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Meet Scott Silverman of Articulated Brands®

Today we’d like to introduce you to Scott Silverman.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was lucky to begin my marketing life as an advertising copywriter in 1994, back in Detroit, at a creative boutique called Bruce & Chato, Inc. There, I learned a ton from the owners, including fundamental “retail” truths, such as how smart humor cannot only drive near-term sales but can also help build a brand people love. I worked freelance for a time and also dabbled with Entertainment for a while, securing a place in Warner Bros. Comedy Writers Workshop. But over time, I got more and more into the strategy side of the business and marketing equation, including brand and business development, preferring to eschew the layers of bureaucracy inherent in the traditional agency model. I put my entrepreneurial spirit to work more directly for clients, sometimes serving as one-man agency and often working side-by-side with the founding entrepreneur. I opened Articulated Brands in 2007 with a primary concentration on copy writing, but that soon grew into branding and brand consulting, company naming and, frankly, whatever I could do to help people sharpen their approach and save the years typically spent chasing the wrong position. Today, I use brand not simply as a blueprint for better marketing, but as a tool of business development. Of greatest importance to most small businesses, brand can be a tool for achieving greater focus and clarity… which all adds up to greater efficiency.

On a personal level, it’s about knowing somebody’s got your back. No, you aren’t supposed to have all of the answers, and, no, you aren’t in it alone. My clients know that when I’m arguing with them, it comes from a genuine place of empathy and support. When I’m in, I’m all in.

These days, it’s about making my clients the beneficiary of my hard-won experience; helping them avoid many of the worst mistakes a business can make and getting them to understand the importance of messaging when you’re in the business of creating customers.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Haha. Uphill the whole way. Copywriters aren’t supposed to be strategists. Brand consultants aren’t supposed to be business development consultants. Genuine brand strategy has to come from the big firms, at a half million a pop.

Cool company names also have to come with a five- or six-figure price tag. “What I really need is an industry specialist.” The myths and preconceptions are everywhere.

Whether I can alter these or not is irrelevant. I’m just going to keep beating my different drum… because it makes me happy and because I don’t want hundreds of clients. I only want the ones who are open-minded enough to look at things differently and those, who, even in the face of tremendous pressure, still take time to laugh.

And that’s just on the business side. On the personal side, I’m not really a schmoozer, so one major obstacle was my fear of speaking in front of groups. At a certain point, I realized I just had to bite the bullet. If I was going to go into businesses and help them better understand their fundamental marketplace connection points, somebody had to be leading that effort. As a true introvert, even today, I’d still say I’d rather work one-on-one with people, utilizing more of a brand and personal performance coaching framework. I like the intensity of focus and making sure my clients know someone is, in fact, paying attention. These days, I’m a lot more at ease in team settings. Honestly, there’s just no time to worry about it. I just make some jokes, let everyone know it’s okay to make fun of me, and then we dig in. Come to think of it, that sounds like some pretty decent turbo team-building.

Maybe I really have conquered this? TBD.

Please tell us about Articulated Brands®.
Articulated Brands® does what I call Message-Centric Branding®. For me, the ability to “crack” a business model is fully determined by our ability to distill, define and articulate the vision, values and experiential benefits overlap between the company and the marketplace. Our core messages are what connect us to our customers.

Specialties include brand discovery and brand strategy, brand copy writing and brand design, as well as company naming, product naming and taglines. I’m probably most known for putting strategy in the front seat and the creative reputation is for injecting wit, warmth and unexpected approaches into everything we do. As a company, my pride is no longer solely rooted in this or that website or digital campaign or print ad. My pride derives from a body of work that, to a large extent, actually upholds the principles I advocate and to which I strive to adhere. When people are truly driven to succeed, there is simply no time for bullshit and over-promise. People like it when I share my thoughts and concerns as if it were my business we were talking about. People intuitively know they should be “building in brick,” like that wise third little pig, but they need a voice on their side nudging them to out-think and out-plan versus out-spend. Applying my more pragmatic and business-grounded approach to brand strategy to other arenas, such as personal and celebrity branding, will probably be more of a concerted effort in the next few years.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My dad used to take me to Detroit’s International Auto Show. In addition to being bowled over by the enormity of the space, the sleek designs and all of the other sights and sounds, I think it was there that I first fell in love with marketing in general and, specifically, high-design print literature. I would stuff my convention bag with every high-gloss brochure I could get my hands on. Recently, over 30 years later, I’ve had the chance to help with some of the show’s radio advertising. Yet another full-circle experience in my marketing life!

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