knew I could put those cocktail glasses and platters to work! They had a stock of minimally flawed goods sitting in inventory whose flaws could easily be hidden in any photo.
  • The iPhone 8 Plus has a Portrait feature which gives depth-of-field (fuzzy background!) professional photos—with the right lighting, these look amazing.
  • I make quarterly visits to the studio and shoot a ton of photos of the artist at work and any behind-the-scenes fun shots (with my new iPhone 8 Portrait feature!) These carry me for a couple months.
  • When visiting the client, we forecast the next 3 months of themes (Mothers’ Day, Wedding) and she packs me a product set to take back with me.
  • I stage and shoot her vision in my home—I love it!
  • We all have friends who are great Instagrammers – when they come to my house, I ask them to take shots of the product—they own it!

See how this all came together for Tamara’s latest blog post for her very busy wedding season.

Thanks to my awesome friends for these creative photos  – I feed them wine!

Please get in touch if you have a challenging content situation— I’d love to brainstorm a solution with you!  Check out my recent post which provides plenty of content ideas.

What if your meeting whiteboard looked like this? You’d probably be a little more engaged in the process and might even refer back to it for ideas.

It’s called Live Graphic Recording and Katie Lei Creative is one of the few specialists doing it.  As your team brainstorms, she creates a wonderful story with her sketching mastery.

This made my first branding session extra exciting with the TRIbella wine aerator brand!  Katie is also part of the  father/daughter team with her Dad Skip who created this best-in-show aerator. How does one family ooze so much creativity and innovation?  Here’s the time lapse video of the live graphic recording:

They had a great foundation for who they are, but needed to clarify their position and messaging to remain consistent on all of their platforms, and connect to their target audience.

Topics that led the Live Graphic Recording brainstorm:

What We Believe In
Our Promise
What Makes Us Special?
Positioning Statements
The 30-Second Pitch
Brand Personality & Tone of Voice
Customer Benefit
Brand Perception
Brand Stories

How’s YOUR current Branding & messaging?

Get in touch to discuss your branding needs!


One of the key marketing platforms I teach my clients is Newsletter Marketing. I’m always surprised at how many don’t have this prioritized, and instead are spinning on social media, pay-per-click ads and SEO. Should I be doing PR?  All important of course. But not at the expense of sending out a monthly newsletter. Some clients have really good lists just sitting there, ignored. Mind-blowing to me. This is marketing GOLD!

Here’s why Newsletter Marketing should move to the top of the stack in your marketing efforts:

  • If someone has given you their email address, they have given you permission to market to them. Look at this as a date. A privilege. Depending on how interesting you are, they’re listening.
  • In the world of BUSY and over-saturated social media, your message in their Inbox is a far more intensive connection.
  • You OWN this platform. It’s yours. Social media platforms will continue to change their rules (again) and decide how YOU market to YOUR customers. Who knows what’s in their future plans and why should you be held hostage? Build equity in your list, you will always have it and use it.
  • The recent Facebook change is the perfect example of this – Zuckerbeg has decided to improve the user experience by showing less Business posts and more of your personal posts (great for my personal mindless surfing, bad for my clients’ ad campaigns!).
  • The cost of acquisition is much lower than paid ads! You pay a monthly fee (sometimes this is free if your list is small) on Mailchimp or whatever, but each customer clicking and browsing is covered in this cost.
  • Drives traffic to your website. If you design your newsletter and content marketing (Blog) in such a way that your recipients want to hear more, you can get them in the door, then all over your website.

Content Marketing Ideas For Your Newsletter
This is very intimidating for many – even my most creative clients ask “What on earth can I talk about besides selling my product?” There are so many related themes that tie into your brand, that can be spun into an interesting article. Or are just plain fun & entertaining!

I offer strategies to create Blog posts on your site to drive traffic. Then tease these in your newsletter. Promote in social media.  I call this my Content Marketing Triangle. Once you get this formula down, it’s turnkey.
Here’s a sample content idea list:

  1. Product Push: of course. Devote one block to your priority, with a call-to-action.
  2. News: Easy content source. Add your own opinion, interpretation and thoughts on how it impacts your industry or niche.
  3. Audience Needs: Make a simple list of the type of information they need and write about it.
  4. Solve Problems. What are the top problems or pain points your audience has? Provide the answers.
  5. Tips and How To Lists: People love to read content in easily readable and sharable bits and bytes.
  6. Share your journey of building your business. Share both the good and bad.
  7. Expert interviews or Fun Q&As with industry leaders.  Influencers your audience would like to hear from.
  8. Crowd source answers to questions.People love to give & hear the perspective of others.
  9. Innovations in your industry. What’s new, cool, has your attention.

Here are 3 recent newsletters I helped create for Clients, including their special features which live as Blog posts on the site.

Françoise Weeks Floral Designer: we created 2 features for each month – Trend Spotting & Event Recap
Hip Holster: we created 3 features for each month – Guest Q&A, Event Recap, Event Tips
TRIbella Wine Aerator: we created 3 features for each month – Guest Q&A, Innovation Corner, Pour of the Month

Get in touch if you want to ramp up your Newsletter Marketing and you need a creative partner to get you started!




This month, I thought about a theme that is consistent in my clients : An entrepreneurial spirit that comes from seeing a direct need – and the passion that brings the answer to market.

G&C collageI’m honored to highlight this visionary client!

Elizabeth Johnston loves the local food scene in Portland.  She loves the makers that are hand-crafting these products so you can enjoy pure deliciousness right in your home.

She created  the home delivery service Grown & Crated featuring the best of Portland-made foods & goods.

We did a full branding identity and marketing plan for Elizabeth & Grown & Crated.  Her biggest challenges were explaining why she was different than other specialty food sites, and why consumers should care.

Why is Grown & Crated unique from other local food service sites and why should we care?

The Experience
People are passionate about the experience of shopping for good food. The sight, the smell, the touch.  There is something so rewarding and decadent about partaking in farmers’ markets and specialty stores. We’re supporting local, we’re indulging in small batch/limited quantity products and we’re treating ourselves to food items that are delicious , fresh and healthy. But the luxury of time is needed to gather this diverse offering of food, requiring traveling to various stores throughout the Portland metro. Grown & Crated delivers your selections to your door, in a beautiful wrapped box. There’s an excitement about receiving this present to ourselves. It doesn’t replace the experience of shopping at local locations, but it is a satisfying and time-saving Plan B.

Sure, there are other specialty food sites, but your options often include themed baskets. Grown & Crated offers an a la carte shopping site where you pick & choose the items you want. Reach $50 and your delivery is free.

The Connector
Founder Elizabeth is passionate about local food and their makers. She is developing close personal relationships with this community and she is committed to telling their stories and helping them thrive.  Core to her success is is adding to the success of the makers and this local food movement. She will be totally in tune with the latest & best products and Grown & Crated will always be a resource for early news & intel for those who want to be -in-the-know, and are early adopters of local food products.

What’s your pitch ….in 30 seconds?  GO!

  • Grown & Crated is an online store of Portland-made foods & goods, delivered to your door.
  • It saves you the time of running around to several specialty stores to find your favorite local items.
  • It offers flexibility unlike other specialty sites because all items are a la carte – you choose!
  • Grown & Crated supports the amazing artisan maker scene we have here in Portland  and we’re passionate and committed to telling each one’s story and helping them thrive!
  • Stay connected with us because we are always early on the latest food trends & products.

From these exercises, we were able to create consistent social media messaging, brainstorm the best taglines and give Elizabeth the confidence and consistency to speak about her vision and brand.

If you’d like to hear more about our process and plan, get in touch and I’d be happy to share!


LHK Marketing Infographic

Who isn’t using Infographics in their marketing these days? Why? Because they work! People are more apt to be drawn to images and it’s messages, rather than reading a bunch of text.  LHK Marketing is now in the game of creating Infographics and can help you whip up a crafty one for your brand.

Here’s ours:


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TED talk favorite

Recently inspired by attending TEDx Portland – what an amazing concept this series is: gather smart people with the intention of using their intelligence and public speaking prowess to change the world!

This TedxVancouver video is a favorite – the 3D Life Rule – Don’t Be a Dick!


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Spend More Time On What You Like

This Dove campaign is beautiful and touching and drives a great message for women to embrace their natural beauty.  There is a lesson learned voiced by one of the subjects that rings true for most anything “Spend more time appreciating the things you do like.”

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When to Send Emails

Thought this Infographic from Social Media Today was useful – like anything, be strategic about when you blast your base. Nothing is scientific, but just realizing overall habits will at least have you stay away from low traffic times. Not mentioned on  this, but I really notice a huge drop-off in social media […]

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Do The Work!

As a business owner, year-end is a time to regroup. I personally love all the marketing lists that come out to help you refresh on where the sharpening needs to happen. It’s so overwhelming to see what you are NOT doing! This I know: it takes WORK, and time and organization. Small businesses […]

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