We had the good fortune of connecting with Brandi Stanley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brandi, every day, we hear about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Two major things sparked the idea for BrandPrep. First, I left my most recent full-time role, where I served as the Brand Director at GAN (gan.co), in January 2020. GAN supports a global community of startup accelerators so that founders have the resources they need to succeed, no matter where they’re at in the world.
During my time there, accelerator leaders and startup founders, in particular, would pull me aside at events, just to steal my time and ask me their current branding and marketing questions. It really reminded me that not everyone needs an agency; sometimes they just need help understanding what to prioritize, what’s worth spending money on right now, if the branding choices they’re making are the right ones, and quick suggestions to get results without having to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on much larger branding or marketing projects.
Second, being so consistently alongside startups in that role, I also knew that founders a) don’t typically have enough capital or revenue yet to hire an agency or additional staff to build a brand for them anyway; but also, b) they don’t really need to. It’s typical to think you need a full-blown “brand” right out of the gate, but it’s actually completely unnecessary. You don’t need to drop a ton of money on the best logo ever, a really incredible website, or other major brand elements when you don’t even really know who you are yet. More importantly, you really shouldn’t give up a lot of early revenue before you even know that your business is sustainable. So, I wanted to help give founders guidance based on where they’re at, saving them a ton of time and money, or even helping them to start making more money with simple but powerful ways they can quickly improve their marketing efforts. (Hot tip: The answer usually isn’t dumping a ton of money into paid social ads.)
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
In terms of what I actually sell, I offer a set of pre-built branding surveys that help companies capture critical insights directly from their staff and customers so they can stop guessing about their branding choices and instead know exactly what resonates with their ideal audiences. What’s great is that they typically also save companies a lot of money when they are ready to hire someone to start building visuals for them, like a logo or a website, because agencies and freelancers have to ask these questions anyway. Then, when they are ready to hire someone, I help direct customers to my most highly recommended designers and agencies, because it can be SO hard to find good ones and I love passing work onto my best contacts. Even better? People can send requests for quotes straight to them without leaving my site.
Otherwise, there are a few things about how I’ve built the business that might be interesting for others to know.
Most importantly, I give five percent of all profits away, directly to women of color and Indigenous or land-based organizations, and most of it isn’t tax-deductible. I don’t view this as charity; I view it as an act of wealth redistribution in recognition of my own privileges and the work of others—mostly people of color—that got me here. It’s one way I’m trying to bake racial equity and proper land stewardship into the actual core of my business.
In addition, I’m trying to build a business that allows me to do everything I love and not much of what I don’t. For me, that means providing massive value in an area of deep need while still honoring everything else I want to do—more art, more writing, more fermenting. Lately, I’ve started to refer to this as leveraging my experience and skills to “buy back” the rest of my life. Specifically, once I build the business up enough, my plan is to do BrandPrep work no more than 1-3 days a week. It’s not about just trying to make as much profit in as little time as possible. I find that to be a really extractive, exploitive relationship. What I’m trying to do instead is to use my skills to provide incredibly high value in a really accessible way, which will not only give me more of my work week back so that I can serve the world in a lot of other ways that feed my soul, but will also help send work onto other people when my clients do need something like design or strategy help. It’s a win-win-win.
I’ve also structured my offerings so that I don’t have to deal with a bunch of tasks I’ve never loved in the branding world—negotiating what my time is worth, writing up proposals, getting design feedback, etc. Instead, I want to provide a service that’s not only needed by my client, but that equally lights me up. I absolutely love giving clients advice that not only saves them time and money, but that can help them make some without dropping a ton of cash on things they don’t really need. The rest? Not so much.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We’d go to The Gypsy House after dinner at Racine’s.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It’s going to sound weird to a lot of business owners, but I’m really grateful for the work of The Nap Ministry these days (https://thenapministry.wordpress.com/). She’s doing important work to disrupt our current systems and ideas around work and preaching the good word about rest as an act of resistance.
Erin Preston (https://www.erinprestonproductions.com/) is the photographer who shot my headshot (the one with me in glasses). Daniel Quay designed the logo for The Guest House (I mocked up the rest of the brand concept shown).