Creating Your Authentic Brand Story, with Karley Cunningham

Episode 284

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Brand Strategist & Business Growth Accelerator Karley Cunningham takes businesses from overcrowded, competitive spaces out into blue ocean territory where they can confidently stand out and thrive as brand leaders in their sector.

Companies that want to be distinct in their marketplace retain Karley to sharpen their positioning and differentiation strategies to cut through the noise. Karley’s international client-base benefits from accelerated growth, increased profit, and stability as her innovative Surefire Method™ provides them with a sure-fire strategy and toolkit that enables them to charge a premium, attract and retain ideal clients, develop a great company culture, and outpace their competitors.

Having built three successful businesses, Karley knows what it takes to start, develop and lead a company that delivers results. Her entrepreneurial success story is featured in the awarded book: The Widest Net by Pamela Slim. In addition, she’s a sought-after mentor and speaker for national and international business organizations and the host of The Made Possible Podcast.

Believing deeply in the practice of givers gain, she is well-known and networked and rarely goes a day without making a referral or connection. As a former pro athlete, Karley is performance-driven. An avid mountain athlete, she is a two-time finisher of the BC Bike Race, a seven-day, 325 km mountain bike stage race, and is always looking out for her next trail running adventure. When not focusing on the business or expanding her network, she can be found somewhere in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest with her wife and dog in their 4×4.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Karley Cunningham about how branding can help a destination, attraction, or business in the tourism industry stand out from the crowd. Karley breaks creating your brand down into three simple sections — uncovering our fundamental beliefs, understanding the markets we serve, and showcasing our differentiators.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • When Karly became interested in marketing and communications
  • The importance of resonating with your audience
  • How her background as a competitive athlete has impacted her career in branding
  • Why a tighter box often enhances creativity
  • The importance of inner reflection when drilling down into your brand story
  • Why a 3-5 year time period helps you set an achievable strategic plan and vision
  • What ‘the people become the place’ means for destination marketers
  • How your branding can help solve the retention and recruitment problem

Creativity in Branding

As creatives, we constantly push the boundaries, but when the boundaries shrink, we’re forced to think more creatively than ever about the challenges we face. When defining their brand destinations, services, and businesses need to reflect on their ‘why’ to pin down what makes them unique.

Karley joins us on the podcast to discuss how to peel back the layers to understand what’s different about your offering because amazing branding is about the nuances. She describes the process as going fishing — if you drop the line and then go deeper and deeper and deeper, you’ll eventually hook on to something special.

Authenticity in Your Brand Story

Karley explores why it’s essential to start from the inside out when developing your brand. She shares her insights on why it’s all about being authentic as people when you’re creating a company brand. Karley also discusses how she helps businesses who have moved away from their true purpose to pivot back to their axis and reinvigorate them. When your brand story comes from the inside out and is genuinely driven by your purpose, who you are, the things that resonate with you, and how you show up in the world, it creates an innate sense of alignment and power.

Recruitment and Retention in the Travel Industry

Recruiting and retaining employees is a huge struggle in the travel and tourism industry right now. Karley gives her perspective on whether the current staffing challenges relate to how valued and cared for people felt before the pandemic and how that relates to standing behind your brand values.

On the show, we discuss how to solve the problem of recruitment and retention, and Karley gives her advice on how branding can help businesses in that regard. She shares how your brand ties into your promise to your staff in terms of supporting them in their everyday roles and challenging situations. Karley outlines why the key question in reframing the retention issues is, are you willing to deliver your staff the quality that you deliver your guests or service users?


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