In this week’s episode, we have Humaira Akhter, a personal brand strategist who helps businesses harness their unique identities to generate revenue. She sees herself as someone who is used to being thrown into tough situations and be able to come out the other way. She recalls her experiences when she flew from Bangladesh to the US to study. The plan was to go back after school but that didn’t happen as she found herself working tirelessly in the corporate world. It became monotonous for her and that she no longer enjoys what she does. She wanted to do something that doesn’t only makes her happy but can also impact others.
She answered the controversial question – which comes first – branding or marketing. Listen in and see her take on this hot topic.
Humaira’s website: https://www.brandwave.consulting/
Katie Brinkley 0:02
Hi friends I’m Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs, realtors and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Welcome back to Rocky Mountain marketing. My guest today is Humira. occour Humira is a personal brand strategist who helps visionaries harness their unique identity to generate revenue and to scale with efficiency by unlocking their identity alignment code. After serving over 12 years in the corporate world, working with small startups to multimillion dollar proposals. She has worked at every end of the spectrum, all sharing the same goal of communicating value through design. Now she runs her own consulting agency while enjoying being a twin mom of boys and also bringing the cohesive experience to enhance client’s brand experiences. Humira, welcome so much for coming to onto the show today. I’m so excited to have you here. We’ve had the opportunity to get to know each other through clubhouse so we’ve we’ve shared a plenty of stages together. I’m really excited to have you on the show today.
Humaira Akhter 1:14
Wow. Thank you. Thank you, Katie for having me here. How’s the sound? Can you hear me? Okay?
Katie Brinkley 1:19
Yeah, you sound great. I love hearing those birds in the background. I feel like I’ve been transported.
Humaira Akhter 1:26
It’s all part of the experience, just so you know.
Katie Brinkley 1:31
We’re all just driving along in our cars, or sitting in our offices listening to this podcast, we can just hear the birds and be taken away to a better spot, right?
Humaira Akhter 1:40
Yes, yes. It’s a little changing environment. So I figured, you know, zooms can get a little stale after a while. So here I am. Well, thank you so much for having me on your episode, because I’m super excited talking about what we’re going to talk about today. So yeah, thanks for having me. Well, you know,
Katie Brinkley 2:00
I want to start out, you know, like I said, we’ve had the opportunity to speak a number of times on clubhouse, but I really don’t know that much about you. So Tell, tell me and tell our audience a little bit about yourself and where you grew up? And what life was like growing up? Oh, my
Humaira Akhter 2:14
goodness. Yeah, well, I’ll try to be concise because I know we have limited time. But basically, I grew up in Bangladesh, it’s India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bangladesh is sandwiched between India and Pakistan. And I grew up there, I came to United States for my undergrad and my master’s. And, you know, the plan was to go back after I finished my school was to go back, get a job and get married, have kids probably that’s what people usually do, right? I’m saying that in the most casual way. But that’s not like it is. But anyway, I so I finished my undergrad. And then I went to a college in a Midwestern which is like, freezing temperature there. Which is, you know, coming from a tropical country to all of a sudden moved to a freezing below 30. Below, it was something that I was not really prepared for. But you know, it’s something that I’m used to being thrown, I feel like not used to. But I’m used to the fact that I can throw myself into any situation and come out the other way. And I realized after years later that I didn’t know that entrepreneurship lived in me for so long, until I lost my dad. And I was pregnant with my twins. And then I realized that this whole corporate life that I was living, going nine to five, and it became really monotone as it just became so robotic, that it took a deck, it took a family from two to four to realize that that wasn’t working anymore. Who am I kidding, right? And so I went into the self awareness journey for a while. And I realized finally that this isn’t me anymore, and I need to do something that not just makes me happy, but are contributing to something that I know that I’m making impact in other people’s business or life or journey, whatever that is, right. So yeah, that led me to start my own company. And that led me to take all my experiences, my skill sets that I’ve had with branding, and designing and doing all sorts of things that I did in the marketing department to translate my skills into solopreneur ship and people that are in the startup phases that are struggling to get their name out or get their branding, right, is what I’m passionate about doing. And with that process is also a self discovery. So
Katie Brinkley 4:46
you know, and you took us along your career journey a little bit skipping over a lot of the corporate stuff, but I really want to highlight the fact that you wanted to become an entrepreneur because I think that for myself like I I never knew I mean, now looking back at my life, I’m like, of course, I’m an entrepreneur, and I started my own business. I mean, I’ve wanted to, you know, start making money when I was 14 years old, you know, I’ve always had that, that entrepreneur mindset. But I think that, you know, sometimes it’s, we never really think about starting our own thing, or being an entrepreneur, because it’s just not, it’s not the way you go to college, and then you get a corporate job. Now you do this. And I think that there, that’s something that a lot of business owners, you know, we all have that in common, no matter what sort of business that you’re in, you know that there’s a better life, well, not necessarily a better life. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with being in the corporate world, but a better life for you For you exactly how you want to live, when you do have your own company. And whether it’s doing branding, or social media, or starting your own car repair company. So there’s, there’s something out there for everyone that really can make them happy. And sometimes it takes a step back to look at where you are, and seeing what changes you can make. And a lot of times it’s starting your own business. So I do want to talk to you a little bit just about that, before we dive into exactly what you do and who you serve. But what is the biggest piece of advice that you would give to somebody if they are thinking about starting their own business? If someone’s like, you know what, I think actually, I want to be in business for myself. What’s the biggest piece of advice that you would give them?
Humaira Akhter 6:23
Oh, gosh, yeah, there’s, and I’m sure that people listening to this, and depending on your audience who’s listening to this, right, if they are in that startup phase, or if they’re just brand new, starting out, I would say to try to understand that self discovery process in itself is a very daunting lesson, daunting process, because, you know, you immediately want to start making money. And the mistake that I made was, I just like, went in cold, like, no savings, nothing. We had, you know, my husband and I were trying to, I mean, we just had two babies. And we’re not talking about one baby diaper, we’re talking about twin diapers that we’re providing. And it’s very expensive, you know, babies are expensive. So my thing is, like, you know, I didn’t have enough saved up, I didn’t have really a plan. And so people starting out, and I’m like, it’s great. But you know, you can have a business plan and all those sorts of things in place. And I’ve seen both ways where they have everything planned out, but they haven’t done anything. Or they have the other way around. They’ve been just dabbing different things and trying to figure out what sticks and what doesn’t stick. So I think it’s, there’s a lot of complexity that goes on in the beginning, you know, and what I would say is that, really try to understand who you are, what are some of your biggest strengths that could solve a specific problem in the market? Right? And if we can identify that, then we can come up with a solution, like, Am I the right fit for that solution? Now think about? Why are you the person to solve that problem? Right? A lot of it is like, well, I’m awesome. Well, that’s not good enough of an answer, unfortunately, because there are people googling all the time they’re finding out the going there, they have different choices. And if I could make them the top of the choice in their audience’s mind, I’ve done my job. And you know,
Katie Brinkley 8:34
yes, I think that too, you know, you brought up a good point, because I was similar to you, I had a fantastic corporate job. And I found out I was pregnant. And then my company was acquired, and my position was eliminated. So it wasn’t anything, you know, that I did, you know, I was doing a great job, my manager was just disappointed as I was that I, my position was eliminated. So I didn’t really ever think about like, Okay, well, I’m going to start my own business. And here’s my business plan. And this is what I’m gonna, you know, I just was kind of figuring things out on the fly. And I think that there you can be successful, both ways, if you have a business plan, or if you’re just trying to figure things out on the fly. But the biggest thing that you need to have is belief in yourself and figuring out what problem it is that you’re going to solve for people, and having the confidence in your abilities to do it. So I’m so glad that you brought that up, because it’s very, very similar starts to both of our career. So I want to hear a little bit more about more about what it is that you do, because you know, a lot of my audience, you know, where they’re Denver business owners, and I’d like to bring in these digital marketing experts to just really expand their knowledge on how they can continue getting the visibility and different marketing strategies that can help them grow online and grow their business. So tell us a little bit more about what it is exactly that you do. How do you help businesses
Humaira Akhter 9:59
Thank you. Yeah, I love that question, then, you know, I’ll tell you a little bit very quickly about my journey. And I think that will bring some clarity. And that, and that was in the beginning phase, I was doing a lot of different things that everybody does, working on my website, putting funnels together, being on social media, being on networking, and all that stuff just did like being busy. Like I am busy, you know what I mean? And, but there’s no, necessarily a consistent revenue coming in, right? But he was just busy. And one of the things I recognized and realizes that that’s all fine and done, but at some point in your business, you know, you need to have that clarity in mind, where, what is the core offer? What is the core solution that I’m providing? And what is my core identity? Right? What is my core identity? Like, not just like, Who am I or this, but like, also understanding like, what are my values that I want other people to align with, so that they can, I can truly attract the people that I can help, right. And if sometimes, and that happens to every one of us where we take on projects, because we need to, like it’s just randomly take on any project. And then it turns out that that wasn’t an alignment, that isn’t in alignment, not just who you are, but it isn’t aligned with your mission, it isn’t aligned with your products, it doesn’t, it isn’t aligned with your values, and we burn ourselves out. And that is the thing that I’m trying to avoid is the burnout. And that is what I help with, with the process that we unlock the identity alignment code, starting from clarity of the essence of the brand, all the way to trying to find out what is that makes you unique, what is your only ness effect. And then we define the personality of the brand. What is the personality that people are going to be attracted to, because if you think about a brand, it’s not your logo, it’s not your colors. It’s the character that we’re building, it’s a story that we tell, right? And what’s the character that we’re attracted to. People are attracted to people, they’re not, we’re attracted to humans, we’re not attracted to business, I think a lot of times we forget that, that we’re dealing with personalities. So if you can be very clear on the personality of your brand, then that takes care of the marketing, your marketing gets, you know what I mean? We about to say something
Katie Brinkley 12:37
i was i was gonna jump in. So for those listening, I talk into a box. So it’s a really good social cue for my guests. Whenever I, whenever I want to chime in on something I dive my head right back into this the soundproof box. So you brought up a really good point, and I wanted to dive into it just a little bit more is the, the identity of your brand. And I don’t think a lot of people really think about their business of having that personality, you know, like the colors, the fonts, everything, the logos, all of it, the gifts your your audience and and your clients and customers and emotion. And when they think that when they see that logo, when they see your color show up in their feed and everything, it’s going to help them immediately think of you I would love it if you just kind of told the audience today about how important it is to really think about those those things for your brand for your business.
Humaira Akhter 13:35
Yeah, and you know, it’s tricky, because here’s the thing, there’s so many noises out there, because there are people will tell you that you don’t need a fancy website, you just need a funnel, and then they’ll take care of it. And then yes, all of that works. The problem is, if you’re not Tony Robbins, or if you’re not someone who is a huge thought leader celebrity, then you know, people are going to want to check you out. They’re going to check you out, they’re going to your website, they’re going to judge you, they’re going to make a perception. So you have so much control over that perception. And if you can, right off the bat come across professional, consistent, then guess what, you’re ahead of the game or with your competitors, right? You’re right there. It’s not about the locks. We’re not talking about just the statics, but we’re talking about substance with aesthetics. Someone who is a person with a heart and emotion, but not just saying that, you know, buy me buy me buy me kind of thing, you know, so that’s where you know which I was going to talk about the fourth part of my framework, which is the empathy, how do we inject empathy into your brand. And that’s what we work on is that Okay, now we’re, we’ve built your core identity, we understand the essence that you want to create and now This is how we want people to make them feel, what is the feeling that you want to leave behind? Right? Think about a store, when you walk in a, you know, you create, there’s an impression that you get right away. Think about your first home that you buy, the bones might be the structure might be really good. But if it’s not aesthetically, if it’s not something that you can imagine that it’s a home that you can grow into, where your family and everybody grows into, then it’s not going to go well, right? It’s not something you can think long term. So a lot of people right now the problem is everybody is in that instant gratification mode. Like it needs to work now, it needs to happen now. And what we forget is that your brand, is it’s going to take time to build that transparency, the trust, the emotion that eventually people are going to be like, if I need the solution, guess what I’m going to go to Katie, all I can think about is Katie, I don’t need to go to Jessica, I don’t need to go to Maryland because she I know exactly what she does. Yeah, I
Katie Brinkley 16:15
think that that’s it’s such a great point. Because I think you know, like you said we’re you know Tony Robbins, you know, some of these people, they they were not Rome was not built in a day. And sometimes people can see, you know, the final product, and they don’t know, you know, the 458 10 years it took them to get there. And so it’s it is true, it is it is a marathon, not a sprint, and you know, your journey is different. Everyone’s journey is different from from start to finish. And sometimes it’s all over the place up and down, up and down. But we all have different finish lines. And that’s what we just need to focus on is our own path there. So you know, I want to talk a little bit about, you know, we were talking about offline and and you said, brand first market. Second, I’d love it if you dived into that just a little bit for us.
Humaira Akhter 17:09
Yeah, this is a huge controversial topic, because I’ve had conversations with marketers even they say, No, no, you need to make money first. And we’re not i’m not opposing that. I think in order to have a business, you need to survive, right, you need to sustain the business. But the problem that we run into is that I think that I’ve seen that even, you know, when you’re marketing, and even with the clients that I’ve taken on that, like, What am I supposed to market? I don’t have a brand. What are you supposed to market? What are you supposed to write on? on your website? Who are you supposed to be seen as? What is the perception that I’m drawing here? Right? I don’t have clarity, I don’t have clarity on how I want to be seen? How are you going to show up then? Right? Like that confidence is just not there. I mean, of course, you can just do things on the fly and just hope something sticks. But until that clarity, that marketing becomes so much harder. And then if you hire a social media manager or a virtual assistant to run your social media, what are they running? What are they writing? Are they writing their voice or your voice? Do they understand? What is your brand that stands for? Yeah, you know, I
Katie Brinkley 18:34
think that it’s true because I am a marketer, and honestly, it makes my job so much easier. Once I have a brand guide to work with, you know, once I know what the tone is, once I have all that information, if I have a branding guide, it makes my job 10 times easier than it is if I’m you know just kind of like okay, well here’s this company, go ahead and post for them. And I’m like, Well, on what I mean, like I need to know more, you know what, what other colors, but you know, so I’m right there with you with the
Humaira Akhter 19:07
brands first, right? And it doesn’t have to be perfect, because remember, a brand is like a person, it evolves over time, you’re gonna change, right? As you grow, your priorities might change. But you need you know, if they can work with a brand strategist who understands that your identity is flexible, it doesn’t need to be that fixed mindset. It can be flexible, who knows how to do that, then you have so much more room to grow. And then you can bring on all these specialists in your business to propel you forward. You know what I mean?
Katie Brinkley 19:44
Absolutely, absolutely. And you know, I think that that’s actually great advice because a lot of people might say, Oh, I already have a logo. You know, I am I already have that. I’ve already done all that. But how’s your business evolved? Has it changed? Is it time for a rebrand? I think that You know, people can get overwhelmed with that like, oh man or rebrand, that’s that sounds daunting, but it is a big it is a big undertaking. But if your company has evolved and changed, really your your entire brand branding identity does need to fit with who you are now. So I think that I’m really glad that you brought that up. And because again, if you’ve had a logo for the past 1520 years, it might be time to take another look at it, and with a fresh set of eyes to see who is your company now? And I mean, how do you help people kind of figure out what their identity
Humaira Akhter 20:35
is? Yeah. So we go through some rigorous foundational questions that they have to these are hard questions to answer, right? Like, what is my purpose? What is my purpose beyond making money, and most people get tripped up when they We also ask them like, hey, if let’s say we, you have to write an obituary about your brand, how would you write it? Right? Most people don’t think to that extent, that degree. And even for myself, like, I need someone to help me with that, because it’s such a deep, these are deep questions, you know, like, why do you want to be in the business? Why? After we reached six, figure seven, figure eight figure, then what your purpose has to be, it has to be beyond making money, and what is that? Right? So a lot of times, even large businesses lose sight of who they are, and why, why they’re doing it. And then we need to reshift their thinking about Okay, where is the good? Are we still aligned with who we are? Are we still happy personally? Or am I killing myself working 60 hours a week? The money is great, but I’m killing myself here. Is that so alignment with who you are? Maybe not? Maybe that’s not where you are, right? Like for me, I know that, you know, money’s always going to be a byproduct for me. So it’s just it’s just figuring out understanding, where do they want to go? And how is it in alignment, even with their personal values, and how they’re living that life? So I’m thinking about calling myself a lifestyle brand strategist? Because I feel like because lifestyle can be confusing with the mag, it’s not influencer lifestyle, we’re talking here. It’s not taking a picture near a, your Lamborghini. We’re not talking about that kind of influencer. But we’re talking about something that really fulfills you from inside and out.
Katie Brinkley 22:43
Absolutely. And, you know, I think that you have to you said, like, Oh, you know, are you killing yourself over this job now? And how can you do you need to take a step back? I would love to hear maybe a bit of advice from you, you know, what do you think is the best piece of advice is that you’ve ever received, and how has it impacted you in your life?
Humaira Akhter 23:03
Oh, I think that for me, the best advice I’ve gotten is really thinking about my energy alignment. You know, I talk about energy a lot, not in the Hilo language, but like, I didn’t understand that I could take on 3040 clients, but that didn’t necessarily mean that it was filling my own cup, you know what I mean? So then I realized that, Okay, I will be happy with maybe 12 clients, but give them the best value ever, that I could give, and then have them come back to me every year. Or just hire me for a repeat business. So that’s been my model. And I don’t, I would say, figure out your revenue model. Figure out what’s the best revenue models that works for you. Just because somebody else is doing mastermind, or somebody else’s teaching courses or have courses, they mean, it may not translate to you, it may not something that you may like, and it that took me a long time to understand that that like, I bought all the courses you could think of I because I thought it looked enticing and appealing. And I realized that that isn’t me. So it goes back to identifying and realizing at the core of who you are, and understanding your energy and then aligning all your efforts with that energy so that you can stay fresh, creative, innovative, because one of the things in business is that we have to be innovative, right, we have to stay creative. Otherwise, you know, it’s easy for any other life coach or energy healer or fitness coach, to just kind of swipe up your you know, any day there’ll be like, you know, we do the same thing. But guess what, the moment you find out what your differentiator factor is your x factor or your uniqueness, you can stay pinned to that the idea is to get pinned with that uniqueness.
Katie Brinkley 25:12
I love it. You know, Myra, thank you so much for coming on the show today. This has been such a great conversation. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you about during today’s discussion that you think is important to share with the listeners?
Humaira Akhter 25:24
No, but I think I’m gonna join you in the box next time.
Katie Brinkley 25:29
Yeah, I mean, the boxes it’s it’s funny for my guests at first is it’s a little interesting to see me turning and talking into this, this black box, but it always provides a good conversation starter. You know, my again, thank you, again, so much for coming on the show today. What is the best way for people to get in touch with you and learn more about about you?
Humaira Akhter 25:49
I love conversations. And if you are a tea drinker, come join me Have some tea with me. And let’s just we’re not it’s not a call that like, I’m going to like, hey, work with me or any of that. I want to know about you. I want to know who you are. And what is your Why do you want to do what you do? And let’s go from there. I’m a conversation person. So that’s what I would say go to my website and book a call.
Katie Brinkley 26:17
what’s your website? For those of you who might be taking copious notes, what’s your website?
Humaira Akhter 26:22
Okay? All you have to type is brand like the brand wave, W A v dot consultants,
Katie Brinkley 26:31
perfect brand wave consulting guys, for those of you that want to get in touch with Mayra again, thank you again so much for coming on the show today. This has been a pleasure. Thank you. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com with me on LinkedIn or check me out on Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.