After spending 15 years marketing movies from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Touchstone and Dreamworks, helping launch multi-million franchises, and managing global brands with fiercely loyal fans, Hilary Hartling has a deep knowledge and innate skill in growing and leveraging strategic brands. Hilary made the leap from corporate to founding her own brand strategy business to help others create unforgettable brands to inspire their audiences. She’s on a mission to help visionary entrepreneurs make an impact by translating their brand vision into aligned strategies and clear messaging that resonates.
-In your own words what do you do?
I’m a Brand Strategist for visionary entrepreneurs, helping them create a clear, cohesive and compelling brand to inspire their audience. Whether they are new or established, I work with entrepreneurs to unearth the purpose of their brand, dig deep and find their story of why, get clear on who their unique brilliance is meant for, and craft messaging that resonates with their ideal clients.
-How long have you been at it?
I established my LLC in Summer 2016 but really got clear on what I wanted to do and who I wanted to serve in early 2017…been going strong ever since!
-What’s your why?
To guide people to embracing the concept that they can choose to do work that inspires them; that lights their heart on fire, and is more aligned with their life purpose. I believe that inspired people do great work and that work can change the world.
-What has been your most rewarding risk?
My most rewarding risk was transitioning from the world I knew in corporate to starting my own business and becoming an entrepreneur. I had my dream job as a Disney movie marketing executive for 15 years. And, even though it was a dream job, I felt there was nowhere left for me to grow (and when you’re not growing or making progress in any particular direction, you start to feel stuck). I knew there was more I was meant to do, and a bigger impact I was meant to make, I simply didn’t know what it looked like. So, I jumped in with both feet, took time off, and then chose to start my own business, be my own boss and do work I love that could make a difference with other entrepreneurs working to grow their dream businesses. The risk paid off, and I continue taking risks today in pursuit of more growth, more fulfillment and more joy.
-What has been a positive turning point for you in your business?
As a branding expert, I like to test different brand strategies with my own business so I can share the results with my audience (and hopefully shed some light on areas where they might be struggling with their brand strategy). I had re-branded my business from my name to BRANDPOLISH CO. to test out whether my business did better as a personal brand or a business name. The results were clear, and not only was it a huge positive turning point in my business to re-brand back to my name – HILARY HARTLING – it was great and enlightening information to share with my audience. People really wanted my brain on their brand, and they felt more removed when my name wasn’t the brand. Every brand is different, though, so it’s not a blanket solution for everyone, but my experience sure was helpful for both me and my audience.
-What has been your favorite project and why?
I really love working with entrepreneurs who are inspired by their own big vision for what they want to do, why they want to do it and how they see themselves getting there…and then are ready to put in the work they need to do to make it happen. So, I don’t have a favorite project, per se, I have favorite people. And I have a lot of them because working with your favorite people simply means your branding is dialed in and you’re attracting your Ideal Clients!!
-What were the first things you did when starting out?
1 – Established LLC
2 – Created a brand strategy and business plan
3 – Wrote my offers & priced them
4 – Hired a designer to build my brand identity and website
5 – Secured my branded handles across all social media sites & began strategically posting for my business
6 – Hired a business coach who specialized in female entrepreneurs offering service- based packages
7 – Joined an entrepreneur meet-up group for support & community So…from business basics to brand strategy to design and marketing and then finding a coach and building a community, that’s how I started!
-What were the hardest aspects of starting your own business & how did you overcome them?
Probably learning the aspects of being a business owner which aren’t the “fun things” or the reason why you go into business for yourself: finances, paying quarterly taxes, the legal elements and LLC requirements. Sounds fun, right?
-Let’s be honest, there’s a bit of competition out there. What do you do to stay relevant and in the market?
I make sure NOT to look at the competition! I find if I get caught up and focus my attention externally on what everyone else is up to, that’s when you start the comparison game and all that does is throw you off. I stay in my own swim lane. I focus on my unique gifts and the results I’m getting my clients so I know what to do to create success. I put my spin on what I do, regardless if there are a gazillion other branding experts out there. I leverage my experience and expertise and look inside myself for answers. And as a brand strategist, while I may have my clients take a peak at what some of their competitors are doing just to ensure we’re not positioning them super similar to someone else, I really tell them to not look too often either. You stand out by doing it your way. YOU are the magic.
-Where do you find support for your dream and how do you keep your creativity alive?
I find the strength inside myself to support my own dreams. I keep them top of mind, I work towards them on the daily. I do have a support system of female entrepreneurs, good friends who “get it,” and energy coaches who I work with regularly to clear any blocks or negativity and keep me going in the right direction, too. Creativity is my life. That’s part of me running my own dream business. I get to be as creative as I want and I also have creative writing projects I do on the side that are completely unrelated to my business that help feed me creatively and inspire my work. In addition, I’m inspired by other brands I love: Magnolia, Anthropologie, Selena & Lily are just a few.
-What is your favorite part of being a female entrepreneur?
Being my own boss and making my own schedule, for sure.
-If you could give other female entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would it be?
Believe in yourself.
-What advice do you have for women who are still struggling to find their style?
I would say don’t worry about YOUR style so much, because you want everything about your brand and brand style to be positioned towards your audience. You want to get in touch with who they are and what they’re attracted to and their biggest desires and ambitions. I believe that Strategy informs Design and that’s how you will successfully translate your strategy into an overall brand style. Strategy first, ladies!
-On your path to your current business, did you ever come across a moment where you self doubted yourself? Sometimes we hit a bump in the road and we lose all faith in ourselves and our ability to create. What would you tell someone who may be in this spot right now?
We all have moments of self doubt and fear…did I do the right thing leaving my corporate job? Am I in the right business? Why does this feel so hard? Why am I not getting any traction? Ironically, it’s fear that blocks us from abundance. And in your business your audience reflects back to you the energy you’re putting out into the world. So, if you have overwhelming doubt and fear coming up for you, my best advice is to hire a business coach that also focuses on mindset…it will make ALL the difference in the world for you and your business!
-Who is a boss lady that you look up to? why?
I have a few – Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, Rachel Hollis, Gabrielle Bernstein – because they all know and understand their purpose and pursue the work that is authentically theirs to do in the world.
1. IF YOU COULD EAT ONE FOOD FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE IT WOULD BE: If I couldn’t gain weight and it made me super healthy? Chocolate chip cookies!
2. THE BEST TITLE I HAVE IS:
d. Lady Boss
e. All of the Above Can I say none of the above and replace it with LEADER?
3. IF YOU COULD MEET ONE PERSON DEAD OR ALIVE IT WOULD BE: Shakespeare
4. MOST LIKELY TO BINGE WATCH:
a. The Bachelor
b. Gilmore Girls
c. Law & Order
d. Fixer Upper Wow, that’s a toss up! A, B and D!!!
5. MY DRINK OF CHOICE IS:
c. Water, sometimes the sparkly kind
6. ON MY DAYS OFF, THE FIRST THING I DO IS:
a. Go to the gym / clean the house
b. Sleep in
c. Bottomless mimosas at brunch
d. Check all social media
e. I try to do them all None of the above – I go see a movie or walk on the beach
7. MY GO-TO OUTFIT IS:
a. Yoga pants and a hoodie
b. Jeans and a tee
c. Anything from H&M
d. A dress & heels
8. SOMEDAY I WANT TO: Have a house on Nantucket island as my writers getaway and family vacation spot.
9. I AM DEATHLY AFRAID OF:
a. Public Speaking
10. I LOVE LISTENING TO:
b. Country Music
d. Gangster Rap
e. Other: all of the above