Image by Lunabear Studios at the Savvy Experience, hosted by Heather Crabtree
When it comes to branding, it’s so important to know your audience and put them first! Making your audience a priority truly is the key to building a successful brand, so we sat down and did a Q&A with Monique Melton, an expert on the topic!
Monique is an author, educator, community-builder, and the founder of two successful projects: Shine Brighter Together and the Esther 4:14 Experience. If there’s anyone who knows how to build a successful, people-centered brand, it’s Monique! Read along to get to know her and her amazing mission!
Let’s start off by you telling us about your background and how you got to where you are today.
To know me is to know a woman with a fire for real community and a heart for meaningful relationships. I am an author, educator, community builder & the founder of Shine Brighter Together, and the creator of the Esther 4:14 Experience. The name of my first book is EntrepreFriendships, which shows people how to go from complete stranger to business besties. As the founder of Shine Brighter Together, we work at bridging the gap that divides us, by encouraging us to build strong, diverse and Christ-centered relationship. I believe the laws have changed, but the hearts have not—and only the love of God can change our hearts towards one another. As the creator of the Esther 4:14 Experience, this year is the1st one, the mission is to encourage, equip and support women in doing what they’re called to do with greater fulfillment, abundance and impact. For me, my walk sums up to: love God, love people—and teach and inspire others to do the same. Thus, I focus on relationships, because that’s what’s life is truly all about.
I am a natural big-bold dreamer and a deeply rooted woman of faith, proud Navy wife to my high school sweetheart and loving mother to two little ones. I have a BA in social science with an emphasis in Sociology & Psychology and two years of graduate school education in Clinical Counseling from Johns Hopkins University. I have been featured on blogs, magazines, podcast and has traveled the country to speak at events on topics related to personal growth and development, such as embracing authenticity, building meaningful relationships, embracing diversity, business development and client experience. I support women by bringing out the best in them through support in personal development, especially building, healing and nurturing relationships. I also support women in doing the work their called do with business development resources. I serve clients one-on-one in workshops, trainings, masterminds, retreats and with resources. I believe it’s not about your comfort, but it’s about your growth.
What inspired you to start Shine Brighter Together?
I believe in being a firm believer in the power of community and that we are much stronger together, but seeing so much division has inspired me to take real action. Also, being a black woman in America with black children, a black husband, black mother and father, black siblings and so on, puts me in a unique position of not having a choice as to if racial injustice impacts my life in a negative way.
Every day, people are treated unjustly because of the skin they’re in. That is a problem that I desire to use my voice, my platform and my life to be a part of the solution. And, about 8 years ago, I received a prophetic word that I would bridge the gap that divides us, and over the summer of last year with all the shootings of unarmed black men, the fire in me was fanned and I haven’t turned back.
Shine brighter together isn’t about black and whites coming together, but about being a place where people of all backgrounds can learn to come together and have dignity, respect and love for one another. It may have stemmed from having a desire for more racial unity, but really the impact is like a ripple in the ocean that goes far beyond race. But it does start with race, as that is one of the first and most obvious ways we can embrace diversity.
What is Shine Brighter Together’s mission?
To bridge the gap that divides us through teaching and encouraging others to build strong, diverse and Christ-centered relationships.
Tell us a little bit about your book, EntrepreFriendships. What do you want your readers to gain from the book?
I remember hearing over and over again about how important it is to network and build relationships, but never much on actually how to do it in a way that made clear and practical sense. How do I build a relationship, especially in business, with an absolute stranger? How do I get people to support me? How do I reach out to leaders and influencers and actually get their attention? I wanted to provide answers to these real and relevant questions in an easy to read, no-fluff kind of way. So, I wrote EntrepreFriendships.
I wrote this book to help take the mystery and nerves out of meeting new people and to help people go far beyond small talk to build real and meaningful business relationships. And because marketing is all about building relationships, and meaningful relationships start and end with a genuine commitment to support and serve others. Thus, this book is based on that principle: Support & Serve.
I want readers to learn the step-by-step process to make more meaningful connections, earn greater business opportunities and develop real business relationships. Learn how to identify networking opportunities; how to create great introductions; how to follow-up and get new opportunities to connect; how to build relationships that are mutually beneficial; how to get more strategic with networking and much more. This book will get you to thinking. And if you’re serious, it will get you doing things that are unconventional—not because they’re revolutionary, but because they go back to the roots and the basics of humanity, which is to connect with people & build relationships!
What does it mean to create a “people-centered” brand?
Have you ever been to a restaurant and had the most amazing customer experience? It was probably because the food was good, but it was likely because the service was amazing. They made sure you knew that you mattered and that your needs mattered to them.
To create a “people-centered” brand is to build a brand that focuses everything around the value and experience that it is creating for the external and internal community. It means keeping the needs of the customers and your team at the forefront of your brand, so decisions are made with their best interest in mind. It means taking time to check your motives and that they are truly in line with serving and supporting the people well. It means taking time to get to know your clients and your team and to ensure that their voices and concerns are heard and cared for. It ultimately means, “take care of your people…and in return they’ll take care of you.” They will be loyal, refer business to you, stay on your team, bring their best to you and ultimately make serving them that much more meaningful for you.
Why is it so important for brands to be people-centered?
I touched on this previously, but it ultimately sends two strong messages: I’m in this for you and you matter to me & I want to make your life brighter. When people feel like you have their best interest in mind, then they are more likely to feel like they can trust you, and are more likely to stay loyal to you. If people feel like they are not heard, valued or they are just a mere means to an end, that leaves a very unpleasant impression.
A people-centered brand is important because it cultivates more of community around your brand, versus just a product or service. It becomes something people associate a deeper and more connected meaning to, because they feel heard, cared for and supported. For example, I have a client I’ve been working with for over a year, and I make a point to serve her well because that’s a core value in my brand. Well, because she feels so cared for she’s the first to share the news about things happening in my business and even purchased several of my books to give out to others because she felt so connected to the community I’m building. But also because she feels cared for and enjoys the client experience.
"A people-centered brand is important because it cultivates more of community around your brand, versus just a product or service"
What are your 3 tips for someone who wants to create a meaningful, people-centered brand?
Make a list of your brand’s core values. Keep them visible or refer to them often, so that when you make decisions for your brand, you can make sure those align well with serving the people with the best value and experience.
Check in with your community often. Do surveys, ask their opinion, and seek their input. Simply make sure they know they have a voice in the community, and that their voice matters.
Check in with your team. Schedule a week, at least 1x a year that’s team appreciation week. Use this week to love on your team in the ways they feel loved. So, you first have to know what that means. Something I do is ask my team members, “what makes you feel loved, what are some of your favorite things to do?” So, when I want to do something for them (I am doing my first team appreciation week this year), I know how to make it matter to them.
What has been the most rewarding experience you’ve had being a business owner, author, and educator?
Hands down, without a doubt, being a part of the journey of helping someone see something in them that was always there, and then taking that something and running with it. Basically, bringing out the best in my clients and seeing them grow and do things they never thought they could even imagine doing is the most rewarding experience. The cards, gifts, emails and words I get from people thanking me for how I’ve helped them in some way is so rewarding!!!
What is your motto in life?
Love God, love people.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like to add?
I would like to say that I truly believe that we need a lot more love in this world, love for God, self and others and if we could pour more love into relationships instead of things. Then, we’d live in healthier and thriving communities!
Wanna learn how to take your brand to the next level? Our Bloguettes 3-Day Workshop will teach you how to do just that! Learn all about our workshop and check out the cities we’ll be visiting next here!