The freelance marketer shares the power of outside-the-box thinking.
‘Amazing comes standard’ was the original slogan for Brandish Studio back in 2012. It was Brent Bamberger’s way of putting a stake in the ground when it came to quality of service, both for him and his clients. His slogan may have changed (now it’s ‘Don’t just build a brand, brandish it’) but his values remain—he never wants a client to look back and say ‘I didn’t get amazing here, I got the expected.’
Brent finds excitement in the high-pace growth of new companies. As a freelance, jack-of-all-trades marketing professional, he specializes in helping new to mid-stage companies improve their brand—even build it from scratch. Nothing brings him more pleasure than working with a company and watching them build, transform and succeed.
Want to get inside the mind of this outside-the-box thinker? Meet Brent Bamberger of Brandish Studio:
What was life like before Brandish Studio and what motivated you to quit your day job and start your own business?
I used to run marketing departments for dot-coms back in the 2000s. After about 12 years of that, I realized that after the first year I’d get kind of bored. I really enjoyed the brand creation, ideation and development phase (first logo, first website, first customer, first press.) That was really exciting for me. And after the last full-time job, I caught the bug and thought ‘maybe I could do this on my own.’ So I took the leap of faith and went into business for myself. I wanted to help small-to-medium-sized businesses have that same excited feeling of building a brand from what they have or from the ground up.
Brent’s 3 pearls of wisdom for entrepreneurs:
- Flaunt your niche. Find what you think you’re good at and show that off–You can’t be good at everything, but you can be really good at one thing
- Prepare to hustle. Do the extra work in the early stages so you’re able to create that ‘wow’ factor for your clients. Impress first, profit later.
- Seek out the referrals. You’re only as good as your last project. You want that project to be something your client can be evangelical about. How do you make someone really want to talk about your business?
Describe the biggest challenge you’ve experienced as a small business owner and how you dealt with it.
There’s an old adage: ‘consultants work 80 hours a week so they don’t have to work 40 hours a week for someone else.’ You have to love doing what you do because you’ll have to work a lot more in order to have the same financial security. In the early days, you may not know what you’re making next month. You might not know when your next paycheck is coming.
That’s something I was also struggling with in the early stages of my business. The way I dealt with this was to quickly figure out how to start earning some recurring revenue. I have a family to support so I needed to develop a recurring revenue model that was more predictable and reliable. A big challenge was to figure out how could I start to offer my services (branding, advertising, design, consulting etc.) as a monthly service, as opposed to ad-hoc.
What I ended up doing was start establishing a win-win scenario for both me and the customer. I was able to show them that for a predictable amount of money each month, I would basically be their marketing guy. It becomes a nice ongoing relationship and I’m also able to help them with a lot more of their marketing needs than I could offer on a project by project basis.
Share a story where you went above and beyond to solve a problem.
I’m in the business to help other businesses become successful. When I hear about companies getting a lead because of a website I helped them with, that makes my day.
There was an e-commerce site I worked with once. When I first came on board, they were making around $100,000 dollars a year. We helped them develop a more intuitive and visual website with some really cool functionality. In only 4 months, they were making a million dollars a year. Now, three years later, they were just acquired!
It’s a typical work day. Where can we find you?
Talking, copywriting, coding, illustrating, collaborating and grazing the fridge in my home office in lovely Walnut Creek, California (outside San Francisco).
Inspiration or perspiration?
Everything is a combination of both inspiration and perspiration. Every client situation calls for different levels of it. I think you could also call it business versus art. You’ll have projects where the client is really wanting you to think outside the box. Other situations might be more prescriptive and production based.
I don’t think anything is luck, though. Someone much smarter than me said the harder you work the luckier you get.
Who is your role model?
I would have to say my dad. He passed away a few years ago and he was always an entrepreneur and had his own business. He exported American fishing tackle and fishing gear. I got to travel the world with him as a kid and visit trade shows. What I gleaned from that was a personality and a philosophy in business. Some of the ingredients include treating clients like family, were part of his value proposition. He would make house calls, even if they were 5000 miles away. He would put everything he could into making sure his clients were happy and I’ve definitely taken inspiration from that.
Do you have a motivational mantra or inspirational quote that helps you get you out of bed in the morning?
Once in awhile, I change my personal Instagram quote but the one I’m liking these days is by one of my design idols, Charles Eames.
He said, “Take your pleasure seriously.”
Work-Life balance is *tough* for a small business owner. How do you stay balanced?
Do you mean like bringing a laptop on vacation? I’m taking a vacation AND finding time to work [laughs]
Seriously, though, having a home-office gives me more opportunity to catch moments with my family. I have 3 teenagers (all involved in sports) so I love being able to be available for batting practice or whatever from 4pm-6pm. Then after that, I’ll go back to work. That’s a window I’ll maintain until they are out of the house and off at college. I won’t take any calls between 4 and 6. I really try to carve out that part of the day that’s really for me and them.
What’s next for Brandish Studio?
Global domination [laughs]. I’m excited to start bringing on specialized staff, even on a part-time basis. This way, I can grow and scale to different kinds of business needs–anything from production to writing to PR.
When Brent first launched his business, one of the first things he did was sign up for FreshBooks. It was the very first expense he incurred as a consultant. He had his computer and worked from home but the FreshBooks investments were like a “digital equivalent of hanging a shingle.”
Learn more about Brent and Brandish Studio:
about the author
Amanda is a content editor at FreshBooks, writing and producing blog content to help small business owners achieve their goals and enjoy (yes, actually enjoy!) running their business. Amanda’s background in education and customer support makes her a natural communicator who loves empowering others to succeed. When she’s not writing and editing content, Amanda takes her dog, Jonny, on adventures searching for the best coleslaw in Toronto.