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Christine Perkett on Crafting a Unique Identity in Crowded Markets

Christine Perkett on Crafting a Unique Identity in Crowded Markets

CEO & Founder, Mindfull Marketing + PR

Could you tell us about your business and its brand identity?

My business is Mindfull Marketing + PR, born from the esteemed legacy of PerkettPR Inc, marking a transformative chapter in our journey, reinventing ourselves after two decades of excellence in public relations. Our rebranding in 2018 wasn't merely a name change; it was a resolute commitment to encompass a spectrum of holistic marketing services, going beyond traditional PR.

Evolving your brand as your company evolves is crucial. As customer preferences and market dynamics change, so should your brand identity, ensuring it remains relevant and resonant. The deliberate misspelling in "Mindfull" in our rebrand is a thought-provoking double entendre. It reflects the modern reality where people's minds are brimming with information overload, playing on the concept of full minds in a content-saturated world, while also hinting at a mindful approach to marketing and PR. This is a clever and fitting choice for a marketing agency in today’s information-heavy environment. Further, a double entendre in a brand name can make it memorable and intriguing, which is beneficial for brand identity. It prompts a second look and deeper consideration, potentially aiding in making your brand more memorable.

In this crowded and chaotic digital landscape, our mission is twofold. First, to act as a beacon for businesses navigating through the noise, and second, to ensure your message not only reaches but also resonates deeply with your audience.

How has your unique brand identity contributed to the success and recognition of your business in the market?

Our unique brand identity has been instrumental in our market success and recognition. When I started this company, originally as PerkettPR, our focus was primarily on tech PR, for which we won numerous campaign awards such as Best TV Placement, National Commentary, Response to Breaking News, Consumer Campaign and more, a "Golden Image" nod from Forrester Research, and recognition as a finalist in TechCrunch Crunchies “Best Tech PR” category. However, we quickly diversified our offerings in response to the evolving needs of the market. This adaptability has been a cornerstone of our brand, demonstrating our understanding of the dynamic digital landscape and our ability to provide comprehensive, action-oriented marketing solutions.

Our rebranding in 2018 to Mindfull Marketing + PR was a pivotal moment, marking our 20th anniversary. This wasn’t just a change in name; it represented a strategic realignment with our expanded capabilities. It was crucial for us to communicate more effectively our ability to engage with audiences in today’s information-saturated world. The name “Mindfull,” with its meaningful play on words, perfectly encapsulates our approach to making our clients stand out amidst the clutter of digital content.

We have continued to receive for our marketing and communications leadership because of the tier one clients we work with and the results of our work. These awards are a testament to our impact in the field. Personally, being named in Forbes’ “Top 100 Must Follow Marketing Mind,” “Best PR or IR Executive" from the American Business Awards, a Boston “50 on Fire” finalist, and other prestigious lists reflects not only my commitment to the industry but also the innovative spirit of our team at Mindfull Marketing + PR. Our success is further underscored by our effective virtual business model, employing senior-level professionals who foster a collaborative and creative work environment. In fact, Forrester once wrote of it in a report as a “Golden Standard” to be emulated.

In summary, our brand identity, characterized by adaptability, innovation, and strategic communication, has been vital in setting Mindfull Marketing + PR apart in the competitive marketing industry. It’s a journey that reflects not just business growth, but also a deep understanding of market evolution and client needs

Can you share the journey of how you developed and refined your brand over time?

It’s been one of persistence, innovation, and adaptability.

When I initially ventured into the public relations field and later established PerkettPR, which eventually evolved into Mindfull Marketing + PR, I faced skepticism. I was advised that starting my own agency in my 20s, especially a virtual one, would be challenging and unlikely to succeed. However, I was determined to forge a new path. This determination was rooted in experiences from my early life, such as moving twice as a youth and learning to navigate difficult situations during my school years. These experiences built a resilience in me that proved invaluable in my professional journey.

One of the key strategies I employed was hiring only senior-level executives. This approach not only gave us a competitive edge over traditional agencies but also reassured clients about the effectiveness and productivity of our virtual model. This model, which has been in place for over 25 years, has been recognized for its positive impact on the environment and the wellness, health, and happiness of our employees. This has led to higher retention rates, loyalty, and better work results for our clients. The strategic decision to hire only senior-level executives was a pivotal one. This choice was more than just about ensuring quality and expertise in our services; it positioned us as leaders and pioneers in the realm of virtual and remote/hybrid work environments. Our approach was innovative and ahead of its time, demonstrating that a virtual agency model could not only work but thrive.

The recognition of our model by entities such as Forrester Research underscores our success in this area. Forrester’s report highlighted the effectiveness of our virtual setup, validating our innovative approach. This recognition is not just an acknowledgment of our operational success; it’s a testament to our ability to craft smart processes and foster a strong, cohesive culture even in a remote setting.

Moreover, the support and teachings from my father played a crucial role in my journey. He taught me the importance of good writing, the power of networking, and instilled in me a strong work ethic. Even during challenging times, such as navigating through a divorce and legal battles, the advice from my mother to “be a shark” - they can only swim forward - was also helpful and motivational.

Our brand’s evolution into Mindfull Marketing + PR is a reflection of these experiences and lessons. It showcases our adaptability, our commitment to innovation, and our focus on delivering personalized attention to each client through our senior-level team. The resilience and tenacity I developed over the years have been fundamental in overcoming the challenges and proving the naysayers wrong.

Branding in crowded markets can be challenging. What obstacles did you face in establishing a strong brand, and how did you overcome them?

Establishing a strong brand for PerkettPR, which later evolved into Mindfull Marketing + PR, was indeed a journey filled with unique challenges, especially in the crowded PR and marketing industry. One of the primary obstacles I faced was the skepticism around the viability of a virtual company. When PerkettPR was founded in 1998, the concept of a virtual agency was not as widely accepted as it is today, especially post-COVID. Convincing clients and the industry that a virtual agency could deliver quality work and maintain a strong team culture was a significant challenge.

To overcome these obstacles, I focused on building a strong culture within our virtual environment and hiring only senior-level executives. This strategic approach ensured that we maintained a high level of expertise and professionalism, which was crucial in establishing trust with our clients and the broader industry. Demonstrating that our team could collaborate effectively and create a solid bond, even in a virtual setting, was key to overcoming initial skepticism.

Additionally, in the early days of PerkettPR, there were questions about our ability to brainstorm and generate creative ideas in a virtual setting, which is critical in the PR industry. I addressed these concerns by emphasizing that PR executives are inherently social and thrive on interaction and engagement. We made it a priority to bring the team together regularly and foster strong connections among team members, which helped in establishing a cohesive and creative work culture. As reported by Forrester, we also heavily invested in the right technologies to keep our team connected, with centralized administrative functions, a strong IT infrastructure, and the right productivity tools.

Social media also played a significant role in our branding strategy. I recognized early on that social media should align with larger business goals, rather than driving them. We were one of the first PR firms on Twitter, for example, and I was in a book that year, aptly named “Twitter Means Business: How Microblogging Can Help or Hurt Your Company” by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, as an expert on using Twitter for businesses - something only a handful of brands recognized at the time. This approach helped in creating effective social media strategies that were integrated into our overall branding and marketing efforts.

In summary, the challenges of establishing a strong brand in a crowded market were met with innovative solutions, focusing on the strengths of a virtual business model, and aligning social media strategies with broader business objectives. These efforts not only established PerkettPR as a viable and successful company but also laid the groundwork for its evolution into Mindfull Marketing + PR.

How do you ensure that every customer interaction reflects your brand identity, and why is this consistency important?

First and foremost, our internal ethos is "Leave your ego at the door." Our clients are more important than our egos, and we must work as a team to serve them best. No one wins unless we all win. Our external ethos is "You're not our only client, but you'll feel like you are," which means that every customer interaction reflects our brand values of mindfulness, consistency, and honesty, making each client feel important, valued, and special. It's about living our core values in every aspect of our business. Consistency in our brand identity is crucial as it builds trust, establishes our reputation, and creates a memorable experience for our clients. We achieve this by:

- Training our team thoroughly on our brand values, voice, and the specific ways we communicate with clients.

- Regularly reviewing our client interactions and marketing materials to ensure they align with our brand identity.

- Encouraging open communication and feedback within the team to continuously improve how we represent our brand.

This consistency is vital as it ensures clients have a reliable, predictable and positive experience with us, reinforcing their confidence in our services and fostering long-term relationships.

In practical terms, how do you measure the impact and success of your branding efforts?

Measuring the impact and success of our branding efforts at Mindfull Marketing + PR, particularly after our transition from PerkettPR, involves a multifaceted approach:

Brand Recognition and Perception: We assess how our brand is recognized and perceived in the market. This involves monitoring social media mentions, conducting surveys, and analyzing feedback to understand how our brand is viewed.

Engagement Metrics: We track engagement on our digital platforms. Increased interactions, shares, followers, and engagement with our content indicate successful brand reach.

Client Acquisition and Retention: Post-rebranding, we've observed continued recommendations from clients, an influx of new clients, and the retention of existing ones.

This directly indicates the market's positive response to our rebranding and expanded services.

Awards and Accolades: Recognition from industry awards and accolades post-rebranding, such as Boston 50 on Fire, Top PR and Marketing Influencers to Follow, and Top 50 Social Media Influencers, among others, is a testament to the strength and effectiveness of our brand.

These measures, distinct from client success metrics, give us a comprehensive view of our brand's impact and evolution in the market.

Can you share an example of a branding misstep, what you learned from it, and how it influenced your approach going forward?

Reflecting on our experiences at Mindfull Marketing + PR, while we haven't encountered a branding 'misstep' per se, we've certainly faced unique challenges. Two notable instances include our work with a new healthcare startup in diagnostics and research and a Swedish subsidiary in the safety and compliance tech industry. In both cases, despite our considerable efforts in brand development and preparing executive leadership teams for a marketing launch, external factors beyond our control – clinical trial outcomes for the pharmaceutical company and operational issues for the Swedish subsidiary – prevented the brands from launching.

These experiences taught us the importance of flexibility and adaptability in branding. They highlighted the need for aligning branding efforts with a company's operational readiness and the necessity of thorough due diligence. Moving forward, these insights have shaped our approach, ensuring that our branding initiatives are not only creative but strategically aligned with our clients' operational timelines and market contexts. These experiences enrich our expertise, making us a valuable partner for clients facing complex branding challenges in unpredictable markets.

What key pieces of advice would you give to new businesses trying to establish a strong brand in a competitive market?

Think longevity and identity. Remember, building a brand is a journey, not a destination. It requires patience, persistence, and a clear vision for now and the future. I would clarify with these key points:

Define Your Core Values Before Your Brand Identity: Understand what your brand stands for, its core values, and its unique selling proposition. This clarity is crucial for communicating consistently and effectively with your audience. Everything your brand does and communicates should support those values.

Create a Long-term Vision: Think beyond immediate gains. What will be memorable and remain relevant through evolving market dynamics?

Research: What have similar brands done in your space? Look at older companies around the same size as your goal. What market changes have they navigated, and how have they evolved? Take TOM's shoes, for example. They started out donating one pair of shoes for every pair purchased. However, TOMS has shifted its approach to philanthropy, moving away from the one-for-one donation model. Instead, it now focuses on dedicating a portion of its annual net profits to various community-focused organizations. This change is part of a broader rebranding and a shift in the company's social impact strategy.

Consistency is Key: Maintain consistency in your messaging, visual elements, and customer experience across all platforms. This builds recognition and trust over time and shows a commitment to your core values.

Engage Your Audience: Build relationships with your customers. Understand their needs and preferences, and engage with them in meaningful ways. Ask them for feedback or go a step further and create focus groups while creating your brand identity.

Innovate and Adapt: Stay abreast of market trends and be ready to innovate. Agility in adapting to new market conditions can set your brand apart.

Leverage Digital Platforms: Utilize social media and digital marketing to increase your brand's reach and engagement. This can be done on a freemium level and increased to premium levels as your company grows.

Measure and Iterate: Continuously measure the impact of your branding efforts and be willing to pivot based on feedback and results or new goals. That's what we did when we expanded our services and thus chose to rebrand on our 20th anniversary.

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