Brenda Ruby is a Branding and Marketing Expert. She helped scale SNOW, a premium brand of oral care products from $0 to $100 million in revenue. She started with SNOW as the very first employee and eventually led the operations of the firm as Chief Operating Officer.
Along the way, Brenda helped launch products into major retailers like Target and Neiman Marcus. She has also created promotional partnerships with A-list celebrities. She currently helps offline businesses develop a branded online experience through her consulting agency while she continues to advise SNOW on its growth path.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- The value of hard work, being courageous, and taking the first step in launching a product
- Brenda Ruby talks about working as an Accountant at Deloitte and how that experience helped her build SNOW
- Brenda’s favorite experiences with product development
- The benefits of providing superior customer experience and how Brenda handles negative reviews
- The influencers Brenda works with to grow her brand
- The role intellectual property has played in building SNOW
- Brenda talks about working with brands to help them scale and her group coaching program
- How to get in touch with Brenda Ruby
In this episode…
For entrepreneurs to succeed in business, you need to have a strong “why.” Your “why” is what will guide you on your entrepreneurship journey and inform your decision making, from product ideation and development to marketing and making sales. As entrepreneurs, you also need to create the right products for your customers, develop the right relationships, enter into the right partnerships, and get the timing right for product launching.
There’s something else that’s absolutely essential for entrepreneurs: providing the best shopping and support experience for customers. Whatever your process, it needs to be consistent to keep your customers happy and have them coming back for more purchases. To do this effectively, marketing expert Brenda Ruby advises listening to your customer’s feedback and making changes to improve on your offerings.
In this week’s episode of the Innovations and Breakthroughs Podcast, Rich Goldstein interviews Brenda Ruby, a branding and marketing expert, about the benefits of branding and providing superb customer experiences. Brenda also talks about the role intellectual property has played in her work and how she currently helps other entrepreneurs build their businesses.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Goldstein Patent Law
- Rich Goldstein’s book: The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent
- SNOW on Instagram
- Brenda Ruby on Instagram
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Goldstein Patent Law, a firm that helps protect inventors’ ideas and products. They have advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 25 years. So if you’re a company that has a software, product, or design you want protected, you can go to https://goldsteinpatentlaw.com/. They have amazing free resources for learning more about the patent process.
You can email their team at [email protected] to explore if it’s a match to work together. Rich Goldstein has also written a book for the American Bar Association that explains in plain English how patents work, which is called ‘The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent.’
Welcome to innovations and breakthroughs with your host Rich Goldstein, talking about the evolutionary, the revolutionary, the inspiration and the perspiration and those aha moments that change everything. And now here’s your host, Rich Goldstein
Rich Goldstein here, host of the innovations and breakthroughs podcast, where we feature top leaders and the path they took to create change past guests include Joe Polish, Roland Frasier, and Joe de Sena. This episode is brought to you by my company, Goldstein patent law, where we help you to protect your ideas and products. We’ve advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 26 years. So if you’re a company that has software, a product or a design, you want to protect it, go to Goldstein patent law.com, where there are amazing free resources for learning about the patent process. And you could email my [email protected] to explore if it’s a match to work together. You could also check out the book I wrote for the American bar association that explains in plain English, how patents work it’s called the ABA consumer guide to obtaining a patent.
I have with me here today. Brenda Ruby, Brenda is a branding and marketing expert. She helps scale snow, a premium brand of oral care products from $0 to a hundred million in revenue. And she started with snow as the very first employee and eventually led the operations of the firm as chief operating officer along the way. She helped launch products into major retailers like target and Neiman Marcus, and has created promotional partnerships with a list celebrities currently through a consulting agency. She helps offline businesses to develop a branded online experience while she continues to advise now on its growth path. And it’s my pleasure to welcome here today, Brenda Ruby. Welcome Brenda.
Hello. Thank you so much for having me in allowing, uh, experts like myself on your platform.
Yeah, my pleasure. I mean, I think that it’s actually really an honor to get to interview experts like yourself. Um, uh, did I say experts, um, experts like yourself, um, because that’s where we get to know the things that really would help our audience. Like our audience are people that are taking something that’s in their head, just a notion and bringing it out into the world, which, um, uh, you know, we get to interview people like you who’ve done that. Who’ve taken products from, from literally nothing and then turned it into something.
Yeah. And that was exactly in that brought so much fulfillment and a new recognition in my own gifts that I didn’t know myself, but it was all through hard work and figuring it out and rolling the sleeves up and saying, let let’s do this.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that right there is just a valuable lesson that it’s through hard work and figuring it out and saying like, just let’s do this. Like, that’s kind of what it takes to do. It is like there isn’t a magic roadmap to launching a product. Um, it ju it, it takes, uh, being willing to just do it. Um, and it takes being willing to figure, figure it out along the way. Right.
Yeah. Yes. Yeah. And I mean, I graduated with an accounting degree night and ended up figuring out product, uh, pure cureman and supply chain and customer service and leadership and management. And so everything, it was all through. Let me just figure it out. Um, so I always tell entrepreneurs is it’s not really the degree or the books or what you read it’s through the, doing it, that you’re going to understand and get feedback to your next step.
Yeah, absolutely. And like, I feel like that it’s just very similar to what I’ve been telling people over the years that it’s kind of like you start out and you’re headed down the road on a certain path. And then when you get to the next point, then you have you look around and say, well, where’s the next place to get to? Um, it’s like, you’re, you’re not necessarily gonna follow a linear path, but I guess it’s a matter of just being open, right. Being open to discovering and, and being open to seeing what’s around you. Like in terms of like, um, what the options really are. Like sometimes we get belonged by our own notion of where we’re supposed to be next. Right?
Yeah. Yeah. And you never know, and there’s a little bit of the right timing or the right product or the right partnership. Right. But it’s not until you actually get in the, um, the arena, there’s a quote, which I won’t bring up cause it’s pretty long, but it’s until you’re in the arena that you get to understand the sweat, blood and tears that it’s going to take to find that, um, the next step, the next process, but you have to have your really strong, why, uh, why am I doing this? Um, the money won’t get you there because when I started snow with my partner, it wasn’t about the money. And there’s no, no understanding of where would have taken us in a matter of four years. I mean the first four year we reached a seven, eight figures and we never planned for that.
Yeah. No, absolutely. And it sounds like it’s a, it’s a matter of just getting in the game. Right. And, um, but, but, so you mentioned that you started out, um, with accounting, so, uh, you went to ASU and, uh, you, um, you found your dream job, like working at Deloitte, right. And, and you got there and you realize like, Hey, this isn’t, this isn’t what I want.
Yeah. And it was based off fear base of guaranteed. I grew up with a single mother with five, uh, five siblings. And so the most guaranteed job, which it’s Texas in accounting is never going to go anywhere as far as we know. So that is exactly, um, I set my mind. I was really focused, very disciplined. I got in and in three years I got out and I said, all right, I made it. And when I was able to, uh, look at my future and say, um, I’m very goal oriented and I love new challenges. And I said, I want to become the youngest, Latina, uh, partner in Deloitte and I’m going to do it, but that was the ceiling. And I saw it and it wasn’t really exciting and I love the opportunity, but I quickly left. Then I was so scared to tell my mom, because what is this, uh, her child going to do after? And it was closer to entrepreneurship, which, um, got me there, the, the, taking the risk, the jumping off the ledge and saying, I want something that really sparks that fire in my belly.
Hmm. Got it. And, um, I’m curious as to like, um, I mean, you definitely pivoted right in that you were headed towards this path of down this path of accounting and towards becoming the youngest, um, um, youngest, Latina partner at Deloitte. That was your goal. And you definitely pivoted from that. But what I’m wondering is like, how did your accounting training and then your accounting experience actually help? Like what, what you ended up doing the path that you did take after that?
It helped tremendously because I love numbers and numbers are the most storytelling. It’s very factual. I’m very analytical. And through my classes, I mean, during that time I was still working, uh, with my then current partner, um, which led to snow. And I was telling him, oh, look at the ledgers, look at the balance sheet. It was always about the numbers. And so it really helped out and it still does. And I still think it’s one of the most important things about a business. Um, the bottom line, you can say, you have, uh, this great revenue and income, but what truly matters is, uh, the margins there, the income what’s actually going to help you or break you during those growth periods.
Yeah, absolutely. And, and so it was like just having a grounding in numbers seems like it helped you in, in doing all of these things that you’d never done before and that you had to figure out along the way, but I guess at the very least you had numbers as a measuring stick to know when you are on track with whatever it is. Did you were, you were doing
Yes. And it also helped in the, um, product development. So I did end up finding out, uh, what I told you about my new gifts, uh, that came so naturally was the creative side. And I’m very lucky to be able to have a little bit of both. And so when I was creating products, um, I got to understand both economics, um, like economics of scale of like, oh, we need to buy X amount of products when I was outsourcing and to decrease the price, I did some managerial accounting through and what’s our profit margins, but, um, also understanding can we afford right now at this time, uh, a very luxurious packaging, which we’re very known for. Um, but it took time. So again, delayed gratification to say, based on the numbers, I’m going to wait a little longer until I’m able to create the beautiful, um, Christmas packaging that I created for snow, because right now the most, and the best affordable next step is to do this right now.
Mm. Got it. So just, it sounds like a matter of, of balancing between, um, business instincts and what the numbers say. Yes. Yeah. Uh, that’s cool. And, uh, so, um, but essentially at this point though, you’ve been through the product development, um, um, I don’t know what to call it, product development, journey, product development, um, system pathway, whatever you want to call it, you’ve done it all. You’ve got from start to finish at this point from initial concepts to kind of advanced strategies for promoting the product and promoting the product, using influencers and, and things of that nature. Um, so, um, so tell me about that. What, what part of, I guess, what parts of the journey are you all your favorite part? So the things in product development that you really enjoy, or you find where all your skills come together.
Yeah. And it’s, it’s been, uh, it was an amazing opportunity to be able to be part of both the very beginning to the very end and my favorite part about this whole experience and especially in e-commerce was the customer journey. And so how do I deliver and enhance the best customer experience for my customers in what I’m delivering? And so I was also able to manage the whole fulfillment, um, department, the whole customer service department, because guess what I did it from the very beginning. And so I understood my product. I understood the questions that customers had. And so my goal in the company was to deliver a very consistent experience to the customer from start to end. And, and so the start was developing the product. And so understanding by listening to the customer service requests, that their lips would get dry when they would use a teeth whitening product. And so I said, what about lip balm? Liz let’s prevent that. So we get less tickets, but still deliver that value. And so when they, um, open up the packaging, which was a Christmas experience, they got to have that sentiment and emotional evoke where they said, wow, I didn’t expect this. I am getting a better experience than what I expected. And I think that’s what builds the
Brand. Hmm. Got it. So, um, so it sounds like you put a lot of attention on experience, the customer journey and, um, and as a result, one of the things that your company created was a superior customer experience.
Yeah, we did. And you can see it all organically on social media. And when you get to that point of people being your best ambassadors and spokesperson, without even paying them, they do it on their own, or they go and fight other customers or potential customers on Facebook comments because they believe in the product that you’ve created. That’s that’s when I said, I, I, I want that customer loyalty.
Got it. Yeah. So I’m curious that too is like, if, if like, like if like customer satisfaction really juices you, it really is like, what makes it enjoyable? How do you deal with the negative? How do you deal with like negative feedback and, and haters and naysayers and, and all of that,
That, that comes with the success, right. If, if you’re not, um, getting that attention, then you’re, you must not be doing it. Right. So whether it’s competitors trying to rip us off, which we had, um, or just the haters were just the customers that want that return. Um, just because we have a very expensive product and they want the product, but they don’t want to pay for it. And we dealt with all that. So the way I always dealt with it is through integrity, uh, with doing the right thing. Um, let’s leave the negative comments on Facebook, but let’s show everybody in the community that’s watching that we’re going to address that issue. Um, so that was my biggest thing. It’s always sending in your core values as a company. And I always say this in branding, make sure that your company takes on those, uh, personal or human behaviors.
Um, so you can stand in your customers and talking to them, you, your brand is a person. So what are our core values? Let’s go right back to our branding guideline and say, this is what we believe in. We’re going to send strong where you’re going to put it out there. We’re going to be consistent about what we say and deliver that experience. And we can see what happens, uh, to bronze at that. Don’t abide by what they say. Um, for example, like Robin hood, right? Like they had the whole scandal and I loved, uh, on their branding guidelines. And it was like, we it’s all about the customer. And so some decisions come down to like, let’s make sure we’re doing the right thing by our customer.
Yeah, no, absolutely. And then sometimes I guess what you alluded to there, like with Robin hood is sometimes it’s off brand and that’s the thing. And that’s, I guess, where having a branding guide helps, right. Having your branding be clear and, and like having, you know, a brand guide so that the people in your organization know how to stay on brand.
And that’s what every single relationship you’re, um, Brian deals with. And it was very important to me. And I think that’s why I was able to keep that consistent branding for snow on that brand equity elevated what’s because I talked to our influencers and I vetted them and made sure that we had, we had the, we were in alignment of what we both believed in our vendors. Um, we decided to go with target, not Walmart because of that brand alignment and association. It goes a long way. So back to your point, it, that branding guideline, whether it’s just, um, I call it branding Bible to make sure that everybody’s in alignment, um, in who you’re quote unquote dating as a brand.
Yeah. Got it. And, um, you know, so in, in terms of influences, like, so, okay, so let’s, let’s call this like shameless name dropping moment. So, um, so let’s, uh, uh, some of the people that you work with, like big time ALA celebrities that you got involved in, in the, in the marketing and promotion of your product.
Yes. So we work with so many and, um, I always say this in this influencer marketing, there’s a lot of, um, different avenues to go about it in different perspectives. So the way we did it, and the way I think is still working, um, tactics might change, but the strategy is still the same. So, uh, we did a lot of micro-influencers, uh, for the content purpose, knowing that there might not be an ROI there, but then, uh, we leveled up to, uh, what I call the mommy blockers that have that huge engagement and loyalty following. And then at the top of that pyramid, uh, it’s the best celebrities. And so, uh, we worked with the Kardashians. We have a partner ship with, um, Gronk, which is, it just makes sense with Grogen, uh, boxers Mayweather or, uh, the Iceman. It makes sense to our branding because they have that mouth guard. And so that’s exactly what our product does.
Yeah. Awesome. And also sounds like a lot of fun too. It was a lot of fun. So, so what about IP? Like, so what role does IP play in all this, in terms of protecting yourself enforcement? I mean, uh, like w you know, what, uh, I guess what can you relay to people that are, um, getting into launching products about how IP has played a role in what role it might play for them?
Yeah. And I’m able to get a lot of insight now, retrospectively looking at, at what I did, um, and all the work and the lawyers and phase two, again, going back to competitors, ripping us off and having the same product or similar product on Amazon or somewhere else. It was very important for us, um, to go after that, uh, the patents or the trademarks, or even down to, we have the, the Instagram handle snow. I mean, that’s huge. You, you Google snow. And the first thing after the actual weather snow, it’s no teeth whining. Um, and it took a lot of work and a lot of, uh, lawyers and paperwork, but, uh, we, uh, over innovated on a new product, which was the wireless teeth whitening product in that has pattens. And it was a long process. I mean, respect to you for doing all that, but it is really important to what I like to call building the moat around your castle. So making sure that you’re very strong. So when that strong wind comes of competitors, or somebody tries to Sue you, you’re, you’re suited, right. You’re armored with all of that.
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, um, yeah, I mean, I, I guess, I guess to some extent, part of your investment always has to be in promoting yourself and the thing that moves the action forward. Right. Um, and the things that help you create that market share and grow that market share, but part of it has to be allocated for protecting the market share and protecting the marketing that you’re doing so that all the people don’t just jump on the bandwagon for all the great things that you create.
And, um, so yeah, let’s talk about like, um, consulting and I know you love working with, with brands and you love, I guess, uh, like finding that thing, which would help a brand to, um, to take off. So tell me a little bit about those experiences of, of, of working with other brands.
Yeah. So I found that, uh, through my transitioning of, um, stepping down from the day-to-day as CEO of snow to saying, how can I go around and help, um, make a bigger impact and help these entrepreneurs? Because I understand the pain points of, uh, the growth period in scaling. And it’s just so much knowledge that I acquired throughout that experience that I want to share. I don’t, I don’t want to hold it, um, to me. So I found my fulfillment, um, and my next pack, passion through helping startups, whether it’s, uh, a SAS company, um, a service based company, or e-commerce that I just know, like the back of my hand, uh, in going in there and I loved the starting period, um, all the way to right now, I’m helping more, um, zero to a million, but I get to do smaller consulting projects. Um, a lot of that is just like influencer marketing projects for, uh, the 10 million, the $50 million e-commerce brands. But I just have it closer to my heart to help those starting out because I have a list I have a checklist for, oh, okay. This is what you need for your fulfillment center. This is what you need for your customer service team. This is what you need for product development. And I just find that, um, a lot, a lot more fulfilling.
Yeah. And, uh, and I think, um, in that too, one of the, one of the sweet spots for you is working with offline brands and helping them to, to go online. So what’s that journey like typically. Oh,
And you can just imagine, um, during the pandemic in 2020s, I was trying to take a little sabbatical when all that happened and my help was just needed. The, the, the man was there and I just couldn’t sit back and say, oh, these businesses that were retail are just going out of business and they have so much potential. And so what I love to look for in a company is, uh, the three PS, which is, uh, the people, they have great people, great culture, the product has to be the best great product. Um, and the PR and the processes, what are their processes like? So when I saw that they had no online presence and that was my, um, my expertise in, I just went in there and I helped them get online. Um, and it was funny because I helped snow take them into retail.
And so now I’m working backwards from retailers in brick and mortars to online. And so it was really fulfilling to watch them still survive. A lot of them. Um, some of them were beauty products. Others were just like, can I just get on Amazon? I have a great product. Um, so it was really nice to see that, and it was also heartbreaking to see a lot of them not making it, and I’m just one person. And so that’s why I wanted to create this more like this online, how to, on helping those, um, retailers go to online.
Hmm. And, uh, it’s, it’s gotta be very interesting though, too, to be able to get, to see both perspectives, like, um, you know, working with online or online retailer, um, while working with an online retailer. Right. And working towards like, well, what’s, what’s going to get us into retail. Like, what do they want? Like, and, uh, and then now all of a sudden you’re you’re then in the shoes of the retailer thing. Well, okay. We want to get online and they’re wondering, well, what do they want? Like, like, like what, uh, um, you know, what’s going to get us over there. So it’s interesting that you really got to sit in both kinda kind of opposite sets of shoes.
Yeah. That was, that was very interesting. And it was a humbling moment and it a very exciting moment for the off, off, uh, the retailers, um, the mom and pops are just like, I just have X amount of product, a on brick and mortar, but it was, some of them didn’t even have a social media account. And so going from, I helped girl that million, a million followers account on snow to someone that doesn’t even have an online presence on social media. And so it was like your social media presence is almost like your website. Let’s start there, let’s build community. And that’s why I talked about the processes and the people and the customer service and the product is like, all we’re doing is showcasing what you already do online, and guess what you’re going to reach even more people than just the physical traffic that you had.
Yeah, that’s great. And, um, so like in terms of taking all this expertise that you have, and you’ve developed, and the things you enjoy, and like you enjoy coaching, you, you love working with people and you love branding and, and, uh, and helping people to build brands. And so, um, like you’re, you’re doing a, you’re doing a program on that, right. You’re doing a group coaching program to help people to build their brands.
Yes, I am. I, I figured, um, again, my fulfillment, uh, coming to those, wanting to star and just, e-commerce not going to anywhere online businesses is just going to scale and grow based on our current environment online and what’s happening. And so I decide, I love teaching and mentoring. Um, and so I decided to build almost like a blueprint of start to finish and scaling and all the way from, all right, let’s build your social media. What does it really take to build a brand? And so more, more on the marketing strategies. The, I have influencer marketing there, what’s working now. I love content, but the most important thing that I love helping brands do is delivering that customer experience on what they already do and enhancing that, um, building that brand equity for the longterm and how to build community, uh, and always being customer centric. And I just love doing
That. Cool. You’re doing a group coaching program. So you are developing community to show them, to develop how to develop community around their brand.
Yes. And we’re so lucky that, uh, that we’re able to do this. I mean, I’ve never met you in person. I feel so much closer and just helping each other. And I think that’s, that’s the, where we’re moving towards is more on the communication that helping each other and reaching masses through what we’re so spoiled by is the internet.
Right. Well, some of us are moving towards that, not everyone. Right. But yeah, I agree. That’s what we ought to be moving towards is working together and helping each other. And, um, and so the course is called start and scale your online business. Yes. Awesome. Yeah, that, that, um, that’s going to be great looking forward to, to seeing what you create there and the, you know, the people you bring through it and the community you create and the, the, the breakthroughs that you create for people around building their own brands.
Yeah. Thank you. And when it comes from the heart, and so naturally I just can’t see myself doing something else.
Awesome. Um, so people want to learn more about you or get in touch with you, how do they go about doing so?
Yeah, so, uh, the fastest way to reach me, and I’m always very active is on social media, uh, Instagram and my handle is Ruby e-com R U B Y econ E C O M. And that’s the fastest way to reach me other than my email, which I’ll give you later to have. Um, but I don’t have a website if I did. I don’t know if I can handle all that, um, without, uh, yeah. So that’s the fastest
Way to reach me. Okay, great. Well, fantastic. And, um, Brenda, I really appreciate you taking the time to be on the show and share all of your knowledge and your passion with, um, with, uh, with my audience. And I just appreciate you being here. So thank you so much.
Yeah. Thank you so much for having me on here.
Thanks for listening to innovations and breakthroughs with your host, rich Goldstein. Be sure to click, subscribe, check us out on the web at innovationsandbreakthroughs.com and we’ll see you next time.