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Hi everyone.

I registered for this forum last week, after listening to a great podcast on business meal etiquette, but just didn't have time to post anything. Now, I have a bit more time on my hands, so I thought I'd start with a short bio of myself.

My name is William Golden Wilkins. I live near Los Angeles. I'm the founder & chief executive officer of [url=http://www.integral-identity.com]Integral Identity[/url], a brand experience consulting firm I launched nearly two years ago (October 15, 2004). I'm also the VP of Communications for the [url=http://www.integral-identity.com]Southern California American Marketing Association[/url]. Before starting Integral Identity, I had no managerial experience and only limited entrepreneurial experience (I practiced graphics design on a freelance basis), and I have no college degree (but did complete several courses and managed to maintain a high GPA before deciding in mid-2005 to focus full time on building my firm).

I started my company for the reason that I was studying marketing and economics at the time (academically), and one of my clients wanted me to share some of what I was learning about branding with them, and so it essentially mushroomed from that point. I had, at the time, been enthusiastically studying business history, and felt a strong entrepreneurial impulse. I've had a great run, and a massive amount of fun, in the past two years. I plan on returning to college at some point in the future, as my long term academic goal is to get a PhD in management science, a field that has fascinated me.

One challenge that I've faced, and what drew me to this site, is that I have no relatives who are even remotely involved with business management, and while I do have mentors, it does feel awkward asking questions about really basic things. I've been fortunate in that I haven't made any really embarrassing faux pas in the two years I've been doing this, and I strongly desire to keep it that way, and thus, I felt very relieved to find this website.

PierG's picture

Welcome WGW.
I'd try to ask basics questions to mentors and peers: you'll be surprised to find them in your same situation! ;)
PierG

Mark's picture

Welcome William-

Glad you're here, and we look forward to hearing from you, and serving you.

Mark

badman's picture

I looked at your website. I like what you do.

It's unfortunate that so many small businesses put branding on the side of their to-do list instead of putting it at the forefront.

I mean really, branding is the graphical mission statement of your product line. Everything visual is derived form the branding bible of the product line. Nice to see you doing this with large AND small businesses. I can think of a handful of small firms in Southern California alone that would benefit from proper branding if only they would make it a priority.

WGW's picture

Thanks for the warm welcome. To respond specifically to Badman's comments, the thing about most small businesses that I've dealt with is that they simply "don't get it." When I first started, I had some clients in that area, and they were harder to work with than any of my corporate clients. What you generally saw was a complete lack of interest in concept of brand experience, a nauseating "wheeler-dealer" approach to decision-making, customer service, et cetera, and a predominantly 1P approach to marketing.

The small clients that I do have are typically small startups in IT, that have managers that as a rule, do "get it." They understand branding, they understand marketing, and they do business in a professional manner. Small industrial firms with professional management teams and at least 20 million or so in revenues are also usually a good fit.

On another comment, I think it's important to think of branding as more than just creating the visual identity. Branding ideally should be about building a powerful experience that is sufficiently compelling that it causes stakeholders in the specified target market to continually prefer one brand over the rest. To do branding right, you need to look beyond marketing and communications, and pay attention to customer service, human resources, and anything else that has the potential to impact the experience in a noticeable way.