#65: Learn Branding from PepsiCo's former VP of Design: Philip VanDusen

Welcome to The Creator's Adventure where we interview creators from around the world, hearing their stories about growing a business.

Our guest today is an expert in branding, design and online business. Philip VanDusen is the owner of Verhaal Brand Design a brand strategy and design agency serving SMBs and entrepreneurs. Philip previously served as VP of Design at PepsiCo and Old Navy and as Executive Creative Director at Landor Associates.

As a thought leader, Philip shares his expertise in brand building on YouTube to his 255k subscribers, in his Brand•Muse newsletter and on the Brand Design Masters podcast.

Philip brings to his clients, followers and audiences a unique blend of expertise gained from leading brand-building initiatives from both the client-side and agency-side perspectives.

Learn more about Philip VanDusen: https://philipvandusen.com


Bryan McAnulty: Welcome to The Creator's Adventure, where we interview Creator's from around the world, hearing their stories about growing a business. Today's guest is Philip Van Ducen, and he's gonna share all about how to improve your personal branding. Philip has worked as the VP of Design at companies like PepsiCo and Old Navy and a number of other large businesses.

Now he helps Creator's like yourself learn how to improve their personal brands. Hey everyone. I'm Brian McNaulty, the founder of Heights Platform. Let's get into it.

Hey everyone. We're here today with Philip Van Ducen. He is the owner of Veal. Brand Design, a brand strategy and design agency serving SMBs and entrepreneurs. Philip previously served as VP of Design at PepsiCo and Old Navy, and as executive creative director at Landor Associates as a thought leader, Philip shares his expertise in brand building on YouTube to his 255,000 subscribers in his Brand Muse Newsletter and on the Brand Design Matters podcast.

Welcome to the show.

Philip VanDusen: Thanks a lot, Brian. Thanks for having me on the show.

Bryan McAnulty: Sure. So my first question for you today is, what would you say is the biggest thing that you did or you, or you are doing that's helped you to achieve the freedom to do what you enjoy?

Philip VanDusen: Well, I have to say I did work for the man for about 25 years before I went out on my own.

And you mentioned that in the intro, and that was, you know, very formative. To what I do now, essentially, I mean, I've been helping companies and clients build brands for 25 years. And so what I learned in both the agency and the client side is what I, what I bring to the table today. So, and my success in my career has also kind of set that level of credentials that I have to bring to the table to, you know, prove.

I kind of, I know what I'm talking about. But what the kind of constant thread that I would say that I've had throughout my whole career is that. I, there's this great quote by an amazing branding guy who like wrote the book on marketing named Zig Ziglar. And he has this quote that says, you can get everything you want outta life by helping other people get what they want out of life.

And essentially that's kind of what a mantra I've lived for my life by. I try to help people get what they want. Out of life, whether that's, you know, having a great career, having a successful business, I really genuinely care about both the people that work for me, who I want to succeed and grow as well as the clients that I have or the customers that I'm serving to make sure that they're getting what they need.

So it's really about service in my book, and I think that. For probably your audience with the course Creator's and entrepreneurs and solopreneurs that you have listening. It's very much about that as well. So we wanna make sure that we're, you know, I'm kind of laser focused on that, and that's been the thread.

I think that's, that's brought me where I am today.

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah, that's awesome. I think that's great advice. Personally, I can't, I can't imagine that any other way. I, I think the same way about that. So that's, that's interesting. I think that I, I would try to, to understand how people who don't think that way what, what their process is.

And I guess, like I've talked with entrepreneurs in the past where like you mentioned about like your team, how like you care about the team, you care about the clients I talked with like entrepreneurs in the past who, like, they, they don't care about the team in the same way that like, I feel like I do, or, or it sounds like you do.

And they just see them as like, oh, these are people working for me. So I. Like, I don't really want to interact with them. They're just, they just do things for me, so I get to do something else that I, I care about. And so they don't have the same level of care for them, I guess. And like, and that's, that's the most that I can say, like it's coming to mind is how I've experienced someone else thinking differently about that.

And like, what I would still even suggest to them is to like find. Find people that you can work with that you, you will care about them. And because it, it makes everything better and easier. You're, you're all really, truly working together towards the same thing. I think when, when it's like that and, and everybody has everybody involved in, in the whole process, your customers, yourself, your team has more motivation to want to help you.

And the, the whole brand, the whole vision succeed that way.

Philip VanDusen: A Absolutely. And you know, people who don't value their teams and the people who work with them or for them generally don't last very long. Hmm. And the ones who super succeed are the ones I think who realize that, you know a rising sea floats all boats.

You know, if you. If you bring others with you, they're gonna stay motivated and inspired and, and want to do their best work. And if they don't feel seen or heard then they're not going to. Yeah, definitely.

Bryan McAnulty: So you have over 25 years of experience in branding graphic design. You're now the CEO of your own branching agency.

Can you tell us a little bit more like what led you to start your own agency and what do you feel makes it unique? Sure.

Philip VanDusen: Well, as you said, I worked for some really big companies and I worked for some really giant clients and the agencies that I worked for previously when I was working for the Man.

And so I'd been building other people's brands for 25 years. And I came to a point in my career where I was just like, you know what? I've spent all this time building other people's brands and I've never built my own. And I, to be honest with you, I was kind of done with work, working with the Fortune 100.

I know that's kind of weird to say, but I've been working with giant companies for so long cuz everyone's usually aspiring to get bigger and bigger clients. Right. And I just wanted to work for. You know, small to medium sized businesses, which, you know, medium is like up to a hundred million a year or whatever.

But also with creative professionals and entrepreneurs and and startups because what I saw in my, you know, big agency, big Big business days was that these companies could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars doing brand strategy and marketing and design through a very kind of thoughtful, strategic lens that a lot of smaller companies couldn't afford or they didn't understand the value of it.

And so when I went out on my own and decided to start. Working with these, these clients on my own, I wanted to bring to them this kind of rigor of strategic branding and be able to have it benefit their businesses. So I was able to take kind of that methodology and scale it down to a place where it could be really utilized and, and, and put to work for smaller businesses, even down to an individual, someone b, building a personal brand.

And so that was my mission. My mission was really to take that skill and that knowledge of working with these huge companies and bring it to people who could use it on a smaller scale essentially. And it, the other, you know, mean this is a self-serving piece of it, is that. When you work with giant companies, things, things move at a glacial pace, right?

And you're also working sometimes with many, many different layered levels of teams and projects. Take six months or a year or two years, and working with solopreneurs and entrepreneurs and, and small businesses, you can see things you know happen very quickly. And they can make dramatic changes and dramatic, dramatic improvements and improvements in their business in a very short period of time.

So that's very satisfying to me to be able to influence a company or, and help companies you know, do take the actions that they need in order to succeed and see that result right away.

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah. Yeah. That, that, I think that's something I personally love about. Working with the, the customers that we have at Heights, Platform and also like our own business being a small business, that we get to make these rapid changes and then have this, this much quicker feedback loop than if we were a, a really big organization.

So, yeah, you've worked, so I have,

Philip VanDusen: I have that very quickly apologize to your listeners. Anyone who's heard me on a podcast before knows that my voice isn't usually this deep, so I'm kind of getting over a, a cold. So I apologize that I sound like a villain on a Disney movie. But, so, just, just a heads up that this is not my usual voice.

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah, no worries. So you, you've worked as the VP of design for companies like PepsiCo, and you've mentioned all these you've worked for a lot of Fortune 100 companies. I just wanna list some of them here. So like Proctor and Gamble, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and many more. And what I would love to do in this episode is, as you said, like you want to take some of that knowledge and now like bring it to.

Individuals and small businesses, how, how they can implement that. So what I think would be really powerful is to help share a little bit more about how like our Creator's and our audience can grow their personal brand. So I guess some, my first question would be before we get like right into like the personal branding, is what would you say are like some other takeaways that you've learned about.

Like standing out in the crowd and like how it, how it worked in working with these, these giant organizations and companies.

Philip VanDusen: Yeah, I mean, what I, what I, what I did then and what I do now is the same thing. I mean, that's the, that's the beautiful thing about successful branding and marketing is that you practice the same principles.

You just do it at different scales. And you know, when you have a company the size of PepsiCo that has, you know, hundreds of billions of dollars a year in revenue, they're sponsoring the Superbowl halftime show. Right? But they, they go about their business and build their brand. With the same tenants that a solopreneur would or someone who's building a personal brand where they're just gonna sell a course.

The, the principles of building a brand and the things that you have to address and pay attention to and cultivate and, and, and build are the same. It's just a question of kind of scale of how it's being implemented. So if there's one thing I took away from. That experience. It's, you know, seeing that come to life across many, many, many different types of companies and many different industries.

Everything from, you know, aeronautics to food, to office supplies, to pet food, I mean, everything under the sun and. All those principles are always the same. So it doesn't really matter what kind of business you're in or what kind of course you're teaching or what kind of business you're kind trying to make successful.

The tenants of branding are the same. And so that's my big takeaway. And and that's what I also kind of want to bring to your, your listeners, is that You don't have to be intimidated by what these huge companies are doing because you're gonna do a similar thing, but just at a different scale.

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah, that sounds great.

So yeah, our audience is mainly like course Creator's coaches, solopreneurs. What would you say to somebody who says, well, I don't know if I really need a personal brand. I just have this product that I've created this course or, or coaching program, whatever it is, I'm just gonna promote that it's about this specific result.

But I don't really wanna work on the, the personal branding side. What would you say to somebody like that?

Philip VanDusen: I would say that if you want to sell a course, you have to, it's just kind of, it's the cost of entry. Excuse me. Because if you're selling a course, you are selling your authority. That's what you're selling and you are selling the result that people are going to take away from that course.

And in order to have confidence that you're gonna be able to deliver that result, you have to establish a certain level of credibility and authority in what it is that you're teaching. And that's what all, that's what building a personal brand is about. It's about building authority online. There's an acronym I'll throw out too, which I find really helpful.

When you're thinking about personal branding. And that's fi, it's five vs. And that's vision, value, voice visibility, and volume. And. When you talk about your vision, everyone has to have a mission. We have to have a reason for being. What do you, what's the change that you want to see in the world? You have to have, you know, a purpose to do what you're doing, right?

And then you have to decide what your value's gonna be. What are you gonna deliver for people? What is that transformation that you're gonna enable in them? And pursuant to our very earliest part of this conversation, understanding. What that value is that you're going to be able to deliver people and what that's going to mean to them and their lives and their businesses is the most important thing because people just care about themselves, right?

People want to, they want to succeed, and you want to help them succeed. So understanding what the value is that you're going to deliver and really getting down to what that. What we used to call 'em the branding biz is the consumer needs state. What is it that they really need? And then you have to start thinking about your voice.

So how are you gonna show up? How is you gonna show up as an individual? What's your personality? You have to post like a person. You have to show up like a person because people do. My friend Chris Tucker always says, people do business with people. They don't do business with brands. And that's more true now than ever.

And this is actually where I think that personal brands and entrepreneurs have it over companies like PepsiCo. Yeah. Or, you know, GE or p and g is that when you have a gigantic corporation, it's very in, it's very very, very difficult and risky, in fact, to revolve your brand around an individual person.

And when you're building a personal brand, that is basically what you're doing. So you're establishing a level of, you know, voice that you have. You have to show your humanity, you have to show that you really care and you have to show up. The next one is visibility. So then you have to figure out where you going to show up, how are people gonna find out about you.

Yeah. And that's where you start displaying the value that you're gonna be bringing and starting to build that authority in yourself online. Right? And what are the key platforms you're gonna show up on? How are you gonna deliver some of that value for free so people can really understand what it is that you're, you're good at, right?

And. That's also where you are, you know, to a certain extent starting your sales funnel, right? You're starting with the large, the, the broadest group of people that you can expose yourself to, to an extent who are going to act as that initial the group of people who might possibly in the future buy a course from you.

And then the final V is volume. And what I mean by volume is, you know, when you're building a personal brand, when you're selling a course, when you're marketing anything, volume trumps quality any day of the week. And I'm not dissing on, you know, spending. 10 hours writing a blog post, but the life of media and content in the world today, the lifespan is so short that I have this saying that I kind of coined that says out of feed, out of mind, and you have to be constantly showing up in people's feeds for them to get the brand impressions that are necessary for them to even want to engage with you for the first time.

Yep, I heard this, I heard this kind of, you know, and you can't nail down these facts were being really true, right? But it used to be that you would need three to five brand impressions, you know, an advertisement or radio ads, something like that before you would consider buying a certain product. This is in the days of more traditional media now because of the number of brand impressions that we are Del Sed with every day, they're saying it takes anywhere from 18 to 36.

Brand impressions before people consider working with you. Because it's so easy to, it's so easy to show up online so people don't trust you as quickly, and people also forget you quicker because our attention spans have been reduced so dramatically. So visibility and volume are two of the kind of key points that personal brand builders really have to pay attention to.

Bryan McAnulty: Definitely. Yeah, I think the, there's all great points that you mentioned. And the, the volume one is important. And the one that I feel like personally myself, I've only more recently like solidified out of the, the rest of those points that you've mentioned, realizing that like, okay, I know now that we're, we're doing the rest of those points, we have that covered.

But how do we do more of it? Because that's, that's really the factor. And like, as you mentioned, like I can think of myself and I'm sure our, our viewers and listeners can think of as well, like that you've seen the brand and you've ignored it. You've ignored whatever the, the message or whatever it was on social media only to a couple weeks later see something about it again, and then you took action on it.

But I, I think like anyone can point it, it's easy to think like, well, wow, wow, 18 times before really, does it really take that long? But I think if you go and think about it, it, it's easy to find those examples yourself where like, yeah, you did hear about that, but you didn't actually engage with it or do anything, even become a lead for that company or anything until some other time that you saw them.

It wasn't the first time. And so, yeah, the, the volume's important. And, and figuring out how you can balance, like creating quality work and, and, and valuable work for everyone. But also like, as you said, like if you spend all this time on one blog post and then that's all you can do, then yeah. It's, it's so easy to be out of sight outta mind, as you mentioned.

Absolutely. And I, I also like the point about the, the power of the personal brand and how there's advantages to that over. Having a personal brand versus like these, these big brands where they, they don't get to have that because of risks and, and other things. And I feel that yes, definitely now it's, it's more powerful than ever.

I thought at, at first, like, I mean, and I think this was like the. The conventional wisdom of the time few years back, that, okay, well if you wanna build a personal brand, you can get to a certain level. But if you want to like really, really become successful and, and have this legacy of your, your brand and your company, then you wanna focus a brand that's not just you and, and building something bigger than that.

And that's true to an extent, but I think that. It would be a mistake for anybody to consider and say like, I'm just gonna do that. I don't have to be involved in it in any way because you're making it way harder for yourself, I think if you're not also having some component of the personal brand because of the power of that and, and nowadays people are not only more trusting of the individuals and like their capabilities, I think, but.

Also, like it's so much easier to relate to the actual person than just a logo that you're seeing.

Philip VanDusen: Absolutely. And I think one of the biggest things is the trust factor. And that is that it's so easy to create a website and a social media profile and company name and a logo, and it's easy to show up as a credible company you know, just by look like.

Give me two days with Canva and I can like build a brand that you would believe was a real business. And it doesn't, it doesn't take much to do that. Like teenagers can do it right? And. That is both wonderful. On one hand that people have, this is the leveling of the playing field that I talked about at the beginning, right?

Mm-hmm. Which is we as personal brands have the same tools and the same ability to build brands and become visible and have a voice and make an impact that these large companies do. That's the wonderful thing about it. The not so wonderful thing about it is that everybody and their mother has a brand now and it's very easy to paint a beautiful picture online, but not have anything, no man behind the curtain.

You know what I mean? Mm-hmm. So you have to really work at showing the value that you are giving to people and backing it up with true, and I hate this word, authenticity, but just like being real. You know, and and that is one of actually the toughest things for people to do when they're building personal brands is to show any level of vulnerability or any level of man behind the curtain.

Everyone wants everyone to be perfectly Instagram filter, polished, you know, all the time. But the funny thing is, is that when you show a level of imperfection or, or or Kind of the, what I like to call the messy middle, right? Not the polished piece at the end, but the stuff that goes into making it.

People really appreciate that and it humanizes you, and they can start to identify with you as a human being. And that's what really galvanizes the connection between between people and personal brands is that level of identification. And it's really difficult to get that as a company. It's much easier to get as an individual.

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah. Yeah. I think that's a great point. And I think that's like a great reason why like something like a podcast is so powerful for personal brands because somebody gets to really like connect with you on a much deeper level. And I wonder, I wonder if their studies have been done at all about like impressions needed to become a customer from a personal brand versus like a logo.

That'd be a great study. I think it would be way more for the logo because of all the reasons that you said that like, oh yeah, you don't get to build up that trust. Whereas like there's a chance, like somebody could be watching this podcast and they say like, wow, like Philip, like I completely get him.

Like, I really resonate with this. I wanna work with Philip. But like if there was just a logo, they might need to see that so many times before they really either believe or even understand. So, Why they would connect with you and, and see that same value.

Philip VanDusen: That is absolutely true, and that's how I built my consultancy.

That's how I built my agency. When I left big corporate, big agency and went out on my own, I wasn't gonna work with the Fortune 100 anymore. So I didn't have any, none of my connections, hundreds of connections I built my whole career were gonna be any use to me. So, I had to figure out how to get clients and so I started doing YouTube videos and just sharing everything I knew about branding and design and creative careers and marketing with the world for free.

And my idea behind that was that people will see me, they'll see that I know what I'm talking about. And they will, you know, eventually come to know, like, and trust me, and they'll hopefully contact me for a business. And that is exactly what happened. And within nine months, let's say a year, 85% of my clients were coming to me directly from YouTube.

And today, six years later, having been on YouTube for six years, six, yeah, six or seven. About 80% of my clients come to me directly from YouTube. And here's the most important thing for your listeners, is that when people do come to me, they already feel like they know me and they already want to do business with me.

So it really comes down to a question of scope. And price. And that's a beautiful thing because it cuts out that whole first 45 minute hour conversation of you showing your credentials and proving you know what you, you know, want. They already know you, they already trust you. They already understand and like your vibe, right?

Which is why they contacted you and jumping over that hurdle of establishing your credibility. And likability is huge. And it, it's an evergreen funnel of new clients that's sitting up there online and working for you in terms of SEO for Google search and everything else. That that works while you sleep.

Works while you sleep. Yeah.

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah, definitely. I think that's a super powerful point, especially for anyone who. Has been involved in some kind of service business that there's so much time can be spent in even like qualifying that prospect if they, if it makes sense for you to think, to work with them and for them to qualify you if, if they think it makes sense.

And yeah, all, all those phone calls, follow ups and, and all that kind of thing, you get to skip all of that if you have this content that you're putting out there that's. It's really leveraging your time well because you can make it once and as you said, it's just, it's always there doing that work for you.

Philip VanDusen: Yeah, absolutely. And I encourage anybody who's listening to do it and it's a good way to start to tiptoe into becoming visible and, you know, content marketing as a, as an all, all-in sort of thing. It is a huge commitment and content marketing is also, it's a long game, right? It's not like advertising.

It's not like you do a video, you put it up on YouTube and suddenly you're getting clients, you know? Paid advertising is like that, but content marketing, developing credibility and authority online, which is the sort of things that drive people to courses, is what you have to do in order to to market something like that, because, The world is full of courses that, you know, people have never heard of or they never heard of the person, or they, you know, aren't sure that they're gonna get the value that they think for the price point.

And so the more credibility you can establish before they ever come in contact with something to purchase from you, you are building your chances of getting a sale much, much faster and higher.

Bryan McAnulty: Definitely. Yeah. I wanna mention one other point about the whole being real, because I think that's so important.

Like we've, we've brought it up multiple times on this show before, and what I would say is like, yes, like it's uncomfortable to, to really, truly be yourself and, and not worry about the, the imperfections and things like that. But the imperfections are also part of what helps people trust you. And like, so like, that's another way to look at it as far as that like really being yourself and like, what I would say, like an example of all that is like, you came on here today, you have a, you have a cough and everything, as you said, your, your voice is not really the way it normally is.

And like, you didn't say like, can't do it today. I'm not gonna appear like super perfect. I'm, I'm not gonna do that. And by the fact that you showed up and we're, we are doing it today. Like, that's another, like, I don't know, that's a perfect example of how like you're really being you and I think people will even relate to you more because of that and saying like, wow.

He's, he's, I, I can relate to this person. He's, he's a really, a real guy. He's not like this, this perfect thing that I can never even imagine could exist.

Philip VanDusen: Yeah. But I tell you it Brian, it is really hard to do. Yeah, it's really hard to do. And the more content I put out there and the more value I put out there, the more of a kind of a combined polished content presence I have, and it becomes more and more difficult to let people see behind the curtain.

And I was, I was at Social Media Marketing World last week in San Diego, which is where I caught this cold, I think. And. I was watching a presentation on Instagram and the speaker encouraged us to like just walk out of the conference session and like, go live on Instagram. And I realized I hadn't been live on IG in like, I don't know, a nine months or something like that.

And I just thought, I'm gonna take her up on it. So I just went out to this conference room and I started going live. And just, you know, talking to anybody who showed up. I had no script, I had no agenda, I had no, you know, kind of topic I was gonna talk about. I just started like saying hi and talking about the conference and what I just saw and what I've been thinking about and some ideas I have for my business that, you know, I'm showing on my hat right now.

And that is, but it felt great after I did it. But going live unscripted these days for me, actually has become kind of hard because there's, I feel like there's this level of delivery of expectation that people have of my content, which I just have to get over, you know? And, and I think that so it's not easy and I just want everyone to hear that, that it's not easy being on video.

It's not easy being on a podcast. It's not easy putting yourself out there. But the more you do it, the easier it gets. Yep. So you kind of have to just start. Definitely.

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah. I mean, and, and I can attribute like this the same kind of thing to that. Like I am still also struggling myself with some of that.

I think I should probably do some, some live live things like that as well. And for me, it's not so much a worry of like, The, the presentation of it, but it's more so like, is my, like the, the things that I'm thinking about just during the day that I would probably end up talking about in the live, like would it be.

Helpful or, or understood by same, the people in the same way. And like, I, I'm struggling. I guess my struggle is, is that going to be valued to people? Is it just gonna be like all these messy thoughts in my head is, is is just annoying for people to listen to.

Philip VanDusen: But I, no, but what it does is it validates people's own meth, messy thoughts.

Hmm. Everyone thinks that they're the only one. Yep. Right. And that's why the ma masterminds that I run are so powerful is that people ha they bring to, you know, a more, a networking gathering of people who are doing somewhat of the same thing, decisions that they're struggling with, or challenges that they have, and.

They, they get feedback around that indecision, the pros and cons, tools people use. You know, whether people think it's right for their business or not, and they get a level of. You know, validation of their confusion, but they also get help. And I think that by letting people in Brian to see you and your messy thoughts that gi, they look at you too, and they say, wow, he's got a podcast, he's got a SAS company, he's got, you know, he's got all this stuff, he's got an agency, he's got all his stuff going on, and he's just like me.

You know, he still struggles with, you know, What the decision that he's gotta make that day on one particular thing. So I don't feel like dope because I'm struggling with that too. And that's what I think brings together this level of true engagement. That is what really cements followers and community.

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah. Yeah. I think that's a great point. All right. Well, and my own selfish reasons of, of. Helping to get somebody else's feedback in, in making this easier for me and, and hopefully it does help inspire somebody listening or watching. What would you say then, like, my other concern is that I am building this SaaS business and what we're doing, where, where we're at and the actions we have to take are going to be different than like the average customer that we have who's a course creator, especially one who's just starting out.

And so I guess my other concern is I don't want to either alienate or intimidate somebody who could be a potential customer who, who wants to get started in all of this. And then they hear about everything where we're at now, maybe at a level that they're, they never even aspire to be to, which is completely fine, but there's either too much technicality involved in it, too much work, whatever it is.

What do you, what would you say to my concern about that?

Philip VanDusen: I think that just like when you're show as a designer, just when you have a designer and you have a website and you're showing your work, you have to show your work in terms of a case study, right? So when people look at case studies on my website, they see I've helped, you know, up.

A personal coach, an executive coach, and I built a brand for her, and then brand identity, website, logo, the whole thing. And they can see themselves in that. They can identify with it. So when you're, you know, marketing and telling the story of the transformations that you offer people, you have to, you know, kind of showcase it in.

A number of different levels. You know, you can show it in a level for someone who is their very first course who's just starting, you know out, and they need the most basic of tools and they want to create the most basic of courses. And then you have a case study or an example where it's someone who's more mid-tier and someone who's more advanced.

You have to kind of create a case study or a scenario and tell that story so people can see themselves in it. Because if people can't see themselves in the solution that you offer, it's harder for them to buy in. Yeah. Cool. Okay.

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah, I think that is that's exactly what I meant, and, and that's exactly what the concern is that, that people can't see themselves.

So if I can take the things I'm gonna talk about and just keep in the back of my mind who, who's the, the persona of, of where they're at, that I'm speaking to with this. And just keeping to my, keeping my mind to not only discuss maybe things that would apply to only the people who are a little bit more further along in their journey, but also of the experiences that I had with the customers recently who were just starting out because whatever I shared with them would also be helpful to others and, and actually that's really helpful because I think I can definitely do that.

Because I do spend time like looking at our support ticket queue every single day. So I, I do work with, it's not, it's not that I'm completely disconnected from those customers. I am still working with them. So even though the tasks and, and overall goals I have day to day may not be the things that the beginners can resonate with as much, there's definitely still experiences that I've had with those beginners that I can talk about.

So that's a great point. Thank you.

Philip VanDusen: Yeah, absolutely. A little free consulting.

Bryan McAnulty: Awesome. So what would you say is maybe some steps to help somebody get started with this? And like, if you could give like a rough outline of like start to finish. What are things I would have to work on, or, not me, but like anyone listening to this, would have to work on to help build their personal brand.

So like they're listening to this, they say, okay, I got it, guys. Like gonna work on a personal brand. Where do I start?

Philip VanDusen: Yeah. Personal branding can be very complicated when you look at it as a whole. And I have, I've developed this really great tool I'm gonna share with your audience and they can go and download it.

It's a free PDF and it's, I, it's a tool I invented called the Personal Brand Wheel. And it's essentially a, an evaluation tool, this visual, and it's very easy to use but it creates a visual model of where you are in your personal brand building journey. And it also, by virtue of how it's organized, it kind of creates a map of the things you have to do by the same token.

So if you go to philip van ducen.com/pw for personal brand wheel, you can download this PDF tool about five pages. I have a description of how to use it. It's a really great tool. And what I'm gonna talk about just very quickly as to answer your question, is kind of based on that tool to an extent.

They're kind of four main quadrants of developing a personal brand. One is your foundation of what is my story, what is my purpose, what is the value that I'm bringing to the table? So you know the brand strategy behind what it is that you do. The next quadrant is kind of your presence or your omnipresence.

Where are you showing up? How are you showing up? So this is your, and what do you look like? So this is your brand design, your logo, your color palette, your fonts, all that stuff. You have to decide when you start doing social media. It's also your website. Are you going to have a website? Are you gonna just be on social platforms?

What platforms are you going to be on? What is your digital real estate going to be and what is that digital real estate gonna look like? The next step is engagement, where you actually start creating content, distributing value, building a community, building an, you know, an email list, distributing what it is that you do so people can start to learn the value that you bring.

And then finally, it, it moves into what I call transformation, which is. Where you have started to create transformations for people and you start to document those, you start to kind of share the case studies of people who have used what you offer and how it's changed their businesses. And you use that to grow.

You use that to attract new customers. You attract, use that to to inspire people to make transformations in their own businesses or lives. And you're also growing your network and growing your influence. In that kind of stage of the game. So when you think of it in those kind of big buckets, it's easier to get your head around what you actually have to do to build a personal brand.

One is you have to figure out your mission and why you exist and what the value it is you're bringing. If the build kind of digital real estate and a presence and start. What you're gonna look like, where you're gonna show up and then start showing up. Right? Start, start the engagement. Start delivering the thing for free so people can experience you, get to know you as we were talking about throughout the podcast, and start to know, like, and trust you.

And then you start creating those transformations people and however you deliver it, whether that's a course or something else a coaching experience, whatever. So, And then you, you grow and expand and improve. So those are kind of the key, the key pieces of building a personal brand cuz it's very, I know this personally, I mean, seven years ago when I left the big corporate world, I had nothing.

I was naked. Like I didn't know anything about personal brand building cuz I'd been building other people's brands. I was paying no attention to building my own. And I knew about branding, but I'd never done it for myself. And so I know how completely overwhelming it is when you look at all the possibilities of what it is that you can do or should do or what other people are doing.

And it can be deflating if you think you gotta like flip a switch and show up everywhere and be perfect. Because you can't, everyone starts from zero. Everyone has to start somewhere and then you build and evolve. You can't get scared by the, what I like to call a blank canvas syndrome, where you have a big, giant blank painting canvas in front of you and you're afraid to make that first mark.

You just, cuz you can't figure out how your masterpiece is gonna come to life. But no masterpiece can come to life until you start making marks. Yep. So you gotta start.

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah, definitely. And yeah, I think we've mentioned that before on the show as well, that like, You have to do something, you have to get something out there.

Don't worry about it being perfect, because no matter how perfect you try to make it now, a year from now, two years from now, a few months from now, you'll think it's, it's horrible. Or you'll, you'll see all these things you could improve anyway. Yes, you will. And so, absolutely. So just start doing it now.

I can attest to that myself. I'm, I'm sure that you can as well. But definitely everyone go and check out Philips guide there on his site. We'll link that in in our description for the show as well, because I think that people get stuck when they don't have not only the blank canvas, but they don't have a process.

And having the process and, and knowing like, okay, well this is my, my brand. Like this is my vision. This is my story. This is putting together those pieces, putting together the, the way that you're going to, to act even for yourself. It, it may sound silly, but it's like, well, I, I am myself. I know how to act.

But, but yeah. How are, how are you gonna do these things and, and present yourself? It's important to have that process because once you have a process, somehow then things can get done. And like that applies definitely to like a, a company as you grow in making sure your, your team can understand that. But like it really implies to like you as an individual as well.

I think that it's like even what we were talking about earlier, it goes back to like me thinking about the, the live streaming and you talking about the live streaming. I didn't have a processor idea of like, how, how would I do that? You know, like I do for this podcast or, or other things that we do.

And just making a, a small document or taking a little time to write and, and think about that, then you have it, and now you can go and do it.

Philip VanDusen: Yeah. And I'll just leave the, your, your listeners with this is that when you're starting the beautiful thing is that no one's there. Mm-hmm. No one's watching because the room is empty.

I like, I like to kind of, building a personal brand is like, you know, usually you have, it's like a concert. You know when you, the audience fills up the room and then the act comes on and everyone collapse and they perform, and then the act leaves, and then the people filter out, right? Building a personal brand is complete opposite of that.

Building a personal brand. The act comes on stage and starts playing their heart out for like 20 minutes. And then the people start to slowly filter in one by one by one, and then the, the audience fills up and hopefully like the, they like the band and then they clap, and then they pay for the concert.

They don't pay for the concert before they ever get in. So you have to perfor, you have to be comfortable performing for a long period of time to an empty room. But that's the beautiful thing, is you can work out all the, all the bumps and all the, you know, you can learn in public. Yep. With, because you don't have an audience at the beginning.


Bryan McAnulty: I'm glad you mentioned that because. From my early days as doing web design and things like that for clients, everyone was so scared of like, oh, well we wanna turn the website on a little bit earlier to make sure Google can index it so when you really launch, then it's ready. And they would be so afraid, like, oh, I don't, I don't wanna put it up yet.

What if somebody sees it? There's something that's not perfect with it yet. And the way I always thought about it is if somebody sees it, first of all, no one's gonna see it. But if somebody really does see it when you haven't even launched it yet. That would be great because maybe they're actually gonna give you feedback and maybe that feedback is horrible.

Maybe they say like this, this is really stupid. Or I don't trust what you're saying here, or, or something like that. Maybe it's really negative feedback, but still that's a great thing because maybe they're gonna tell you about something that you already thought was perfect and you thought, oh, that part's done, and then that's what you get negative feedback on.

And so that would be the best thing that could happen. I would argue before. Absolutely your, your site launches. So, and, and the same with anything of making a video and posting it online, anything like that. If, if you get somebody to respond to that, even if it's negative in the beginning, that can really be helpful to helping you move forward and improve.

Totally agree, Brian. Awesome. All right, well, I've got one more question for you, and that is on the show. We like to ask each of our guests to ask a question to the audience. So if you could ask our audience anything, whether it's something you're just curious about or something you want them to think about, what would that be?

Philip VanDusen: I'm all about growing. Like I've been learning, like my whole life has been around learning. I actually started off as a, a painter and a, a painting teacher. And everything I've done as a creative leader and as a, and in my personal brand is teaching leading and inspiring people. And so I'm a lifelong learner myself.

Which is why I go to conferences like Social Media Marketing World. So I would ask people, what is it that, what's next for you? What is the next thing you're gonna learn? What is that next hill you're gonna climb? Or that thing you're gonna try? That's gonna put you just slightly out of your comfort zone because what's what?

Success and learning lies outside of your comfort zone. If you work just every place where you're, you're, you know, and you've done before, you're not expanding, you're not growing. So how do you stay inspired? How do you grow? Is that networking going to a conference? Is it joining a mastermind? Is it building a course or taking a course?

What is that next step for you that's gonna really inspire you and help you learn something new?

Bryan McAnulty: Awesome. Yeah, great question. All right. Well, before we get going, Philip, where else can people find you online?

Philip VanDusen: Sure. My biggest presence is probably on YouTube. I've got over 400 videos on branding and design and entrepreneurship on YouTube under my name Philip Van Ducen.

And you can also go to my website, philip van ducen.com. And if you go to.com/pw, you can download, that's actually will redirect you to a site to download the personal brand wheel tool. But philipvandusen.com is where you can learn about me.

Bryan McAnulty: All right. Awesome. Thanks so much.

Philip VanDusen: Thanks for having me on the show, Bryan. Appreciate it.

Bryan McAnulty: I'd like to take a moment to invite you to join our free community of over 5,000 Creator's at creatorclimb.com. If you enjoyed this episode and wanna hear more, check out the Heights Platform YouTube channel every Tuesday at 9:00 AM US Central. To get notified when new episodes released, join our newsletter at The Creator's Adventure dot com.

Until then, keep learning and I'll see you in the next episode.

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About the Host

Bryan McAnulty is the founder of Heights Platform: all-in-one online course creation software that allows creators to monetize their knowledge.

His entrepreneurial journey began in 2009, when he founded Velora, a digital product design studio, developing products and websites used by millions worldwide. Stemming from an early obsession with Legos and graphic design programs, Bryan is a designer, developer, musician, and truly a creator at heart. With a passion for discovery, Bryan has traveled to more than 30 countries and 100+ cities meeting creators along the way.

As the founder of Heights Platform, Bryan is in constant contact with creators from all over the world and has learned to recognize their unique needs and goals.

Creating a business from scratch as a solopreneur is not an easy task, and it can feel quite lonely without appropriate support and mentorship.

The show The Creator’s Adventure was born to address this need: to build an online community of creative minds and assist new entrepreneurs with strategies to create a successful online business from their passions.

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