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Jun '16 | Storytelling From Within

Over the last year, so many people have commented on my new brand and website, and for that I have to give a great big shout out to my team of experts: Marketing & Logo Genius’s Prim’d Marketing, Designer Sharon Wong, and Developer Erin Kodama.

In this month’s look “behind-the-scenes” I share with you a dialogue I had with Prim’d Marketing about my own rebranding process. What I learned about my own story was way more than I had initially bargained for.

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prim’d: prior to starting our work together, what was your biggest challenge or roadblock?

K’DEE: I think I was my biggest roadblock. Ironically, I had made a career out of helping others tell their stories, but when it came time to tell my own story, I had no idea where to start. That’s when I came to Prim’d. But honestly, I came to Prim’d initially with the idea that I’d outsource my own storytelling. I didn’t have time to deal with it. I wanted someone else to figure out my story and tell me about it when it was done. The biggest challenge for me in the beginning was dealing with the realization that the success of my re-branding was hinging on whether or not I was going to make the choice to dig deep.

prim’d: so when in the process of us working together did you decide to make that choice?

K’DEE: It was two-fold. During our first meeting when we talked a lot about my writing, and the MFA program Jenni and I had just finished, and the memoir manuscript that I was polishing and so excited about, and then Sophie asked me to give a short pitch on Patina Pictures as it stands today and I literally choked, sputtered, and had no answers. I realized then that I had two very different tracks that I had developed over time– the book writing, which was inherently personal, and a path that allowed me the freedom to tell my own story. And then there was the film and video producing, which is what I’ve become known for over the last ten years, and am successful at. Yet the business in its current form– even though I am its owner–wasn’t growing alongside me. It didn’t reflect the person I’d become, or the pillars that I wanted my brand to reflect.

prim’d: so you needed help re-discovering that new vision for patina pictures, and crafting clear messaging that leveraged you as a writer and a producer.


K’DEE: Easier said than done. I’m in really tough industry, and it’s predominantly male. My first film investor told me he never invested in females my age because before he knew it, they were announcing their pregnancy and leaving the company. My second film investor tried to insert a clause within our contract that, in layman’s terms, negated my ability to fall in love, get married, or otherwise change course or priorities within the following five years. Many of my co-creators, producers, and crew simply didn’t take my advice because they saw me as young and inexperienced — even though Patina Pictures was literally the one signing their checks. It was frustrating, yes, but in hindsight I can see how their attitude fueled something inside of me. I had a lot to prove, and ultimately I did prove myself. But then, right as I started getting into writing, I started receiving a lot of praise for my producing capability, and it became a very scary idea to venture out of that producing box and into something unknown again.

And that was ultimately my second Ah-Ha moment during The Brand Plan. Having to answer questions like: “What skills have you acquired over your experience? What expertise have you gathered throughout your life? What things naturally come out when nobody’s watching? What really lights you up or gets you really excited?”

I realized no one had ever asked me those questions. And I had never taken the time to define them for myself. I was too busy building the business to reflect on its foundation.

Once I went through the initial Brand Guideline Questionnaire: Making Sense of the Personal, The Business, and the Overlap, I knew this re-branding process wasn’t just going to change the way I spoke about Patina, it was going to change the way I spoke about myself, and my relationship to the business.

prim’d: can you name two things that you learned about yourself and how you might approach your craft and business differently now that you’ve been through the brand plan process?

K’DEE: The need for focused storytelling was something that became surprisingly apparent after answering the initial branding questionnaire. I consider myself an extremely focused person, but when evaluating my answers with Prim’d, the gaps, or lack of transitions, in my overall career story became glaringly obvious. I have a lot going on — first there was the film producing in Los Angeles, then the commercial and corporate video production in the Bay Area, now I have my writing career and my memoirs. Prim’d helped me get very clear on where I wanted to take Patina in the next five years, and then they helped craft a story that made sense of where I had been and where I am going. It was targeted, holistic, yet open for evolution.

Now when I talk to prospective video clients I don’t skirt the subject of film or writing. It’s obvious that the skill set I honed as a film producer in Los Angeles is very relevant to their project, and my ability to not only craft their story in video form but also on the page, is what actually sets me apart from your typical video producer. I now refer to myself as a Video Strategist, and Patina Pictures as a Creative Video Production Company. And that change, as simple as it sounds, has switched everything.

The words “Strategist” and “Creative” make me excited to show up to work everyday. They literally give me the permission to think outside of the box I was stuck in for so long. I had no idea such a simple change in messaging could have that sort of affect on my personality, and my business. Now that I have a foundation and a business story that I 100% believe in and am clear about, my voice and messaging is consistent across all of my platforms: my website, my social media presence, my content marketing, even my contracts. And that consistency has directly affected my bottom line. Clients know exactly what they’re buying when they contract with Patina. And they like it. And they come back for more.

prim’d: we’ve talked about the brand plan process, how was your experience working with prim’d after that, during creating your logo and your other brand assets?

K’DEE: So freeing. Seriously, after I did all the hard lifting in terms of self-reflection and business evaluation, The Brand Plan Prim’d created for me became my road map. When I have a particularly hard decisions to make, I literally turn to my Brand Plan and remind myself what pillars my business was built upon. So when we got to the logo creation part, it was just fun. I knew exactly what I wanted out of a logo. I could suddenly talk about my brand in a way that didn’t make me stutter. And the designer I worked with at Prim’d knew exactly how to take those big ideas, and turn them into an actual asset.

For example, we talked a lot about evolution. I know my business is going to change over the next ten years, because I’m going to change. I didn’t want to repeat history. I didn’t want to look back and realize my brand was stuck in 2015 and unable to grow. So we worked hard at creating brand assets that were in line, not only with my business pillars, but with the pillars that define who I am. What Prim’d came up with was a set of assets that were, quite literally, an extension of me. The Patina Pictures logo is classy, bold, yet with a splash of sass. And the secondary mark, the K’Dee Miller logo, although subtly placed in terms of real estate on my website, says exactly what it took me the last ten years to figure out: there’s no denying that K’Dee Miller is the force behind Patina Pictures.

prim’d: what’s one thing you would recommend to someone going through a prim’d rebranding process to help them get the results they hope for?

K’DEE: Well, Prim’d isn’t your typical rebranding process. I’ve tried to re-brand my logo before with other designers, but never came up with anything I was excited about.Working with Prim’d is like working with a business coach, therapist, and designer all in one. So with that said, take the necessary time to really go through the self-reflection and evaluation process. You won’t be sorry that you did. It’s a worthy investment of resources.

prim’d: so now that you have the brand plan, your messaging, your new logo assets, your font, colors and style guide at your fingertips, what’s next for you?

K’DEE: Anything! Isn’t that the point of creating a solid foundation? You can literally jump anywhere and have the right answer! Ok, maybe that’s not true, but I was able to take everything I got from Prim’d and create a great new Patina Pictures website. I’m now rolling out a series of demand generation emails, newsletters, and blogs that are all in line with my messaging, and look great because I’m following the specifics laid out in my style guide. And the best part about it is, my clients now check in with my writing and the progress of my book, and it’s all just become part of my overall story. And just another one of the reasons why I’m so equipped to help them tell their story.

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K'Dee Miller is the Founder & Creative Director of Patina Pictures.

Her feature films have premiered at Sundance Film Festival, AFI Fest, Newport Beach Film Festival, among others. Her corporate video clients span from technology companies such as Microsoft, RingCentral, DocuSign and Adobe, to Bay Area nonprofits such as Team4Tech and Hamilton Families.

She's studied her industry from every angle, receiving production training from The Juilliard School, an MFA of Writing from University of San Francisco, and a BFA of Acting from Marymount Manhattan College.

She is currently in the process of writing a memoir about growing up in the wilderness of Alaska.