Q&A with Branding Expert and Entrepreneur, Minling Chuang
Minling is the Founder of Brand Fame and a geek about all things branding. Good thing too, because as a brand marketing strategist and mentor, she has worked with solopreneurs, small businesses, consulting companies, and big brands to market and position themselves so that they become eye-popping 'It' brand that turn heads.
She has 8+ years of experience in branding and marketing, working on top brands such as Nestle Toll House, Lean Cuisine, and Toyota. While at Nestle, she even launched a $54 Million product for Lean Cuisine that won Product of the Year.
Her passion is to help female small business owners uncover their unique message so they can rapidly build a list of raving fans eager to buy along the way.
Minling holds an MBA from Indiana University and a BA from the University of Southern California. She has also been featured on the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Thrive Global, numerous podcasts, and spoken at various conferences.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
After receiving my MBA, I worked at Nestle for a few years doing branding and marketing for the Lean Cuisine and then the Nestle Toll House. This really where I learned the intricacies of branding and marketing because at the time I also had an opportunity of leading the launch of new products for Lean Cuisine. One of the products I worked on ended up making over $54 million in half a year and won Product Of The Year. After leaving Nestle, I also consulted for other Fortune 500 companies such as Toyota, UBM, and Sumitomo Corporation as well as small to medium businesses.
What inspired you to start your business?
It's been quite a journey with my business. Originally after I left Nestle, I didn't want anything to do with branding and marketing. I was burnt out. So I started an inspirational website and blog for a few years about helping people find their joy and passion. Working on that blog made me miss doing branding and marketing because I was essentially doing that for my own blog and I found that so many people have misconceptions about branding. Most people think branding is just about the logos, graphics, and website and I don't, based on my background and I have now made it my mission to teach solopreneurs what branding truly is and how to leverage it to truly stand out.
Where is your business based?
My business is based out of Los Angeles, California. I also started another business with a business partner and we are located on the opposite sides of the coast. She's near Tampa.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
Again, my business came about in a roundabout way since I first started with an inspirational blog. But when I started my branding business, I sought out a mentor to guide me. I felt that this was uncharted territory for me, starting my own business, and I wanted to do it right.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
There are two ways that I have raised awareness for my business. Because most of my business is based online, Facebook Ads have been one of the most effective ways to get cold traffic to experience my work and get to know me. The second way is to network and create partnerships. I love collaborating with others and have been on countless podcasts, guest blogs, tele-summits, live events as a speaker, programs as a guest teacher. This has helped position me as an expert in my field because I've been given a platform to showcase my knowledge. Collaboration is also how I met my business partner for my second business.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I had to overcome happened in the beginning of my business. When I was first starting out, I had to figure out how to finance my business because I was making investments in my business but not generating any income. I had to get creative and learn pretty fast on what I needed to do to sustain my business. But I wouldn't trade that experience for the world because it taught me a lot about being resilient and persistent.
How do you stay focused?
I focus on one goal at a time. I find that it's easier for me when I'm not multitasking. I choose a goal and finish that goal and then move onto the next one.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
My message and approach to branding differentiate my business from competitors. Many of my competitors talk about logos, graphics, and websites when it comes to branding. I always tell people that branding is more than these three things. And a lot of people resonate with this message when I explain why. I'm more interested in helping people find the heart of the brand through their message because this is what their audience will connect to.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
I mentioned part of this earlier when talking about the most effective way to raise awareness for my business. But to get more specific, I have found webinars and challenges to be the most effective tactics to grow my business. Both webinars and challenges have helped me build trust with my audience quickly, even if they just found out about me within the last week. The reason why it's effective is that in my webinars and challenges I focus on giving a ton of value, which builds trust. People always tell me that they love my content and that it shifted their way of looking at their business. This method is more effective than straight promotions. Don't tell people why you are great, show them by providing value.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
I have two pieces of advice. The first is commit to the long game of business. I see many aspiring and new entrepreneurs who have lofty income goals they want to hit in the first few months. And when they don't hit it right away, they give up. But to build a sustainable business, you will go through the bumps in the beginning where you don't see a return right away. Keep going. Keep learning. Keep growing. When you are committed to the long game of business, the short-term setbacks will make you stronger. And the setbacks actually help you refine your business. My business is completely different than when I first started and it took setbacks to realize what I needed to do in my business to have it grow every year.
The second piece of advice is to spend time nailing your target market and message BEFORE you invest in a website, graphics, or logo. I see so many people waste money on the visual brand before figuring out their brand strategy. With the large brands I've worked on, we never spent money on visuals until our strategy was validated. And that's what aspiring and new entrepreneurs should do first too. Get clear on who you serve, how you serve them, and make sure it's something they would want to buy before doing anything else. This is the foundation that will set you up for success.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
I read a lot of mindset related books because I believe that our mindset is the key to our success. I really like the books "The Science of Getting Rich" and "Working With The Laws". Both books shifted my perspective on many areas of my life.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
My favorite business tool has been Clickfunnels. It's a great tool to build marketing funnels and it's simple to use. I'm not tech savvy and I find it easy to navigate and create beautiful landing pages.
Who is your business role model? Why?
I'm blessed to have learned from many mentors on my journey so it's hard to pick one mentor I love. But in terms of business role models, I'd have to say I admire Kardashians and the way they've built an empire. Yes, there's controversy over some of their businesses, but the reason I picked them was that they are great at running multiple businesses. I believe in multiple revenue streams and they have been able to do that with their business and also connect with their audience in a deeply emotional way. Love them or hate them, they are doing something right and it's interesting to watch how they've built their brand from a business perspective.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
There are so many things in the works. First I have a group program, Brand Like A Boss that I run and will continue to run next year. It's all about helping new and aspiring entrepreneurs build a sustainable brand that makes money. Second, I'm working on creating more content for my business (videos, blogs, etc) to continue to provide value to my community. Third, my business partner and I are launching our new brand and programs. We successfully beta launched our first program together and will be re-launching it early next year.
How can our readers connect with you?
There are a few ways to connect with me...
I also have a free masterclass on branding if people want to learn more about How To Build a Brand Like A Boss.