Spring Is Here: 3 Tips to Prepare for Brand Growth

Spring Is Here: 3 Tips to Prepare for Brand Growth

Jacqueline Jones is a well-loved Forge member and today we’re reposting this valuable post from her personal blog! Jacqui started her company One Degree MMM which focuses on marketing and branding for small businesses and organizations. We loved this timely post as we change our mindset entering into spring!



Finally, Spring has officially arrived.  Never mind the, still, bi-polar weather.  It’s here, so says the calendar.  Newness in any form is something we as human beings thrive off.  We love to start fresh, launch new, and get rid of the old at the beginning of… well, anything.  Spring is one of those times of newness, renewal, and restarting.


Many equate spring with gardening.  Spring is the time to sow seeds, turn over soil, and create room for new blossoms and growth.  Your branding shouldn’t be any different.  So, let’s prepare your brand for growth and new heights in 3 steps!


Pick Your Flowers


Take a moment and decide how you want your new garden to look.  Landscaping is an art.  Marketing and landscaping are very similar during a time of transition.  The goal is to take what exists and alter it in a way that makes it more attractive.  To prepare our brand for greater things, we must start with a renewed vision.  Now is the time to do some benchmarking and decide how you want your refreshed brand to evolve.  Don’t just start implementing new things with no forethought.  Let’s take a moment to create a full picture before we attempt to start painting.  If you’re a One Degree FIRE Starter, you know how important goal setting is to me.  I practically mention it in every email I send.


Prepare The Soil


You know how the new grand and fantastic brand will look.  GREAT!  What groundwork needs to be done for this transition to be successful?  Just like in gardening, you may have to take some time to research what you’re putting in the ground.  Many skip this step in their business in general.  This process is commonly referred to as “investment.”  Invest in yourself and your brand.  Take that class, hire that service provider, or buy that packaging. Set yourself up for success from the beginning of this new season.  Don’t just go plopping stuff in the ground with your fingers crossed and your eyes squinched expecting a miracle.   Do the research.  Do the work.  Do what it takes to see a clear and positive change in your brand.  Invest the time, money, and resources you have into your brand and yourself.


Commit To Watering Your Garden


One of my favorite phrases in life is “start out how you plan to hold out.”  As you prepare for these new things within your brand’s marketing efforts, commit to seeing them through.  You have to be realistic with yourself.  No one requires anything of you for your brand, but you.  Whatever you choose, be sure you can stay motivated (or employ whatever tactics necessary) throughout the entire season.  Your dreams, visions, and plans may get the seed in the ground, but your daily commitment to them are what make them grow into your beautiful garden.


It’s time to get going.  March is nearly over.  The 2nd quarter of the year is just around the corner.  Ready, set, GROW!



Katherine Kobey: A Birmingham Novelist

Katherine Kobey: A Birmingham Novelist

Katherine Kobey, a long time corporate executive, decided to change directions and pursue her dream of writing short stories, poems and novels. A Heart of Steel was her first novel published in 2016 and as her readers say “thank goodness it’s a trilogy” so there will be more to read! Set in the South, it’s the story of one woman’s life. Katherine finds inspiration by traveling often and her heart-felt friendships with women over the years.

Katherine on the opening day of Forge!

Who are your biggest influences?

I would say my biggest influences came from family and friends, sharing stories from the heart. We all have a story to tell and we share them with each other every day.

I love to take those memoirs, create the characters and have them come alive on paper.

Who inspired you to do what you’re doing now?

 A very special friend; His name was Kenny, who loved being a part of my writing. I would read him what I was working on and he would always put his two cents in; saying no I don’t like that re-write it… we would laugh together. He always told me never stop writing. That special friend still inspires me to write today even though he is no longer with us.

Also, Egla Nora Richey, my BFF.  She will often join in creating the characters personality. We’ve had a blast brainstorming on the characters’ next move.

What is your biggest challenge with continuing to write each day?

I would say my biggest challenge with continuing to write each day is the day-to-day obligations. You see, while we spend a lot of time in our imaginary world, writers do have a life, just like the average person who rises every morning and punches a clock.  Only we work unusual hours and it’s when the voices of our characters start talking, we start writing.  Regardless of the time of day or night and many times it’s for hours at a time.

What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?

The biggest lesson I learned was I needed a course in Basic English again. A fellow author told me to buy “English for Dummies,” which of course I did. Then I thought about it and said ‘heck that’s my editor’s job!’ So I don’t anguish over it anymore. I have a wonderful editor, Marley H. Gibson who teaches me bits and pieces along the way.

Where and how do you work best?

I travel for inspiration and often will stay for several weeks, away from home while writing. I find working from home is not as productive for me unless the voices start talking late in the afternoon or evening. I just recently partnered with Forge and now have an office to report to every day. I’ve been thrilled with the progress I’ve made on finishing my newest Novelette, “A Playful Journey.” Which will release in early December. I’m also continuing the work on my next novel. “Hoping you’re someone I use to know,” with a release date summer of 2018.

“Forge has made it possible to have a place where I can focus on my writing in a quiet and fun environment.”

Inspiration flowing from Katherine’s desk at Forge!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

‘Your intuitive soul is never wrong, so quiet the noise in your mind and listen patiently to your heart.’

Facebook: Katherine Kobey

Twitter: @katherinekobey

Instagram: katherinekobey

Website: katherinekobey.com

“A Heart of Steel.” Trilogy – available on all platforms; Print and Ebook: Amazon, Apple iBooks, Scribd, Kobo, Yuzu, Inktera, Baker & Taylor Blio.  Online Retailers: Barnes & Noble, Books a million.

Member Spotlight: Joy O’Neal

Member Spotlight: Joy O’Neal

Joy O’Neal is a valuable Forge member and the executive director of The Red Barn in Leeds. If you haven’t heard about The Red Barn, children and adults with disabilities can come to their facility to relax and learn with horses! The Red Barn strives to be a place where anyone can be loved and accepted. Joy’s story and life experience is inspiring, and we wanted to share more about her and this organization that has affected so many.

They serve over 100 individuals each week!

Who are your biggest influences? Who inspired you to do what you’re doing now?

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have so many amazing people to influence my life.  I have a huge, close-knit family that have always set a great example of working hard, helping others, and sticking together. We’re far from a picture-perfect family, but I never doubted that I was loved.
In college, I met Julianne and Billy Phillips, known to everyone as “The P’s.”  They opened their den to young people every night and loved us all unconditionally.  Time in their den changed my life as I struggled through many difficult times as a young adult.   Through the P’s, I met Fr. Frank Wade, a Catholic priest who strengthened my faith and taught me how to incorporate it into every day life.
All five of our children rode horses when they were growing up, so I’ve seen first hand how horses can help children.  I was inspired by Anita Cowart to start a therapeutic riding agency that would help children with disabilities and special circumstances learn to work with horses since there are limited opportunities available to them.

“I see The Red Barn as the combination of the faith, hope and love that I learned from these influences in my life.”

What is your biggest challenge with continuing The Red Barn each day?

Raising the money to keep everything going.  I’m sure this is the case for almost every nonprofit though.  There’s such an incredible demand for our services with a long waiting list for children to participate.  Before we can even think about serving more children, we have to raise the money to serve our existing students.  Almost every day we get a request from a family or organization wanting to receive our services, but we have to just keep adding them to the waiting list because we can’t afford to expand.  And, that makes me feel a lot of pressure because I know how much their lives would be changed if we could just get them in our programs.

What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?

Things that may seem bad or frustrating at the time often can turn out to be okay in the long run.  For example, one year we were going to do a lot of work to our pastures, but the person doing it had to back out at the last minute due to his equipment breaking.  I was so annoyed because I had really wanted to do this project.  Since there was only a limited amount of time to get the work done, we had to postpone the project.  A few weeks later there was a huge storm that would have destroyed the pasture work we had planned to do.  So, in the end, the broken equipment kept us from doing work that would have been ruined by the storm.  At the barn we refer to those types of annoyances as, “pasture rotation frustrations” to remind ourselves that sometimes a disappointment can be a blessing in disguise.

Where and how do you work best?

I can work pretty much anywhere, but I think the right environment helps facilitate the best work.  Obviously, much of what I do needs to be done physically at the barn.  But, sometimes I need a place like Forge where I can be focused because it’s easy for me to get distracted or interrupted at the barn.  I also think a change of scenery helps re-charge my brain.  Plus, it’s much easier to meet folks who work downtown at Forge rather than asking them to drive out to the barn.

Whats the best advice you ever received?

My grandmother had to drop out of school to help care for her family, but she always talked about how grateful she was that she learned to read  because then she could teach herself anything she wanted to know.  She died many years ago, but I can still hear her telling me to read and learn as much as I can.

Thanks to Joy for working so hard to establish this amazing organization and serving so many in need. We love having you as part of the Forge community!