How to Grow A Sticky Brand with Jeremy Miller

How to Grow A Sticky Brand with Jeremy Miller

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

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

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