- Who & Why?
All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘branding’
When I graduated from law school in 1997, jobs were plenty. I was so very fortunate, as were all my classmates. Just about the only reason we had for not getting a job was if we failed the bar exam.
Looking back, I realize how blessed we were. I really didn’t have much anxiety around finding a job. If anything, my anxiety was more about whether I would find a job that I really wanted.
Fast forward 19 years. I have so much respect for recent law school graduates. They no longer have the luxury that we did when we graduated. Nothing is guaranteed once they graduate.
This may sound like a bad thing, however I see it differently. I think graduates these days are much more resourceful and scrappy. They are forced to figure out their brands and then market themselves in a way we never had to do.
This brings me to the dilemma I see so many law firms facing today. The majority of those who graduated law school a few years before me as well as those who graduated with me are mid-level partners in their firms. They are not the oldest in the partnership ranks yet.
As a result of when we graduated and our fantastic economic circumstances, many of these partners always had work- it was either always generated by more senior partners and given to them or it was easy for them to get work otherwise.
The problem I see is often, as a result, these partners are not able (or willing?) to generate their own business because they have always had business given to them. So their brand is practically non-existent and their marketing efforts, rusty at best. This may sound like a generalization and it is. This is based on my many years of experience working with law firms on branding. There are obviously exceptions everywhere.
Here are their top 3 Marketing Mistakes:
- They assume the business and work will always flow because it has always worked out for them in the past. Don’t get me wrong. I love optimism, however it has its limits. Because of this mentality these partners aren’t as open as they can be to seeing their branding and marketing needs differently. This hurts the entire firm.
- They don’t participate in marketing and branding work like others in the firm do. I see this regularly each time I go into a law firm to train the attorneys on branding and marketing. The room is filled with: a) 65 year old and above attorneys/partners and b) 27-35 year old attorneys/associates. They are all eager to learn because they know it matters. No where to be found are the mid-level partners ranging in age between 40 to 55 years old or so. This hurts the entire firm.
- They don’t choose to see marketing and business development activities creatively. I find when this level of partner does market their practice, it is in very traditional ways such as advertisements, taking a new firm website picture or speaking at a conference. Rarely do they stop and really focus on working on their own internal projection to possible clientele (i.e., their brand) nor how to collaborate with other attorneys. This hurts the entire firm.
The end result of all this is the following: one day within the next ten years, these very same lawyers are going to be the most senior attorneys at their firms as the older partners retire. As such, the older partner are no longer going to be around to feed them work. The younger lawyers will have already figured it out and have moved on without these partners. This hurts the entire firm because of the inequity of the situation.
What does this mean for you? If you are a mid-level lawyer and this description fits you, please consider:
- Choosing to see your marketing and branding efforts in a new light: What can you be doing differently to develop business?
- Working on yourself and your own brand instead of focusing on others.
- Hiring a consultant and/or coach to help you get up to speed. Most often in these situations, the timeline is accelerated and it will creep up on you before you know it.
Before you think I’m asking you to make a new year’s resolution that you won’t keep, think again and choose to see things differently. Yes, a new year is here. With it can come the drudgery of the past or an opportunity for you to develop a brand for yourself that will leave you happier and more successful. Each of us has a choice.
I personally don’t get the concept of a new year’s resolution. I believe I need to always be resolved to be better and think differently. Otherwise, my brand stagnates and, in a way, so does everything I touch. Besides, resolutions sound kind of scary to me. It feels like there’s no turning back — if I don’t keep my resolution or do it “good enough”, then I fail.
Deliberate brand creation is a marathon, not a new year’s sprint. That’s what I always tell all our clients and also why 99% of our clients are in some sort of maintenance program with me once we have developed their initial brand. The process is never “over”, your brand is never “done”. The good news is your brand just evolves and grows with time as you grow and change. That’s exciting! That takes time, effort, deliberate thought and deliberate action and of course, a plan.
So let’s look at it differently and have you develop your brand from a new perspective. Close your eyes and picture yourself on December 31, 2016. An entire year has come and gone.
How is it that you are remembered by the world on 12/31/16? As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded”. Barbara Stanny said in her fantastic book, Sacred Success, “All that matters is that your legacy reflects your purpose, makes you proud, brings you pleasure, and inspires or improves something or someone else”.
The memories others have of us are our brands. Think in terms of memories. It’s then easier to relate to branding as a concept.
To get started, ask yourself:
- What’s been my contribution in 2016? In answering this look at:
- Did I have a particular cause and/or purpose greater than myself for which I stood?
- How do people remember me emotionally? As Carnegie once said, we are all creatures of emotion, and not logic. Emotions go farther than any of us want to believe. Positive emotions leave us with positive memories.
- Did my contribution leave joy in the hearts of others ? Notice I did not mention leaving joy in the mind’s of others. The emotion of joy is captured in our hearts.
- Did I choose to see people’s differences only, or was I compassionate towards others and towards MYSELF choosing to see our similarities?
- How can my contribution continue to grow (and my brand develop) in the upcoming year?
Here’s to a 2016 filled with all the wonderful memories that leave you as the brand you want to be remembered by.
In 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!
Ah the holidays are here. That time of fun and frolic. And madness. You may be a rare bird like me who really enjoys the holidays. However, you may be like the majority of the population and have deep angst around the holidays. This isn’t a blog about therapy, so we won’t delve into what your issues may involve (ie, family). For that, I highly recommend we all regularly see a licensed and qualified counselor who can hear us out and offer support and guidance.
Whatever your angst around holiday time, one thing is for sure: if we can master our own internal control regulator, we will be a much happier and effective brand.
Looking back, as a kid growing up in Indiana, I guess I always loved the holidays. It was festive, fun, filled with sugary foods and lights. Plus, I just adored everything Santa related. I still recall my world crumbling when I found out the truth about Santa. But the holidays were, and still are, filled with one more thing: frantic, hurried rushing.
As a practicing attorney, I often felt at a loss around the holidays because of the time factor. Not only did the work load not get less, but the holiday festivities (aka “obligatons”) became more! How was my brand to survive November and December?!
Long ago, I took a hard look deep inside and realized it was all up to me. You see, it’s all about control. I realized that I was desperately trying to control my life and everyone else around me to survive. The end result got me the exact opposite of what I wanted: a crazy brand where others saw a lunatic AND I never enjoyed it.
One of my staff members said it just the other day- she’s overwhelmed with her volunteer obligations during the holidays. I asked her why she doesn’t ask for other volunteers to help her out. She flat out said it’s because she likes to be in control. Let’s give it up for her deep self-awareness and honesty. She gets a gold star in my world for sure.
The next step to help her brand out would be to do something about the need to control. It clearly didn’t leave her with a happy and effective brand. How?
Here are my top three tips for keeping your brand in tip top shape during the holidays:
- Lookie, Lookie– We can’t control anything except ourselves. So take a deep and honest look at what I call your internal control regulator. How much are you “in control” of your life? That of others? Is it really working for you and your brand or are you fooling yourself? How to know, you ask? Are you happy with yourself? If not, then it’s time to consider choosing to look at your life differently.
- Give It Up– You really can’t do it all by yourself. If you think you can, just know you won’t do it well by yourself. If you got some help, then perhaps things would get done better AND you would be happier with a better brand. More importantly, why do you think you can do it all better than others? What happened in your life that set your internal control regulator so high and led you to want to control everything external, too? If this question makes you squirm, that’s wonderful. Stay with it and squirm until you find an answer.
- Be Curious– If nothing I say even remotely makes you want to take a look inside yourself, why is that? Ignorant brands are failing brands. No question about it.
Ten years ago I realized that after thirteen years of practicing securities law, I was done. I knew there had to be a better way for me to be of service to professionals and those around me. I no longer felt the joy I once had about being a lawyer. I was no longer of service the way I wanted to be.
Eight years ago, I realized that my natural talents (and real passion and joy) was in developing brands for others. In other words, how can others put forth their natural talents and abilities in a way such that they shine and attract business and positive attention with ease and grace. No resistance. Ever.
So I called the business “personal branding” because I really didn’t know what else to call it. What I do isn’t traditional marketing and it doesn’t involve products, so only the term “personal” made sense when it came to branding.
About four years ago, the term “personal branding” became really hot. Everyone realized that, post-recession, they needed to define themselves differently- and better. As a result, the term “branding” started gaining more press and usage.
The problem was that everyone (and their brother) who had anything to do with marketing (of anything) started to say they are experts at personal brand development and branding, in general. I was clear on what I was doing, but I began getting a lot of confused people asking me some very good questions. They couldn’t distinguish the real branding experts from the fly by night wanna-be businesses that were after the fast buck until the trend ended.
Here’s the deal. Personal branding and branding are not trends. The concept will never end, nor should it. After all, if you want to figure out how to attract business (or a date or a friend) to you with ease, then you need to figure out your brand.
Here’s the problem. It’s a concept called signal versus noise. The brilliant lawyer, Patrick Lamb, who runs Valorem Law Group, writes about this concept in his popular blog at patrickjlamb.com. I had the pleasure of meeting Patrick a few weeks ago when he was a speaker at the ABA Lead Law event I helped organize.
Patrick explains signal versus noise in the following manner: Signal to noise ratio refers informally to the ratio of useful information (signal) to false or irrelevant data in a conversation or exchange (noise). Why this happens is that if someone is putting out there an attractive message with merit (signal), then others try to drown out (or detract attention from what’s right/has merit) with lots of noise that is useless. This method works because it causes distraction and confusion.
What does this mean for you? If you are working on defining and developing your brand so that you present yourself in the best light possible, you’ll need the assistance of a branding expert to serve your objective partner, consultant and expert. Don’t allow the noise of non-branding folks to confuse you.
Here are the top 3 questions to ask anyone who claims to be a personal branding, or branding, expert. If they can’t answer the questions well, then consider that they are likely all noise and no signal:
- How long have you been in the business of personal branding/branding and WHY?
Since the notion of personal branding and branding didn’t really gain steam until about 7 years ago amongst the common public, if the answer you get is that they have been doing branding for less than 8 years, consider going elsewhere.
The answer to WHY they have been in business isn’t as cut and dry. Really listen for their story of how they ended up running a personal branding/branding business. Do you hear passion and purpose in their story? Are they really a life or business coach or PR company that has tacked on “branding” to their list of services? Or do they really “get” the distinction of branding people and their complexities?
- What exactly do you do for your clients to develop their brands?
Listen hear to make sure they really focus on YOU the person and not just the overall business. Personal branding means getting in the trenches with people- often just one person at a time. It’s not about logos and websites or PR. That’s the easier stuff in my book. Personal branding comes first and sets up the logo, website and PR for success.
- How do you compare/contrast yourself from traditional marketing?
Here’s your chance for you to see if they really understand the true notions of marketing versus branding. Are they making you feel like they think outside the box and are creative? If so, that’s what they’ll do for your brand. That’s a good thing. Or do they make you feel ho-hum because they keep regurgitating the same old tired marketing concepts (ie, network, publish, listen, be nice, stand out, etc)
If you have particular questions individual to just you, I’m happy to be of service. Please feel free to send me an email: email@example.com