Start with Strategy: Principles of a WildStory Brand

Start with Strategy: Principles of a WildStory Brand

the branding lab podcast

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


Start with Strategy: The Principles of a Wildstory Brand

By Yvonne Ivanescu


cGuess what, if your brand strategy is bad, it usually ends up showing up in your marketing. Are you wondering why you aren’t getting results on social media? Why your Facebook ads aren’t working? If you answered yes to the above question, then you probably have a brand problem. If your marketing isn’t working, or your content is not resonating with your audience, or if people are not clicking onto your website, then it’s time to reanalyze your brand strategy.


Marc Gutman is a storyteller, entrepreneur, adventure, and idealist. He’s also a friend of beer, coffee, water when waves, beaches, mountains, and snow. But most importantly, Mark loves stories today. Mark focuses his energy on Wild Story, the marketing agency for the arts, recreation, and entertainment industries.

In this episode, Marc and I talk about how every brand needs to start with strategy first; the importance of including your brand in your company culture; the power of authenticity, and the key branding question every business should ask. 


Let’s take a quick look at Apple and Samsung. In reality, there is no real difference between the two phones – you can text and stake photos. But what people are really buying is a way to differentiate themselves. 

This differentiation comes from brand attributes — questions such as: what is your core purpose, what do you stand for, what do you believe in, what is your voice and tone, who do you declare that you are for and against? 

Branding and brand strategy is becoming more important because it is becoming part of the conversation. People choose a brand, they enroll themselves into brands. Brand help defines who we are. Marc gives the example of the microphone is currently using, the Shure SM7B, and he chooses this mic because it is marketed as THE microphone that professionals and famous personalities use. And that brand messaged washed off onto him — he wanted to enroll and invest in that brand because he wanted to be part of that community and tribe. 

This is how brands must differentiate. Brands need to lean into qualities like their core purpose, their values, beliefs, what they stand for, etc. so that people can choose your brand and be part of your brand community.


Marc wants everyone to remember that all the big brands started somewhere. In the beginning, Walt Disney was just sketching cartoons. First and foremost, remember that all big companies started at the bottom. And so will you. All the big brands that entrepreneurs are comparing themselves against didn’t get to where they are overnight. They put in the work, and so must you.

The fundamental questions you must ask yourself: 

▶ Who are we for?

▶ What do we do?

▶ What is our backstory?

▶ What is our vision?

▶ What are our voice, tone, and personality?

▶ What is your why and purpose?

Don’t over-think it. Keep it simple. The last question might be the hardest to answer because entrepreneurs need to ask themselves the question: why do we exist beyond making money? 

That question is important because, according to Marc, there will be a lot of bad times. And during these bad times, entrepreneurs need something beyond the product that they are selling— something bigger than yourself to motivate you.


The second most important question that you need to focus on is: who are for? Your business exists to serve its customers. So who are your customers? What is their problem and how are you helping them solve that problem? As a brand, you need to know who you are for, and also who you are not for.


Let’s take the example of Patagonia, because, it’s doing everything right brand-wise. They know who they are and they know who they are not and from that, they have cultivated a strong and very loyal community. They’ve built a community around their brand. This loyal community is incredibly important because you have people who believe in your brand and who can look past some of the mistakes that you will make as a brand. Not only do they have this community but they are consistent and they are constantly showing up for their customers. If you think of brands as people, Patagonia is like your best friend who you love to have in your life — someone who is consistent, authentic, and reliable. They are not throwing you curveballs such as showing up one day as your best friend and then stabbing you in the back. 

But Patagonia knows who they are — they are consistent and repetitive across all channels. They talk about specific issues with a specific tone, and although this can constrain some of their creativity, they show up in a consistent way and they are extremely confident in who they are, who they serve, and their mission and values. 


▶ Start with Strategy

▶ Have a clear vision, mission, or greater purpose

▶ Culture = brand

▶ Create a Brand Manifesto

▶ Make the customer the hero of their own story

▶ Ask WHAT IF?

▶ Who are you?

▶ Never stop branding


Marc and I talk more about brand strategy, and we discuss in detail, the ten principles of a wild story brand, and how entrepreneurs need to be true to themselves while also remembering that branding is not a set it and forget but a life-long activity that will change and evolve as your brand grows over time. 

Hit play on the episode above for the full conversation on storytelling, strategic content, hiring a copywriter, and what you need to be able to produce branded content that your audience wants and needs. 


◼ Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn

◼ WILDSTORY Manifesto – Download the FREE Manifesto Brand Builder 

◼ Follow Marc Gutman on Twitter or Instagram

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

The Importance of Color in Branding with Alison Engel

The Importance of Color in Branding with Alison Engel

the branding lab podcast

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



By Yvonne Ivanescu

Is color really that important in branding? According to this week’s guest, Alison Engels, YES it is. In fact, according to research compiled by Colorcom, consumers “make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on colour alone.”


Alison Engel is a quirky creative designer with a deep unfiltered love for typography, layout and web design. Her background is in personal fashion styling, but when she decided to return to her graphic design career, she wanted to bring in those principles of personal styling and merge the two worlds together. 

In this episode, Alison and I talk about colour theory; the overlap between branding and personal styling and why she chose her particular brand colors when launching her vegan delivery app, 


When designing a brand, every element has a purpose and the color or the images you use, they only need to leave the person wanting more of you. For example, when you go home at the end of the night, after attending a party, you’re probably thinking about the people you met. And in that cause, you are probably remembering specific details.  

You’ll probably remember that guy who wore a really quirky shirt, that girl whose glasses were really cool, or, that person with the bright and quirky hair. If you translate that into branding, it’s exactly the same. You want people to remember you and to take away something from their experience with you. You want to stick in people’s mind because they remember certain things about you and your business. 

Today we are constantly bombarded with advertising on a daily basis, so you really need to capture and keep a person’s attention


As outlined by 99Designs, color theory “is both the science and art of using color. It explains how humans perceive color; and the visual effects of how colors mix, match or contrast with each other. Color theory also involves the messages colors communicate; and the methods used to replicate color.

There are many sides of color — cultural, religious, personal and even emotional. Colors can spark an emotion response, so when you are choosing your particular brand colours, it is important to think about the type of emotional response you’d like to your target audience to feel when they see your brand colors. And if you tie that back to the styling aspect, it’s all about being remembered. 

Known no one remembers the boring ones. No one remembers the Plain Jane. You need to be remembered and your brand needs to pop. You want to pop on the screen or pop on the page when someone is scrolling through Instagram, for example. So if you think about colors, 

And the truth is that each color can represent something different. There are three primary color/emotional categories to consider when selecting colors for design in marketing: warm, cool, and neutral.

Blue, greens, and purples are colors in the cool category and typically evoke emotions of professionalism, authority, and trust. This is why many corporations and financial institutions select cool colors in their branding. 

➡ Neutral colors are often used as secondary colors in branding or design. These colors include white, grays, browns, or black and can be used to “tone down” colors that may otherwise feel overpowering.

➡ Warm colors like bring emotions of joy, happiness, energy, and heat.

Let’s take the example of 🟥 🟥 🟥 — it’s quite a fierce color. It’s powerful. It is the color of blood and fire. The color is often associated with meanings of love, passion, desire, heat, longing, lust, sexuality, anger, danger … you get the point. It’s kind of important. And if you think about it in a real-life situation, you think about red carpet events. So if someone’s rolling out that red carpet, you know that important people around  instantly you’ve got an association. 

But let’s look at the cultural significance of red. In China, culture red represents joy, luck, and happiness. So that is where the spiritual and cultural aspects of color come in. In real life, a lot of brands use red in their branding: Netflix, Youtube, Virgin Airlines, and the American Red Cross.

Brands should also be wary of color pairings. Red-white, for example, evokes medical-related imagery, red-green is all about Christmas and red-yellow are the go-to colors of McDonald’s’.

In the end, it is important that you think about yourself as a brand, while also putting yourself in the shoes of your target market. Your brand needs to obviously attract your target audience. If you think about it in fashion terms, your vibes attracts your tribe.



who we are. | is the world’s first vegan food delivery app. 

It is a new concept in today’s kind of world. You’ve got your key players, you’ve got your Uber eats, you’ve got your Glover, but nothing like exists out there. So when founders Alison and Craig decided to launch their business, they wanted to stand out — to get noticed. 

So the colors that they chose, might not be the kind of colors you would imagine when you think of vegan food. You probably thought green right? Well, the colors of the brand are yellow and black. Why? Well because of what those colors represent.

Branding is all about telling a story, and with those colors, Alison wanted to tell a story that was cheeky. is meant to be a disrupter — edgy, slick, strong, and cool. They wanted to create something that would disrupt the market and go against the norm. 

So they eschewed the typical colors that are often paired with words like healthy and vegan. Instead they chose black and yellow. Why?  First off there is a bit of rebelliousness to black. It’s also got that kind of an underground feeling, and that’s exactly what is. It’s kind of more the rebellious kid on the block. It’s a little bit more underground and the smaller player. But small doesn’t mean I’m less effective. Then there is yellow. Yellow was choose because it is bold, energizing, playful and happy. It’s all about good vibes. 

In this way Alison 


Alison and I talk more about color, understanding that there are a number of things that you need to figure out before you move on to your brand identity and also talking about the importance of mood-boards or vision boards in crafting your visual identity.

Hit play on the episode above for the full conversation on marketing, messaging and more as we step into a new year.

Finding Your Business Why: Your Brand Purpose

Finding Your Business Why: Your Brand Purpose

the branding lab podcast

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


Find Your Business WHY:
The POWER of Purpose 

by Yvonne Ivanescu

Welcome to the first-ever episode of the Branding Lab Podcast 🎧🎙. For our inaugural episode, we decided to start all the way at the beginning, specifically understand the WHY of your business – what is your brand purpose? 

You’ve probably heard the quote by Simon Sinek, “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” Too often people forgo the WHY of their company to first focus on the WHAT and HOW, but it is the why that can provide that essential differentiator.

In this episode, I’ve sat down with Yulia Stark, founder of the FAB Academy, to talk all about the power of purpose. Until 2009 Yulia was a private banker, traveling between Geneva, Brussels, and Luxembourg, managing investment portfolios of her wealthy clients. Then the financial crisis hit and she lost a lot of clients. The crisis destroyed her business but also gave her the best present she ever had: the realization that I did not fit in anymore because honesty, authenticity, and freedom had become my core values. That moment was the beginning of a new journey. 

In this episode, Yulia and I chat about finding that G Spot in your business – your spot of greatness; identifying your core values, your brand purpose and steps on how you can monetize your passions. 


Money isn’t everything, but it does help. If you are doing what you love and you are not making any money from it you will probably get frustrated and burn out.

To understand or find your why, it can be beneficial to take a couple of hours to reflect and take the following steps;

STEP 1:  elicit your values. Tony Robbins has stated that values are like a compass that directs your life. So what do you value the most? Friends, family, travel, or wealth? Write down your top ten values and rank them from 1 to 10 from most important to least important.

STEP 2:  reflect and answer the following questions: if you knew that you would succeed without a doubt, what would you be doing? Another question that you can ask yourself is: if there was no such thing as money, but jobs still existed, what would you do for free?

Step 3: Make a list of everything that you are passionate about — even if you are not passionate about that’s fine. What are you interested in? Then make another list answering the question — what are your skills. Maybe you speak five different languages or maybe you are good at marketing? The last column is how you would connect all the interests and skills and monetize them.

Yulia provides an example of dance. She loves to dance and as a result of this, she decided that she wanted to become a dance teacher. So in 2019, she started to earn money by teaching people how to dance Zumba. And not only was she doing what she loved, but she earned a lot of money from it.

Understanding what you are passionate about and connecting them to skills while addressing how you can monetize that passion + skills is what Yulia called the sweet spot.


A lot of people don’t do what they love because they have a fear that they are going to fail — what if this doesn’t work?? In reality, fear will always be there, but it’s always over-exaggerated.

So how to get over the fear? Don’t overthink the process. Action is always the best healer but takes small actions. Just do the first step.

It’s also important to look for people who have already done what you want to do; in short, people who have successfully achieved what you want to achieve. These types of people will not only inspire you but will show you how to do it. And once you find these people, ask for their help — the worst thing that can happen is that they say no.

These fears and voices inside your head are not real. What is real and what really helps is your network. So invest your time and energy in networking, but remember that you need to figure out how you can help them before you ask them for help.



The problem is that there are a lot of people who are doing what they love but are not actually earning enough money. Most of the freelancers that Yulia knows are selling their time for money and it’s no scalable. They are often overworked. If you want to start a business it is important to think about scalability — the big picture. At times this might mean that you will need to acquire new skills.

Your passions need to be monetized because if they aren’t, then you just have an expensive hobby — that is also ok if that is what you want. But if you really want to scale, then you need to master new skills and understand the feedback from the market.

People buy from you, and not your services, at least in the beginning. Later when you scale, there is no more of YOU behind the project — but at the beginning, individuals value that storytelling element and connection with your brand. Never underestimate that.

It is also important not to lose yourself in the details. Don’t try to do everything yourself, invest in yourself and your business. That first 1,000 euros or dollars that you own, invest it. Find a freelancer that can do the copyrighting or advertising. This is the type of mentality that will allow you to move from an entrepreneur that struggles from pay-check to pay-check to an entrepreneur that is growing their team. You need to invest in your people and your team so that your business can grow.


In reality, not everyone needs to be this freedom-preneur living in Bali. Understand who you are and how your brain works. You can rewrite your story. There are different books in neuroscience, that states that sometimes we start believing the type of conversations we have with ourselves. Sometimes we can re-write that.

Those you take action without thinking about their values and the strategy behind their business will probably end up giving up quite easily. When you are connecting to your why, you’ll figure out all the other steps — the marketing strategy, the sales, the connections, etc. In the end, it’s important to remember that you are not doing it for the money, but you are doing it for what the money can give you related to your values — travel, freedom, more time with your family.

So calm your mind and take the small first step. Quite often we make decisions that are not aligned with who we are because we are stressed or have lost our balance. Take the time to write out what you want, and your why and plan out those small action steps that can take you to your ultimate goal. And remember: change the inner conversation that you are having with yourself and you will change the results as well

Interested in listening to another episode? Listen to What Brand Purpose Really Means & Why It Matters