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Top 3 Branding Tips For 2017

Right around this time of year most of us go into a bit of a panic. After all, it is a new year. What did we not do so well in 2016? How can we be better in 2017? Will it be painful and how can we ensure success?

I am guilty of this line of thinking, too, at the end of each year. Over the years though, I’ve fortunately managed to shorten how long I stay in the grips of fear.

How?

First, I stop and realize that just because it is a new year, it doesn’t mean I necessarily have to do anything differently if I don’t want to do so. It’s a bit hard to get motivated in the dead of winter in January. I’m better motivated at the beginning of Spring. After all, Spring signals re-birth, the earth coming out of winter hibernation and fresh starts.

So does this mean you get a free pass for the next three months until March? Not necessarily, if you can help it. You can choose to see things differently at any time of the year.

As a personal branding expert, here are my top 3 tips to keep top of mind in 2017 in order to shine. Once you master these three areas, then your brand is more solid in general.

  1. Self-awareness– in my world the only brands that succeed are those with self-awareness. First and foremost, just be aware of: a) how you come across and b) how you want to come across to others. Is your real message coming across and resonating with your audience? If not, just step back and take a good look at what is coming across. Don’t feel compelled to change it yet. The first step is to just observe what is NOW. After all, if you don’t know what is and what isn’t working, how can you become better and improve your brand resonance with your audience?
  1. Clarity– There are “two Cs” in developing your brand for your audience in general. The first is clarity: are you clear about who you are? This includes who you truly are outside of work and how you want to be of real service to others.

As emotional beings, we only engage and buy from those with whom we connect. That emotional connection only comes when we, as your audience, really “get” the authentic you. Without being clear with yourself first, there is no way you can come across with clarity to your audience at all.

Finding and defining your brand with clarity may start off somewhat painful. Why? Because I’m asking you to go into the truth of yourself. This part really has nothing to do with your career or profession. That’s what makes it hard. The spotlight is all on you. I’m asking you to remove the cobwebs and search your memories to find the real you.

  1. Consistency- once you have clarity around your brand, now you need to share that brand with your audience consistently. We are all over-texted, over-tweeted, and over-caffeinated. That means our recall capacity is lower. So you need to ensure that you share your one true message with your audience with consistency. Consistency increases our feeling of safety with you. It means you are going to deliver what you said you would. It helps us trust you. In turn, this will help ensure I remember you.

Does that mean you say the same things over and over again the same way on your videos? No, not at all. That means you understand that we need to hear your true core message and meaning many times in order to have it trigger recall of you. Then I will be moved to act and follow up with you, engage with you, hire you, etc.

So what does all this mean for you and your brand? Ask yourself:

  • Are you genuinely motivated to choose to see things differently in 2017? If not, then no worries.  Relax, take the stress off yourself until you are ready.
  • Do you have self-awareness around how you: currently come across AND want to come across with your personal and business brand? 
  • Do you have clarity around who you are as a person?
  • Do you consistently share your clear personal brand with us.

Lessons Learned: What The Election Meant For Your Brand

united-states-flagAs the dust starts to settle on yesterday’s presidential election here in the United States, my goal is to learn positive lessons about our own branding goals and challenges from the election.  It is a great tool to use because the election played out nationally (and internationally, too).

One thing this blog is not meant to do is to make any political statement. As a former federal lobbyist, I am not expressing any opinion on the merits of the election results.  I left those type of comments on the Hill steps when I left lobbying and Washington DC long ago.

Here’s the deal.  Last night there was so much commentary from the “experts” regarding what this surprising upset meant and why it happened.  However, there was one commentator that read my mind.

How and why? He spoke plainly about the slogans and tag lines of each party.

All along during the election, I have wondered why it was that the core of Hilary Clinton’s message (and tagline) was “Hilary Clinton 2016”, while Trump’s tagline was “Make America Great Again”.  In fact, Clinton had about seven tag lines including “Stronger Together” and “I’m with her”.

Remember that 78% of everything we buy (including voting for politicians) is based on how we FEEL about them, and not necessarily the content of what we are buying.  The only emotion that sells is happiness. It’s all about emotions, not anything else- especially in politics. Yes, despite how much we want to believe that it is about the platform and the agenda, it’s not.

So aside from the politics of it, which slogan motivates and emotionally resonates with you more: “Hilary Clinton 2016” or “Make America Great Again”?

I’m not saying that the slogan or tagline alone bought Trump the victory, I’m just saying there is a good branding lesson here for all of us.  So what does this mean for you?

Stop and consider:

  • How often do you forget that the only reason people buy your great brand (hire you, promote you, elect you) is based on how you emotionally resonate with them?
  • How often do you instead focus too much on  your substantive brilliance and left-brain knowledge?
  • What’s one thing you can do to remember to emotionally resonate more and stay in your right-brain?
  • How can you keep your emotional message consistent and in integrity with who you are?  Remember, one tagline and slogan is all you need- one genuine one.  More than one, confuses your audience and may make you seem insincere.

 

Societal Brand Booster: The Impact of the Olympics

olympics2016I love the Olympics. Summer, Winter, all of it. It doesn’t matter to me the sport or the level of competition. Thinking back, I’ve always loved the Olympics. Not only was it inspirational to me as a little girl to see the athletes, it was fun to get into the spirit of the celebration of working on a dream and setting out to achieve it.

Nowadays in my family, we still get excited to watch the Olympics. And there’s more of a reason to love the games.

My husband and I have both developed a theory around the Olympics: The Olympics are good for our individual brands AND for business brands. How? Why?

Consider that 78% of everything you and I buy is NOT based on the content, but on how the service provider or product makes us feel. The only emotion that matters, sells, influences, attracts and engages is happiness.

The Olympics are high-toned and happy. For the two weeks or so that the Olympics are on, the world is a happier place. As a result, people are more motivated- motivated to help one another, to cheer one another on, to take care of themselves and be happier.

As a dentist, each Olympic season my husband notes a noticeable difference in his patients’ tone and willingness to take care of their teeth and oral health.

People are better brands. They (consciously or subconsciously) want to be better and be a part of something greater than just themselves. The Olympics fosters teamwork and support, which then leads to better business brands.

How could you not watch the athletes, hear the stories of the years of sacrifice and training they have made and not want more for yourself, your family, your business and your colleagues/career?

Contrast this with politics and the 2016 Vote. Blech…

The Olympics have been such a nice respite from the mud-slinging, fake-ness and low-toned campaigns we have to endure. That’s all we hear about. As a former lobbyist in Washington DC, I didn’t like it then. As a branding expert, I really don’t like it now. Nothing about politics is high-toned, including the candidates’ brands.

What does this mean for you?

• If you have a business/are an entrepreneur, take notice of how your business does during the Olympics. You should show a sign of increasing profits and sales. This would be the optimal time to take the momentum generated by the Olympics and boost your employees’ morale and drive – this will impact retention and production.

• If you work for an organization, notice how the staff and your colleagues are performing. This would be the optimal time to take the momentum generated by the Olympics and create a brand culture based on values and what drives your team as people.

• Stop and notice your own brand. Do you and your brand sell happiness at some level by showing up as happy? You should be happier and more motivated to allow success in your life. Take this extra brand boost and run with it for these two weeks. Hopefully, it will become a habit for you beyond the Olympics.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Call or email me to discuss how to harness your own brand and that of your teams’ brand to be optimal and happier and succeed more.

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!

Branding Tip of the Day- Patience

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What true patience is, is knowing that you want it and knowing that it’s coming and actually enjoying the unfolding along the way. Understand that you never get it done. So you might as well be patient. You never get it done, because every time you want and receive, you also receive a new perspective from which to want. Life is a constant unfolding of new desires and then a constant alignment to those desires.

—Abraham Hicks

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First, Know Yourself So You Know What To Market.