October 31

204 FIFM — How to Build Your Brand Awareness Strategy with Steph Hilfer

Welcome to another episode of Freedom In Five Minutes! I am your host Dean Soto. Your man of systems helping you create more freedom and profit than they ever thought possible. That is why we have Steph Hilfer on the show – the lady full of Vim and Vigor — to talk about brand awareness.

Steph Hilfer is the founder and Chief Creative Director of https://getviim.com—a marketing consulting firm that helps businesses discover their brand. She can visualize what doesn’t yet exist and bring it to life… and boy it's alive!

Overview & Episode Content

  • Why is Brand Awareness Vital for Business Growth?
  • The Brand Vehicle
  • ViiM: Discover Your Brand
  • Branding Awareness Discovery Day
  • Marination Period: Preparing My Clients
  • The Brand Evolution
  • Branding Strategy: Your Umbrella Company
  • What Can You Do in 5-Minutes?

Why is Brand Awareness Vital for Business Growth?

Today's topic is this, “How to Build Your Brand Awareness Strategy The Easy Way” with Steph Hilfer. So, the coolest part of this year for me is this podcast. We are getting back to talking to people that I think will grow your business. Not just on average; not just helping you to get to the next level but literally and truly exponential growth with what you are trying to do with your company.

So Steph and I did the whole, “Start with Why”, and asked her “Why do you do what you do?”.

She was glad to share her “Why's”. She said, 

“Whatever vehicle that I choose to live this life through — it has always been helping others. See the beauty in them whether it was through photography or through graphic design. And now through branding.”

“I've been able to help others see how beautiful — and I don't just mean like a model or a pretty picture. I mean beauty in the sense of authenticity and that there is a whole market for that authenticity and finding that in yourself. I love being the person who gets to pull that out of people.”

“We are a visual race, right; we, as beings, eat with our eyes, judge books by covers—we are told not to, yet we do. So I love being able to truly help people see and visualize their own beauty. Yeah, that's my “why.””

I loved that! Every step of the way along my journey, I've always had this feeling of imposter syndrome. Who would want to know what I do? Nobody wants to even know what I'm doing with my company.

Even when I see Instagram posts, I'm like “She's got it. This is awesome. That's her and I can't do that Grant Cardone level like her.” 

The Brand Vehicle

I'm not a creative person, not extroverted in a sense of design and reaching out to people. I want to be someone who can tell people that I'm seeing them. Create something in my business that people find attractive. Thus, I ask Steph how she was able to go about doing that.

“Like I said, my vehicles change. I'm going to use MOD Pizza as an example.”

“Their “why” is to serve people. And their “vehicle” is pizza. If Pizza were banned from the world, MOD could still live. Their “Why” is to serve people.”

“So now, they might have to shift into sandwiches or something because pizza is banned. But the vehicle can change.”

“So my vehicle right now is through working with corporate or personal brands. When we think of branding, we started this conversation off with “visual” and that is such a huge part of branding: logos, color, font, imagery. How are images and videography designed? The lighting? There's so much that goes to that like your personality and messaging. Are you introverted or extroverted?”

“I'm talking about who you are authentically. There's a lot of work we do to help recognize a personal brand’s identity versus that of a corporate brand. It's achievable. And it helps people connect with you.”

“You were speaking of imposter syndrome, I am constantly fighting that beast all the time.”

“I'm showing up and I'm powering through it not because I'm some superhuman. It's because I had one really awesome person say to me that when I don't show up in my own authentic self — I'm being selfish.”

I am not going to lie, that is super powerful. At some point, we are going to talk about brand awareness strategies. We have the worst branding in the world. 

ViiM: Discover Your Brand

So, Viim. How the heck did you come up with Viim? Two “i”. What's the brand awareness story in that?

“It took a while racking my brain, trying things, Google all the things. And I finally said, “I know I want a single word. It would be amazing if it was a real word. Branding is fueled through marketing. It is the vehicle to get your brand out. So letter M for the word marketing was huge for me to have in there. And the crucial letter that I had to have in there was the letter “i” for intentional.”

“So I've got this list of things I wanted. I picked up a dictionary and I was definitely flipping through pages when I landed on this word  — I  remembered it from my sphere of words. My elders who had different vocabulary would say to me, “You are full of vim, and vigor.””

““Vim” in English is spelled with one “i”. As a creative agency, the first thing you do when you're naming something is make sure of the URL availability. So, “vim” with one “i” was definitely not available. I knew “i” for intention was super important. Another really important word for my brand is “integrated” in the sense that your visual and intention has to be integrated cohesively and consistently throughout your marketing.”

“My two “i” are meant to look like two entities — two integrating human beings. I don't know everything about the world of VAs, support, numbers, and growing your business. I sure know a lot about what I do and if we integrate our brains together, holy cow! The amount of amazingness that we can create is limitless. I can add that extra “i” in there and encapsulate all that Viim is: Visual Intentional Integrated Marketing.”

It's so good and I love it!

Branding Awareness Discovery Day

I've worked with branding agencies and spent thousands of dollars. Yet, I did not hear anything back for almost a month. Then they gave me all these things kind of rebrand type for Pro Sulum.

This is not the first issue with a branding agency that happened, it left a bad taste in my mouth. So, how do you even go about integrating and doing what you say that you do?

“My clients have said so many things that warms my heart and makes me feel good about doing what I do. One thing that stuck was, “No one has ever asked me that.”

I'm like, “How?” Why has no one ever asked you this?”

So the way that we do what we do is the very first step in our journey together. We do a brand awareness discovery day — and it's a full day. I call it a Discovery, intentionally, because remember that keyword “integration.”

I am discovering. And oftentimes, the client is either discovering or rediscovering. Sometimes if we have multiple Power Players at a Discovery — even it’ll be like two CEOs. What happens is that one might say, “Woah. That's what you think?”

Or, “I forgot we talked about that.”

So there's this discovery of flushing things out. And remember my “why”, it is bringing things out of people. It's not me creating this for you and telling you that you are beehives. It’s not about putting lipstick on a pig—it's truly bringing out what is in you already.

Whether it's virtual or in person, we go through several different exercises with the power players of the brand. We go through this whole day — very immersive and very energetic.

Marination Period: Preparing My Clients

“I am very intentional and I prepare my clients but I didn't until this happened.

We went through Brand Awareness Discovery that had three Power Players. We had a phenomenal day and ate lunch together. This was on a Thursday and we wrapped up.

Then on Sunday, I heard from the CEO. And he goes, “I feel like we went on this long hot date and you ghosted me. Am I going to hear from you again?”

But whatever day it was or however many hours had gone by from that moment to the time he reached out, he felt ghosted.

That tells you that it was a really powerful day. He got a lot out of it and wants to continue to be in that energy so that is a very huge testament to me.

With the support of my team, we take all the branding work. And we record the Discovery Day — whether in person or virtual — my team needs to be as immersed as I am on Discovery. We need to be integrated. So, there's a period for market research, creating content, design, conceptuales and lots of pieces.

There's so much work that we do. I have learned to set the expectation for clients like maybe 2-3 weeks I'm going to reach out and tell you where we're at. I'm going to set your initial concept preview date but I don't want you to feel like during that time you can't reach out.

Maybe something strikes you during that time. Shoot me, an email. Shoot me a text. It's all about setting the expectations for whatever is authentic to the experience they’ll have.”

So it's cool that expectations are set. And that it's okay to reach out anytime when something comes up.

That makes all the difference, big time!

The Brand Evolution

So, how do you decide and help determine a cool brand from doing the personal brand?

Like, how do you get to that? How does that work?

“It’s different for each scenario, even for myself it's like, “Am I a personal brand or a corporate brand?”

I have a team of 20 people. But I am the lead and face of the brand. So I will evolve. Keyword here is to “evolve” into a corporate brand one day. Right now, this is who and where I am. This is a very awesome place to be.

Let's make sure we're branding towards that. And I said “evolve” because I believe in the concept of rebranding. It's necessary at times and that it's definitely possible to need that. But I don't think it's as needed as people use it.

We are brand-evolving.

The core of what we've always believed and why we do what we do have not shifted a huge amount. What we do or the way that we do it has changed and we need to represent that evolution through how people absorb more content or in our marketing messages.

I talk a lot about brand awareness and what will serve you best to deliver your “why”. It is such a different thought process than what do you like and looks best?”

That is such a huge pet peeve of mine. As soon as I get asked, “What do you like best?”

Dude, I run a big company. I don't have time for this. I'm like, “You're the freaking professional. You tell me what to do. Like, I'm paying you to help me to have a specific look, you know?” And so, they get it.

Branding Strategy: Your Umbrella Company

I've never heard of any brand or marketing agency ever say what you say.

How do you even know that?

“I mean I have my own personal brand. Viim also has a brand. They don't have to tie into my business or my corporate brand. I have validity in where I came from through the brand evolution of those things.

Companies and individuals come to me, we talked about the idea of umbrellas. Let's have that example. Let's say I am a politician, an author, and a business owner. But my personal brand is my umbrella. Each of the items underneath have their own supporting brands as well. It’s about looking at the web that you are creating and how it all supports.

Now, the sister word to intention is strategy. With branding, it doesn't always have to be: I sell markers so I need a brand. Anyone who is influencing somebody else’s behavior has a brand. You need to harness your personal brand by influencing through actions.

So I have conversations about the intention of why are we even talking? What do you want to do with your brand? That leads us into the conversation of what's going to serve them best now.

It has to stand the test of time and there are things that we're going to keep cohesive and consistent because that is the power in what you're investing in. I don't want you stunted. I want you to feel so limitless. Like, you can go anywhere with it and evolve. But maintain the work and investment we did.”

It’s always about having the end in mind. And “start with why” type of thing.

That is what's so powerful! Everything is all intentional toward whatever that future goal is — that evolution.”

What can you do in 5-minutes or less?

Now, the question of the day. What's something that somebody can do right now in 5 minutes or less? That would completely revolutionize what they're doing and help them to grow.

“Still in line with brand awareness — we create the Brand Identity Snapshot. We have one page front and back. On the front, we have our “visual”. On the back, we have our “intentional”. What can you do in 5 minutes?

On the front, establish your visual logo and have a couple variations. Narrow it down to the top three variations. I don't know if we have to go old school or you do it in some design program.

Establish those colors, fonts, and everything. Now if you have 12 choices, go back to your top 3 or 5. No more than that. Solidify few at best.

Then at the back. Put what you believe is your mission. Your “why” and any core values you have established. Now, pin it in your office cork board and keep referencing it every time you do anything — look at the paper and think, “Does it match?”

And if it doesn't, then make it match. 

Even if it’s the worst color, horrible logo, and it's all across the board — if you consistently follow that guide — I promise, you will see benefits and improve.

The next step will support why I promise you that your brand will grow.

Forbes released a beautiful article about what you can do to improve and increase revenue. If you want to increase revenue by up to 23%, be consistent and cohesive.”

That is HUGE! And then the compounding of that overtime is nuts. I love it. 

So yeah, go check out what Steph is doing at GetViim.com. Two “i”  and I will see you all in the next Freedom In Five Minutes Podcast episode. 


Creating a brand is easy when we look deep within ourselves and start asking our “why”. Our “why” is what makes us our brand – our mission. 

Resources and Links

Go check out Steph and GetViim.com.

And of course, don't forget to check out ProSulum.com and FreedomInFiveMinutes.com!
Check out these links and I'll see you in the next episode.


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