Category Archive for: ‘brand dilution’

Stop Throwing Money At “It”!

money-picI have a person very close to me who likes to throw money at situations and people.  Let’s name them “Pat”.  Over time I’ve noticed money gets thrown around when Pat  is trying to: 1) avoid a negative/painful situation (“I’ll buy the birthday gift, you go hang out with the birthday gal because I don’t want to see her”) or 2) be more loved (“I’ll buy lunch to apologize for making you come meet me where I want to each lunch”).

So in the famous words of the Beatles, if love is all we need and if money is the root of all evil, then what gives with Pat?

While we all tend to stretch for relief and love in our lives by “solving” things with money, what does it really do to your brand?

First, you must have self-awareness to look at the situation in the first place. If you can’t step back and observe yourself throwing money at others, then you can’t start to see anything differently. 

Throwing money at people and situations in order to get yourself in a better position and your brand better loved does NOT work.  Why?

Even if people end up taking your money, we can all sense your desperation in doing so.  It devalues your brand instead. No one wants to support, much less be around, desperate people.  Think about it: when was the last time you bought any product because you pitied the company? Never, I suspect.

Need more examples? Look at Uber.  Uber and Lyft spent over $8 million in a very few short months in Austin.  They were trying to get voters to shoot down Austin’s proposed fingerprinting rules for drivers.  Uber bombarded voters with phone, text, emails and calls.  Some voters were truly scared and creeped out by the level of intrusion.

In the end, Uber and Lyft lost the fight.  And they lost $8 million.  That’s what happens when you throw money at it. No one was more sad over this result than me.  I used to Uber/Lyft all around Austin on my monthly trips.  Now I’m stuck with yucky cabs or the kindness of colleagues and friends.

What about Uber and Lyft’s brand?

Some would say the companies are so big, it really doesn’t impact their brands.  Ok, so maybe there’s no fiscal impact. However, in the court of public opinion it’s different.  In the informal interviews I’ve done with locals in Austin, there’s very little love for Uber or Lyft.  When you mention either brand name, most people I’ve talked to shrug, squint and reply rather nonchalantly.  That’s what you get when you have enough money to throw at people in order to get your way.

So let’s summarize what we learned in first grade: Money does not get you your way. If you do get your way, you have no respect with it.  Your brand stinks.

What does this mean for you? Stop and consider:

  • When have you strong-armed others with money to get your way?
  • Did it work? Why did you really throw money at it?
  • How can you stop and have self-awareness of when you are throwing money at something?

Signal Versus Noise, Part II: Top 3 Mistakes To Avoid In Branding Yourself

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1368433_68468380In Part I  of this blog, we discussed the concept of signal versus noise and the questions to think about when you are seeking branding collaborative advice. Today, let’s look at what you can do to use noise to make sure your brand shines.

Growing up, I used to get frustrated when I was trying to communicate, what I felt was, a really important point. Someone would come along and interrupt me and start talking about a useless topic. I felt like I had to defend myself and my topic by getting louder and yelling. I was skinny and small and my front two teeth were missing for a couple of years (felt like an eternity). So who was going to take this little girl seriously? I felt brand-less!

As you probably guessed, my yelling never worked well. The person interrupting me (noise) drowned out my message and specialness (signal). Looking back, what I think I was missing was a way to really distinguish myself from the noise of the situation.

I see many professionals do the same things with their branding. They are trying to compete with the noise. What if instead, you chose to not compete with the noise? What if you instead stuck to your signal and message and really differentiated your brand?

How, you ask? Here’s what to avoid:

1. Talk about what you do for a living– while what you do for a living is important, it is not competitive, necessarily. In other words, everyone can tell us what a fantastic lawyer, dentist, (fill-in-the-blank professional) they are. Who cares? At the end of the day, we know you can get the job done. Don’t bore me with the “hows” until I ask. If you do, you just become part of the noise.
2. Thinking you’re not interesting as a person– most of us assume our boring lives are just that– boring. Why would others care about our stories of childhood, triumphs or failures? Don’t they want to hire us purely for our substantive know-how? I hear so many clients say this. Guess what? They all have personal stories that fascinate me. Let your audience be the judge as to how interesting you are as a person. Don’t fall for the trap. Don’t become part of the noise. Be the signal. Tell me about your personal stories.
3. Let your ego rule– Our ego plays games with us during our highs (“I’m so fantastic and smarter than others, I just beat out 3 other people for a high-paying job”) and our lows (“I am the worst lawyer, dentist, financial adviser, human in the world. I can’t seem to get prospects to become my fans and hire me. I stink”). Anytime you let your ego run away with your thoughts during your highs or your lows, your giving in to the noise and forgetting about your true signal. Your true signal is that you are a unique and fabulous human worthy of the best. You’re a top-notch brand. End of story.

If any part of this worked for you, please share this post with others and be a contribution to them!

Miranda Lambert, Musicians, Meghan Trainor and Weight Loss- What To Brand?

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At the recent Country Music Awards (CMA), I saw a very entertaining, yet unusual occurrence. The show paired two very unlikely brands to sing the first song of the night.

Out on stage came Miranda Lambert, who is about 40 pounds lighter these days. That was just fine. However, she came out with Meghan Trainor who sings the hit song, “All About The Bass ”. What an odd duo vocally.

Not only was the duet an odd brand pairing vocally, but it was visually strange. Here they were singing about how they were bringing booty back and that size is irrelevant. Miranda Lambert was looking sleek and thin, obviously through effort and a desire for it, singing it doesn’t matter our size.

Yet, Miranda Lambert has been very verbally public with her weight loss and well, less of a booty these days. While Lambert has said she is happy any size and loves to eat fried chicken, she has also said she loves being inspired to look at/listen to Brittany Spears when working out.

I respect her verbal stand on the topic, but if I hadn’t read anything about her stance and just saw the performance, my perception would possibly be very skewed for the worse.

In brand development, I always point out the “2 C’s”: Clarity and Consistency. Clarity is all about knowing who you are as an artist and as a human. It would seem Miranda Lambert is clear that she prefers being a smaller size and that’s fine. Consistency is about communicating your same brand in the same manner every time to everyone. Without consistency, your audience gets confused, can’t track you, relate to you, be your biggest fan or follow you. Since branding is all subconscious processing of information, perhaps your fans won’t actually be thinking these exact thoughts, but they will be “feeling” something is off and uncomfortable for them- about you.

I remember when I first stopped practicing law, I had no clarity on who I was as a personal brand. Since I had decided to stop practicing law, I was so lost and confused. My identity as a “lawyer” had been stripped from me. I had no idea who I was, much less how to consistently show up as a brand. As the first step to my brand clarity, it took me really learning that I was NOT my career/profession in order to really be able to show up and gain a following.

So seeing Miranda Lambert up on stage singing a song about loving ourselves regardless of size when she had lost all that weight, was not true to her current visual brand, I would say. I think it is great that she has lost so much weight. Good for her. But you always have to watch what brand statement you are making with anything in your life, including weight loss. This is especially true when you are up on stage standing next to someone who has a current brand around a hit song stating verbally the opposite.

What does this mean for you? I realize both “C”s are hard to master. For starters, all you need to do is to be self-aware. Be self-aware of who you are and how you want that message to come across to others.

Remember, branding is subconscious perception. That means, you have to know it and believe it before we do. And yes, your visual brand matters just as much as the verbal brand message you give us. Always remember, we likely see you first before we hear from you, so you need consistent verbal and visual brand messages.

Don’t Dilute Your Brand As You Grow

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growthpicI’ve seen a nasty progression of events for many entrepreneurs.  The bigger the business gets the more diluted and dissipated the brand messaging gets.  That goes for the personal brand messaging of the owner and employees, as well as for the business brand.  This happens for products and services.

It’s almost as if the business gets away from the owner/CEO- among all the product and service lines, price points, prospecting, hiring/firing, etc., the brand message fails because the “two Cs”- clarity and consistency go out the window.  Part of the reason this happens is that: 1) there has been no “intentional brand” development of the CEO/Owner 2) the employees’ personal brands have not been developed and 3) there has been no meeting of the minds on how the employees’ personal brands will integrate to represent the business brand well.  As a result, employees are all over the place “marketing” the business brand based on their own methods/ideas.  Various employees represent/misrepresent their personal brand and the business brand differently- lacking congruity, causing dilution.

All of this would have been cured had their been a deep inhale at the top followed by some awareness and recognition of the brand and how it should be positioned and disseminated to the market.  All this would likely have been facilitated by hiring an outside expert, ideally.

So stop and think:

– Do you have an “intentional personal brand”?

– Do your employees have an intentional personal brand?

– Is everyone aware of the business brand and how their personal brand integrates into the business brand?

– Got a strategy to position all brands effectively and with maximum reach/minimum dilution?

First, Know Yourself So You Know What To Market.