Andrea Shillington – Founder of Brands for the People

[quote style=”boxed”]Bringing love to business. We spend so much of our lives at work and I believe everyone should feel fulfilled regardless of their position title. We should wake up in the morning excited to go to work, because it’s about something more than making money. It’s about making a positive difference.[/quote]

Andrea is a brand consultant with 8 years experience branding medium to large sized businesses. Before launching Brands for the People in November 2011, Andrea worked internationally in the Middle East, Europe and North America. She led a wide variety of projects ranging from rebranding the United Arab Emirates’ federal government, to rebranding hospitality groups, commodities corporations and real estate developers. After returning home to Vancouver, Andrea focused her entrepreneurial passion to help startups with a shared vision to do do Good in the world. It deeply concerned her that strategic branding was not affordable for small businesses, and she was curious how to use technology as a platform to solve this problem. She realized that overcoming this challenge would require developing a new business model and a series of online resources that would go beyond logo design. It would mean inspiring people to discover their own brand clarity and then connecting them with a hand–picked group of brand identity designers. She offers online advice as well as additional brand coaching, guidance and resources, all far below corporate rates. Andrea calls her company Brands for the people because that’s what she stands for. She believes that positive change in the world starts with the people: the business people, the creative people, and the people who buy stuff. Andrea invites you to discover how to effectively shape, brand and grow yourself and your company to achieve this greater Good.

What are you working on right now?

My top 3 priorities right now are:

1) people – we’re working on creating a culture within our crowdsourced community

2) customers – getting a CRM system in place to help us manage the high volume

3) community – creating amazing content for startups and designers

Where did the idea for curated crowdsourced designer come from?

The idea for Brands for the People was the end result of the many altruistic entrepreneurs I’ve met who simply could not afford to invest in a long-term branding solution, which is what they need in order to achieve their vision. Instead they often just buy a logo, but branding is much more than a sexy logo design. It a step by step process that unlocks who you are and who you aren’t.

Coming from the corporate world this cost issue was new for me, so once I had acknowledged it literally kept me awake at night! I knew technology would be part of the solution, but crowdsourcing creativity was seen as very uncool within the design community. I knew I’d have to find a better way of attracting and retaining the rock star designers. That’s when I turned to the designers themselves, I posed my questions with designers and engaged in a dialogue, sent out surveys and started a journey of co-creating a new business model.

Brands for the People is a win–win for the customer who pays less for a brand that’s built to last–as well as the designer who doesn’t have to deal with sales, briefing and invoicing.

What does your typical day look like?

No two days are ever the same! Ever! We have clients all over the world and we try to be as flexible as possible for them. I’ll be honest, I’m still juggling and working towards a magical mix of spending more time working ON the business!

How do you bring ideas to life?

Great question! Mostly, I help other people bring their ideas to life because branding is the first step in turning an idea into reality. My approach is 100% collaborative. I believe my customers hold the answers and it’s my role to help them see themselves and what makes their business truly unique. I ask a lot of questions, I listen, we brainstorm. The key to doing great branding work in my opinion is creating a space where vulnerability lives.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Bringing love to business. We spend so much of our lives at work and I believe everyone should feel fulfilled regardless of their position title. We should wake up in the morning excited to go to work, because it’s about something more than making money. It’s about making a positive difference.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, so I managed a small international law firm in Toronto. The owner, my boss, was a crazy maker. It taught me to have a thick skin, be able to get along with anyone, but most of all it taught me to listen to my instincts. I quit that job, despite its financial rewards, moved abroad and that’s when I fell into the branding career I love today.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Another great question. I don’t have any regrets about my past because it led me to where I am today. However, if I could go back in time knowing what I know today, I would have studied harder for my SAT’s because I was given some incredible scholarship opportunities as an elite rower that I really didn’t take seriously enough. Also I’d pursue branding and design much earlier in life.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I read my values & vision often. I know, it sounds cheesy, but what can I say, it energizes me for the day! When you work as hard as an entrepreneur, you can get lost in the details and forget about the higher level. It’s important to remind ourselves what really matters and where we are going.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Right now, I’m interested in creating new businesses, industries even, that never existed before with love for our planet and people. One specific idea comes to mind, I love ideas that address consumerism like sharing models that use technology. Very cool!

If you could change one thing in the world – what would it be – and how would you go about it?

The distribution of wealth. If I could wave my magic wand I’d make it Federal Policy in all countries to operate as a Benefit Corporate meaning they are held liable for making a material and positive difference in the communities in which they operate.

Tell us a secret.

I’ve taken bootstrapping to a whole new level! I’ve been living at my boyfriends parents for the past 8 months so that I can afford to spend every dollar I have on Brands for the People.

What are your three favorite online tools and what do you love about them?

Hootsuite so that I can schedule my tweets

Google Apps, especially because that’s where my life is organized

Pinterest because it’s visual

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Blue Ocean Strategy,  because it’s a fantastic read for innovation junkies.

What’s on your playlist?

Alicia Keys baby! Anything by Alicia. She is one strong, powerful and beautiful woman.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

@JeffBooth – The man is pure genius and one of Canada’s top innovators
RobinSharma on Facebook – For a dose of inspiration
@JeffTurner – He has a brave voice on social media and is a values based human being

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

My laughs are often and loud all the time! The last time I can distinctly remember laughing out loud was a big fall while snowboarding. In powder, it’s actually a lot of fun!

Who is your hero?

That’s a difficult one to answer because I admire so many people all for very different reasons. If I had to say just one person, it would be Oprah. She’s invested her life in making a positive difference in the world and has remained incredibly authentic throughout her journey.

What’s your vision statement for Brands for the People?

We will rest when businesses make a profit without being greedy. We will exhale when we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of startups become world famous brands. And, finally we dream of a day when the discussion about branding is no longer about the logo design.

What matters the most to you?

Creating meaningful relationships with people.


Andrea Shillington  Email –  [email protected]
Andrea Shillington on Twitter  –  @brandpreneur
Brands for the people on Facebook –  Facebook
Brands for the people on YouTube –  YouTube