Episode 192

How To: Build Your Brand with Reagan Bradley and Rachel Kelly

Kayla Isabelle

Reagan Bradley, Rachel Kelly

Episode Overview

When entrepreneurs hear Make Lemonade, they likely think of Rachel Kelly – but what is the secret to achieving this and how do you do it?

Reagan Bradley, is a personal brand strategist, or in her words ‘a part time investigator, and part time storyteller’, guiding entrepreneurs to find their authenticity, and curate the right story so they can clearly express who they are, what they do, and how they do it.  

Rachel’s Make Lemonade began as a vibrant co-working space in Toronto, and today it is a boutique floral studio that blossomed out of her desire for change and a pivot she knew she needed to make. In this episode, Reagan draws on Rachel’s experience to illustrate what a brand is, and what is is not, and the tactics that will help you build a strong brand for both you and your business.


Rachel Kelly is a motorcycle riding, community builder creating floral art in the heart of Toronto through Make Lemonade.

Reagan Bradley is part investigator, part storyteller who helps service-based businesses become known through strong personal brands. 

To learn more from Reagan, check out her website

Need flowers? Connect with Rachel at Make Lemonade

Read Careergasm by Sarah Vermunt

Learn from Meg Lewis of Full Time You

Read Storyategy by Matt Davies

Episode 192

Episode Transcript

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  00:43
Welcome to the startup women podcast a show where we connect Canada’s powerful cohort of women-identifying founders to real stories and case studies of women building businesses supported by true tactical advice from thought leaders and industry experts. I’m your host, Kayla Isabelle, CEO of Startup Canada. Each month I’ll be sharing the mic with one founder and one expert. Together we will dive into real stories and scenarios and uncover actionable advice for women entrepreneurs across Canada from funding and hiring to sales and scaling strategies. On this show, we covered the most important topics so you can deconstruct the challenges of starting and running a business with the knowledge that goes beyond the surface level. Let’s get started. When entrepreneurs hear make lemonade, they likely think of Rachel Kelly. But what is the secret to achieving this and how do you do it Regan Bradley is a personal brand strategist or put in her own words, part investigator and part storyteller. Reagan guides entrepreneurs to find their authenticity and curate the right story. So they can clearly express who they are, what they do, and how they do it.

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  01:58
So it is not just your logo, not just your colors. It’s the entirety of who you are. And the signals that you put out enable customers to trust you and then ultimately buy from you.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  02:12
Rachel’s Make Lemonade began as a vibrant co-working space in Toronto, and today, it is a boutique floral studio that blossomed from a pivot that she knew she needed to make. In this episode, Reagan draws on Rachel’s experience to illustrate what a brand is and what it is not. And the tactics that will help you build a strong brand for both you and your business.

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  02:35
Everybody knows me as Rachel Kelly makes lemonade, Rachel Kelly. So like I’m just going to train everybody to know that okay, yeah, I once owned a co-working space. Now. Now I’m a florist.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  02:51
Rachel Kelly is a motorcycle-riding community builder creating floral art in the heart of Toronto. Like many entrepreneurs, Rachel’s career is not linear. And make lemonade has evolved and changed Rachel began to make lemonade as a co-working space and amid the pandemic she chased bigger dreams put her degree in Fine Arts to use and relaunched make lemonade to be the floral studio it is now we’re also joined by our topic expert Regan Bradley Regan is a brand strategist who helps service-based businesses become known part investigator part storyteller. Reagan works with leaders to evolve a company’s brand to match how they want to be perceived by their clients helping her brand transformations create memorable first impressions for clients who first encounter their brands online. And these days, that is a lot. If you want your online presence to express your client experience, Reagan can help humanize your brand. Together Today we will explore what personal branding is, why it matters, and how entrepreneurs can make sure that what they intend to be known for is what is truly felt and recognized by their customers and clients. Welcome to the show, Rachel and Regan.

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  04:03
Excited to be here. Thanks so much for an awesome intro.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  04:07
So let’s just dive right in. Because this is going to be a very colorful episode, just like Rachel’s fabulous background of flowers that our audience doesn’t have the pleasure of seeing today. So, Rachel, I’m gonna kick it off to you first, you build make lemonade as a co-working community and this incredible space first. And today it now operates as a floral business. We’ve also had a lot of shout-outs of making lemonade on the startup women podcasts it’s super great to have you here today to walk us through this journey a little bit. Bring us through that evolution.

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  04:38
Okay, so you want me to just start from the beginning? Um, I guess the real pivotal point of when make lemonade came to be was I was freelancing for a couple of years. I kind of just called myself a Jill of all trades. I was like, I Google it, you pay me and we’ll have a great arrangement. Hear. And so one of my clients that I was working for actually offered me this full-time position. Long story short, things didn’t work out. And it was kind of like this record rips in my life up until that point. And I remember being bitter and upset about the situation. And I said to myself, Well, life is how to do lemons, let’s make lemonade out of the situation. And so I said to myself, I’ve always wanted to create my own business, why, like, why is now why isn’t now the best time to do it, let’s just go for it. And so what ended up happening is it kind of lit this fire underneath my butt to go after this thing. And I had had this idea of opening up a shared co-working space, because up until that point in my career, I was freelancing, working for myself, either from coffee shops or from home alone. And I was just really jealous of everybody who had these corporate jobs, who got to have these holiday parties as a solopreneur. Or as somebody who was freelancing on my own. I never had a holiday party. And I was like, I want to be a part of this. And I want that, but I still want to be able to work for myself. So long story short, after a very intense year of looking for a commercial space to lease in Toronto figuring out just all the legalities of opening up a shared workspace, and figuring out what the branding was gonna be like, there were just a lot of pieces to figure out. So it’s been a very intense year, I opened in September of 2017. Life was, I mean, great in quotations it was, it was like you get you to work so hard. And now you have to continue working hard. We can glaze over the first basically two and a half years, everything, you know, building building building, we get to January and February of 2020, I go, I’ve reached my vision, this is what I imagined the business was going to be like, and I felt like it could finally just like pat myself on the back. About a month later, the universe is like, well, you’ve had your fun, let’s, let’s add another lemon to the situation. So I pivoted like very quickly less than a week of closures announcing we switched to an online model. Thankfully, we had like an in-person program that was set to happen, within a couple of weeks. So we kind of just pivoted that, turn it into an online model called the get shit done club. We kind of fumbled our way through the first couple of months. And I still run that virtual co-working community to this day, may it’ll be three years that I’ve been running the co-working community, which leads me to my next act because I’ve announced now that the virtual co-working community is closing this May. Because what happened in between all of that is while I was running the online space, I was dealing with openings and closings of you know, what we were allowed to do, what Weren’t we allowed to do and what was happening is a few things. One, my basic morale was just kind of being tested the whole time. And I was also kind of sending mixed messaging to my community, I was saying, join us online, we’ve got this awesome community, hey, come inside, but don’t touch anybody and you know, keep the distance. It’s space like it’s space friendly. It was just so many messages. Because I mean, the very real reality is, is that I had a physical space, I had a five-year lease, you know, there were a lot of responsibilities I had to deal with and a lot of messages that were being sent. So I ended up closing the co-working space at the end of 2021. And thought, let’s just continue going forward with this online model of the community. That’ll be my way forward. And what ended up happening is, although it was a lot easier to manage, my schedule got smaller, and I felt like I was back to where I was beginning. I was alone working from home or sometimes at coffee shops too. And I thought I didn’t I didn’t This wasn’t part of the vision. And so on a whim, I decided to take a floral workshop just for fun. I loved it. I took another one loved it some more, did a little bit of research, and found out there’s something called the Toronto flower school that did a 20-hour certification. Fell in love and wrote in my newsletter that I wrote, right every single Wednesday to my community. I said, you know, this may just be like a midlife crisis sort of thing. Or you may just be seeing the evolution of the next thing, but you can hire me to be your florist. And yeah, we’re not even a year into the floral side of the business. But as I said, I’m closing the club This May of 2023. I will be officially a full-time florist. And that’s my story.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  10:07
Wow, just a couple of things to go into more detail. Well, Rachel, thank you for bringing us on that. That evolving journey. And also having this conversation at this stage of the evolution is so interesting. Like, I wonder, you know what reflections you’re going to have a year from now as well. Super, super cool. Reagan, I want to get your perspective as well, because you’ve taken all different types of left and right, and your brand has evolved so much. Tell us about the story behind your business and why what has driven you to help founders find their brand, tell those stories. How did you get started?

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  10:43
eah, absolutely. And I resonate with Rachel’s story there and how she said she had an idea and a vision. And she just figured it out and kept pivoting her way, like a pinball bouncing on both sides of the pinball machine until she kind of found her path. And then eventually, that ball might change, and you might go move it again. And that’s just entrepreneurship for you. And I think that’s what so many of us have in common. So I resonated with your story. My story began or how I found branding was, I was in university and I was working as a virtual assistant for a consultant, a pretty sweet gig in university, and blog posts and things. But I felt like nothing I was doing was getting any traction, his website was really terrible. And out of date, I could see it with my own eyes. But I had no idea like, what I what, or how to fix it. I was writing blog posts on his behalf about leadership and management, really, really trying hard not to plagiarize what I was reading online, because I knew nothing about those topics like I was 1718 at the time. So I went to him. And I said, look like, I know, you’ve given me this role. And you know, you probably don’t care about it this much. But I care about it a lot. And I have a feeling when I’m looking online, there’s something that’s missing that I can’t help you do. I just don’t know what it is. But what needs to be better, you need to look better, and we need to sound better. And I don’t know what I don’t know. And I think just kind of points there like, being okay with not knowing what you don’t know. And then finding help is like the way that you become an entrepreneur, right? It’s always asking people for help paying for help doing the course doing the training because that’s how you can like get the confidence to do that next thing. So back to the story. He was like, You know what, yeah, you’re right, this isn’t working. I’m throwing money down the drain. He didn’t say this, paying you, but really what’s going on here? So we hired some personal brand strategists to create a direction for his brand. And that’s really when I become exposed to that term, like a brand strategist, personal brand strategist. And like, Oh, like that is cool. So I started studying the individual. His name’s Bill Palin who created the brand and he was in his 30s. At the time, he was traveling around the world, living a life of working with incredible entrepreneurs. And I was like, I want what he has, like, I want that. I was young, I had no idea how it’s gonna get there. Once we finished working with him, my boss’s brand, did a complete 180 and started attracting clients. Everything we put online, look polished, it was everything was connected. And it helped him get known in the industry. And then I’m thinking 18-year-old solid, wow, okay. Okay. So you’re saying if you put yourself out there, and you look good doing it, you’re gonna make more money and get better opportunities. And like, I hear you, I hear you. So I instantly started putting it into practice. And I had been doing that since I started my career. So I’ve run events for entrepreneurs in Ottawa. And when I was doing that, I embraced the personal brand as an entrepreneur advocate. I created a community for pro-cannabis women. And when I was doing that I was a cannabis advocate and develop my brand like a cannabis influencer. So everything that I was involved in, in my career, I embraced it full heartedly in my brand. So if you go on Google and look me up, you’re gonna see it all over the place. But it all funneled into what I do now, which is brand strategy,

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  14:21
Unreal. And I love with both of your stories, this like attitude of like, we’re going to figure this out, we’re going to shift directions when we need to, we’re going to be vulnerable in those moments to know when you don’t have the answers or when you’re pursuing a passion that you might not have the quote like experience or the paper that justifies the experience, etc. Because so many entrepreneurs, I think, are waiting for that moment to have the perfect resume for entrepreneurship. And that doesn’t exist, right? It’s more of an attitude and an approach to solving problems. I love that common across both of your stories for anyone who’s listening to this podcast and is like what is a brand? Because I think this is such a big term. Is it your social media presence? Is it your web is it the actual vision joules? What is a brand Reagan? How do you define it? And what are some of the misconceptions people hold about what it is, what it’s not, and what it can do for a person or a company? You’ve sort of alluded to some of those examples with your first boss, but help us put some scaffolding around what the brand is.

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  15:18
Okay? Yeah, totally. Let’s start with the benefits. So I like to describe the benefits through a concept I coined called the brand accelerator. And it’s actually what I named my packages for clients because branding accelerates your relationship with potential customers. And when you accelerate that relationship, it speeds up the buying cycle. So if someone doesn’t know who you are, you’re completely and they interact with your brand and help you go from unknown to paying customers faster, right? And we’re thinking about the brand in a term, in a sense, where you have a service or product, or something to sell or market to the public, right? Let me tell you what happens when your brand’s not, you don’t have a brand. So say you know, you’re scrolling, scrolling, scrolling on Instagram, and you get a video and the video looks compelling. And it’s some cool brush that you think you might need. So then you click on the website, and then you read the reviews. And the route reviews are, this sucks, it broke within five minutes of using it. Um, you look at the photos, they have no imagery of people actually using the brush at all looks like stock. That cause like that company, instantly lost you that money that they put into those ads to get you to the website, gone like that money was wasted. Meanwhile, you get a brand that advertises a product. And the journey looks entirely different. And I want to explain it with a brand that I have recently just purchased something of called cotton. So cotton K O Tn is a Canadian sheets brand. They sell premium sheets, I was looking at sheets on the internet, and I wanted a new pair and I started getting served ads by cotton. I went onto their website, I noticed that they were a B Corp, I looked at their imagery. And I noticed that the aesthetics of their product photography really aligned with the minimalist interior design style that I have. So those were cues, brand cues that I had in my head that ended up being trust signals that this brand is worth the price that it’s marketing itself. And therefore I ended up buying the sheets. So that’s the difference between having a brand and not having a brand. So it is not just your logo, not just your colors. It’s the entirety of who you are. And the signals that you put out enable customers to trust you and then ultimately buy from you.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  17:48
I love thinking about yes signals which can come in so many different sorts of tactical spaces, or in that execution side that can mean so many different things. I love that framework. And we’re also very big fans of cotton at startup Canada, they provide all of our swag, so great show. So Rachel, when you were building make lemonade and that entire brand. What was most helpful for you? What sort of cues or signals were you trying to put out? Maybe the one of the brand and also v two V three V four?

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  18:20
Yeah, all the different versions of the brand. When Reagan was speaking, I wrote a little note about budding accelerator equals putting odds on your side. I think that is like the thing that I was really, I didn’t have that terminology. But I think for me when I was starting to make lemonade i I knew for certain that it was like it was a deeply personal kind of thing, I was going to be the face, I was going to be the person who was going to be at the front desk, I’m changing the garbage. I’m doing it all. So I knew that. And whether there’s an email or Instagram DM, everyone’s connected with me. So number one, it was pretty hard, or pretty easy rather, for the messaging to stay consistent at the beginning because it was always me who was doing that. But I think those certain touch points, I had to make sure that I was staying consistent and that I wanted it to be a good experience, no matter which points somebody came in and came into the journey, whether they’re coming into the space, they’re connecting with us online, they’re sending an inquiry to rent a rental meeting room, whatever it may be, it had to be kind of the same five so then anytime anybody was joining the team, I was figuring out what that kind of messaging was so that everyone could get that same kind of experience. But really like all those odds are on my side I think that the other part of the puzzle piece looking at it from the owner’s side is it’s not just about making sure everyone has a good experience or I guess that is the whole point is making sure everyone has a good experience is going to equal more sales happier Reviews. It’s all just going to help create a better experience for everybody. And then the other thing I wanted to mention is that when I was starting, I was looking at, okay, I’m starting this co-working space in Toronto. Well, how many other co-working spaces are there in Toronto? Okay, cool. So I’m competing with, you know, a good 50 plus other spaces. So how is my space going to be different? What’s the differentiator? Again, how can I put the odds on my side that when people look at make lemonade, or when they’re looking up different co-working spaces, and they come across make lemonade, immediately, they’re gonna go, oh, the imagery is nice and bright? Oh, they responded to my email right away. Oh, they they’re super kind on Instagram. It was like all these things that I could just set myself up for success without even really having to lift a finger. Those were simple little things I could do right from the beginning. And then as of evolved, because it’s always been me, I’ve just kind of was like, Okay, well, a lot of my brand values are still going to stay the same. Maybe now I kind of just tried to imagine like, Okay, if my brand was Levi’s, Levi’s sells, you know, they sell shirts, and they sell jeans and bring me shoes, all sorts of things. So as I’m evolving my offerings, I’m going okay, well, I’m still the same brand, but I’m just no longer offering jeans, maybe now I’m focusing on selling boots instead. But the customer service is still going to be the same, I’m still going to try and respond to the emails in a timely fashion. And then the honesty part of just, you know, taking everybody along for the journey that has been my special sauce has just been like, come along, we’ll figure it out. Again,

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  21:41
and that was gonna be you know, my next question for you, Rachel is, in this evolution of the brand, you decided to continue using make lemonade as that company names the brand name. Even though your business looks completely different, you go to both make lemonade forever, two different things. Did you ever consider a change in name or rebrand? Or did you feel this approach and you know, your values are remaining, you are still the person behind this company? All those other signals that would sort of join you on that journey? Is that what made you decide to keep making lemonade?

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  22:13
You know what, it was a lot less work. It was just like, Well, why would I change the domain? Why would I change my email? All of my contacts? Everybody knows me as Rachel Kelly makes lemonade, Rachel Kelly. So like, I’m just going to train everybody to know that. Okay, yeah, I once owned a co-working space. Now. Now. I’m a florist. Like, I think one thing that I was having a really hard time with when I was making the transition was like, this does not make sense. How does co-working space go to floristry? But a lot of advice I was receiving throughout this whole process was that I’m the owner, I get to make it make sense. I get to decide what makes sense for me. The name makes lemonade also just lends itself to evolution. So I’m I The other thing I kind of kept telling myself, like, as I was going through this transition, was I was like, Well, I’m only at the point when I was starting, I was like, I’m only 31. Like, so much can happen. So many things can evolve. So this is where I’m at now, you know, five years ago, I opened a co-working space. Now I’m a florist, like, who knows what’s gonna happen in 10 years and maybe making lemonade will be a whole different thing. But I don’t know, it’s like, I just have to decide that I’m okay with where the journey is going and, and take this the take the community along for the ride, I

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  23:38
Love that. It’s all this whole brand is about taking risks and making lemonade. Like I didn’t clue into that until right now. But it is such a brilliant branding tool to show your evolution. And give yourself that that you know, possibility or that opportunity as you evolve over the next 70 years, creating fabulous businesses super COVID,

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  23:58
I have even something to add to that too. You know, when you tie up your business brand with your brand, it becomes a part of your identity. And when you’re ready, your brand is ready to evolve and you’re ready to change. But your business is behind you feel like because they’re so extreme. Like they’re so tied in with one another. You feel like you’re losing a piece of your identity. If you change your business or you change your brand from what it is. So the first time you do it, it’s extremely hard. Like I used to be known as this I’ve built my reputation up as this and now I’m going to become this. But the truth is, if you’re doing what Rachel’s doing, which is bringing people along for the journey, which she has been from the beginning, people are totally fine. Your community will come with you to the next phase so, so easy to just say like, oh, I switched from community to florist, but in your heart that was probably so so difficult for you. So I just want to acknowledge that for any entrepreneur that is thinking about it. Getting like don’t let your old identity prevent you from evolving.

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  25:03
Yeah, and you’re right. And I think two things I wanted to add about that is one, it’s like, do it like I think doing things with integrity and just being honest about it, it’s like no one is ever going to be mad at you for for being, like, truthfully real. And then the second thing is the bonus of taking your community along for the journey. A lot of my beginning clients are all my past members. So it’s also just this other bonus that I’m already kind of starting with, with a client base. And they’re gonna be able to tell other people about what I’m doing too. So I’m pro, I’m proly pivoting your brand, if it makes sense for you, and makes sense for what feels suitable for you and authentic.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  25:50
I love that. Regan, do you have any other advice for entrepreneurs who want to pivot their businesses? How can this affect them from a brand perspective? If you know, they’re not planning on bringing their community along on the journey. If they’re planning a dramatic pivot, maybe without some of those initially planted seeds? What advice do you have to help prep an entrepreneur considering making that shift? 

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  26:11
Yeah, I think just knowing that every business pivots, and if you want to scale your business, or become a better business, you ultimately will pivot and just know that going into it, that probably will happen for you. But to be more tangible, you should pivot every single time you change your offer, or it evolves, you should reposition your business or pivot your business every single time you get closer to your ideal customer and you know the person that you want to, you know, the person that you want to work with. And that can be in two directions it can be, I want to work with these people, because I actually like working with people, or I want to work with these people. Because these are the people that can get the most value from what I can offer. And both of that kind of come together with how you should position your business to align with your target audience. So I’m gonna give you an example of a client that I worked with. They’re called snappy. They are a technology company that helps companies merge their in-person retail experience, with online experience through rewards and POS-like everything. So when they came to me, they’re like, oh, we need a website, you know, like, just get it up there. But then when I started peeling back the layers of the onion, I’m like, Well, who is your audience, and they would want anyone with retail space. But when we looked at the customers that were buying, buying their product for multiple locations, that was giving them the most amount of money that we’re using their whole product suite, it wasn’t everyone with a retail location, it was just restaurants. So we re we repositioned their business to pull out the elements that restaurant owners care about in their marketing and their branding. And then since then, it’s given their team a lot more clarity, like their sales team, a lot more clarity on who to chase after their marketing team to get more specific on like the imagery and the marketing message they share. Everything is much more aligned now in their business, thanks to repositioning.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  28:20
And that’s an important note, I think, in even my perception of what a brand is being more of like a communications tool or being this sort of like external comms focus, without connecting it directly to business results, that you’ve just provided such a great illustration of all of these internal business processes and clarity for the organization that resulted from a conversation around the external brand. And who was using this offering. And you know, the target audience is, etc. So, as entrepreneurs, this is an investment that can support us across the entire business, when we have that clarity of who we are our target audience, what we’re offering, and ensuring there’s that alignment between those those sorts of groups. And that is a complicated conversation sometimes because we often get very tied to our ideas and think that they’re perfect, and why wouldn’t everybody want this particular thing? So great, great examples.

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  29:13
Yeah, I have a framework that maybe some of your listeners can apply to get closer to their niche and their brand positioning. So every quarter, I want you to create a table, and these are the columns that I want on the table. The first column is past clients. This is specific to service-based businesses in SAS, it’s a little bit different when you have a consumer product. So you have your past clients. Then you have clients who bought from you quickly and the next column. The third column is clients you enjoy working with most. And in the fourth column, you have clients who you provide the most value to. If you list all of the clients that you’ve worked with in column one, and you answer, you move them across each of the columns, you’re going to start to see certain clients’ names come up more consistently than others. For example, you might have client B that bought quickly, but you didn’t like working with them at all. But then you might have client D that bought quickly you provided insane value to and you enjoyed working with. And what you want to do is over time or every quarter, you want to start noticing the trends of those specific clients. And then you’re getting closer to your positioning and it’s based on actual data.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  30:27
Love a good data conversation. And that can often be put to the side on our to-do list but such a helpful easy framework Regan, for us to leverage. So, Rachel, I want to pass it over to you as well in still rooting this conversation very practically anything, okay? I have this brand or a couple of these elements that I would sort of identity as branding. And I want to try to get that out to my audience. What tactics did you use? Was it very much word of mouth that you’re getting to know Rachel Kelly, and that setting the tone for your brand? Did you use your website as a key tool, social media? How did you express your brand and its evolution?

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  31:09
Um, so first things first, before I, once I landed on the idea, the whole process of opening a co-working space is wildly slow, and then very quickly, it speeds up. Because the biggest piece is that you need a space. And you know, from having this idea to finding the right space, it’s a bit of like, okay, I’m scared for me in this. In this scenario, it was my first business. So it was like, this isn’t, this is a huge thing I’m stepping into, and like, just as a side note, my huge, huge learning lesson is that delusion will get you farther than you think. So let’s go for it. Delusion gets you so much further. Because really, I can’t believe that at 26. I was like, let’s open a co-working space and see what happens. What I did immediately, once I was like, Okay, I’m set on this idea is I’m going to start an Instagram account. Like, let’s just kind of put this idea out there, let’s just kind of share what I’m looking for it let’s see what other people are interested in. Like, let’s kind of pull the community. I mean, at this point, like, there were no stories that like were there, our availability on Instagram was pretty limited, but people will be commenting and just letting you know, Oh, I’d love a space with more greens and this and that. I’d love a sunny space love a plate, they started to get a little bit very specific. I was like, Well, I can’t link all your dreams to come true. But I’ll see what my real estate agent can come up with. But that was kind of a nice little tester for me before actually committing and going all the way in. So that was step one. So that I knew, Okay, I’m gonna have at least some I’m going to generate some interest right from the get-go. I connected with someone else online when I started this community, and she runs a PR firm. And so we kind of just stay connected. And I was like, I think I’m going to need your services. Once I get started. You know, here’s another tip understand the difference between marketing and PR because when you don’t know you don’t know. And I think that’s a very common thing for a lot of people who do not under understand the difference. And, you know, a very real thing that happened to me was she asked me once I’d already hired her, Well, what’s your marketing plan? And I was like, You’re my marketing plan. So that was but anyways, that ended up being a fantastic thing for me. It was getting a lot of that just initial press right from the get-go. One thing I didn’t do, when I first began though, was like I kept myself a complete secret. And nobody knew that it was Rachel Kelly, who was running make lemonade because I wanted to make sure that people liked what I was creating. And they liked it for what it was they didn’t like it because they liked me. But I knew things were working once my friends started sending me a make lemonades Instagram profile and said you should check this out you’d really like it feels like a surprise it’s me. I know. Can you tell everybody you know that Yeah, so there’s a nice little element of surprise there too? But I think like just you know what the lessons that I’ve learned from all of that is like shout it from the rooftops tell people what you’re creating and like, let them know how passionate you are about it because you know you can have this most beautiful brand ever but like if you don’t know that there’s a real person behind it a real team of real humans behind something. At the end of the day, you are only going to feel that glossy logo or that fancy website and you know even what Reagan is talking about like a brand is so much more than just those basic things. A few tactics I used to open make lemonade was, you know, start small start on Instagram. I learned, you know, to talk about myself and my journey, and PR in my case helped to just get the word out right from the get-go. But my learning lesson in that is to have a marketing plan, and figure out okay, once somebody does land on your website, what’s the journey? Where do I want people to go? Because I got a lot of traffic to the website with no idea what to do at the beginning.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  35:28
Hmm, fascinating! Rachel and Regan, with other entrepreneurs that you’ve worked with? What have been your first building blocks of building that brand? If somebody is starting this from scratch? Do you tell them to focus on the personal brand first or the company brand? Or a little bit of both? What tactics do you often explore first, when somebody’s starting from scratch?

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  35:48
Yes. So it depends on what their goals are, and in the end, it depends on the type of business. So if they’re offering a service-based business, and their business is small, like one to three people, and they have one-to-one relationships with their clients, I recommend doing either like a company personal brand hybrid approach, where you know, you might have a company name, you might have some associates, but your brand your personality is coming through. So then you can authentically build your thought leadership around your business brand. And it all is connected. And you are, you know, pulling people in from your network, I find what a lot of individuals do is they are a little bit scared to put their face up to next to their brand, because, you know, they’re worried about failing some of these themes, or even just coming up and what with what Rachel said, right? Like, well, I don’t want to fail, or I don’t want to see I’m unprofessional. Like that’s a really big one. They think that if they come out as a corporate brand, they’re going to be having more respect than if they were to come out as a personal brand. Truth is, right, if you’re starting a business, and you’re just a person, you are as far or you are as professional as your experience allows you to be right. So if you don’t have any experience doing financial advisory, but you have this beautiful corporate brand, the minute that you have a conversation with corporate clients, they’re going to be able to see right through you and there’s going to be in authenticity. So the very first step that I recommend for every entrepreneur is to work in I mean, it’s cliche, the terms use a lot. But it’s like that genius zone. And it doesn’t necessarily always need to be within your experience. But it can be in your hobbies and interests, too. And what’s something that you can talk about confidently and just talk and talk about forever? And never get sick of doing it? That’s where you should start with your brand.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  37:48
Very cool. You use this term, cool factor, you know, what’s an entrepreneur’s cool factor that they can find through this journey with you? How does one identify this? Like, even myself? I’m like, What is my cool factor? What are the prompts that help somebody identify what that secret sauce is? Because I think, yes, everybody is a super unique snowflake, and that’s fabulous. But there’s so much competition, there’s so many other, you know, entrepreneurs popping up potentially working in similar competitive industries to you, how do you find that secret sauce, and know that it is truly a secret sauce, not just you know, I’m X or Y that other people could sort of claim as well.

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  38:25
I love that you asked that. I feel I use the word cool factor, because cool is subjective, and depends on the person, but a word that’s more commonly used in branding, and we’ve been throwing around a lot is What is that authentic? Like, what makes you authentic? And that’s really what I’m looking for. That is the cool factor, right? So before I bring my clients to this accelerator process, we’re building their brand. I’m looking for that, like, what is that cool thought factor, and a lot of them know what it is, but they haven’t articulated themselves. So to some of the prompts. I call them the three R’s of authenticity. And those three R’s are, is what’s reliables In this individual, like, were they consistently providing value to their customers? And that’s around like their offer. Second, AR is relatable, what is their culture? Who is the person behind the business? And how can we bring that through in their communications so that their voice and what they talk about, are relatable to the people that they want to ultimately market to? So for example, Harley Davidson built by bikers are rebellious, right? And so that’s what their brand is further apples, and in doing so, in putting that relatability factor out, they are attracting that type of people and is perpetuating the brand. And then finally repetitive. So I’m listening when I’m chatting with my clients like what themes are coming up, and what values they keep saying so for example, even yesterday, I had a Call with a financial advisor and I said, What makes you different? And she’s like, Oh, well, I want to make finance approachable. And then they go, Okay, well, what’s your biggest challenge that clients have? And they like, oh, well, clients feel like they don’t need financial advising. And they’re scared to ask questions. So I’m starting to see the themes, right? Like finance, finance shouldn’t be scary. Finance is something that we should all do. So what are those repetitive values that keep coming up? Because those should be incorporated into your brand? Because when you find those out, you can continue to scale on them. So even take Lululemon, right, they started as yoga. That thing that they talked about all the time, though, was wellness, right? And now they’ve scaled into every single sport, but they always bring it back to wellness and being intentional with your fitness. So just to recap, how can your brand be repetitive in terms of your values, and relatable in terms of actually talking to the people that you want to work with and market to? And reliable, which is like where can you provide the most value through your offer your service or your product?

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  41:06
Awesome love it, another framework on the Startup Canada Podcast!

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  41:12
I was taking notes like I have it written down! One thing I wanted to add to that is I’ve worked with so many entrepreneurs over the years and just kind of mean, the ups, and downs. I mean, I think one thing that was hard for me and also a highlight for me in some respects, too, was that I kind of played this like part-time therapists sort of thing, because it’s a space, a lot of entrepreneurs come in, and you know, you chat, and all of a sudden, you’ve learned their whole life story. And I think one thing that I’ve really learned throughout the years, and I’ve gone through this as well, is it’s just like this, this wild emotional roller coaster that you go on when you’re an entrepreneur and a lot of it. So you’re like, I didn’t sign up for this. And all of a sudden, you find you’ve taken about 10,000 different courses, all in a different, special way. If you know, if you just follow these six steps, you’re gonna all of a sudden make six figures in six minutes and for the rest of your life. And one other big key piece to helping you find that special sauce is taking everything that you’ve learned, putting it through your filter, and deciding what works for you. For me what happened at the end of 2021, I don’t even know, at the end of one of the years. My mom does our bookkeeping, to make lemonade. And she said, Rachel, you spent so much money on personal development. You’ve been in business for personal and professional development. You’ve been in business for over five years now, you know, so much, you need to stop investing in them. And you need to listen to what you already know. And so all of a sudden, I was like, she was like, Why do you keep doing this and I was like, I don’t think I believe in myself. And that was like the ultimate switch for me. And I kind of made this a personal mission. I was like, I don’t think I need to sign up for any more courses, I probably need to sign up for therapy. Sort out a few of my things. But you know I think that’s another piece that helped me figure out my special sauce was just going okay, I’m gonna stop listening to all this other advice, and start just really using what I’ve learned and you know, make my decision for myself. And so for this year, I’ve made this decision, but I’m like, I’m not paying for any more courses in the forestry world. Instead, I’d rather get paid to learn. So the fantastic way, the fantastic thing about Florida St is that a lot of florists need extra labor on their jobs. So I’ve signed up for a ton of Florida, freelance gigs. And I’m learning so much in a different way instead of I guess learning it in a classroom kind of setting. I get to learn it with my hands and it works well for that thing. So anyways, that’s my other piece of advice there. Oh,

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  44:02
Rachel, I love that. And, and that intuition piece that comes up on every single startup women podcast episode in pretty much every conversation we have at Startup Canada with founders. Yes, competence breeds confidence in some ways, and you want to have those basics and that anchoring so that it serves you in how you enter a room and how you enter your ventures. But there is a fine line also just having to trust that intuition. And that gut instinct more than anything, and you’re the only person who can tap into that intuition. Nobody’s gonna be able to look at you and know, okay, this is something you should or shouldn’t be doing. You have to hone that yourself and dare to act on that. And with this evolution of your brand, it’s such a beautiful, sort of illustration of like, a maximum pivot, that I also think is comforting for people to think, Oh, it doesn’t have to be a gentle transition into something that’s sort of similar to what I did before the pill. clarity of your experience I think is so helpful. Because you don’t see as many founders telling those types of stories these days, I feel like

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  45:06
Yeah, but you know what we have one life, we get to do whatever the heck we want with it. And I think a lot of the time we forget that, like, every single thing we are doing is all made up. As we have already decided what these rules are, everything was made up. We are the star of our own stories. So you know, if you’re bored or something, if you’re tired or something, you can change. And you know, I always my kind of personal motto is that like, nothing’s impossible. Sometimes it’s just complicated.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  45:38
Nothing is impossible. Sometimes it’s just complicated. There’s your post-it moment, people.

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  45:44
And even just to add to that, I have people you know, when people always the first question that new people ask is, what do you do? And I say, I’m a brand strategist, I help professional service providers build their websites and brands, so they can communicate with confidence and charge more, you know, I say the whole pitch and they say, Well, do you like it? And then I go, Yeah, I mean, it’s a job that I created out of thin air to line with everything that I’m good at. And I get to do exactly what I want to do every single day. And I think that relates so well to what you said, like Rachel’s like we’re making it up, but I mean, we’re doing a pretty damn good job at it, because we’ve been making a career out of it. So yeah, really,

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  46:26
You’re saying make lemonade, we are going to keep making lemonade. Just gonna keep repeating. Yeah, absolutely. We’re making more lemonade. Getting more lemons up in here! Amazing. Amazing, and Reagan? Are there certain exercises that entrepreneurs can do to develop something that feels in alignment with a thorough brand that if you are very, you know, proper and structured and maybe a little bit more on the rigid side, and you want that to come across in your brand, and you don’t want to be seen as playful? Or using those sorts of tools? How do you work with your clients to understand what are the right descriptors, what are the right adjectives, and tell the right stories that their personality shines through appropriately through their brand,

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  47:13
I think the first piece is like figuring out a little bit more about who you are and doing some self-reflecting for personal branding. So often what I do for my clients, is I get them to complete the Myers Briggs 16 personality tests, and I get them to send me over their personality. So well, while I do interview them. Before I start any project, you know, you only know what you can get from a two-hour conversation. But when I can see what their personality is, I can start to get a feel of like, okay, this is how this is what this person isn’t doing that isn’t aligned with who their personality is because they just don’t have like the tools to be able to write in this certain way or frame themselves in that certain way. And that’s really what I helped them with, in terms of just expressing your brand. Now, I think you show you can express your brand by showing what you’re doing. So, I mean for Rachel, showing like creating bouquets like her at weddings, right? Your personality or your brand doesn’t necessarily have to be through writing if you are a more creative entrepreneur. But if you’re more of a financial advisor, maybe you’re putting out reports, if you are a strategist and storyteller like me, then you might spend time telling stories and helping people learn how to do frameworks, right? Like, it’s all about putting out there to show your subject matter expertise. So it’s, again, going back to those trust signals, right?

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  48:37
I just remembered something else I’d love to add to when it comes to that key messaging, the bigger challenge is not figuring out different ways to tell your customer about the thing you do. It’s about understanding and being okay with some of the kisses, consistent key messaging, and figuring out ways so you don’t get bored of what you’re saying. Because at the end of the day, your messaging is always basically going to be very similar. You’re just going to kind of spice it up every once in a while, but your customer isn’t going to remember the same thing that you said you say every single Wednesday or whatever it may be to you as the entrepreneur, you may get bored of that kind of thing. But your customer is not going to see that all the time. They’re just gonna go Oh, yeah, you’re the lemonade brand. Okay, yeah, cool. somebody the other day said to me, Oh, I forgot you were doing flowers. I was like, what? Okay, I’m not talking about this enough or there’s something that I need to spice up my world. I feel like I’m talking about it all the time. So it’s just my own personal mission to not get bored of talking about the same thing.

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  49:46
I think that’s interesting too and just even use it for my brand when I was pivoting from a cannabis influencer, I built my brand mostly on Instagram was very visible, visually beautiful, and feminine. and photos of me consuming cannabis, really fun stuff. But then I’m like, Okay, well, I’m kind of done with this now. And I want to start talking about branding and strategy. But it built out this whole like an audience on my Instagram with individuals that sure they know that I’m an entrepreneur and I’m building my business, but I’m not sure if they care that much about this messaging, nor is that audience, they’re like, my ideal clients are not in that space and are in that community. So I started posting more on LinkedIn, which is where I like, where I could show off my subject matter expertise. And my pillars are branding and freedom lifestyle, and how can you develop a business that aligns with your lifestyle, and then position your brand to give you that lifestyle, your brand, and business. So now really, what I’ve done is I’ve used LinkedIn to talk a little bit more about branding, and do storytelling about my clients. And then if people look me up, and they’re considering working with me, they can check on my Instagram, and see that I’m living the lifestyle that I’m preaching. So and that keeps it fun for me because I can talk a little bit about business on my Instagram, you know, show that I’m a well-rounded person because that’s what people want to see. But then I have a space where I can be professional and, you know, a little bit more buttoned up. And that’s what social media is all about, right? It’s about, you know, maybe repurposing one piece of content, but saying it in different ways, depending on the platform that you’re on, and the community that you’ve cultivated on that platform.

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  51:32
Yeah, you know what this also reminds me of some great advice I got recently because you know, now there’s Instagram, there’s tick tock, and like, everybody, there are just so many different ways that we can be sharing content. But somebody was saying to me, you know, use these different platforms for the like, for one type of service or something like that, like, don’t, you don’t have to say the same message across every single platform, but think about? Who is that customer that is showing up on LinkedIn, that customer is going to be a little bit different than on Instagram vs. Tik Tok. So yeah, showcasing kind of certain elements of what you’re doing, depending on the platform.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  52:11
And being sensitive to not just, you know, a sort of hockey stick over onto one side and then over onto the other in a way that’s just like, Who is this person? Are they aligning to one entity and is that feeling reasonable, I could also totally see that being a challenge, not completely changing the messaging and tone, and vibe of what you’re offering per platform. So it’s a balance, pulling on that string a little bit and looking at perception, and making sure that your brand is being clearly understood and is true, versus you sort of assuming that what you’re putting out there is garnering the right understanding because sometimes there’s a huge disconnect between what we think we’re putting out there and what is being absorbed by our audiences. Reagan, you sometimes, you know, working with entrepreneurs thinking that they’re being perceived a particular way, but they’re not. And sometimes you I imagine are having those hard conversations with them throughout that sort of ideation phase of your engagement. How can entrepreneurs be mindful of this balance and ensure that they’re showing up? How do they intend to be? Do you recommend kind of focus groups or getting feedback from different trusted audience members, or feedback from strangers? What’s a vehicle to better understand what is landing in people’s hearts and heads?

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  53:23
Okay, there’s a very, very easy way, if you provide professional service or any type of service-based business, are you getting referred to the types of clients that you want to work with? And if you’re getting referred clients that don’t align with anything that you do, then the people that know you don’t know what you’re doing? And obviously, that’s not coming across. And that’s it, really, it because and then sometimes when you you know, if you’re getting those referrals from an individual, and there are inconsistent then educating them on what you’re doing. And then maybe asking them to have a conversation and say, like, Well, why do you think that I am doing this or, you know, and kind of getting that rod like that raw data from them. But it is based on like, and even, for example, I was going I went out when he first started, you know, my branding journey, and I heard my partner, like on a video call with someone we sit right across from one another, and he’s like, oh, yeah, my partner does this. And he’s explaining what I’m doing. And I’m like, This is what I do. And I’m like, if my partner can’t even explain what I do, this isn’t the very beginning guys, I’m gonna find you. I figured it out, my friend. So then I educated him and I told him and now he’s, you know, he’s landed my pitch. But I think that is that’s how you know if it’s unaligned often you can’t see it. Other people do though.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  54:48
It’s like these blank spots. Sometimes that’s every part of the business. It’s it. You see this sort of appearing in all these different ways. Rachel, was there anything that you found helpful and making sure that you were you know, finding the right people to come? To make laminate as well as the community, if you’re not in a like-minded space or in a space where people feel that they can authentically connect, then that compromises the experience, right? How did you find the right people and make sure that they were attracted to the brand?

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  55:14
Do you know what worked for me, this is something that, because this was like a, we needed a lot of referrals, we needed like-minded people to tell other like-minded people. So it kind of it mattered right from the beginning of like, okay, I’m setting the tone. So I need to make sure that that kind of feeling that energy is going to translate with whoever else is coming in and telling, telling their cool, quote, unquote, cool friends to come and join the cool party. I’m saying all this in air quotes for everybody. But a cool thing that worked for us. And in the make lemonade community is something called that we ran called the front desk game. And I got this idea from other yoga studios. And it was like an energy exchange because, at the time when I started, there was only one of me. But there were a lot more people who were coming into the space. And people needed to know where the meeting rooms were how to make the coffee, where the bathrooms were being greeted at the front desk, go on tours, there was a lot of things and then also make sure that the garbage wasn’t overflowing, and that there was toilet paper and all sorts of things. So I started something called the front desk game. And it was it was an energy exchange program, where if you donated five hours of your time to help manage the front desk, and greet people, then you would get a free membership and exchange. And so I had about 10 people who would work shifts throughout the week. And those became my ambassadors, they were my make-lemonade cheerleaders. And they kind of went through a very, very simple interview process to see, okay, is this person going to work to join the team. And also it was, it was a, you know, it was a win-win situation because, for a lot of entrepreneurs who were starting, they wanted to be a part of a community of other entrepreneurs, they wanted to get out of their home, and but at the time, when they’re beginning, a lot of the time, your, your startup costs aren’t going to cover an office space as well. And then for me, I got this extra help, too. And it was this fantastic community of people who could help me run make lemonade, and I could rely on sharing the proper make lemonade messaging with everybody else in the community too. And they could tell their community about the space too. So that’s something that worked well. And Cheryl, who was on one of the past episodes, was one of the front desk members,

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  57:43
All roads lead back to making lemonade on this podcast. Folks who worked in Toronto, either full-time or part-time, that’s fabulous. And Reagan for other entrepreneurs who are saying, you know, okay, what’s the minimum viable brand? Maybe they’re trying to approach this conversation? We talked a little bit about this earlier, is there a nonnegotiable suite of strong recognizable brand elements that entrepreneurs should be focused on on the website, and social media channels, just the voice and the tone anchoring that the, you know, the personality behind the brand? What would you say are the non-negotiables? When you’re approaching brand conversation?

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  58:24
I think the very first thing that every brand or individual that wants to have a personal brand, is figuring out what their voice is. And those key messages, it’s going back to that right? What do you want to be known for? What are you extremely good at? And what can you talk about with confidence and authority? Sometimes when you’re just starting, if you’re younger, and you’re just starting your career, that starts by repurposing or re-sharing other people’s content that you respect. But as you grow, you become more established. And you have that experience yourself. It’s developing that thought leadership. So to be a thought leader, you have to think about what you’re going to say, right? Like, it’s not just sharing step by step framework. It’s not teaching people how to do what you’re doing. It’s showing them that you have stories or you have original ideas, and you can connect stories to ideas. That’s what shows people that you know what you’re talking about. So I would say, first, to make it a little bit more tactical get going on whatever social media platform of your choice where your ideal audience hangs out and get going on that and get like, Get your voice out there. Develop your concepts and your frameworks. The next step would be I mean, optimizing obviously, your profile to say what you do. I am an X, who writes about x. And then once you have that, it’s you build a little bit of traction, you can get your website up and go on. In the beginning. I have this question a lot. So when should I invest in the brand? I will not work with people who haven’t had any experience working with clients. No client work, no brand, because you don’t have any data to say that will my brand should be this way. It’s all based on yourself. And if you’re doing it that way, sure, it’s great for like, minimal viable product, you can create like a Squarespace website, spin it up. So you have something, but when it’s time to invest in a brand when you have experience working with clients, and you want to target them a little bit more effectively. I think Rachel said this so well earlier when she said, it’s about putting your filter on it. So a lot of entrepreneurs do is they do what we did, you know, you get a course in yourself, train yourself and you do programs, you do professional development, and then you apply what other people are doing. And then eventually you start to put your creative spin on it. And that’s when your brand starts to come through. So even do use me as an example. Yes, I help professional service providers create brands. But the freedom lifestyle piece that I talk about a lot has only started coming through as I’ve started doing my business and realize this is one of my core values. And I want to work with people who want something similar because I can help them get there with their branding. But that’s not something that of course is going to tell me like, Oh, you’re going to this is how you create a brand. And you also want to go this angle, like you only know that through experience and getting right like writing getting your ideas out there. Kind of Yeah, like peeling back layers of the onion, you know?

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:00:28
And in that journey, is the brand ever done? Like is it a puzzle that can have every single puzzle piece complete? And then you just continue business as usual, leveraging that brand? Or is it always something that needs care and nurturing and naturally, evolution as your business kind of grows? What’s your philosophy on it being done or not?

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  1:01:58
Yeah, I agree. I think there’s, there’s a lot of layers to I think I would even argue that we’ve got a whole vegetable drawer in the fridge that we’re dealing with. I think that you know, it can kind of evolve in like, Okay, well, you as a person, as the entrepreneur is going to evolve. But so for me, in my case, it was like, Okay, I started to outgrow a little bit of what I was doing. I was like, I don’t think I want to just continue doing this online community. And I’m just gonna pause that for one second. Because I also noticed a trend that was happening in my community that I found, especially within the online community space, I was being I was able to support entrepreneurs who were in their first couple of years. That’s what I was able to do in the online community. But what I was finding was a lot of community members would come, they would grow, and they would go, and it was up to me to decide, okay, can I evolve and figure out how I can serve those other entrepreneurs? Can I just only serve people who are at the beginning, or can I just take a whole different path and go, I’m going to become a florist instead. You know, there’s that kind of thing. But you know, another cool thing, too. So that’s just from the solopreneur perspective. But I’m just relating this to an event I was working on yesterday, I was doing this very cool flower pop-up for Remans, the clothing brand, and they were celebrating their spring preview. And it was so interesting to me because we were all every one it had a lot of influencers there. And everyone was talking about their experience with treatments, the brand, and how their moms used to shop there. And they had no idea how cool and elevated treatments could be because they’re kind of going through this brand evolution. In 2026, they’ll be celebrating 100 years of treatments, which is this wild piece of information. And you know, for our generation, we think okay, our moms used to shop here that that’s kind of all I know, I’m not going in there, my whole perspective on the brand change just by understanding this one little thing, this what they’re able to offer now, too. So I think the evolution can happen in so many different ways. Are you going to evolve to see what your customer needs now? Are you like, you know what, nope, Reitmans, they serve there’s one type of person and they understand that and they’re cool with that, are they going to evolve and change? And I think I think there’s you know, if we’re going back to the vegetable thing I think there’s there’s a lot of different ways we can make a stir fry Are we just gonna have corn on the cob? Are we gonna have it all mixed? Whatever we want. But I think there’s there’s a lot of ways that we can approach the evolution of brands from

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:04:42
Agree and the permission slip granted that you’re allowed to change your mind a little bit that often comes up here as well but we get so consumed with one idea of who we are as people who we are as entrepreneurs, the types of the type of worker we are and this entrepreneurial, kind of like hustle that That involves, etc, etc. And this whole conversation, we’ve talked about a lot of great frameworks of actually talking about brands, etc. But what I’m leaving with is that this is deeply personal like this is deeply mirrored in the stages of our lives and our priorities and how we want to present ourselves to the world. And finding that comfort and that authenticity in our business life as well. Because as entrepreneurs, it is so deeply interconnected, often, for great reasons, and often in really challenging ways too. So this whole branding conversation has been fascinating in that self-discovery prompt as well to figure out who were you as a founder and honing in on that, as your kind of minimum viable brand, sort of beginning part, and building, you know, the tactics and all the other things on top of that. 

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  1:05:45
And one thing I want to add to that, too, is, while it is we are talking a lot about like pivoting and changing the brand, at the same time, you can’t be pivoting your brand all the time, or else you don’t have a brand, right your brand’s fester from consistency, right? It’s from saying that same thing that you might be bored of over and over and over and over again, and you’re still bored of it. But you keep saying it in different ways from different angles. Because that’s how people are going to start to remember you for that specific thing. And also with your branding, you should know like, why are you building it in the first place. Like, what’s the intent, right, are you developing your brand, as a founder to get more people to build awareness of your product, your Sass product that you sell, if you are, then your brand should be very aligned with what your business brand is, even though you know, you might be interested in leadership and you want to talk a lot about leadership. If you’re selling going back to that restaurant technology, or product, if you’re not talking to restaurant tours in your brand communication, then all the work that you’re doing unless you for your if your goal is to get more clients, and your brand is about motivation, you’re not going to achieve that goal. If your brand is to become a leadership speaker, then sure you can deviate from what your company does. But just branding takes a lot of work if you want to have one. So just making sure that you have some sort of end direction or endpoint or what you want to get out of it. Because then you’ll get be more effective and you’ll be proud of yourself because it’s going to help you achieve your goals.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:07:24
Love that. Final words of advice, books, resources, anything else that helps you in your day-to-day?

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  1:07:31
Okay, a book that I recommend for anyone interested in branding and wants to get learn how to do branding and storytelling is this book here. It’s called Storyagey by Matt Davies, who’s a brand strategist and thought leader worth following. And what I love about this book, is it breaks it down into a step-by-step process on how to create a brand from scratch. It can be used for personal branding, but it’s made for business branding, and it’s a really quick read with lots of visuals. Highly recommend that as a resource.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:08:05
Gorgeous, and great. 

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  1:08:07
Okay, I have two books that I grabbed from my bookcase, which I reference all the time. The first one is called Career gas. It’s by Toronto local. Her name is Sarah Vermont. She’s a career coach. She’s just honestly so fantastic. Her book is something that I ended up reading after years of owning it because I was way too afraid to read it and realize or kind, I was afraid to discover that maybe what I was doing wasn’t what I wanted to truly be doing. That didn’t end up happening. It just helped me get clear to what made sense more for me and just helped me figure out my own personal messaging and kind of like the way I showed up in the work I did. So I recommend this book to everybody. The second book I’d like to add is called full time you. It’s a workbook, by this amazing entrepreneur, her name is Meg Lewis. And it’s all about personal brand strategy, life fulfillment, and career mission. And again, this really helped me during this transition. But both of these books I think just helped me kind of hone in on some of the key messaging and the key direction that I wanted to go in no matter which forms that showed up in the kind of work that I did

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:09:26
Love it. These are three that I do not have on my list. So I will happily take these recommendations and pop them into my library. Any final words of advice, there was one kind of key takeaway that you want to leave our listeners with after this super rich conversation. What would be your one piece of advice for founders listening in on today’s episode?

Reagan Bradley (Brand Strategist)  1:09:48
Just start, just start, if you didn’t one that you can take from this is brands evolve, so you have to start from somewhere and don’t overthink in it what your brand is or expect it to be perfect, because when you start, it never is perfect. And it never is. Right? Because you’re always going to be self-critical of your brand. And even what you feel on the outside isn’t what is perceived on the outside. So just know that and just start.

Rachel Kelly (Make Lemonade)  1:10:21
Yes. Okay, so piggybacking off of that, just start, and then you can always change. You’re allowed to take a slight pivot or, you know, take a complete 360. And there are a lot fewer people watching than you think. So just do it anyway.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:10:43
Great. Well, thank you so much, Rachel, thank you so much again, this has been such a fabulous conversation. I’ve loved watching both of your brands evolve and the journeys that you’ve been on. So huge kudos to both of you on that journey and can’t wait to see you both go next. It’s an exciting road ahead. Thank you so much for joining us on the startup women podcast where we are committed to telling the stories of women entrepreneurs and uncovering actionable advice that goes beyond the surface level. The startup women podcast is produced by Lauren Hicks and Maddie styles, visit startup can.ca. To explore the startup women’s flagship program and access advisory support and free resources. Be sure to check out the show notes to access important links, resources, and information that we mentioned during today’s episode. Thank you for listening, and we look forward to another episode next month.

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