Lipstick & Politics held its most recent Leadership Salon, “Lessons from Exceptional Entrepreneurs: How to Stand Out from the Crowd” on Thursday, June 2nd. Our Editor-in-Chief was joined by two accomplished business leaders as panelists: the co-founder and CEO of August Home, Jason Johnson, and COO of Arc Fusion Programs, Robin Farmanfarmaian. Together, we discussed an essential element to contemporary businesses: branding.
Branding is crucial to every company and entrepreneur. In a time where instant connectivity and a constant stream of media and content, businesses must take the initiative to not only be relevant, but to also be memorable in the eyes of the audience. At the event we delved deeper into different concrete methods that entrepreneurs can utilize as well as the personal motivations that fuel effective branding.
Our panelists’ respective companies have very specific brands that successfully convey what they’re all about. Johnson’s August Home is sleek, family-friendly, and modern. It specializes in simple and smart home security products and systems that are customizable and accessible through a homeowner’s smartphone. August Home products have even been associated with Apple for their minimalist designs and their extensive uses.
Arc Fusion Programs is a unique organization that is dedicated to promoting the “fusion” of biomedicine and IT through meetings, projects, grants, and a variety of arts and science programs. Arc Fusion presents itself as a leader in its field with multiple different components and outlets that focus on informing and encouraging the progress of biotechnology and big data.
When talking about personal brands, Johnson didn’t want to define his brand simply, but he did exude a balance of simplicity and complexity. This very much reflects the brand of his own company. On the other hand, Farmanfarmaian was clear about defining her personal brand as a thought leader. For her, everything that she presents about herself is methodical and maintained through three key aspects: looks, personality, and content.
Her looks are tailored, she wears dresses that are knee-length and she maintains blonde curly hair signature. She describes her personality as high energy, engaging and clear, which was communicated through her fast-talking and concise responses on stage. As for content, she is dedicated to delivering content that is high-quality and informative.
Personal branding can have a range and technique as shown by two of our panelists. Each person had a unique contribution to the community which can be recognized. However, Farmanfarmaian was very adamant that presentation is absolutely important for personal branding. She finds that people immediately make evaluations in the first few milliseconds.
Both had “guerrilla tactic” or “hack” that helped propel their personal brand and their companies. For Farmanfarmaian, she found that writing and publishing her book, The Patient as CEO, elevated her status as an expert and she had more people reach out to her for events to get her expertises. What worked for Johnson was networking. By surrounding himself with great partners and connections, Jason was able to open up opportunities for himself.
For any aspiring entrepreneur who is just starting out, both speakers recommended creating and building-up content as a foundation in order to get noticed. Especially because there are so many different types of sites to write through and create on, an entrepreneur can create content to increase credibility. They also recommend getting involved in relevant events to make connections, set-up oneself for possible opportunities, and find a community. Other pieces of advice they passed on were: 1) Find a mentor, 2) Value relationships that are above, at the same level, and below, and 3) Never burn bridges.
Yet, at the heart of branding, Johnson and Farmanfarmaian underline the importance of authenticity. They had their own personal motivations that compel them to progress and get themselves out there. It is from their own backgrounds and aspirations that formed their most appropriate and authentic brands and thus, effectively bridging their brands to the people that matter the most.
“It’s all about people, all about relationships, all about human connections. Go meet great people and dream together,” Johnson said shared with us in the panel discussion. And once an entrepreneur makes connections, it’s not simply a single-person mission—it’s a team effort and it’s important to help one another out. Farmanfarmaian impressed upon the audience to “pull others up with you” while moving forward, for when people help each other out, everyone succeeds.
Johnson and Farmanfarmaian’s closed the Battery SF event with a few final words for our audience:
Johnson: “Be connected with people who may be more knowledgeable than you in a particular field.”
Farmanfarmaian: “Pay it forward and keep relationships.”