April 5, 2023

122. Brand Strategy with Maria Platusic

122. Brand Strategy with Maria Platusic
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How do I develop a brand strategy for my business? Why is my brand important? How do I develop a personal brand?  We spend time with Maria Platusic, owner and creative director behind Platusic Design Creative Studio. An award winning branding designer, brand strategist, and Wordpress magic maker, and mom of 3.

Connect with Maria Platusic:
Website: https://platusicdesign.com/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maria-platusic-platusicdesigncreativestudio/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PlatusicDesign
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/platusicdesign/
Brand Strategy Breakdown Course: https://platusicdesign.com/design/course/

Follow the podcast at @itsjustbusinesspodcast on all the major podcasting platforms.

Connect with us:
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You can find Dana @adashofboss, @dana.dowdell and @hrfanatic
Dana DowdellBoss Consulting – HR Consulting
Google -  https://tinyurl.com/y4wxnavx

You can find Russ @reliable.remediation
Russ HarlowReliable Remediation – Disaster Restoration
Google: https://g.page/r/CXogeisZHEjMEB


Dana Dowdell 00:05

Hi Russ,


Russ Harlow 00:06

Dana, how are you?


Dana Dowdell 00:07

I'm good. How are you?


Russ Harlow 00:08

Very excited.


Dana Dowdell 00:10

Because we're talking your favorite topic.


Russ Harlow 00:12

Yeah, promote, promote, promote market, sell the business. Let's get out there.


Dana Dowdell 00:17

Brand. Ross made a comment before we started recording that said, I think you said swearing as part of my brand. So I'm excited to talk to our next guest. We are joined by Maria Platusic, she is the owner and creative director behind Platusic Design Creative Studio. So, Maria, welcome to the podcast.


Maria Platusic 00:39

Thank you. Thank you so much Dana and Ross, and I'm excited to be here and chat with you, guys.


Dana Dowdell 00:44

We are very excited to have you. So tell us a bit about your journey into being a business owner.


Maria Platusic 00:51

So, for me, I always say my story is kind of boring, because I'm a textbook case. So, I'm here to tell all the people that like if you feel like you don't have this epic journey or epic story to your business, it's okay, because you can still be successful if you don't have this momentous thing that happened to guide you on that path. So I'm a lover of design and drawing and all of those things throughout grade school, went to college for it got my degree and dove into corporate working at large and small design agencies alike. And I realized that I absolutely loved it. And I'm still loving it, I guess it's almost 20 Plus, or almost 25 years later. So, a quarter century later. So, loving what I do. Working in corporate has taught me a lot of skill sets that I have been I implement and use today. But realizing that it wasn't everything, and it wasn't you know, being my own boss, and being an entrepreneur was definitely rooted within me since I was young. And I was just too scared to take the leap. When I was in corporate, I did get laid off, you know that dreaded pink slip or whatever you guys call it. And that was sort of it was really tough. Because I had small kids at home, I just had finished having my second child of three. And it was one of those things where it's like, okay, wait, how much do I actually need to make making half of half of my pay? You're paying for daycare for full time for two kids. It's like, okay, I can do this. And I haven't looked back since. And I've been my own boss since and I've been really loving this, this journey with my clients and everything I've been doing.


Russ Harlow 02:39

So in the corporate world in graphic design, and everything else, I mean, it's the kind of thing where they, they just come in to, hey, here's some information and we need a sales leave behind for this or, you know, we need a revamp of a website or a web page, or what are some of the things that kind of build, you know your story in that in that environment.


Maria Platusic 02:58

Yeah, so what I realized, you find out what your strong skill sets are. And working under pressure, obviously, an advertising agency is one of the biggest ones. And it's like, oh, by the way, this has to go up by two o'clock today. And here's really your basic composition of what it needs to sound like and feel like and here you go, go ahead and create, and you don't really have a lot of intel on what needed to be done. So, research was another big one as well. So working under pressure, pressure and doing research to like, Okay, well, this is the business, they need to advertise this thing. Let me research and find out, okay, what is their best call to action? And what is their best feature as a company or progression? And then you develop, like the headline, the theme and everything around it. And here's the ad created nicely, you know, it presented nicely for them. So it was that quick turnaround, that quick rush and that quick in the moment thinking that was really started, you know, started me onto the role that I'm taking today.


Russ Harlow 03:59

And so was it mostly advertising? Or like, how did it? How did you help determine what your focus was going to be as a business owner? Based on all the things you did, you know, an experience in the corporate world and working in graphic design and advertising?


Maria Platusic 04:17

That's a That's a great question. So to be honest, I actually did start off freelancing because I was able to do all of the things. I was like the Swiss Army knife, okay, you need trade show signage, cool. I can do that. You need a book design. Yep, I can do that. You need ads, cool. I can do all of these things. But when the clients like in, you know, small business world, came to me, I'm like, okay, so what's your branding? What are your colors? What are your fonts? What is your imagery? What's your logo? didn't have that and more. So, who's your target audience who will be creating this for? Why are we creating it? What's your call to action? What's the purpose of this? What is the goal? You know, for this piece? They didn't have those answers, either. They're just like, I don't know. I just needed to make this so I was stuck. Creating their brand and the confines of the two by three and a half business card. And that's where it's just like, hey, I'm not doing this anymore, I need to help them build a foundation out properly, because a lot of small business owners skip over this step. And corporate building brands for big agencies, and then keeping the cohesiveness with those brands. That same thing, those same rules apply for small business owners. And that's where I realized this is the gap. This is the gap that I need to help and fill. And that's what led me to where I'm working today and what I'm doing today.


Dana Dowdell 05:34

So the idea of branding is really interesting, because I feel like we talk about marketing all the time, you need to market yourself, you need to market yourself, what's your marketing strategy? You know, that seems to be the emphasis. And I don't feel like when you start a small business, anyone is like, well, what's your brand strategy? You know, how do you I work in HR. So, we talk a lot about culture. And one of the things that I always say to clients is like, you have to be intentional about your culture. And if you're not your employees, create your culture for you. And his branding, kind of the same way that like, if you're not intentional about your brand, your community or customers, social media will create it for you.


Maria Platusic 06:13

Absolutely, you hit the nail on the head with that. And it's, it's exactly that. It when you're selling a product or service, regardless of whether you want to create a brand or not a brand will be created. So you might as well be very, as you said, intentional about it, and then curate how you want it to look feel sound and all of the things so that it can represent you best. So that's absolutely what it is.


Russ Harlow 06:40

It's funny, because I came out of a franchise, when I first wanted to this business and its line of business, I bought a franchise, so it's always given to me. And we have brand standard manuals, and you're talking about colors and everything else that we had to follow. And you know, when I went on my own a year ago, one of the first things I did was start researching a good name, start researching what we want to do. And I hired a graphic designer to help me kind of flesh out my vision, I had an idea what it looked like. And in my mind, it looked great. And then she turned it around and made it look amazing. Totally took our vision forward. And it was like, our brand is a shield because we shield people from disaster or different things like that. So these were intentional things that we did. And I'm curious, we can get stuck on it to write, like, oh, I can't launch until I have the perfect logo or the perfect name. So what are your recommendations in that area, because I think people get stuck there.


Maria Platusic 07:35

No, that's a valid point. And it's, especially when you're starting out. And I would highly suggest that, you know, the visuals not be your focus, even though they're important, you know, I design logos and brands for a living. And I'll just say you don't really need them at the beginning, they're not the most important piece, you can absolutely get, you know, a simple logo, a simple, you know, one to two colors, one to two thoughts, and just keep everything simplified, but run with your message, run with the heart of your business, run with your passion, and then create that momentum, get the following get the customers make the money, see what's working, not working. And then once you have that data, to me, that's the amazing space to be, that's when you can really put your efforts into building out the proper branding. And when you have the data, it's the research, we need to build the foundation required to have that brand to leap off of


Russ Harlow 08:37

Have you become kind of a counselor to get that information out of business owners, because they think they have a hard time going, I don't know, I just I could do this thing. And I just want people to know about it. And not understanding kind of what their core values are and what they stand for and what their ideal client looks like. I mean, do you have to kind of drag that out of them? Have you developed a process to make that easier for you?


Maria Platusic 09:02

I'm like smirking, because it's like I've been labeled as the brand coach or the brand therapist and all of these different titles because of a lot of people are lost or stuck. That's a big, you know, a big place. Especially if you've been in business for a few years. And you're kind of stuck in the mundane of making money. I have clients and doing all the things, all the actions, but I'm not getting to that next level. Something's holding me back. That's where that's that great conversation to have. And for me in my process. My clients have all the answers. And I encourage them to realize that below the surface their whole right there. So what I do is I just ask the right questions, to evoke the right answers and extract what is needed for me to move forward. And they surprise themselves. Sometimes I'm like, just let's talk let's have a conversation. And I record the conversation I asked all the questions and everything I need comes straight from the source, which is the greatest thing. But unfortunately, you have your neck deep and all of this and you have all of these different things that need your attention and focus. So when I just draw you in, and I create that focus and clarity and get you to start thinking specifically about your brand day, then the answers do come to the surface. It's just helping them pull them out gently.


Dana Dowdell 10:25

You mentioned messaging, starting with your messaging. And I think we can often muddle that or make it too complicated like that. It's not simplified enough for, you know, what are your recommendations when it comes to figuring out your messaging and making sure that it resonates with the right people? And you're not like I think about, again, my own industry. People ask me all the time, what is human resources? And it's so then my messaging has to be simplified enough. So, people understand that. So, can you talk a little bit about that?


Maria Platusic 10:58

Yeah, so messaging is a big deal. And it's one of the biggest pieces of your brand strategy that you should pay a lot of attention to, because you said it as well. It's what will attract or repel the audience's that you want to attract and repel. And if it's not simplified or clear, I find people tend to use a lot of fluff words, if you will, that they're just like, I am like the I will help you find inner peace and glow. And like all of these things can pardon me. And it's a matter of how can we be more direct and to the point, especially with how inundated we are with information right now? How can we be more direct to the point and cut to the chase, because people are limited in their time, and especially their focus and their attention, attention for you and giving you those three seconds, you need to grab it right away. So it's removing the fluff, removing all of those excess layers, and let's just get to the core. Let's just get to the source. And for me, being an introvert, you know, I hate talking about like, the weather and all of those things. Like it's just, it's not like, but if you want to dive deep into something and get to the core of it, I'm there, I'm your person. And I think you have to think of your audience the same way. Like they just want you to help them. So how can you help them and break it down that simply like how, here's the problem, here's the struggle, what's the solution that you provide? And more. So, what does that after look like for them paint the picture for them. So they can see themselves in that after and make it really, really clear.


Russ Harlow 12:35

And I it's it doesn't have to be really difficult, right? Because when we look at some like, look at major brands, like Walmart, they chase people on price. And it's okay, if that's where your ideal client is, if you're going to beat people for your product and service on and beat your competition on price, then you know, that coupon or this savings or 10% off next month, or whatever it is, is the message to attract your client. If you are more of a higher end product or service, or that's who your particular ideal client is, you shouldn't be putting out messaging like that, because it's going to draw the wrong people to your business. So understanding that message is important, right?


Maria Platusic 13:14

Absolutely. No, I wholeheartedly agree. You have to understand when you're a small business owner, usually you're very multifaceted. And you're like a serial entrepreneur, and you have a lot of passions, a lot of things that you want to explain and share. Like I can do this, this this this like all the things you can do lists that laundry list of things you can do that Swiss army knife, like I mentioned earlier, it's one of those things, the more direct you can be with the main offer and the main service that you provide, and what your zone of genius is. And when you can highlight what that is on a repeat cohesively. I think that's what needs to hit home. And I find that with small business owners, we want to showcase all the things and then that just takes makes us become order takers makes us base like a commodity. And that's like, the last thing you want to do. Because you can't compete with Walmart, you can't compete with the big guys when you're a small, you know, micro business. So you have to have your value proposition really clear and share what it is that you bring to the table that's different and succinct than everyone else and create your own. And if you read the blue ocean, but create that own space, and that's what people are looking for, right? And that's when you can remove price doesn't become the issue. It's more so can you deliver what you're promising on your brand promise, can you deliver that, and I think that's what the focus should be turning towards.


Dana Dowdell 14:44

Do you recommend for your clients to do kind of messaging research in terms of like What messages do resonate with their ideal client? Or do you recommend that they test, you know, pick a message and test it and see if it works and then revisit or do? Or should they be going directly to the source and asking the source what resonates with you.


Maria Platusic 15:09

So, I really, really think that market research is the most valuable piece that you can take and growing and scaling your business. And asking your clients and your past clients, absolutely. asking them the questions and getting the answers to, you know, what part why did you even come to me in the first place? What made you purchase from me, above everybody else? And like asking those really hard questions, you'd be surprised how, you know, readily your clients are willing and able to share this information with you. So definitely go to the source. Absolutely. But testing like marketing equals trial and error, like that's what it should be called, like, it's trial and error. So it's, you know, putting something out there and seeing what hits paying attention to the data, like I mentioned earlier, the data is your best resource, because you have so much solid information right at your fingertips, all you need to do is dive into it and take a look at it. And it will give you the answers. When we when we create a message based off of this information and data, and we put it out in the real world, pardon me. We want to make sure that it's hitting, and but we also want to make sure that we're giving it time to hit because it's not, here's my message made one post. Now it's done, I'm done. I don't have to do anything else. It's absolutely giving it time to be seen to be heard. You know, I'm a firm believer of your target audience, you will tire of your message before your target audience was will even see it hear it know it show it has to be repeated. So consistency is key when it comes to messaging. And that's when you know it will hit and that's when you know it will actually be working.


Russ Harlow 16:57

I mean, so on a practical level, I'm this is one of the things that I do when I am setting an appointment. And if someone isn't setting their own appointments, they can have a script include this, right? So it's like, how did you find us? So now we know if our marketing dollars just getting in the right place? And then I like to ask well, as an owner, Hey, did anything stand out? You know, Hey, I found you on internet I looked you came up on Google? Well, you're a local business or you know, your family owned and operated or whatever it is. So I know how to target that message. What other things can we do to know if our marketing message is hitting home? And we're not just getting a tons of likes from, as you put it in recent posts of copycats? Right? What can we do now that we can know that our marketing is hitting the right people and that the message is correct.


Maria Platusic 17:46

So yeah, yeah, the way you would learn that is if the right audience, so like determining who that ideal audience is, is the first step in that part. And then knowing if the right audience is now paying attention. So you will see a shift in people who are you're now attracting, you might be attracting more. So have that descriptive, ideal target audience. And if it's not hitting them, if the message isn't reaching them, then that's when you should pay attention, and maybe, you know, refine, or we can tweak that message a little bit to really gear it towards that audience. Because you'll see, you know, that's one of the main signs, like the main tells that you might be ready for a rebrand is you're continuously attracting the wrong audience. And if that's the case, how do we attract the audience, we want to attract, do the research and know who that ideal audience is first. So that you can really, psychologically get into their head and your they are going to be reading your posts. And they're going to be nodding their head, they're going to be saying, Yes, this, this is what my problem is, yes, this is what I'm struggling with. And yes, this sounds exactly like what I need. That's what you want to have to happen with your content and the posts that you're putting out there. So the clearer you are with your target audience, the clearer your message can be to them.


Dana Dowdell 19:10

I want to ask about personal brand and rebranding. So, Ross mentioned he was part of a franchise, and then he got out of the franchise and had to rebrand. But it's still Ross. And so I think, in his situation, his brand was very much him, he had that personal brand. So how much does that play into? Choosing your brand strategy and then rebranding if you need to?


Maria Platusic 19:39

Yes. So, I get that question asked a lot, whether it's personal brand versus corporate brand, what's the best plan of attack to take and all those things. And in reality, whether you're a fortune 500 company or a small business owner, medium size, all of the things, the foundational tools are still the same. So building out a proper brand strategy So now that you're focusing on your personal brand Ross, who's the target audience that you're trying to attract with this brand that you're creating right now? Is it the same as the business? Probably not. So now revisiting that target audience? And then revisiting okay, what are my goals for this business moving forward? What is it that I want to achieve is it you know, speaking to large audiences, you know, whatever it is, for the personal brand, what you want to achieve, now understanding those future goals, keeping them as our target the entire time, and now refining our message to hit that new audience. So, it speaks directly to them. So, whenever it's that's more of a pivoting. Right. So if we pivoted from where we were starting to where we're at now, we still need to pay attention to the details of our brand strategy, regardless of which alley we take, whether we're developing our personal brand, or a corporate brand, it still needs to be done.


Russ Harlow 20:56

So for me, my personal brand was my business all along and leaving the franchise helped me more align my brand with who the building the business that I was building. So, I'm curious, I think people hear rebrand and they think, oh, a new logo, or new stationery. But that's not really how you're using that. Can we? Can you explain that a little bit more and expand on that?


Maria Platusic 21:23

So yeah, so rebranding normally is one of those things that you think yes, logo and design, like that's what you initially think. But it's actually not even that at all. That's a part of it. But definitely not where we start. When you think of rebranding, you have to think of okay, I need to revisit and push pause on my business right now and take a couple of steps back, because I'm pretty sure I skipped over these parts. When I first started. Because I wanted to make money, I wanted to get my business going, and all of those things. But now I need to really pay attention moving forward on the track that I want to take. So it's actually creating a strategic plan moving forward. So you need to know what those future goals are. You need to know, you know, taking an audit of our business and our offers and our services. And do these feel aligned anymore with the future goals. So I'm trying to hit because if they don't feel aligned, you might need to revisit them and take a look at okay, hitting those future goals, what will actually bring me to this, this end game right, this and position. So definitely audit what your inventory of your offers and services, I'm taking a look at the audience, the ideal audience, we may have, like had these customers that are on repeat and all these things, but at the end of the day, take a look at what who lit us up the most to work with the most like Who did we enjoy working with the most? And how can we create more of those clients like the ones that make us want to get up on the Monday and actually go to work and do our work? Those are the clients we want to fill our roster with. So, let's dive deep into that target audience. And then from diving into the target audience, we also do your core values, your core values usually are pretty set deep and rooted. But with whenever there's a pivot or a change, it's okay to take a look at them and revisit them and make sure that they're again on track for hitting those future goals. And then your messaging and your positioning and taking a look at the competition and the playing field. These are all pieces of the brand strategy that you need to dive deep into before you can create that foundation and leap off and, and then after that's done, that's when I get to the visuals, I don't know what your brand should look like feel like sound like if I don't have this data, and this information to review. So that's why this is the homework that kind of needs to be done. And then we could get to the like my clients like to call it the fun part of designing the visuals of the brand. And then implementation is third. So, your website and implementing the brand across all platforms and social media and your marketing collateral. That's the third part. So that's kind of my sequence of driving through the rebrand.


Dana Dowdell 24:06

And you share a little bit about the value of a brand, right? We exist in this world of social media and people monetizing themselves if they're the brand or monetizing their business brand. And we've also talked a little bit on this podcast about when you go to sell your business that the brand itself has value. Can you speak to that a


Maria Platusic 24:28

little bit? Yeah, so these are the core brand values that you kind of develop at the beginning at the at the forefront. So in the brand strategy, we dive into your core brand values and we go through them and there's hundreds upon hundreds I have a list of hundreds that I send to my clients to choose from with definitions of each one. And then it's like going through it like fine tooth comb, and selecting the ones that feel like they're actually hitting home. To give an example let's say you're a product based business and you choose a Eco Friendly, sustainable, environmental friendly, all of those things as you know your values. So what happens is your values are actually like the beacon and the guide that helps you make choices and decisions moving forward. So, if I have this platform, and I'm going to be selling these items immediately, if this product or service isn't sustainable, and isn't ecofriendly, I'm not going to offer it on my website. And it allows it to make decisions for you. So that's why they're so important because they are the decision maker in the back end, whether you know it or not, there's always something that's drawing you to make a choice or not make a choice, it's usually stemmed back to your values to determining what they are, and being intentional. And you mentioned earlier, Dana, being intentional with what you select and choose is very important. And the beautiful part is when you create and establish these values, even if they're personal and internal, and they spread onto your business. That's what you can pass on to your employees. That's what you can pass on to when you do sell your business. It's those values that people have bought into, that they're continuing to purchase into this business in this brand that has been developed. It's because of those values and what the foundation they're built off of. So they're very important, and you do you really should have them established as a business owner, any business owner should.


Russ Harlow 26:22

It's funny, when I bought the franchise six years ago, my core values aligned with them very well. And then there was two ownership changes in the franchisor. And suddenly, it was different. And that was the friction that started the end of my relationship with that brand. I think when people are trying to develop that message that brand for their business, how, how far do they have to dig deep? You said it's kind of part of their being? How do they kind of evaluate? What it is that, you know, makes those things part of their core values? For me, I would think, is there something that frustrated me last week? If so, maybe it was against my core values? Are there anything else that kind of goes into that, to help them develop that idea?


Maria Platusic 27:16

I think what you're saying is exactly it's one of those things that like, it's just does it feel aligned with me as a person, as a business owner doesn't feel aligned with me and my future goals, and always checking in, if it feels right. And those are the internal pieces that really make the choice for you. So now paying attention to like, if integrity is always a big deal to you, like someone holding trust and integrity and, and being truthful. And then someone kind of like is lying or not being truthful, all of a sudden, that just leaves it sour to you, right? So it's because you hold truth and integrity, very heavy towards you know, it's into your core, it's embedded in us, you can't really erase those, like, it's, it's something that you're gonna carry for a very long time. And as a branding designer, when I was first starting this, it was like, if you don't have your core values, and don't have your future goals, I can't create your brand for you. Those were the two main pieces that I required, because I know they don't falter, I know they don't change, I know, they usually hold water. So that's why building out your entire brand strategy is important. And then I can create a more effective long lasting brand. But it's always those two pieces that really guide you at the end of the day. So, paying attention to them is really beneficial.


Russ Harlow 28:38

is I'll go ahead and is there a process that? I mean, I know people hear what they don't want to hear and see what they want to see. And I think that those who are ready to hear the message are it's resonating and going. Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. So what are some of the things they can do moving forward? Like? You and I were talking earlier in the year, there were some workshops, I'm setting things, are these the types of things that people can do to start working through this process? And do you offer some of those things for them to do to coach them through that?


Maria Platusic 29:15

So when it comes to the values, it's just again, it's asking the right questions, and then I provide examples as well like from other businesses and other business owners. And then it's just like, What are you gravitating towards, always, if you had all of these in front of you, which ones are always popping out at you and you're gravitating towards, and it's funny the words that you would choose, usually were in the same family, like they all like was one specific word, but then it also like the other words they selected could all fall into the same category as well. So there's always a common denominator that you can see that will guide you when selecting these and it's always what feels aligned and what like what are you gravitating towards and why I think asking yourself, why are you choosing that? What does this value? Or what does this definition mean to you, in your words, and explaining why, then you can always come back to your why, why you're choosing this why you enjoy, you know, making these choices in your business, you have the answer to that question.


Dana Dowdell 30:18

And you have some workshops and group programs, right, that help people kind of figure out their brand. Can you tell us a little bit about those?


Maria Platusic 30:25

Yes, so I have a brand strategy breakdown. It's like a hybrid group program. So, I created a course. And I'm going to be pretty honest people have purchased in the course, but they have not completed it. And I know that's something true with a lot of courses, the completion rate isn't the greatest across the board. But with my integrity, and with my values, I want people to walk away with a full brand strategy that they can implement. And because they weren't completing, that, I felt like it was not working to his fullest potential. So, what I needed to do was infused me back into it. So I created this hybrid course, where it is about eight weeks long. And we go through all of the modules together, I offer office hours, so like weekly strategy calls in the group. So any of the blockers, any of the things that are holding you back, and not allowing you to move forward, I'm there to help and guide you and answer those questions and help to make things clearer, when something might not be clear. So you know, not nothing is perfect, right? So that's why this this community, there's also a Facebook community that you get to join as well. So you have the support of other small business owners. And it's just, it's a wonderful experience. And it allows you to go through every module and have someone to hold you accountable, because I think accountability is a big deal. So, I'm offering this in the fall of this year. And leading up to it, I have a couple of workshops. The first one, I haven't isolated the name yet, but I'm thinking this is called the summer of niching. Down. Because I know niching is a big deal for a lot of business owners to niche or not to niche and all of those things. So I'm just, I'm going to get rid of the myths, I'm going to break it down. And I'm going to make sure that you can walk away with a niche that feels aligned for you. And in people who say, Well, my niche is not having a niche that's actually a niche and a niche phrase. So it's like, you always will have a niche. That's the newsflash. So diving into the fishing is a big deal. And then that's one of the workshops I'll be offering and then closer to the launch of the group program, I'm going to be diving into brand messaging and positioning the two other main pieces of brand strategy. And that's another workshop I'll be offering as well.


Dana Dowdell 32:36

That sounds fantastic. I'm curious, just from your, from your role and what you do. What is well, let's say someone's working with a brand strategist or a marketer, and they are not happy with the brand that this person helps them develop. Is there a good way to communicate to a brand strategist changes or, you know, to totally blow up the project and start fresh? You know, what's a good way to make sure that they're communicating appropriately to who they're working with? To make sure their brand is really seen.


Maria Platusic 33:14

Yes, no. So for me in the process, that I do things, it's a matter of always keeping that line of communication open, and then having checkpoints. Right. So, after we finish a certain portion of the brand strategy, I have a checkpoint we review it all. And then I'm speaking to the client and saying, Okay, what are your thoughts surrounding these options for the target audience? What are your thoughts around the messaging right now? How does it feel is it aligned and keeping the communication open, avoids those creating the whole thing. And then it's not working and having to restart making sure that you have those little mini, I guess, benchmarks, if you will, and making sure that those are being covered. And I think the earlier so if someone's like working with the strategist, and the earlier you voiced your concerns, the better. So absolutely, reach out and mention it right away that something doesn't feel aligned and start the communication. Because you don't want to get, you know, all the way this far deep and then having to start over again. Because that's definitely not a process you want to be a part of. And again, that's why I do all these little mini benchmarks to make sure I'm keeping track and Tally each step of the way, and that we're always on the same page moving forward.


Dana Dowdell 34:28

Fantastic. Marie, we put every one of our guests through a lightning round of questions. So, I'll ask you the first one. What's one thing that you wish you had known before starting a business?


Maria Platusic 34:40

That everything doesn't have to be perfect? I'm a perfect recovering perfectionist. And I would always pause from putting myself out there from putting my content out there for just asking for help and all of those things because I wasn't fully ready. Whatever I thought fully ready actually meant I don't know No, but it was making sure that everything was aligned. And all of these things were in place before I could get to that next step. And that helped me back a lot. I invite everybody just take messy action, because inaction is the worst thing that you can do for your business.


Russ Harlow 35:19

Good advice, what is the favorite way to market your business?


Maria Platusic 35:25

So for me, I love organic marketing, I love building relationships and networking, building a strong community, the more people who are aligned with you and can be a great referral partner, the easier it is for you to communicate your message outwardly, because you have that backup of someone tagging your name down in an in search of post because they know that you'd be a great fit. So, the more you can have this reciprocal relationship with other people, and organically spread your name and your voice to others, I think is the kind of the best way to go about it.


Dana Dowdell 36:06

What is one business platform that has changed your life?


Maria Platusic 36:10

So in regards to platforms, I like you're talking about social media, I would say that Facebook has kind of been the platform that I've used, whether people enjoy it or not, I know people are getting tired of all the algorithms and things but 90% of my clientele in business has come from Facebook. And for me, it's because I've been repeating the same message over and over that it's been easier for me to do so. And making those connections with like real life humans, like other people on the other end, and making those connections through the apps and using the apps in a in a way that is beneficial. And that feels aligned. It's not like sleazy, pitching direct messaging, it's actually building a relationship with other humans and trying to support each other whenever possible.


Russ Harlow 37:02

And I'll say that's probably how you came to meet us through Marshall Stern, because he's got a similar philosophy. And I've enjoyed getting to know him since he was a guest on our podcast. So I'm looking forward to building the relationship with you to moving forward. Is there one I heard you mentioned a book earlier is there one book that kind of has impacted your business or your life, maybe your favorite business book.


Maria Platusic 37:29

It's funny because my brain is going cycling through about 12. At the same time, that's my ADHD brand, and I apologize. But um, the brand gap is a good one. There's, there's a few that I think have been really impactful. The big leap is another one as well. There's just for me, I need variety. So I take in a lot and I feel like I get different pieces of my puzzle that make my business me from all of the different books that I listened to, I probably have four books on the go, right? Like that's just how my brain works. Probably not the normal list way. But I think finding what resonates is the best, right? So whichever book resonates with you and actually makes you take notes down, that would be my advice. So listen to a lot I use Audible because I love listening while I'm sketching and drawing I can multitask in a way I guess. And I find finding the best books that align with your values and with your future goals and just putting things in perspective for you that you would never have thought of.


Dana Dowdell 38:39

And when did you feel like you had made it?


Maria Platusic 38:43

That's a great question. I actually laughed about this one and for me it was when I actually had students and other designers and other creative directors applying and reaching out to work for my business for my agency and I was like oh, I guess I made it now because other people want to work with me and for me so I guess that's a tall that that I've made it and then one other little quick gonna throw in there is when you actually get a troll or someone tried to bring you down and like yeah, I made it thank you I like highlighted them I said thank you know I've officially made it when they comment on your on your reels or whatever that goes viral. Like that's my favorite.


Russ Harlow 39:19

That's great and a good point. Because if you go and read the comments and take it seriously, sometimes you could be really sad. Absolutely nothing else sad for the people who are in there in those comments. Oh my goodness, real where can people find you and connect with you? We're gonna have everything in our show notes, but where's the best place to find you?


Maria Platusic 39:39

Absolutely. So, I am you can look for me on my website. It's www artistic design.com and I'm at Platusic design on all the social media handles and I'd be happy to connect with anyone and everyone.


Russ Harlow 39:52

Amazing. Thank you for taking time out and sharing with us and our listeners. I think our listeners for being here and stopping by the podcast that I, I think this is going to resonate with a lot of people and if it did, I want you to like and share it. I want you to share it with somebody else who needs to hear this message. Find Maria and all the places that will be in our show notes. And, you know, check us out we're at it's just business podcasts on all the places. Leave us. Some comments, be our troll, whatever it takes. It's not personal. It's just business.

Maria PlatusicProfile Photo

Maria Platusic

ReBrand Strategist/Branding Website Designer/Mom of 3

MARIA PLATUSIC is the Owner and Creative director behind Platusic Design Creative Studio. An award winning branding designer, brand strategist, and Wordpress magic maker, she has been at this game for over 20 years.

She started her journey working at corporate agencies, helping fortune 500 businesses develop their brands. Now she focuses on helping small business owners, such as, therapist, coaches and consultants, scale and grow; Via effective brand strategy and gorgeous branding design to achieve their big picture goals.