How We Got Here
BrandU® was an accident. At least at first. Partners Kim Castle and W. Vito Montone were trying to figure out how to survive—not to build a premiere brand-development training program. By becoming the first people to introduce brand development to entrepreneurs and small business owners in 2003, BrandU took off like an electric train going 200-miles an hour and the world changed forever.
Everyone talks about wanting a brand, wanting to grow their brand, as if “brand” was always a part of the business-building lexicon. It wasn’t.
Back in 2003, brands were something you bought, not something you could be without big bucks. You had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to an advertising agency. That’s why only big companies were brands.
After investing $500,000 of their own money, they focused their strategic creative agency solely on one project. Working 18 hour days for an entire year, and assembling a team of 70 people around the world, they created and delivered a groundbreaking project for a major entertainment studio with a beloved brand.
They found themselves with international success with never-seen-before results. They discovered details about the attendees that marketing hadn’t reached before. They gave experience to the internet that no one had ever experienced before. And it showed. 1.4M people engaged in just 30 days.
Even so, their innovative project was two decades too soon. They were emotionally and energetically exhausted. Focusing their creative agency on one project that cost too much to deliver with little financial rewards, they were flat broke. However, they did experience first-hand the power of a brand.
Coming out of this money-demanding, energy-sucking experience, Kim and Vito opened up their creative agency to more clients again, while Kim started attending female-focused entrepreneur networking groups to recharge with other women like her. Women with career experience.
Women with a vision to create a financially independent life for themselves. Women with a dream to serve others while making a difference in the world. A flame was lit in her heart.
Meeting these women up close, Kim realized that despite having career experience, a desire, and a dream, these women were not operating with their fullest power. The power of brand communication. The power of brand strategy. The power of brand perception in the market. The very power she created for Fortune 100 companies working at the top 25 advertising agencies in the world. How could they? They didn’t know the power of a brand was available to them to harness.
Kim thought that if she could help these values-led, committed entrepreneurs how to develop and grow their businesses as brands then they could grow into financially-solid businesses deeply connected to the impact they have on the world around them. In turn, these entrepreneurs would experience strength in their businesses, strength in the market, strength in their lives.
Kim brought her idea to Vito, a veteran Executive Producer working on multi-million-dollar award-winning projects with companies like Disney and Paramount. He agreed with her vision of guiding entrepreneurs to develop the kinds of brands he worked for in the entertainment industry.
Together they developed the curriculum, the processes, the underlying science behind the programs, and the 8-step process that is known today as Brand Power.
Forty-five days from the idea, they held the first BrandU® live workshop to a sold-out room and started offering their programs. Once again they were ahead of their time, only this time it paid off. Making 2 million dollars in just three years and helping tens of thousands of small business owners harness the power of their business as a brand.
They showed the world the power entrepreneurs can have if they harnessed the power of their communication and hustled. They taught it. They were living proof. They also learned firsthand that hustle isn’t sustainable. That business models, financial plans, and systems of scale need to be implemented at the start of a business or will implode even if it’s successful.
While they were empowering entrepreneurs to develop the power of their brand through the processes of BrandU®, they continued to serve hundreds of clients with their strategic creative marketing agency Verve Integrative. And still do so today.
Decades later, they realize that they only taught part of the brand picture back in 2003. Tapping only part of the power available to brands. They taught enough to spark the entrepreneur's power but there was more to harness in order to command that power in the market. There was more to do to get the entrepreneur to be ready before they faced the market. They need to become market-ready before they start marketing.
And so…BrandU® Pro was created. A monthly mentorship community where entrepreneurs get actionable, full-picture, brand-development programs, hands-on guidance to grow, actionable mentorship to address their specific challenges, and a growth-minded community of values-led entrepreneurs turning their experience into financially-sound businesses and exercising their power in the world.
Are you ready to start yours?