- The HOOP represents the foundation of WHO you are, your essence, your unique sense of self. Who are you? What is your history? What gives you credibility and “expert” status? It does not necessarily need to be the extra alphabet letters after your name – more-often-than-not, it also includes your life experiences which have allowed you to develop into who you are now. Having a well-defined Author Platform creates a strong foundation for building your tribe of followers.
- The WEB represents WHAT you stand for, and HOW your unique offering serves others. What is your mission, your passion – both personally and professionally? Quite often, it’s our life “mess” which becomes our message. How can you take that message and share it with the world? How can you share your life lessons to help others? Weaving a well-crafted, consistent visual, verbal and virtual message attracts people who are eager to work with you, and will more than likely be the ones who buy your book.
- The EMBELLISHMENTS (feathers, beads, arrowheads) represent HOW you serve others. These are your gifts to your tribe, your followers. Interacting with your tribe strengthens your platform and helps to build a stronger relationship:
- Social media – be visible where they hang out.
- Workshops, webinars – create programs to share your knowledge and experience.
- Blogs, guest-blogging – reach a larger audience.
- Events – attend, become involved, extend your network, plan your own.
- Partnerships – create online and in-person events to increase visibility.
D: So lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.
into a “gotta have” brand?
The first question I typically ask a new client is, “What are you REALLY selling?”
A few look at me as if I’m crazy — but soon learn I have method in my madness. We’re not selling windmills, whistling lessons or wonder-bras — we’re selling the RELIEF or FEELING our customer receives from making the purchase. We want them to feel good about doing business with us.
Quite often, as with APPLE or TIFFANY or DISNEY, we are simply selling our brand essence — our brand experience — how great it makes a consumer feel to be associated with our product or service. How can you develop your Brand Essence? . . .
- BE-Lieve. Believe in your product/service and others will too. Love what you do and don’t be afraid to let it show.
- BE Giving. Be of service by offering more than your customers and staff expect.
- BE Integrated. Create brand standards and use them. Identify colors, fonts and messaging unique to your business. Again, USE them.
- BE Seen. Have a great logo? Use it. Need a new one or an update? Hire a professional to fix that for you.
- BE Heard. Know your key messaging and share with your employees and around your community. Let people know WHY you love what you do.
- BE Bold. Boldly share your visual, verbal and virtual message every chance you get. Find your niche, fill a void.
- BE Valuable. Bring value to the table. Value propositions have no value if they fall short of expectations.
- BE Committed. Follow through on your commitments to your clients, your community, and to yourself.
- BE Trusted. Establish relationships based upon trust, honesty and integrity. Trust your gut, follow your instincts.
- BE Consistent. Deliver on your brand promise. Play your strengths. Reframe your weaknesses. Respond proactively.
Santa’s back in town! I saw it for myself — several sightings on the retail front.
We can learn a lot from Santa when it comes to branding. He does a pretty darn good job when it comes to effectively delivering his brand promise.
Think about it . . .
- CREATES RELATIONSHIPS: Santa builds positive relationships across the globe; he attracts throngs of people who are willing to stand in line to meet and talk with him — if only for a few minutes.
- SERVES HIS COMMUNITY: Santa serves his “tribe” by offering a service unlike any other. He’s definitely not “in it” for the money, but more for the outcome — the feeling his followers receive when they interact with him. He has definitely earned the love and respect of customers AND his staff.
- BELIEVES IN HIS BUSINESS: Not only does Santa BELIEVE in his mission, but so do his followers. It’s all about offering a product or service which makes people happy — we are ALL attracted to people and things that make us happy. Santa consistently fulfills his positioning statement of Bringing Joy to the World.
- PLANS FOR SUCCESS: Nothing stops Santa — just remember Rudolph and the fog. Santa finds solutions. He’s a “can-do” kind of guy. The kind of guy you want at the reins of your business.
- BUILDS TRUST: Santa instills “trust” and “warm cozy feelings”. If you can’t trust Santa who can you trust? You’ve been telling him your heartfelt wishes since you were a kid. Santa listens and follows through on his commitments. He doesn’t over-promise, and always has a back-up option — just in case (toy recall).
- CROSS PROMOTES: Santa is everywhere. He graciously offers his positive brand to movies, car dealer ads, non-profit causes and more — all in the hopes of spreading goodwill and good cheer across the globe.
- STAYS FOCUSED: You don’t see Santa expanding his line of offerings beyond the aspect of “giving”. The downfall of such was creatively portrayed by Martin Short’s Jack Frost and Tim Allen’s Santa, in the “Santa Clause 3” movie, showing the negative impact of wandering off-target. Ultimately, “good” overcomes “evil” and the movie ends with the North Pole back to “normal” — back on target.
- SUSTAINS HIS IMAGE: Santa creates a positive response in the marketplace and emotes a distinct visual image which immediately comes to mind when his name is mentioned. Even with 100’s (if not 1000’s) of Santa likenesses seen around the world, we all have our favorite that comes to mind — white beard, red suit, and a wink of the eye.
- ADAPTS EASILY: It’s not everyone that can morph their body PLUS a 100-pound bag of toys small enough to fit down a chimney (and in some cultures through a keyhole). Knowing when and how to adapt to your customer’s needs — and a willingness to do so — always give you an edge with the competition.
- RISES ABOVE: Santa is basically one-of-a-kind, so rising above your competition is a piece of cake (or cookies and milk). Taking flight is easy when you keep your magic-sparkle flying dust handy. Markets change as often as the weather . . . being able to fly above a snowstorm or around lightning strikes allows Santa to deliver a solid brand — on time, on target and on budget.
How are you delivering YOUR brand?
My grandmother was one-quarter Cherokee, and was not-all-that-impressed by the loose translation of our Cherokee family name: “Running Turkey”. She always considered turkeys “not-so-smart” and would recant how a turkey would “sooner drown in the rain” because it wasn’t smart enough to come inside. Whether or not this is true, I have no clue. To her, “Running Turkey” was not a name of which she was proud.
Fast-forward almost a dozen decades and notice how far the Turkey has come. If you consider the Turkey as a brand — a business — he’s done pretty good for himself. He’s pretty much cornered the food market at Thanksgiving, thanks to Butterball and that Pilgrim story. There’s even turkey tofu for vegetarians.
Mention the word “turkey” and all kinds of stories come to mind of events surrounding the 4th Thursday in November. The turkey brand now represents many things to many people — college break, parades, family, pies, football, shopping — with everyone having a “story” about what Thanksgiving means to them (some good, some not-so-much).
Every brand needs a story, and every brand tells a story — much like every business needs a mission, a purpose. Butterball isn’t selling turkeys — they are selling memories, as hinted at in the first sentence of their Mission: “Butterball provides great-tasting foods that inspire joyful experiences, bringing people together.” Every business should have a clear and succinct expression of its purpose — its reason for being — beyond the product it makes or the service it provides. Your mission becomes the story people tell when they talk about you.
Perhaps a “Running Turkey” is a good thing — especially if it runs faster than the farmer who wants to cook it. It all depends upon the story it wants to tell.
I talk to my clients quite a bit about finding the “Golden Threads” when it comes to their branding and how to create a connection between their passion, purpose and profits. It’s the common golden threads that become your signature — your brand — the reasons why your followers feel comfortable working with you.
As we make our way through this 2013 holiday season, I notice the “sparkle” of lights popping up in neighborhoods and retail areas. Within our diverse circle of friends, family and clients, the use of light — be it with candles, twinkle-lights or fireworks — seems to be one of those “golden threads” helping to create a global community.
Many of our neighbors adorn their homes with lights, glitter and “all things that sparkle”. Our community is one of many faiths, each celebrating their own traditions — which ironically also involves the use of twinkle lights and candles — I guess it’s our attempt to bring back the magic of childhood, while at the same time add some light on our shorter, mostly-gray winter days.
- Diwali: Starting in November with the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, is often celebrated with food, dancing, parties and colorful lights hanging everywhere. Lamps, candles and fireworks are lit, representing the celebration of family and community.
- Hanukkah: Also known as the Festive of Lights, Hanukkah uses the eight-branch Menorah to light a candle on each of the eight nights during the holiday. This age-old tradition is associated with the miraculous burning of the Menorah during the rededication of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.
- Bodhi Day: Observed on December 8, Bodhi Day celebrates the day in 596 BC when Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. Lights symbolizing enlightenment are strung around the home or along pathways during the 30-day celebration.
- Saint Lucy’s Day: A Scandinavian tradition on December 13, where the female chosen to play Lucia wears a white robe and crown of candles, chasing away the winter.
- Winter Solstice: The word “solstice” is derived from two Latin words: sol (“sun) and sistere (“to stand still”) — essentially the day the sun “stands still”. The winter solstice occurs on or around December 21, and marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. Historically, candles, fireplaces and lights have symbolized “lighting a path”, “enlightenment” and “rebirth”.
- Christmas: The most obvious symbol of Christmas are lights – Christmas candles, window lights, luminaries, lights on the Advent Wreath and Christmas tree. All signifying to Christians that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world.
- Kwanzaa: The kinara candle ceremony is the center of the Kwanzaa celebration. Candles have two primary purposes: to symbolically recreate the power of the sun and to provide light. The celebration of life through candle-burning uses the seven candles of Kwanzaa…three red, three green and one black.
- New Year’s Eve: Many New Year customs that include “light” actually date from ancient times. Diverse cultures and countries around the world display fireworks in celebration of new beginnings, typically at midnight. In China, firecrackers are known to dispel evil. In New York, the Times Square crystal ball “drops”
Whatever your celebrations may be this holiday season, may the Golden Threads of Light that we all have in common serve as a precursor for a most marvelous New Year in 2014!
A good logo transcends time and a variety of media, allowing a brand to imbed itself in a community — whether your community is defined as local, regional, national or global.
Watching how global brands transcend their own iconic brands to target core audiences can help you learn to expand your own brand.
Take Nike’s latest NYC campaign:
What’s YOUR Type?
Does this font make me “look big”?
Ever since Typography Class in college (yes, we spent an entire year analyzing and “designing” new fonts), the language of fonts and their subliminal messaging continues to fascinate me. Choosing the right fonts — whether for your logo, your annual report or your next book cover — sets the tone for how your business is perceived.
Traditionally, financial services have always been known to use a SERIF font from the Times Roman family to emote trust, stability, authority (as in the ING example) — but even that has changed over the years in an effort to be portrayed as less “stodgy” and more “current” (as in the US Bank example).
Your Logo is Your Signature.
Your brand is not your logo.
Your logo is not your brand . . . yet a well designed logo is a fundamental component of a successful brand identity — the signature of your business.
Every now-and-then I hear, “I don’t need a logo, I use my signature”. But THAT IS THE POINT. Your signature IS your logo — AND your logo is your signature. If it looks KA-KA, and you can’t read it, then your message is, “Look at me . . . my business is KA-KA”. If you are willing to put your name on your product/ service, then why not let it be memorable — in a good way?
Choosing the right logo designer is vital. Just about everyone claims that they can design a logo, but it takes experience, insight and creativity to design the RIGHT logo.
A well-designed Logo will:
- Be simple, easy-to-read, yet memorable
- Communicate your brand positioning statement
- Distinguish your company from your competition
- Evoke the essence of what you do/sell
- Look good on business cards as well as billboards
- Look appropriate in black and white as well as color
- Look good in print, digital and promo applications
- Define your business through the use of fonts and color
Making Your Brand “FEEL” Good.
SO . . . How DOES your brand make your customer feel?
- DEFINE your business focus.
- DESIGN your business image.
- DELIVER your business message.