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Lindsay Pedersen, Forging an Ironclad Brand

TSE 1101: Forging An Ironclad Brand


lindsay-pedersen-author-photoYour brand tells your story when you’re not in the room, and today Lindsay Pedersen shares tips for forging an ironclad brand with sales reps, entrepreneurs, and other business professionals. 

Lindsay is a brand strategist who helps professionals identify the single idea that their business stands for. She’s passionate about working with leaders to harness the power of brand every day. 


Brand is what you stand for in the mind of your audience. If your audience is a group of customers, it’s the thing you mean to your customers. If it’s future employers, it’s what you mean to them. It’s a crystallized meaning of what you uniquely bring to your audience. 

When you spray a bunch of ideas out, it’s harder for your audience to understand. It’s in our interest for our audience to be able to understand because they’ll be more like to remember us, like us, and talk about us. 

It’s up to us to make it easy by distilling it for them.


We want to empathize and understand what it’s like to be our customer. You and your company are not the center of the universe for that customer. They have many other things going on besides your value proposition. 

When you crystallize it into something specific, it uses their worldview rather than their worldview. It makes it easier for them to buy what you’re selling.

Sometimes as businesses, we forget that we’re not selling to a machine or an inanimate object. We’re selling to humans with joys, sorrows, scarcities, worries, and pride. When they feel seen they are more likely to bond with you and want to do business with you. 

Deconstructing brand

One of Lindsay’s motives for writing her book was people’s widely varying definitions of brand. For some people, it’s the name of the business. For others, it’s the logo. Others assume it’s related to marketing budget or television advertising.

 She concluded that the concept was becoming problematic, and she wanted to demystify it. 

There’s some merit to all of those ideas, but she needed to bust the myths about what brand isn’t. Otherwise, we’ll keep having puzzling conversations where people aren’t speaking the same language. 

9 Criteria of ironclad brand

Not all brand is created equally. You have a brand whether you deliberately created it or allowed it to be passively created. 

If you aren’t actively choosing the meaning, you won’t have the brand position you want to have.

  1. A brand needs to be big enough to matter to your customer.
  2. A brand must be narrow enough that you own it. 
  3. Your brand must be asymmetrical so it uses your lopsided advantage to position you with your customer. 
  4.  Your brand must be empathetic enough to address a deeply relevant human need. 
  5. It must be optimally distinct so it strikes a balance between being a familiar promise while also being novel. 
  6. It’s a balance between functional and emotional so that it’s rationally meaningful to your customer but also emotionally resonant. 
  7. Your brand must be a sharp-edged promise that is simple and singular. 
  8. It must have teeth and be demonstrably true. 
  9. Your brand must deliver on time, consistently, every time. 


When you think of sharp objects as they relate to your vision, those things are easier to see. Your eyes have to do less work. 

Ease is good because when you ask less of your audience they are more likely to learn and remember. An example of this is the fact that people around the world associate the Volvo brand with safety. Same thing with Prius, because people think of fuel-efficient cars. 

Buick doesn’t have this sharp edge in its branding. If you’re the CEO of Buick, how do you feel when your audience doesn’t know what your brand means? Who even is the audience?

The Buick salespeople have to do much more work than the Volvo or Prius salespeople. 

Wide net

We assume that if we can keep the door open without narrowing our message to a target customer that we’ll appeal to everyone. The reality is that it’s an illusion of an opportunity. 

The more an entity puts a stake in the ground, the more authentic they are perceived to be. Customers won’t trust companies who won’t take a stand on anything. 

People respect you more when you demonstrate what you’re optimizing for. 

The other thing is that developing a specific message might turn away the people you shouldn’t be serving anyway, but that’s ok because it’s time and money you could devote to the people who are your target customers. 


Remove the mystique of branding. You don’t have to have a good handle on branding in order to intentionally craft your own brand. 

Choose with crystal clarity who your target customer is, but don’t just rely on demographic observations. What are they like? What keeps them up at night? What do they value in life? 

This doesn’t mean you don’t sell to other people. It just means that you optimize with humility on your way to forging an ironclad brand. 

“Forging An Ironclad Brand” episode resources

Grab a copy of Lindsay’s book Forging An Ironclad Brand. She also has a free giveaway on You can grab the workbook that Lindsay adapted from her book. It’s a supplement that provides a step-by-step workbook-style guide to building your own brand strategy. 

If you haven’t connected with me on LinkedIn already, do that at Donald C. Kelly and watch the things I’m sharing there.

You’ve heard us talk about the TSE Certified Sales Training Program, and we’re offering the first module free as a gift to you. Preview it. Check it out. If it makes sense for you to join, you can be part of our upcoming semester.

You can take it on your own or as part of the semester group. The program includes 65 videos altogether, and we just completed a beta group that helped us improve the program and maximize the information in it.

If you and your team are interested in learning more, we’d love to have you join us. Call (561)578-1729 to speak directly to me or one of our team members about the program.

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steve mckee, Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist, Brand Marketing

TSE 758: The Rationally Irrational Consumer


Steve McKee, Donald Kelly, TSE, SalesSometimes, we don’t think and we just do things. Irrational? Hmmm… yes. But it’s somewhat rational. So how do you exactly deal with a rationally irrational consumer?

Today’s guest is Steve McKee. He is the president of Wallwork and Company. He is also the author of the book When Growth Stalls and Power Branding. He has been a columnist for Businessweek over a decade and currently writes a column for SmartBrief on leadership.

Here are the highlights of my conversation with Steve:

What is a rationally irrational consumer?

Nobody in any purchasing situation acts completely rationally. But when you start to fill in the layers, that irrationality can be somewhat rational.

Biggest Mistake in Prospecting

Giving into the fallacy of rationality

The Device to Begin Understanding a Rationally Irrational Customer: CERTS (Context, Expectations, Risks, Tradeoffs, Shortcuts)

  • Every purchase has a context. Think about what context your prospect is operating in. And often, context determines expectations.
  • Prospects are continually trying to mitigate risk. So think about their risk and how to mitigate them.
  • In that context of risk, prospects are always making tradeoffs.
  • Ultimately, when you build trust with the prospect, you become a shortcut for them.

Research Strategies:

  • Insight: What is going to drive or significantly affect their decision?
  • Relationship: Look for opportunities to make relationship with the prospect since people do business with people they like and trust. Your prospects are humans so leverage that connection.

The Mindset Shift

When a company has a need for a product or service, they’re feeling pain. And they’re looking for a solution. So when you appear on their doorway, they desperately want you to be the answer. Think of it that way!

Work for the Prospect Before They Hire You

Start working for the prospect before they hire you. Start serving them and meeting their needs. Start genuinely and sincerely working for them before the hire you. And oftentimes, they end up hiring you. But if not, you’re still building relationships and trust. Start to give away what you have and it will come back to you.

The Purchase Process Can Change

A purchase process can actually change the purchase process.

Think of wise ways to violate things.

Steve’s Major Takeaway:

Remember, your prospects are humans and they want to like you.

Episode Resources:

Learn more about Steve and the stuff he’s doing on

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Morgan and Michael Lennington

Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni

Check out the TSE Hustler’s League.