Meet Yolanda M. Smith, Chief Branding Officer of Branding 4 Success, LLC (B4S), which offers professional development and branding services to organizations, corporate professionals and entrepreneurs. Under her leadership, Branding 4 Success empowers teams and individuals to develop a powerful personal brand for business growth and career advancement. The firm collaborates with its clients to improve employee engagement through professional and leadership development, create strategic roadmaps, and assists teams in creating a solid brand identity to influence cross-functionally, establish trust and deliver positive outcomes. Through its replicable system, B4S helps its clients develop a powerful brand signature to articulate their value, live authentically, and stand out for visibility and recognition to achieve the optimal results.
B4S presently offers 3,6, and 12-month coaching programs for corporate professionals and entrepreneurs, in addition to Keynote speaking, an online Branding Course, Reputation to Reward Book, Personal Brand Assessment Survey, and Professional Development Workshops for Organizations and Conferences.
An Award-Winning Author
Yolanda M. Smith is a best-selling author and was named a Top 10 finalist in the 2020 Author Elite Awards for “Reputation to Reward: Mastering Your Brand Signature to Earn More, Lead More, Win More.” Yolanda is also an award-winning finalist as a collaborative author on Mentoring Moments: 14 Remarkable Women Share Breakthroughs to Success. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Business Analysis from Indiana University Kelly School of business with an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan.
Yolanda also holds a certification in DEI communications and an Executive Leadership certificate from Georgetown University. Before founding B4S in 2018, she spent most of her professional career in the Pharmaceutical Industry, starting in sales, and thereafter held several positions, including leadership roles in marketing, medical, and communications.
“I discovered my passion for educating and empowering individuals over a decade ago and found ways to add value to individuals to help them achieve their personal and professional goals.”– she stated.
Tackling the Pandemic
Yolanda says, “I am driven by the results I see my clients achieve when working with me. This gives me the greatest satisfaction, and I live for replicating those results with others.” She feels that being able to provide value to individuals and organizations and giving them what she did not have is the greatest gift ever.
“We all need coaches and mentors to guide our career or business.”– she says.
As the founder of Branding 4 Success, Yolanda feels the pandemic was quite interesting for the business. She established it in 2018 with the intent to focus on being a keynote speaker for women empowerment conferences, etc. However, due to the pandemic, everything was shut down, and Yolanda had to pivot. As she is very active on social media, she started posting information that could add value to people going through tough times, caring for sick family members, losing jobs, and feeling isolated.
Soon individuals began contacting her, looking to develop a brand for visibility or rebrand themselves as they faced transitions or new opportunities. Then she made the pivot and started offering coaching services, which eventually took off, and Yolanda had a profitable year. She further continued to refine her offerings to meet the various needs of her clients.
“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal, the tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”
A Rewarding Career
“I have had a very rewarding career, winning numerous awards and receiving multiple promotions, increasing responsibility, and now entrepreneurship. I am honored to have received these awards, but I will always say that my greatest satisfaction is seeing others develop their brand, thrive, and achieve their goals.”– Yolanda says.
She has been awarded the 2022 Brand Analyst of the Year from AI. Yolanda’s other notable achievements include- Top 10 Finalist: 2020 Author Elite Awards for her book Reputation To Reward, PM360 ELITE Award for Transformational Leadership, and Women of Influence by the Indianapolis Business Journal.
Tackling Primary Challenges
Yolanda believes that being a young company, B4S has the luxury of being agile and flexible. However, she feels the biggest challenge was acquiring and setting up the needed technology to support online and virtual work.
“Technology is not my greatest strength, so knowing what to buy, who to trust, and how it would work, etc., was our primary challenge.”– she says.
Yolanda feels she is where she is today because she is driven, willing to work hard and follow her passion. Growing up as a black female, she was always told there were no shortcuts. Her mother instilled unwavering confidence in her and told her that she could be anything she wanted to be, do anything she wanted to do, and no one was better than her if she was willing to work hard, treat people fairly and trust god.
She explains, “I believed her, and when I discovered my passion, I knew this was a gift, and I vowed that based on my experiences and struggles in my own career, not having a mentor or coach until mid-career, and the inequities against women and people of color in the workplace, that I would do my part to engage, educate and empower others so they could go further faster.”
Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs
Yolanda advises entrepreneurs to be authentic and bring their whole selves to what they are embarking upon. She also advises them to have a true passion for what they do instead of just chasing money. Yolanda says, “If you are passionate and can focus on adding value to others, your business will be sustainable, and the rewards will come. Next, be strategic and intentional – know where you are going and how you will get there. Stay consistent and in action – seeing amazing results takes time and effort. Be ok taking risks and making mistakes – just learn from them. And lastly – Have Fun! Don’t take yourself so seriously that you cannot enjoy the journey.”