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Reading Time: 4 minutes

E123: Creating Successful Brands: The Art and Science Behind Brand Positioning

Reading Time: 4 minutes

This episode delves into the world of brand positioning with Simon Graj, CEO of Graj + Gustavsen, an experienced expert in creating and positioning iconic brands. Simon discusses his company’s approach to bringing brands to life and highlights the importance of vision and execution. He emphasizes the power of positioning for long-term success. Additionally, the episode explores the significance of curiosity and dedication in business, highlighting how scrapbooking future work and embracing unexpected opportunities can lead to great outcomes.

Simon Graj is the CEO of Graj + Gustavsen (G+G), a strategic solutions powerhouse specializing in business growth and brand development. With over three decades of experience, he’s been instrumental in creating and extending successful brands for Fortune 500 companies while launching intellectual properties from concept to reality. Simon’s expertise in fashion and creative direction has earned him validation and recognition among industry peers, making him a top authority in consumer marketing and brand innovation. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Hard to Market:

  • Brand positioning involves creating a genuine, purposeful position for a brand that aligns with market opportunities and is executable.
  • They focus on physically demonstrating the brand’s vision of tomorrow, today, enabling clients to see their future in a tangible way.
  • In addition to brand positioning, Simon’s company also specializes in transferring brand value to different categories through licensing and collaboration.
  • They have a third division that focuses on entrepreneurial ventures, fueling their creative drive and allowing them to explore new ideas and brands.
  • Employ a methodology of negation to remove what doesn’t work and uncover shining bright stars.
  • Let go and stay in momentum, avoiding attachment to outcomes and the need for credit.
  • Despite challenges, the entrepreneurial landscape offers many positive developments.


Connect with Simon Graj:

Connect with our host, Brian Mattocks:


  • 15:51 – “We look for people that, and I mentioned this to you before this, that are really comfortable not knowing something. Because in order to know something, you first have to not know something. In order to discover anything, your mind has to be empty. Because if you’re preoccupied or if you are already pre-driven by something, you will look to validate everything you think about. So then what happens is they are shorter-term trends because what you think about is only the past.”
  • 18:24 – “Well one of the things that we take a lot of confidence in is when there are different industries that have similar emerging opportunities, so that’s one point of confidence. But there is everything. Everything points to the way. And when you do this and do it physically in order to curate, we use the process of negation and what that means is we’re happy to say “oh, that’s no good. Oh that’s no good”. So there is never any defense. What we initially thought, we post organize, and then by virtue of that, things go out, and things get removed. And then what is left, it wasn’t even thought about, but it’s the shining bright star.”
  • 20:48 – “You can’t just make a decision. No, never just make a decision. Decisions make themselves, whenever they are made, they make themselves. So you never have to worry about making a decision. You just have a timeline and you know your goal and you have the faith that you’re going to get there. As long as you’re organized. As long as you keep it considerable. So when we did that, a name popped out of nowhere as in the process and it was called Denizen, citizen of the world.”
  • 24:36 – “You can’t fake it. That’s the beauty of an aha experience. When you glean, when you notice. It happens automatically without any thought. So when you think you’re in the way now it’s this process, this methodology, this idea is, and you, the the car thing was a great example. But what happens in real life is we think it’s a philosophy that is nice to read about, not applicable to real life. Because in real life you have to work hard, hard, just keep at it. If you work an extra hour, you feel better.”
  • 28:28 – “Brian: It’s not simply work harder. Because if hard work guaranteed outcomes, the hardest-working folks would be the most successful. And that’s not quite the reality is it? I think the nature of the work that you do and how you do it is just as important as the volume. And so how do you know when you’re doing the right work in this space versus the wrong work, busy work, whatever that might be?”
    Simon: “Oh, good. Good question. That gets me thinking. Most of the time we’re in front of a computer looking at emails twice or three times or four times in order to work. The truth is that there is never any real work, real labor. So that leads to a different time management criteria. And you may or may not be asking this, but there’s two types of things. We have to make sure that we are true to ourselves and not compromise that we… it’s really important to work on things you enjoy or you have respect for or you find difficult or you need to solve. You don’t just do work for the sake of work.”
  • 30:40 – “Every morning I wake up, I have a blank page like this when I’m done in about 15 minutes, sometimes it looks like this, sometimes it looks like this. But it’s always the same. And I’ve learned that in my life, my buckets, and I’ll tell you what those buckets are: call, emails back, deals in motion, projects, dates, Peter, which is my controller opportunity, whatever the buckets are, they don’t matter. But they are important. Trigger words is all you need. You don’t need to write down all the stuff. But what’s so important about this is you look at your life, you look at the world personal and otherwise, and all you need is couple of pages of things that have to happen. You just write it with one word and they reminds you of the rest. And then you pick out six things that you want to do that day without losing. Because most of the time during the day, half of our attention is spent on, what did I forget?”
  • 33:22 – “[It] has become axiomatic for me, and that is that structure creates freedom. It’s the structure of how you decide to curate and manage your activities, creates the freedom for you to create and explore it. It separates you in a way that allows you that cognitive space to meaningfully do the work.”