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Richard Lorenzen is the CEO of Fifth Avenue Brands, a business consulting firm specializing in brand management.
As an active media personality in issues on business, economics and politics, Richard has been seen in Forbes, Fox Business, Inc. Magazine, CBS and more. He is also a regular contributor to one of New York’s leading online real estate magazines, BrokerPulse.com. As a speaker, Richard speaks on business, leadership, economics and politics. He has published articles in numerous publications, including his latest article in Forbes, The Art of Leadership (August, 2012).
Fifth Avenue Brands is a public relations and digital media firm based in New York City. Their specialty is working with entrepreneurs and small business owners to equip them with the resources and support to take a small or upstart brand and take it to the next level. Their passion is teaching entrepreneurs how to leverage all of the branding tools that are at our disposal to truly launch their brand into a new level of success.
MO: Where does your passion for helping entrepreneurs come from?
Richard: Entrepreneurship is what makes this country great. And it brings out the best in each of us that we have to offer to society such as passion, courage and creativity. Helping to contribute to a strong, successful entrepreneurial base in this country will ultimately improve the lives for all of us, and at Fifth Avenue Brands we love being a part of that and making a difference. Any work that does not make a difference in the world is not work worth doing.
MO: What are some of the key components of building a successful brand?
Richard: There are so many new concepts and buzzwords evolving everyday on the subject of branding; however, there is one principle that forms the foundation upon which everything else is built. That principle is that a brand is an actual, living thing. It’s a simple concept that not all entrepreneurs grasp or master immediately, or truly harness for its maximum benefits. When I say a brand is a living thing, what I mean is a brand must have a personality and human side just as any human being does. This is what breeds the most important qualities that a brand must have which is authenticity, loyalty, connection with an audience and strong bonds and relationships with its customers. The more you attach your personality to your brand and make it yours, the more of a personal bond and connection that you can form with your customers. And the stronger your bond, the more customer loyalty you will breed. I discuss this at length in my book on branding, The Face of the Franchise, because we now live in an era where branding is more personal than ever. Social media has given what to an entirely new platform for connecting with every single customer on a very personal, one-on-one level. And if you don’t do that, your competitors will. Every single entrepreneur must be fully utilizing these new communication tools to put a face to their brand.
MO: The world of digital media is fast-paced and constantly changing and evolving. How do you stay on the cutting edge of an ever changing industry? What resources do you depend on to keep you informed?
Richard: We have a very hands-on approach to staying on the cutting edge of our industry. Simply stated, you won’t know what works if you don’t try. The reason that we can tell our clients what works and what doesn’t as it relates to social media campaigns is because we have tried every failed strategy you can think of along the way and it has allowed us to constantly adapt and re-adapt our strategies and protocols in an industry that is evolving every single day. And the moment a new platform comes out, you can bet we are one of the first trying it.
MO: How do you empower entrepreneurs to successfully sustain their brand?
Richard: You empower somebody by giving them two things: first, helping them identify their potential and then second, by equipping them with the tools to realize that potential. This is the overarching goal and bigger picture of everything we do at Fifth Avenue Brands. We help our clients develop a brand identity, project that identity to the public, launch public relations campaigns and breed brand loyalty through social media and other tools, but the ultimate goal of all of this is how it fits into the bigger picture: how it will help this brand become what is has the potential to become. A great product needs a strong brand in order for it to fully realize the maximum potential that that product has to offer to the marketplace. And that is the first step to building a brand. We need to take a step back and ask, “What is the bigger picture here? Where does this brand have the potential to be in 5, 10 and 20 years from now?” Once we have answers to these questions, we can start thinking about the “how” aspect of realizing that potential. We do not just want to run a PR campaign that will create a pop in sales and other metrics. We want to launch a model and a system that will contribute to the bigger picture of where and what your brand will be 20 years from now.
MO: What are some steps that our readers could start taking to become more effective leaders?
Richard: In a recent Forbes article, I talked about the most important steps to increasing your effectiveness as a leader. The number one step that I talked about is learning how to first lead yourself. This is very important because you must be able to lead yourself before you can realize your full leadership ability with others. The first step to leading yourself is knowing yourself. This is a personal growth process. The most effective leaders know theirs strengths and weaknesses, their passions and convictions and most importantly, their values and guiding principles. Once you know who you are and what you stand for, you can set the tone for the rest of your organization. People will only follow a leader who knows what they stand for and whose actions reflect those values, principles and vision.
MO: Why do you think that it’s important to empower your employees to see and fully realize their potential that they have in all aspects of their lives?
Richard: Oliver Wendall Holmes said, “Many people die with their music still in them.” This is tragic because if most people could see what they are truly capable of, they would amaze themselves. If only you could have somebody else show you an image of what you look like in your true potential. That is what leadership is and that is what truly effective leaders do. If you want to get the most out of your employees, you have to help them get the most out of their own lives.
It’s very hard to be successful in one part of your life for very long when the other parts of your life are failing. Personal problem can very quickly be brought into the office and the organization will suffer as a result. True leaders help their followers overcome these problems even if it may not be their job. Many managers will say that their followers have other people in their personal and home lives to help them with those problems. But maybe they don’t. And maybe you can be the one who makes the difference. And how much more of themselves will your employees be able to put in at the office when they are fulfilled and happy in the other aspects of their life and not stressed and distracted?
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