Sunny Bonnell was born with a very special gift – the ability to see a brand come alive from the very beginning. She thrives on inspiring others to pursue their passions and her work and thought leadership has landed Motto’s work in numerous publications including Forbes, AMEX, MSN, Print, HOW, The Dieline, Lovely Package, Awwwards, LogoLounge, Big Book of Packaging, and more.
Sunny and Ashleigh Hansberger are the co-founders of Motto, a comprehensive branding firm that helps visionary entrepreneurs and companies build inspiring brands using their most powerful asset: their purpose.
They believe in developing authentic and inspiring brands with a genuine story, a clear purpose, a distinctive edge, a unique value, and a compelling visual voice. They uncover a brand’s soul and turn its purpose, mission, vision, values, and culture into meaningful brand strategy and design.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some approaches you use when it comes to uncovering “a brand’s soul?”
Sunny: We really like to push our clients into new territory, inspire them, and help extract their larger purpose and put it into actionable steps. Our sole focus is to help our clients discover their brand motto and design brand solutions that bring that purpose to life. We expose it, make it tangible and give it visual/verbal context. Defining your mission and purpose is meaningless, if the visual and verbal execution of your brand is not aligned with who the company is. The goal is to embody a purpose, cause and belief. Everything your organization does, how it looks, feels, and articulates itself to the world should reflect this understanding. By creating a purpose-driven brand, people will be drawn to your organization — you might even make their hearts beat a little faster.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some of the most common mistakes you see companies make when it comes to building a brand and how can they be avoided or corrected?
Sunny: The biggest challenge for startups and early stage businesses is overcoming the mindset that you don’t need to consider branding right away. The truth is you’re building your brand from the moment it’s born, and from the moment you start asking people to support you. Startups put all of their effort on product development, but they wait too long to start thinking of it as a brand. There are very few truly original ideas. Most of what is being created is similar to things that have already been done. That’s why branding is so important. It helps you stand apart. And, growth creates change in every company and forces it to evolve. Sometimes it strengthens the brand, but quite often it’s a series of smaller shifts that happen incrementally to cause a brand to lose it’s way. Brand leaders have to make a conscious effort every day to keep the brand focused on it’s deeper purpose. It’s when leaders make arbitrary decisions that don’t align with the vision the ship can go off course.
BusinessInterviews.com: I enjoyed reading through your blog posts and was wondering if you could share some highlights from your recent article regarding what separates a boss from a leader?
Sunny: Over the years, I’ve met various types of leaders in my consulting work with Motto — from the wildly inspirational to the blatantly cynical and monotonous. Sadly, the ones who think having a leadership role automatically equates to being a great leader often require copious amounts of educating. It’s a hard lesson, but we follow leaders because we want to, not because we have to. A true leader vision manifests through the company’s culture and the commitment to build the brand starts at the top. A boss is someone who ignores this truth and thinks branding is something left to the marketing department. This type of boss is naive and shortsighted, and they jeopardize not only the health of their company, but sabotage anything that will truly matter in the long run.
BusinessInterviews.com: What key factors should a business contemplate before rebranding?
Sunny: It’s important to get very clear about who you are as a company. Work with a branding expert who can help you solidify a powerful positioning. Questions like, “What is our motto?, Why does our story matter? What is our plan for growth? Who are we?” are excellent starting points. Understanding what the problems are and addressing them should be a part of every rebranding process. And, be sure to work with someone who can help you align the internal culture with the external branding in order to give you the best chance at success.
BusinessInterviews.com: What companies do you feel really got their branding message right?
Sunny: There are incredible companies, both large and small, who have their branding right. The proven success of many purpose-centric leaders like Scott Harrison of charity: water, David Hieatt of Hiut Jeans, Howard Shultz of Starbucks, as well as organizations like Out of Africa, BCorp, and Greyston Bakery.
BusinessInterviews.com: Congratulations on being recognized as one of America’s coolest entrepreneurs in Inc. 30 Under 30. What do you think sets you apart from your peers?
Sunny: Our point of view and the magic that we bring to each client and project we work on. We get letters and emails from every corner of the globe – from entrepreneurs, designers and start ups — people we’ve never even met, thanking us for our inspiration – people who have quit corporate jobs, launched a new business, created a new product — all while following their dreams in search of bringing more meaning to their life and to their work. It’s remarkable and we feel honored to give that kind of inspiration to people.
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