How To Create Brand Culture And Grow Your Following

March 31, 2015 • Branding, Brandmakers

To be successful, create a culture that people ‘vibe with.’

Have you ever wondered what you have to do to get people to be interested in your content?

Meet Anthony Frasier, one of the co-founders of The Phat Startup, a media company that creates resources for entrepreneurs and is influenced by the Lean Startup method and hip hop culture.  I’ve been an admirer of The Phat Startup’s work for a while (if you want some DOPE articles that will help you grow your business, check out their blog).

It turns out Anthony and I have a few mutual associates (small right, right?), so it was a pleasure to finally get to speak to him in person about all the great work he’s been doing. Once you talk to Anthony, there’s no denying his passion for the tech world and his love for being of value to his community.

In today’s BRANDMAKERS you’ll learn:

– Why developing a ‘brand culture’ is so important
– How to stand out in crowded niche
– Why having an online flag (aka #hashtag) is important
– They key to building great relationships
– What he’d change about the industry if he were the God of Tech…and more

Check out the interview below!

How did growing up in Newark, New Jersey shape who you are today?

It’s almost like every story you hear. From a kid who grew up with little to no money in a bad neighborhood, drugs all around me…it was real rough. I’ve seen a lot of things that, at the time, I wish I didn’t see, but now it’s helped shaped me. I grew up around drug dealers on my block. Those were the only examples of success I saw. These were young guys driving Mercedes Benz and dressing really nicely. They were recruiting younger kids. I was fortunate enough to have a family who kept me off the streets. I would use that time to be in the house playing games.

My interests in computers started because of a teacher who had this after-school computer club that I was in. She showed me how to research, set up an email, and things like that. It was real simple, but it went a long way. I’ll never forget her. That, early on, planted the seed in me.

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

What got me started to be an entrepreneur was looking at other examples. I hated authority. I never knew I did. Eventually I started to realize I don’t like having a boss and clocking in. It didn’t vibe with me. Overtime, I went on the internet and looked at successful people and looked at how they had control and freedom. Those were the key words. I know alot of people like to look at money but I looked at control (as in control over their schedules and making their time) and freedom (being that they didn’t have to answer to anybody.)That’s what inspired me and got me thinking there’s another way. I went after it.

phat startup

What was a challenge that you faced while building The Phat Startup  and how did you bounce back?

When we started The Phat Startup, it was just a Tumblr blog. We planned to take business lessons from hip hop lyrics. It was not supposed to be what it is today. Over time, we started to realize that there is a culture of  people who are like us and want to build tech companies. I’d just came off building Playd. I spent some time in Silicon Valley before. I felt like I had a lot to give.

When people started to ask us those little questions about building a business, that’s when things got a little serious. We  said lets teach people and interview entrepreneurs who have that hip hop vibe. When we say hip hop, we don’t necessarily mean the music. We’re talking about the culture. That was a challenge. We overcame it trying to figure out what we wanted to do with the brand. Was it going to stay a blog or become a media company that put out resources?

Why is developing a “brand culture” so important?

Culture is your unique identifier. It’s your unique selling proposition. At the end of the day, we are not really teaching anything different from anyone else. The difference is you vibe with us more. People are always going to choose who they vibe with. If you are building a brand, you need to make sure that you have your culture at the forefront of everything you do. You’ll attract people who vibe with you. Even if you are selling the same thing as other brands, they still won’t vibe with the person that you are trying to vibe with. That’s the most important thing.

How can you stand out in a crowded niche?

I listen to ten to twenty different podcasts and it always seems like the same guests are always getting interviewed. You can always tell when someone is on a promo run or podcast tour. What makes me listen to a Lewis Howes is HIM. You know he brings a certain Q & A that another person won’t ask. You know it’s different. As long as you have that, you don’t have to worry about the competition. 

How did you build your community?

Honestly, it was all about the consistency of the content and the vibe. People were like, “You are putting out dope content and sending us emails that I vibe with.” People like that. They feel like they are me. The questions that we ask our guests are the questions that nobody else is asking. For example, I’ll ask, “What if I’m  a single mother and I don’t have time or money to learn how to code? How is that possible for me?” Nobody else is asking that. When you start asking those type of questions and putting out that content consistently, people will feel the same way.

How did the term #bossup get created?

If you don’t give people a flag that they can wave, it won’t happen. We could have easily grew our content without a hashtag but nobody would ever think #bossup if we didn’t push it. We were consistent with it. It was consistently in our language. If we were using it, our audience felt good using it.

Branding Tip: Give your community an “online flag” to wave. (CLICK TO TWEET)

What’s something that you’ve learned as a man of color in the tech industry?

I see a lot of content about raising money. While it’s good information, it’s really about all relationships. I have been around people who have gotten funding doing way less than what we are taught to do as far as putting together a pitch deck and getting your pitch together. There are people out there who don’t have to go through that because they have relationships. This is talked about loosely, but it’s not talked about enough.

You have to get out there and really shake some hands. The reason why we (people of color) may be shut out of the conversation is because, me being a Black man, I’m not going to have a bunch of White friends. Sadly, that’s the case in the Silicon Valley, too. It comes from your network. Alot of people are in the same network making introductions to each other. There’s a few Black people who have gotten into those circles. If you ever watch who is really successful, you can see.

How can an aspiring entrepreneur learn to build great relationships?

Come with value. There’s a great book that I read called Love Is The Killer App by Tim Sanders. It’s the first book that I read that gave me the key to opening doors for myself, becoming a person of value, and connecting people.

It’s not just about me. I’m not stingy. I meet people every day. I always have conversations every day with people who feel like they need something. In order to give somebody else something, they need something else in return. If they can’t feel like they can get something in return, they won’t do it. That’s not how I vibe. That’s not what got me to where I am today.

What has gotten me to where I am is being a person of value, helping people, leading people in the right direction. These are not hard things to do. The world is huge. By helping someone else get to their blessing, that doesn’t have to take you further from yours. People are scared. People don’t realize, you get a blessing, by being one. As you make connections and give value, you’ll start to see your net worth grow.

You get a blessing, by being one. As you make connections and give value, you’ll start to see your net worth grow. (CLICK TO TWEET) 

Do that same thing in your content. The Phat Startup creates content that helps people. We never make anything personal. Can I help change your life? Can I help you build your business better? Can I help you how to pitch and validate a startup idea? Create a better routine? If you take that same approach as you do socially with your content, you’ll win.

What’s one of your weaknesses?

I’m a dreamer. It’s a gift and curse. Being a dreamer, you spend more time visualizing and planning. That was something I struggled with. To overcome that, I became sick of where I was. That got me to take action. I said, “Yo, if I don’t do this, I am going to be in the same spot I was last year. I don’t want to be in the same place. If I’m in the same place next year, then I have done something extremely wrong.” I’ve been able to elevate each year.

I don’t say this out of arrogance or cockiness, but I feel like I’m lazy but I’m still doing ten times more than alot of people who are hustling too. I feel like I could be doing alot more. I know when I’m slacking. You know when you are not doing what you are supposed to do. How I stayed on top of that was making sure I implemented alot of productivity hacks into my life. For the most part, I’m not on Twitter [if I have a deadline coming up.] I use Buffer so it looks like I’m talking when I am really not.  I even put blocks on my web browser on social and video game sites that I like. I’m not perfect, but I’m working on getting better each day.

What makes you shine? 

I don’t have an ego. I’m humble. My heart. Being a person of value is what separates me. I’m not afraid to take a loss to get to the win. I’m not afraid to help someone because they may be on the come up. There are people I helped who are doing FANTASTIC things right now and have gone beyond what I would have ever imagined. I don’t feel bad or think that that person owes me anything. I would love to ask that question to other people and see what they say. 

In his book, Mary Neuiemer says, “Your brand is not what you say it is, your brand is what they say it is.” Use what people say about you to market yourself.

Your brand is not what you say it is, your brand is what they say it is. (CLICK TO TWEET)

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What’s something you wish you could change about the tech industry?

I’d get rid of the bias. Right now, there are not alot of Black techies working at companies in Silicon Valley. Alot of the hiring managers (even if they intend to be bias) have bias in them. It’s subtle.

I wish there were more diverse network values in Silicon Valley and other communities. The companies that will get made from that will help humanity. Imagine if there were more diversity, women, men, and minorities in the mix in the technology industry. Imagine the types of problems we would be solving. That’s something to look forward to. I think we’re going to get there as more Blacks, minorities, and women get into tech, but it’s going to be a fight. Imagine if it was easy. If I was the God of Tech, I would make it easy. I would love to see the innovation that would come from that. That would be something to look forward to.

What’s something you learned from Anthony’s BRANDMAKERS? Share in the COMMENTS section, please!

Connect with Anthony Online:

Web: thephatstartup.com  | anthonyfrasier.com
Twitter: @anthonyfrasier
Email: anthony@thephatstartup.com

 

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Rana Campbell is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Ranacampbell.com, a site dedicated to personal branding and helping people learn how to SHINE in their personal and professional lives.

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