- Who & Why?
All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘branding’
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
About two weeks ago San Diego went through a nasty heat wave. The high temperatures were relentlessly in the 90s for that entire period of time. Normally, I would manage to get through it, but it was October. I yearned for Fall. I was sad and angry. Once again, I was rethinking living in San Diego, much to the chagrin of my family.
In that two-week stretch, all I wanted to do was to wear a sweater, pull a fleece blanket around me and snuggle under it with a cup of HOT tea. Without getting heat stroke and making my husband fear my sanity, I couldn’t bring myself to wear the sweater and cuddle under the blanket. But, I did have a cup of hot tea (well, more like tepid, but I pretended it was really hot) every evening. My husband was very kind and just looked at me funny from the corner of his eyes. Mostly because he knew how happy it made me to drink my hot tea and pretend like it was Fall outside.
So am I crazy? Why do I yearn for the coziness, hot tea and sweaters? Am I just an East Coast gal transplanted on the West Coast? I dare say not.
In developing peoples’ brands, I always preach the happiness factor: if you are not happy, you cannot sell happiness. Happy branded people are the only brands others notice and buy/hire.
So what does this happiness have to do with getting cozy? Well, for years I’ve had a theory that people who live in four weather climates are happier brands. Why? I now have the answer.
It’s called Hygge’. This is a Danish term for the notion of getting snuggly in the winter, spending time with family, relaxing, enjoying life- even if it is cold, dark and wet outside- much like it is in Denmark for about 5 months out of each year. As Suzanne Nilsson, a hygge’ teacher, explains the term hygge’ is “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.” These things include candles, tea, family/social gatherings.
These things are also all the things we would all tend to do more of in climates that have that fourth season of winter. My friend Pam is from New Hampshire. She has said on too many occasions that there was such a sense of community in New Hampshire, particularly during winter. Pam notes that in winter, neighbors just knock on each others’ doors, go in for dinner or for a cup of (get ready for it…) tea!
So could there be truth to my belief?
There are definitely many studies linking gratitude with happiness. Gratitude does not rely on material things. If you’re not yearning for more “things” to buy, then your gratitude cycle is more likely to continue meaning you are more likely to stay happy longer, making you a more attractive brand.
As if I needed more proof, I got it on Friday when I was having lunch with Ian McDougall, the General Counsel of LexisNexis. Ian noted that he had worked in New Zealand for a while and had noticed that despite the fact that people in New Zealand had higher cost of living with lower compensation, they seemed happier. Why? Ian noted that New Zealand (much like Denmark, perhaps?) was full of breathtaking outdoor life. It appeared to Ian that most residents found happiness, not in spending their money buying more things, but in spending time outdoors. So happiness is a function of “being”, rather than “having”. Folks in New Zealand sound much more likely than not of being happy brands (yes, I’ve met many of them and they were all much happier than the general US population, if I may generalize). That sounds like hygge’ to me.
What does this mean for you? Consider, if you want to be an effective brand that attracts others to you emotionally:
- Take time to just “be” and do nothing. When was the last time you sat around with a cup of hot tea and spent time with friends?
- Perhaps not buying so much in terms of material things, but consciously look to create opportunities for yourself to be with others in situations that require more of you “being” rather than “doing”.
As the statistic goes, 78% of everything we buy is based on how we “feel” about it (product or service) and NOT the content. When I think back to any of my current purchases (for products or services), I’ve bought over 90% of them because I “liked” them.
Now you may think, who buys toothpaste outside necessity of content? Everyone. Otherwise, there would only be one brand of toothpaste instead of so many of them all competing for your dollars.
Same thing for professional service providers. There are so many professionals doing the same thing out there. The name of the game isn’t how great you are at your job (you’ll have to prove that to me after I hire you), but whether you “move me” to want to hire you. That’s actually good news and it’s all based on your individual brand- as a human being.
I remember the days when I practiced law. Towards the end of my 14-year career when I no longer wanted to practice, I was an entirely different brand. I don’t think I could have moved anyone to want to hire me, plain and simple. How could I- -I didn’t want to be a lawyer!
So here are three ways to move me to buy your brand as a professional service provider:
1. Be likeable– You can’t count on your intellect and ability to do the work to get you clients and a magnificent brand. Would I want to be your friend? Would you want to be your own friend? Stop and think, how like-able are you?
2. Create emotional resonance with me– I remember when I practiced in Washington DC, the common small talk question was, “what do you do?” I was a victim of asking that question, too. It was just awful and left the conversation very dry and cold. Now it seems people have stopped asking that question. However, we still talk too much about our work. Stop telling me how great you are at what you do for a living. Start telling me about yourself as a human and then I’ll emotionally connect. From there, I’ll buy anything from you.
3. Find your happiness– It’s becoming more common to have dialogue on being happy these days. But do you really own it? I know it is hard. I consciously practice being happy each day. Some days it is really hard for me to find that happiness for myself. So I get mad at myself, then sad and then come back around to give it another go. If you can’t be happy, then you can’t emotionally move me with your brand. Why? Because happiness is the only emotion that sells. It’s contagious and leaves your brand unrivaled.
I recently took to reading the Tao Te Ching. It is known worldwide as The Book of the Way, which is really a guide to the art of living. It was written by Lao-tzu, said to be a contemporary of Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.).
In the Tao Te Ching, Lao-tzu insists on the concept of “doing not-doing”. What this means is doing less that is forced and allowing life to just flow. How often have you experienced the situation where you kind of “gave up” trying so hard and did less? Did you end up seeing/getting better results? I am guessing so.
In this concept of “doing not-doing”, Lao-tzu does not mean being passive. Unfortunately, that’s what we all seem to think it means to sit still and let life happen.
I remember in my practice as a lawyer, I was always “busy” doing things. If it wasn’t the active practice of law, it was something else: teaching yoga, running, reading, other appointments. My list was endless. I used to think I had to be a certain way as a lawyer. This left me very rigid and blocked so much of my creativity as a lawyer. One thing was for sure: I wasn’t going with the flow of anything in life. I was unhappy a lot.
As I shifted professions, I realized that the end was not my goal. I had no real “end” I was shooting for anymore. After all, I no longer cared to make partner in a law firm or to be General Counsel somewhere. Been there, done that.
This reality freed me up to just “be”. That’s right. Just sit still and do less. Now, I’d be lying if I claimed to be in perfect mastery of just “being” and not running around thinking I have to do so much. I’m working on it. I’m a work in progress. I’m proud of myself for even having self-awareness around the concept.
Here’s what I have learned: strong brands do less and “be” more.
No where was this clearer to me than watching the finals of American Ninja Warrior the other night. The final challenge, on the road to being the winner of $1,000,000 and the title of American Ninja Warrior, was to climb a 30 foot rope in under 30 seconds. When they interviewed the winner and asked him how he mentally was able to achieve this amazing act, he said, “I became one with the rope”.
Now you may think this is cheezy or crazy. Fair enough. But consider, what he was really saying was the same thing Lao-tzu said: he was being and not doing so much. He was finding his rhythm and groove with the rope instead of fighting against the rope to climb it and conquer it. He wasn’t resisting life, but flowing with it. Resistance leaves us tired and unhappy. That’s a bad brand.
Effective brands that resonate emotionally with their audience have certain magic to them. To do less, is to be more adaptable, flexible and go with the flow.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying to sit around and be passive and lazy. Strong brands also have conviction, drive and a purpose to be of true service to others.
What does this mean for you? Stop and think:
- How much do you take on in any given day?
- How does it make you feel when you don’t cross off everything on your list? Do you consider yourself a failure?
- How do you come across to others when you take on so much and are constantly “doing”? Do others see a flexible, happy brand or a rigid, tired, stressed and unhappy brand?
Boredom isn’t just about having “nothing” to do. In terms of being engaged and happy at work, it’s really more about not liking what you are supposed to do. Look at it as, ‘I don’t want to do my work because it is not stimulating.
Looking back to my practice of securities law for 14 years, I was bored much of the time. It’s hard to imagine that I could have been bored given the high volume of mentally challenging substantive work I was so blessed to have. But I was. Boy, was I bored.
I was bored because I wasn’t using my natural talents. I am meant to be in front of people and running large-scale operations. I thrive on matching the left-brain analytical risk mitigation aspect of business with the right-brained, creative, innovative thought leadership needed in business, too. Happily, that’s exactly what I do today for my clientele.
As a lawyer, I was only flexing my left-brained risk mitigation side. That was boring because it didn’t leave me with the feeling that I was contributing as I was meant to do. I was missing out on what my greater purpose was in life. I wasn’t working towards a greater cause than myself and my legal practice. That led to shear boredom. Boredom then led to frustration and then to anger- anger at myself, of course. Yet I couldn’t help but project that anger outward onto others. It was a recipe for disaster.
In my world of brand development, boredom is a key indicator of: 1) lack of employee engagement, if you are an employee AND 2) if you are running a business, it signals to me that you are not in the right area of business because you are not using your natural talents. When your “brand is bored”, then you are no longer emotionally resonating with your audience. When you don’t emotionally resonate with your audience, no one wants to hire you, date you, be around you.
What does this mean for you? Stop and think:
- Are you “bored” at work/with your career, business?
- How often do you get frustrated with your life/job and then get angry at others? Why?
- Do you find your work/career to have a purpose greater than yourself? If not, how can you change that for yourself?