While crafting a personal or company brand, it is important to connect your business idea to your purpose and passion. Photo via Getty Images

Every business, whether a single member consultancy, a small startup, or a large corporation, owns a brand. One can think of a brand in a number of different ways — a recognizable logo, a catchy name, an inspirational tagline, or even a feeling one gets when using a certain product or service.

At its core, branding begins with values. Whether you are building a personal brand or a company brand, it is essential to ascertain your purpose and passion and then connect it with your business idea.

In this article, I am going to walk you through tips on building a personal and company brand.

Personal Brand

Gary Vaynerchuk, successful entrepreneur and internet personality who built his personal brand on digital marketing, said “You have to understand your own personal DNA.” Here are some key points to consider when developing your personal brand:

Play to your individual strengths

You do not need to do everything! If you love writing, do a blog. If you prefer talking, focus on videos. If you can commit to posting online every day, take on social media channels like Instagram & Twitter.

Leverage your network

Networks are a powerful tool and most importantly, do not require you to spend loads of marketing dollars. It is a huge misconnection that branding is a cost center for all businesses. There are many ways to promote your brand without significant cost. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:

  1. Create an online presence (website, social media channels, blogs, etc.)
  2. Develop a content calendar and post/update regularly, at least once a week
  3. Read a lot and reach out to journalists who write in your industry
  4. Seek out speaking opportunities at conferences or apply for awards that recognize leaders like you – don’t shy away from nominating yourself!

Be well-rounded

Running your own brand can sometimes make work/life balance feel enmeshed, making you feel like you are losing your own identity. Don’t forget to diversify yourself. Volunteer at a charity or nonprofit of choice, share photos of your friends and family spending time together, get involved with a professional organization, and promote yourself.

Company brand

When building a company brand, it is essential to identify and understand your target audience by creating clear customer profiles. Commercial brands only succeed when they can connect their business and values to a customer. When I work on branding exercises with companies, I always start with a value proposition canvas. Once you clearly define the values and target market, these are some beneficial next steps:

Craft a cohesive vision and mission statement

A vision statement is aspirational or pie in the sky, alluding to what your organization will achieve in the future. A mission statement is definitional, describing your business objectives and how you will get there. Together, these succinct messages should help your customer fully understand what you are selling or offering.

Create a unique and consistent visual identity

A visual identity is what helps a brand stand on its own without needing someone to explain it. This can include a color scheme, fonts, logo – anything that will contribute to your company’s brand guidelines. Especially for companies in highly competitive markets like food & beverage, a recognizable visual identity can make or break a brand’s ultimate success.

Take your time

I recently listened to the How I Built This podcast episode featuring Bombas. I was amazed to hear that they tested over 100 fabric combinations for their first sock before finalizing it. Today, they are probably one of the most popular and recognizable brands in the sock business. Some companies need to launch right away but as long as you can learn, grow, and pivot when needed, time can be on your side. A quality product is better than a rushed product.

___

Arielle Rogg is the principal and founder of Rogg Enterprises, a Houston-based company providing digital marketing for health care innovators.
A Houston expert weighs in on the importance of breaking down barriers for innovation. Photo via Getty Images

Why Houston needs to break down its industry barriers to advance innovation

guest column

Innovation has always been the driving force behind progress and development in every industry. It is the engine that propels growth, fosters competition, and improves people’s lives. The importance of innovation in every sector has grown exponentially in recent years with new ideas and technologies emerging faster than ever before. This explosion has led to innovation silos, where each industry is developing its own innovations and making progress in isolation from the others.

Houston has embraced the rise of innovation with gusto and is a prime city to break down industry specific silos. We proudly host the largest medical center and the energy capital of the world as well as the headquarters for the space race. The mayor’s office has shown a strong commitment to support rapid innovation growth, providing incentives and infrastructure for technology companies and talent to reside in Houston. Our city’s emerging innovation district has already shown huge promise with the Ion building and Greentown Labs providing a strong foundation to expand. Organizations uniting innovators across all industries like Pumps & Pipes could only exist in a city as diverse and accessible as Houston. Nonetheless, our community needs to band together to ensure innovation growth is inclusive of all industries to create an equitable approach to technology that will continue to benefit generations to come.

While innovation silos may have some benefits, such as competition and differentiation, they also have some significant drawbacks, including inefficiencies, redundancies, and missed opportunities. Industries can become so focused on their own innovations that they fail to see the potential for cross-industry collaboration. Many examples exist today where certain technologies or practices were once reserved for specific use cases and now have become mainstream. For instance, the use of the common GPS network for location and navigation services was originally pioneered by NASA, and hospital safety and quality checklists were derived from the airline industry. By soliciting more opportunities for innovation sharing, we can achieve faster growth, implement stronger and safer processes, and reduce repetitive and costly pilot testing in every industry from energy, health care, finance, social impact, and more.

I am putting out a call to action to the Houston community to open your doors to cross-industry partnerships.

Engage in more open dialogue and information sharing outside your industry.

Attend events that bring together professionals from all industries for knowledge sharing and idea exchange. Many conferences, workshops, and meet-ups already exist to unite and recognize cross-industry communities within specific interest groups. In addition, startup accelerators, incubator programs, and collaborative workspaces provide unique environments that encourage spontaneous conversations and positive idea exchange.

Incentivize businesses, start-ups, and individuals who are willing to collaborate and share their ideas with others.

Knowledge sharing should be rewarded through recognition programs, awards, special partnership opportunities, and more. Professional organizations and leadership networks are a great place to turn to for connecting with like-minded individuals and identifying recognition opportunities that can promote the great work of experience sharing.

Commit investments in cross-industry research and development.

We need to create more incentives for researchers to work across different industries and apply their expertise to various fields. Examples like the Ion Prototyping Lab, a one-of-a-kind makerspace for all, and events at the upcoming Ion Activation Festival, including “Back to the Future of Innovation”, unite researchers with industry to encourage collaborative collisions.

In the end, breaking down innovation barriers is essential if we want to continue on this upward, fast-growth trend to improve our community and to make an impact in people’s lives across the world. We need to take action now to promote a more seamless cross-industry approach to knowledge sharing, collaboration, and research and development to create a better future for all.

___

Arielle Rogg is the principal and founder of Rogg Enterprises LLC, a Houston-based company providing digital marketing for health care innovators.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston college lands $5M NASA grant to launch new aerospace research center

to infinity and beyond

The University of Houston was one of seven minority-serving institutions to receive a nearly $5 million grant this month to support aerospace research focused on extending human presence on the moon and Mars.

The $4,996,136 grant over five years is funded by the NASA Office of STEM Engagement Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO) program. It will go toward creating the NASA MIRO Inflatable Deployable Environments and Adaptive Space Systems (IDEAS2) Center at UH, according to a statement from the university.

“The vision of the IDEAS2 Center is to become a premier national innovation hub that propels NASA-centric, state-of-the-art research and promotes 21st-century aerospace education,” Karolos Grigoriadis, Moores Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of aerospace engineering at UH, said in a statement.

Another goal of the grant is to develop the next generation of aerospace professionals.

Graduate, undergraduate and even middle and high school students will conduct research out of IDEAS2 and work closely with the Johnson Space Center, located in the Houston area.

The center will collaborate with Texas A&M University, Houston Community College, San Jacinto College and Stanford University.

Grigoriadis will lead the center. Dimitris Lagoudas, from Texas A&M University, and Olga Bannova, UH's research professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Space Architecture graduate program, will serve as associate directors.

"Our mission is to establish a sustainable nexus of excellence in aerospace engineering research and education supported by targeted multi-institutional collaborations, strategic partnerships and diverse educational initiatives,” Grigoriadis said.

Industrial partners include Boeing, Axiom Space, Bastion Technologies and Lockheed Martin, according to UH.

UH is part of 21 higher-education institutions to receive about $45 million through NASA MUREP grants.

According to NASA, the six other universities to received about $5 million MIRO grants over five years and their projects includes:

  • Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage: Alaska Pacific University Microplastics Research and Education Center
  • California State University in Fullerton: SpaceIgnite Center for Advanced Research-Education in Combustion
  • City University of New York, Hunter College in New York: NASA-Hunter College Center for Advanced Energy Storage for Space
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee: Integrative Space Additive Manufacturing: Opportunities for Workforce-Development in NASA Related Materials Research and Education
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark:AI Powered Solar Eruption Center of Excellence in Research and Education
  • University of Illinois in Chicago: Center for In-Space Manufacturing: Recycling and Regolith Processing

Fourteen other institutions will receive up to $750,000 each over the course of a three-year period. Those include:

  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Alabama in Huntsville
  • Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge
  • West Virginia University in Morgantown
  • University of Puerto Rico in San Juan
  • Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada
  • Oklahoma State University in Stillwater
  • Iowa State University in Ames
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks
  • University of the Virgin Islands in Charlotte Amalie
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu
  • University of Idaho in Moscow
  • University of Arkansas in Little Rock
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City
  • Satellite Datastreams

NASA's MUREP hosted its annual "Space Tank" pitch event at Space Center Houston last month. Teams from across the country — including three Texas teams — pitched business plans based on NASA-originated technology. Click here to learn more about the seven finalists.

Booming Houston suburb, other Texas towns among the fastest-growing U.S. cities in 2023

by the numbers

One Houston suburb experienced one of the most rapid growth spurts in the country last year: Fulshear, whose population grew by 25.6 percent, more than 51 times that of the nation’s growth rate of 0.5 percent. The city's population was 42,616 as of July 1, 2023.

According to U.S. Census Bureau's Vintage 2023 Population Estimates, released Thursday, May 16, Fulshear — which lies west of Katy in northwest Fort Bend County - ranked No. 2 on the list of fastest-growing cities with a population of 20,000 or more. It's no wonder iconic Houston restaurants like Molina's Cantina see opportunities there.

The South still dominates the nation's growth, even as America’s Northeast and Midwest cities are rebounding slightly from years of population drops. The census estimates showed 13 of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. were in the South — eight in Texas alone.

The Texas cities joining Fulshear on the fastest-growing-cities list are:

  • Celina (No. 1) with 26.6 percent growth (42,616 total population)
  • Princeton (No. 3) with 22.3 percent growth (28,027 total population)
  • Anna (No. 4) with 16.9 percent growth (27,501 total population)
  • Georgetown (No. 8) with 10.6 percent growth (96,312 total population)
  • Prosper (No. 9) with 10.5 percent growth (41,660 total population)
  • Forney (No. 10) with 10.4 percent growth (35,470 total population)
  • Kyle (No. 11) with 9 percent growth (62,548 total population)

Texas trends
San Antonio saw the biggest growth spurt in the United States last year, numbers-wise. The Alamo City added about 22,000 residents. San Antonio now has nearly 1.5 million people, making it the the seventh largest city in the U.S. and second largest in Texas.

Its population boom was followed by those of other Southern cities, including Fort Worth; Charlotte, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; and Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Fast-growing Fort Worth (978,000) surpassed San Jose, California (970,000) to become the 12th most populous city in the country.

Meanwhile, population slowed in the Austin area. Jacksonville, Florida (986,000), outpaced Austin (980,000), pushing the Texas capital to 11th largest city in the U.S. (barely ahead of Fort Worth).

Population growth in Georgetown, outside Austin, slowed by more than one-fourth its population growth in 2022, the report says, from 14.4 percent to 10.6 percent. It's the same story in the Central Texas city of Kyle, whose population growth decreased by nearly 2 percent to 9 percent in 2023.

Most populated cities
New York City with nearly 8.3 million people remained the nation's largest city in population as of July 1, 2023. Los Angeles was second at close to 4 million residents, while Chicago was third at 2.7 million and Houston was fourth at 2.3 million residents.

The 15 populous U.S. cities in 2023 were:

  1. New York, New York (8.3 million)
  2. Los Angeles, California (4 million)
  3. Chicago, Illinois (2.7 million)
  4. Houston, Texas (2.3 million)
  5. Phoenix, Arizona (1.7 million)
  6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1.6 million)
  7. San Antonio (1.5 million)
  8. San Diego, California (1.4 million)
  9. Dallas (1.3 million)
  10. Jacksonville, Florida (986,000)
  11. Austin (980,000)
  12. Fort Worth (978,000)
  13. San Jose (970,000)
  14. Columbus, Ohio (913,000)
  15. Charlotte, North Carolina (911,000)

Modest reversals of population declines were seen last year in large cities in the nation's Northeast and Midwest. Detroit, for example, which grew for the first time in decades, had seen an exodus of people since the 1950s. Yet the estimates released Thursday show the population of Michigan’s largest city rose by just 1,852 people from 631,366 in 2022 to 633,218 last year.

It's a milestone for Detroit, which had 1.8 million residents in the 1950s only to see its population dwindle and then plummet through suburban white flight, a 1967 race riot, the migration to the suburbs by many of the Black middle class and the national economic downturn that foreshadowed the city's 2013 bankruptcy filing.

Three of the largest cities in the U.S. that had been bleeding residents this decade staunched those departures somewhat. New York City, which has lost almost 550,000 residents this decade so far, saw a drop of only 77,000 residents last year, about three-fifths the numbers from the previous year.

Los Angeles lost only 1,800 people last year, following a decline in the 2020s of almost 78,000 residents. Chicago, which has lost almost 82,000 people this decade, only had a population drop of 8,200 residents last year.

And San Francisco, which has lost a greater share of residents this decade than any other big city — almost 7.5 percent — actually grew by more than 1,200 residents last year.

------

This article originally ran on CultureMap.

How this Houston clean energy entrepreneur is navigating geothermal's hype to 100x business growth

houston innovators podcast Episode 237

Geothermal energy has been growing in recognition as a major player in the clean energy mix, and while many might think of it as a new climatetech solution, Tim Latimer, co-founder and CEO of Fervo Energy, knows better.

"Every overnight success is a decade in the making, and I think Fervo, fortunately — and geothermal as a whole — has become much more high profile recently as people realize that it can be a tremendous solution to the challenges that our energy sector and climate are facing," he says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.

In fact, Latimer has been bullish on geothermal as a clean energy source since he quit his job as a drilling engineer in oil and gas to pursue a dual degree program — MBA and master's in earth sciences — at Stanford University. He had decided that, with the reluctance of incumbent energy companies to try new technologies, he was going to figure out how to start his own company. Through the Stanford program and Activate, a nonprofit hardtech program that funded two years of Fervo's research and development, Latimer did just that.

And the bet has more than paid off. Since officially launching in 2017, Fervo Energy has raised over $430 million — most recently collecting a $244 million series D round. Even more impressive to Latimer — his idea for drilling horizontal wells works. The company celebrated a successful pilot program last summer by achieving continuous carbon-free geothermal energy production with Project Red, a northern Nevada site made possible through a 2021 partnership with Google.

Next up for Fervo is growing and scaling at around a 100x pace. While Project Red included three wells, Project Cape, a Southwest Utah site, will include around 100 wells with significantly reduced drilling cost and an estimated 2026 delivery. Latimer says there are a dozen other projects like Project Cape that are in the works.

"It's a huge ramp up in our drilling, construction, and powerplant programs from our pilot project, but we've already had tremendous success there," Latimer says of Project Cape. "We think our technology has a really bright future."

While Latimer looks ahead to the rapid growth of Fervo Energy, he says it's all due to the foundation he put in place for the company, which has a culture built on the motto, "Build things that last."

“You’re not going to get somewhere that really changes the world by cutting corners and taking short steps. And, if you want to move the needle on something as complicated as the global energy system that has been built up over hundreds of years with trillions of dollars of capital invested in it – you’re not going to do it overnight," he says on the show. "We’re all in this for the long haul together."