the branding lab podcast

Tune in as we explore what it takes to build a truly strategic, heartfelt brand.


How to Grow A Sticky Brand

By Yvonne Ivanescu

creating a sticky brand

Do you have brand clarity? Are you able to to describe your business and what makes it unique in 10 words or less? And if you have simple clarity do you know how to amplify that message? How can you create a brand that people know and trust? 

How do you get to the point where people trust and like you and not just finding you through Google? 

In this episode, Jeremy and I talk about his origin story, specifically how re-branding his family business not only saved the business but rocketed it to success while also discussing simplifying your brand messaging, and a couple of principles of a sticky brand, including simple clarity. 


Jeremy’s origin story is unlike other brand strategists, so that is where we began. When Jeremy joined the family business as the director of sales and marketing of a recruiting company. And right off the bat, the first year working at his family’s company was one of the hardest years of this life. Why? In the business, everything that they were doing was from a sales perspective, which didn’t work. At one point it got so bad, that they had to implement this idea called pit time, which meant that Jeremy spent six hours a week on the phone cold calling, hoping to get lucky.

At the end of that year he said to his parents that if this is what it was going to be like working at the family business, he didn’t want to be part of it. It was at that point that his father gave him the best advice of his career. He said:

It is not about the business you’ve built. It’s about the business you are building

From that point onwards Jeremy decided to invest in branding. He studied their customers, the market, and studied his competitors. It was at that point that he realized that they didn’t have a brand.

Their recruiting company looked like a law firm or an accounting firm. They were indistinguishable from the masses. It was at that point that he didn’t have a sales problem, he had a brand problem.

And so he embarked on a journey. A branding journey. He learned everything he needed to in terms of branding and he re-branded his businesses. And within nine months, the business turned a corner and rocked into growth mode. It was so successful that even though the 2008/2009 recession crippled the economy, their business grew and they were able to sell the company in 2013.

Now that is the POWER OF BRANDING.


When Jeremy was re-branding his business, the hardest part was brand messaging, a concept he talks about in his book: Sticky Branding. 

The challenge that he faced was that he hated the word recruiter. So he kept on trying to come up with clever ways to describe their positioning. He’d use words like sales, talent agents, or search consultant – what he describes are wishy-washy terms. 

The problem with this is when he started to study their Google Ad Words campaign, he noticed that there was a set of common words that were coming into their website. People were googling “sales recruiter” and “Toronto” and it dawned on Jeremy. That was the language of his customers. And so in three words, he could describe exactly what his company was, which was: sales recruiter in Toronto.

And when he put sales recruiter Toronto on their website, their positioning and SEO took off. And it was that positioning alone that really drove much of their lead generation because it gave people a label on a file folder in their mind. They could categorize them, they could understand them and most importantly, they could search for them.

And so their referrals went up, their repeat customers went up, their credibility with clients went up, but also their search traffic grew exponentially. All of that, getting that brand message, and getting that brand positioning right ended up putting gas on the fire that allowed everything to take off. 


WHAT IS SIMPLE CLARITY? The ability to describe your business and what makes it unique in 10 words or less. And the key to this is simple.

Clarity is very different from say a unique selling proposition or an elevator pitch because the purpose of a USP or unique selling proposition is to catch somebody’s interest  like melts in your mouth, not in your hands or a diamond is forever. Nobody Googles phrases like that. They Google for categories.

And what’s happened since 2000 is Google. And the search engines have got us to think in categorical terms and they’ve actually changed the way we navigate the world. So when you think of what makes a brand sticky, it’s the ability to go to Siri and ask for it. And when you can do that, then you’re increasing the ability for somebody to understand you.

Now, it doesn’t mean that you’re telling the whole story or demonstrating what makes you remarkable, but it is the clarity of communication that actually makes the brand memorable.


Simple clarity is the foundation of everything. And once you’ve got that clarity of message, then the second question is: how do you amplify this? Jeremy calls this a first call advantage, which is how do you get your brand so that people (1) know you (2) like you, and (3) trust you so that they’re not necessarily just Googling for you.

You have a relationship with them. Let’s forget the big guys for a big, but let’s look at a small business, let’s say your favorite restaurant that you go to on a regular basis. They all have that one thing in common   their customers choose them first, but it’s bigger than that.

They think of them first; they refer them first; they come back and back again. They do that not because they have the best product or the best price, but because they know the brand, they like it, they trust it.  And when your customers know you like you and trust you, they will choose you first.

But this is very much a marketing challenge. It’s relationship building. 

How do we connect with people early and often so that when they have a need, they choose you first? This is part of the long game but it creates a huge competitive advantage because now you’re not just spending Google ad dollars trying to be in the path of the search every day.

What you are actually doing is creating a brand that people know and trust. That is worth significant dollars when it comes down to the connection and value that you have with your customers. 

Remember this. If you don’t want to compete based on price, then you need to create something different. 

Relationship building will create that stickiness that will overcome just pure differentiation.



Your brand is built, not at the point of transaction, but before somebody buys or after they buy it. Jeremy calls this concept the 3% rule, which says at any given time, 3% of your customers are buying the rest are not. And so this means you have two kinds of customers, you have active shoppers and inactive buyers.

And when you’re selling, you’re dealing with someone who is an active buyer. When you are branding, you’re dealing with inactive relationships, either prospects or future customers. It is important to have that separation because if you really want to drive the sales needle, then you’ve got to build those relationships early and often so that people know you like you and trust you.

And what you’ll see from a sales performance perspective is you’ll generate more leads and deals will close that much faster. They won’t be just kicking the tires and trying to validate if you’re the right brand for them.


Jeremy and I talk more about the Sticky Brand principles, looking at two interesting examples of brands in Canada that have focused on creating a community around their products, and then we discuss the difference between values that you believe in and ones that can provide your company a competitive advantage, finishing off with Jeremy’s #1 fatal branding mistake a business can make. 

Hit play on the episode above for the full conversation on principles of a sticky brand, strategic content, examples of how to create a community, and a conversation of the importance of brand values. 


◼ Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn

◼ Follow Jeremy Miller on Twitter 

◼ Check out Sticky Branding, the website

◼ Listen to another episode: Finding Your Business Why Your Brand Purpose with Yulia Stark