- Who & Why?
In the brand development world, the goal is to create a brand culture that resonates the business brand well with clients and your audience. This goal involves the most important attribute of any business- its’ employees.
To that end, I’m always working with employees to develop a sound individual brand- one that vibes with, and lends itself well to, the brand culture that will make the business succeed emotionally. There are so many factors we address with employees because there are so many contributing factors to employees “owning” their best brand and being happy at work.
One factor that doesn’t get much airtime is the actually physical office setting and structure/layout of the office. I think people assume two things: 1) who cares? sit in your office or in a cubicle- just get the work done; or 2) Google had it right- everyone in all offices are better off sitting in an open-office format because Google does it.
A lawyer client of mine was commenting last week about how her office is switching formats in their actual office layout- instead of high cubicles, they will now have an open-office (bull-pen) style format. She was really worried about morale and the spread of gossip and a deteriorating brand for her firm.
Was she right? I think so.
Some business cultures (and types of businesses/professions, dare I say?) do not lend themselves well to certain business processes. I would agree with my client; law firms are not the best atmospheres to introduce open-office formats. A 2013 survey found that such offices often lead to distractions that decreased performance. In the world of law firms, I define “distractions” as gossip and posturing for power among employees.
In addition, in law firms you need privacy for certain transactions and the type of work we do as lawyers involving client confidentiality. The counter-argument is that staff in open-office layouts are easier to “watch” and monitor. Indeed- and this in an of itself could lead to low morale and a disjointed brand culture. After all, unless an employee has given you reason to not trust them, why don’t you trust them to not watch them all day long?
What does this mean for you? Stop and consider:
- What type of brand culture and environment do you work in?
- Does the physical layout of your offices lend itself to a healthy brand culture? Why or why not?
- What type of business do you work in? If it is something like the practice of law, consider the personalities and type of work that is done, then create the physical atmosphere.
It’s always scary to stand out and shine. No doubt about it. I’m always working on ways that I can live what I teach, ie, shine and “wow” folks with my sincere and genuine brand. Most days it is easier for me. Some days it is a challenge.
Because I don’t want to seem overbearing and scare folks- or worse yet, be seen as the “weird” (and wild?) one that always has to do things differently. I can’t say anyone has ever really given me the impression that this is their impression, perception or thoughts about me. Yet, it still shows up every once in a while for me.
Because I’m human and as humans, we all have illogical fears that our ego uses to mess with us- ego keeps us from seeing our own greatness.
Here’s an example.
One of my clients went on a pitch with 3 other colleagues. Let’s call her Jane. Two of her colleagues pitching with her were partners (service partners). One was another senior employee, much like Jane. Jane was involved in the pitch initially because she knows how to shine and “wow” prospective clients. The two service partners- not so much.
Here’s the deal- when it came time for Jane to step up and shine and wow during the pitch- what do you think she did? You know the answer because we all do it at some point or another.
Jane (who was sequenced to speak third after the two service partners) backed off her pitch and did not “wow” or shine.
She didn’t feel right outshining and out”wowing” her fellow senior colleagues. She didn’t want them to look bad and be better and maybe overbearing. Makes sense, right? So instead Jane backed off and delivered a rather uneventful pitch when her turn came around.
The company didn’t win the pitch. On top of that, on the debrief the two service partners told Jane all the things she could have done better during the pitch. Never once did they look at their own lack of “wow” or take ownership for themselves. That’s pretty common, though, right?
The beauty of all this: Jane had enough self-awareness to know exactly what she didn’t do AND to know what she would differently next time! That’s the key: to stop and look at your actions and brand and ponder, “why”? I guarantee you next time she won’t make the same decision to lay low and not shine.
Here’s the deal: when you allow rank, seniority, family order to take the front seat, you lose your personal power to shine and sell your brand well with integrity. Your voice is not being heard and your brand is not resonating. You are stifling yourself. You are not helping the company any, either. We must respect rank and order- so don’t go rogue.
However, just because someone is your senior, does not mean you can’t mentor them and act in a way where they can learn from and follow you. Leaders are everywhere and all ages. You just have to be brave enough and step up.
What does this mean for you? Step back and consider:
- where are you playing it safe and coming from fear in your career and life?
- where is your brand not shining because you don’t want to “show off” and shine?
- where is your brand not shining because you don’t want to offend your senior colleagues, boss or hurt your family members?
Remember, in the end your actions likely will have the opposite impact than you want: contributing to lost pitches, babying family members who could learn from you and not leading/guiding your colleagues to their own success and that of the company/business.
Hard to do? Of course. Branding is simple, yet not easy. However, I’m your biggest cheerleader. You got this. Call or email for support. I’m always here.
As 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.
So many of us are self-proclaimed “introverts”. I have no judgments on introverts or extroverts. I think both works well in society. Yet, I put “introverts” in quotes because I often feel that once we are labeled as such, or self-label, then things become final and we don’t want, or worse yet, believe we can change if we want to change some aspect of our being that we attribute to being an introvert.
I watch so many of my clients go through this cycle. It pains them to feel trapped in a box and it pains me to watch them struggle with it so much. My goal is for clients to either be fine with who they are as introverts, or choose to see things differently for themselves (change some things?) and be fine with who they are.
Here’s some tips that I find works with my clients:
- Thin out the wall between your personal and business life- Many introverts are very private. I respect that. However, private often is perceived as “quiet”, which can mean that we see you as shy but we really infer you are emotionally disconnected. Either way, it means you are not relating to your audience and emotionally connecting with us.
Being quiet is fine at the right time. It’s ok to be a private person. Yet, when we know very little about you, perhaps you are “quiet” for us in a negative way.
Perhaps consider dropping the wall (or maybe just slim down the wall) between your personal and business life. Let us in a bit- tell us more about your life- family, growing up, etc. You are still in control, but sharing more of you.
- Smile more- otherwise we may think you are snooty, when the truth is that you are not. When in doubt about how to be, just smile.
- Know your limits and be courageous- if you are uncomfortable at an event, know when the time comes for you to leave (because the lights and noise and small talk are just too much to take). Yet, have harmony with also being courageous enough to hit up against your comfort zone and try new things- small steps are fine.
If you found this helpful, please share it with others. I’d love to hear your feedback. Just email me.
Have you ever purchased something from a company and it was a really hollow experience? I’m not talking about poor customer service necessarily. I’m talking about the fact that you walk away and feel empty and exhausted. At the very least, you feel as if there was nothing memorable about your purchase. You have no recall value for the company and their product beyond the immediate purchase.
This happened to me recently when I bought a car. I left the dealership happy with my new car. However, I also felt very much like I didn’t really matter to the dealership. I was just another number they could check off because they were closer to their monthly quota. In fact, every time I drive by the dealership, I look away and wince- I’d like to leave behind and forget the entire experience. And car buying is not a novel concept to me.
Not good for business, right? What gives?
The dealership had no soul. By this I mean, there was no real emotional resonance with their clients. The dealership likely did not care about us as clients. The money came first.
On the other hand, contrast the dealership experience with that of a company like Zappos. When you order shoes from Zappos, you are part of their process and brand culture. Heck, you can even get on their website and read about their brand culture and values. It doesn’t read like our typical corporate “mission statement”. You can almost feel the sincerity and excitement. Now that’s soul.
So what does this mean for you? Consider:
If you work for a company, does your employer have soul? Does your employer:
• Have an established brand culture based on individual employee brand values? If not, then it is hard for you to feel part of something greater than yourself.
• Share what’s important with you? This is beyond “mission” and “vision”. I see this as a daily act- simple, and not always easy.
If you are in leadership at a company, does your company have soul? Do you and the leadership team:
• Really make sure each customer/client walks away with a sense of joy and high recall value for your business and product?
• Instill this sense of “soul” with each employee daily?
Was this helpful? If so, please share it with others. Email me and let me know your thoughts and experiences on this subject.