#BrandInMinutes: An Interview With Debora Pokallus Of Bel Essence

May 17, 2022

By: Kari Amarnani

#BrandInMinutes: An Interview With Debora Pokallus Of Bel Essence

In today's interconnected world, the premise of brand-building gets increasingly broader and more hazy. You may be familiar with the term "brand," but do you know what it takes to build one?

Building a brand is a journey of self-awareness, conviction, and finding yourself in your business. Whether you're a CEO, a marketing expert, a freelancer, or even a regular joe, if you want to make an impact, you need to get your branding right.

Every business name and logo you see today is a product of labor-intensive branding.

The business card you received at that executive function didn’t just appear out of thin air. Someone put immense thought and heart into its design before deciding to hand it out for the world to see.

As an entrepreneur, building a brand for your business is a never-ending effort. But know this: The companies that invest in establishing great brands have a substantial competitive edge.

While the rewards are sweet, the journey to get there rarely is. But we want to change that.

Branding can be fun, quick, and easy with #BrandInMinutes

With our Brand Plan, it’s simpler than ever to #BrandInMinutes with our collection of professional branding templates and tools to help you launch the brand you’ve dreamt of for so long.

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The only way to understand the impact of having a #BrandInMinutes is to take a dive into the stories of entrepreneurs who have had to make it happen on their own.

And Debora Pokallus of Bel Essence is the perfect example.

We spoke to Debora about her journey in building her brand for Bel Essence.

Hopefully, her inspiring story can motivate new entrepreneurs, such as you, to take the leap and get your businesses out there.

1. Tell us about your business.

Bel Essence came from my personal search for natural skincare products that solved skin issues that developed as I got older.

Drugstore brands worked, but the effects were temporary. I wanted to permanently change the condition and look of my skin.

I spent a decade researching nutrients important for healthy skin, testing combinations of botanicals and oils to find the most effective natural ingredients, and developing products that permanently changed my skin.

I knew I was successful when I received compliments on my skin; the results were noticeable to even people I did not know.

I discovered that, like me, women (and men) are not looking to recapture their youth as they get older; they want to look their best at their present age.

There is natural beauty at every age, and healthy skin reveals our natural beauty.

The decision to launch the business was relatively easy. I was frequently asked what I used on my skin, and when I handed out my “recipe,” I was told, “I don’t want to make it, I want to buy it.”

It was a natural progression to offer the products commercially, and I knew I was ready to take the leap when I had a group of strong, time-tested, effective products that produced results.

2. How did you go about building a brand for your business?

My first design concept for the products was focused on packaging and branding that I thought would sell the product - a more old-fashioned, apothecary look.

However, as we continued to grow, I wanted to focus our branding on the strength of the products and their benefits: all-natural, effective skincare that is sustainably produced and packaged.

We spent a great deal of time working on designs and researching brand colors. After much discussion, we determined the colors, but I decided that we should step away and hire a graphic designer to offer some ideas on logos and presentation.

Sometimes, being immersed in your brand can limit your view. She designed our graphic for us, and we added our brand name and tagline for our current logo design. Once we had our color scheme and logo, business cards, packaging, and stationary flowed out of that.

Product branding is the cornerstone of your company; it’s not a process that can be taken lightly. It took us a great deal of time and research to narrow down and focus our ideas.

Bringing someone on board to further develop our concept was a huge help, so I highly recommend seeking outside resources knowledgeable in logo design to make the process straightforward. Getting a variety of ideas makes it easier to zero in on what will best represent your brand.

Sometimes the “aha!” moment comes from an idea you would never have come up with yourself.

3. In your opinion, how important is it for a business to build a credible brand?

We humans are visual. Color, shape, etc. help us instantly identify, sort, and select.

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Giving your product or services a vivid identity helps you stand out, be easily identified, and be remembered. It also helps potential customers find you and gives them their first introduction to your product and what it does for them.

How you present your brand, whether it’s fun, clinical, exciting, urgent, weird, etc., instantly tells people about your product or service, and the visual identity of your brand will resonate with your customer.

4. How did you get your first customers?

I spent a great deal of time developing skincare that gave me the healthy skin I wanted and needed, so I was the best ambassador for my products, as my results showed they worked.

The people who asked what I used on my skin were looking for the same results I got, so they helped me identify who and where the need was and what problems needed to be addressed. Since I did not create a product for the purpose of starting a business, I had the time to discover who would be interested in buying it.

All the marketing seminars, articles, webinars, etc. I sat through it, focused on “knowing your customer,” but didn’t offer much help in identifying who that is – they assume you know.

For an entrepreneur just starting out, as you are building your product and service, you may have an idea of a customer, but too often it turns out to be wrong. And then, you have a product and no idea how to promote your business.

The best advice I received was given decades ago (before anything was digital) in my other business ventures: start selling locally and expand outward.

You start with your product or service. When you have something that solves a problem for yourself or someone you know, you have your first customer. You know your local ecosystem, so you know what people like you, or people who work in your type of business, or people who live in your area, need or want.

You sell to these first customers because you solved the problem for someone exactly like them, and you know how to tell them, authentically, the benefits of your product. As you see how your first customers buy and use your product, you can better expand your market to similar people in other areas, businesses, regions, etc.

As my marketing expanded beyond my backyard, I had targets I could start with that helped me spend my advertising dollars more efficiently.

5. What are your future plans with respect to building your business?

We are expanding into wholesale, selling to retailers nationally and internationally and increasing our direct-to-consumer outreach. And I still use old-school, analog marketing methods!

Over To You

Branding has no exact formula to it, but we do know there are a few key characteristics impactful brands have in common.

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And it might be tempting to look at the successful businesses and say, “I’ll take that brand, please!” But what makes a brand work is how it speaks to you.

What makes your business authentically you? Businesses that manage to be true to who they are, what they do, and why they do it are able to create lasting, evolving connections with their audiences. This authenticity is the core of your branding.

What are you waiting for? Shine bright and #BrandInMinutes today!

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