June 26, 2024

Meet Pollen Expert-in-Residence Jamie Cox

Pollen Team
Meet Pollen Expert-in-Residence Jamie Cox

For brand strategist and Pollen Expert-in-Residence Jamie Cox, the holistic approach is the only way to go — whether you’re branding your business or finding work/life balance. 

Jamie entered the brand world when she joined Visit Franklin, the tourism bureau for Franklin, Tennessee, as a marketing coordinator. “I quickly realized that nobody knows what anybody else is doing,” she says. “The sales team, the marketing team, the ops team — we were all telling different stories about our brand to different audiences.” 

That epiphany inspired Jamie to pivot her career to focus on brand strategy. After Visit Franklin and a stint as creative director at a Nashville agency, Jamie launched her independent career. Today, she helps organizations build cohesive brands through her brand strategy consultancy and offers a broader set of services through her collective, Strange Salt

Jamie applies this holistic mindset to both her independent career and her role as a Pollen Expert-in-Residence. The programs she runs at Pollen — including group coaching, pitch days, and brand development Sprints — help members develop, refine, and evolve their brands over time. 

“Brand work is meant to be ongoing,” Jamie says. “There’s not a period at the end of it. It’s always an ellipse.” 

In this article, Jamie delves into her mindset as an independent business owner and explains how she helps Pollen members position themselves and their businesses to grow and thrive.

Build a business around what you want to do, not just what you can do

When the pandemic hit, Jamie was already considering a transition out of corporate life. “I was having a really hard time separating work Jamie from personal Jamie,” she explains. She made the leap to independence in May 2020 and hasn’t looked back since. 

Jamie says that having so much free time gave her the opportunity to discover what she truly wanted to do both personally and professionally. “It really helped me get clarity and build my business around the thing I wanted, rather than just the thing I could do,” she says. 

At first, Jamie — who has a minor in studio art — mostly took on graphic design projects. “I used that as an avenue to talk to people about their brand,” she explains, adding that people who initially asked for a logo often had deeper problems to solve. Today, Jamie offers a variety of brand strategy services, though she also takes on the occasional design project as a subcontractor to supplement her income. 

Finding a community focused on the independent experience

Jamie has been part of the Pollen community since our inception. “It’s the first place I’ve found that’s independent-focused,” she says. While she enjoys participating in communities like IFundWomen and Startup Nashville, Pollen offers useful advice from people who are also building and scaling product-based businesses. 

Jamie also appreciates that Pollen’s cross-functional community of independents fosters conversations that don’t happen in more niche communities. “If you don’t branch out and talk to other people who are doing interesting things and get different perspectives, you’re not going to find things that might work for you,” she says. “It’s back to that holistic thing I’ve talked about since my work in tourism.” 

As a Pollen Expert-in-Residence, Jamie is focused on cultivating these critical connections by making introductions, sharing resources, and offering insights from her own research and experience. “What good are these ideas in my brain if I can’t share them with anybody?” she asks. 

How Jamie helps Pollen members build their brands

Jamie offers 3 modalities to help Pollen members collaboratively develop and refine their brands: Group Coaching, Pitch Day, and Sprints for Brand and Design. 

Group coaching

Every month, Jamie leads a group coaching session for people to ask questions about their branding, positioning, and marketing. People often join to follow up on a question she’s answered in the community, or simply to listen and learn from others’ questions. 

Jamie shares lessons learned from her rebranding her collective Strange Salt. 

Jamie says that people also often come to group coaching for help making decisions. “When we’re working in a corporate environment, we have so many external factors that speak to the right direction or the right decision,” she says. “As independent people, we have to make so many decisions every day, and it’s exhausting.” Just being able to validate a decision with others can often relieve the stress of making the choice in the first place. 

Pitch days

Jamie also hosts monthly pitch days where members can test out their business pitches. Some people come with a formal pitch deck, while others are simply testing out a message, but the goal is to get tactical feedback from people with a variety of different perspectives, from tech to organizational psychology. 

Jamie views pitch day as a natural next step after group coaching. “People will come to coaching with a decision or a change they need to make, then they’ll come to pitch day with the thing and get another round of feedback,” she explains. 

While pitching can seem intimidating, Jamie notes that Pollen members make the conversation positive and productive. “It’s a safe space where it doesn’t feel like anybody’s trying to arm-wrestle you into doing one thing or another,” Jamie says. She recommends participants follow advice she borrowed from a friend: take the feedback you agree with, toss what you don’t, and transform anything that falls in the middle. 

Brand sprints

Jamie also runs multi-day Sprints to help members craft a brand strategy and action plan that outlines their positioning, personality, key messages, and opportunities. Pollen members can sign up for Jamie’s next Sprints, Brand Design for Non-Designers and Build and Implement Your Brand Strategy.

Though Jamie is a brand strategist, her goal with the brand Sprints isn’t to teach people to do the work she does. “I’m teaching people to take the work I do and transform it into something that’s useful for them and their business,” she says, adding that developing the Sprint offered her the chance to reflect on her own process more deeply. 

Jamie says that as independents, we have more freedom in developing our business brands than organizations. Her goal with her brand Sprints is to give people “a glimpse into the opportunities they have to bring themselves to their business and their brand.” 

In keeping with her holistic approach to branding, Jamie’s offerings intersect and build on one another. She often finds that members who develop an initial idea in a brand Sprint are able to refine it further at pitch days and through group coaching

Ultimately, Jamie views her role as Expert-in-Residence as a way to help people navigate a career path that can be isolating without the right community behind them. “I see my responsibility to Pollen as contributing in a way that lets people know We see you, and we’re all here in this together,” she says. “I want to let people know they’re not alone.” 

Pollen members can connect with Jamie and all of our Experts-in-Residence on the Pollen Community. To join our community of top independent consultants, apply today.

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