I just read an amazing article by Jason Calacanis about becoming your brand, loving your brand and being your own biggest promoter. Its long but well worth the read, either way I’ll try to sum it up along with extra tips on branding yourself in these 7 killer tips for becoming successful through branding.
- Be your own groupie. Have you ever met a groupie? That or a preteen girl obsessed with the latest boy band? If so you’ll notice all they talk about is the band, the music behind the band, the inspiration and where Justin Timberlake went to school. How does this apply to branding? Well I for sure don’t want you wearing N*SYNC shirts and screaming when the radio turns on… but what I do want is for you to harness that insatiable, genuine love for your niche & your business and use it to brand the hell out of yourself. I love social media, I love consulting, I love, love, love taking an idea and building it into a success story. I talk about it all the time, probably to the annoyance of my friends and relatives but no one ever wonders “who is that girl?” instead they think “oh thats the crazy social media chick that has a ‘follow me on Twitter’ sticker on her car and approaches people everywhere asking them “if they’re viral” and then presenting her pitch”. Get the picture? Become your own biggest fan, if you are not 100% in love with your business idea and the brand that encapsulates it no one will be. You have to be your own crazy, pre-teen groupie and then others will start to catch on.
- Know thine story. A great story makes a product, and a great story also makes a brand. You can’t say “product X is hip because I said so” (unless your famous) but you can say “product X is hip because it is made from recycled titanium, astronauts use them and it makes you smarter, sleeker, sexier etc”. Most products and companies are at the base the same. Each offers product or service X,Y,Z each is incorporated on some level, each started with a vision. How you become the 1% of companies out there that is hugely popular, cutting edge & desired is by ‘branding’ and your branding comes in many forms. Imagine if Juicy Couture sweatpants (that go for around $200 a pair – FOR VELOUR! I can’t judge I own a few) said ABC sweats instead. Can you see rich soccer moms and skankiod co-eds everywhere walking around with that skitched to their fannies? NO. Its because Juicy Couture through branding became the ‘it’ sweat suit. It became a brand correlated with Paris Hilton and starlets. It became the brand that teen girls desired and middle age women who wished they were still teen girls clamored for. Juicy’s story is that they are ‘sexy, hip & fresh’ but in reality they are just velour sweat suits made somewhere for a few bucks with sequins stitched to the butt. KNOW THINE STORY.
- Be Seen. I am, or used to be, a shy person. In highschool I was teased for being stick thing and nerdy, in college I dated on guy for most of the 4 years (big mistake ladies) and stayed mutely behind him at most college functions. But for some reason when 21-22 hit something changed inside of me. I was sick of being always on the sidelines, so I took my small business and decided that I would be bold and outgoing if only for the businesses sake… and I haven’t looked back since. When I am out, whether be it personal or business related, I am always ‘on’ I carry business cards like some people carry tracks and I make a point to weave in what I do into every interaction. Number one way of getting someone to ask about what you do? Ask them first, then listen for 15 minutes and nod, act interested and finally they’ll say “what do you do?” = that is when you let loose. So whether your shy, married, with child, 70, or have a mug like Gary Busey its time to get out there and start mingling.
- Fill the Gap. There is a growing sea between remarkable, fun & sexy brands and boring, mundane and business as usual ones. Often what is behind the hip brands is not the actual product (it almost never is) but instead it is the people who consist of the brand and the companies’ image. So as the entrepreneur, CEO or start up partner please be human! Let your personality shine flaws and all. People will thank you for it and big players who would normally not give you the time of day will open up to your more easily if you are “real”.
- Build relationships with talkers. When you start your business you need to be a product/brand preacher. Imagine the old time circuit preachers who road from town to town spreading the Good Word. Now think of yourself like them but with your brand. If you are the ONLY circuit preacher then your word isn’t going to get very far. Imagine if Christianity, Islam or Buddhism had been spread through only 1 person ever. So what you need to do is start building relationships with talkers. Talkers take many forms they can be PR people, journalists, bloggers or just plain people who are networking fools. Spot these people and make a point to get to know them, don’t “pitch” them only but instead develop a real connection. Soon they will become brand preachers for you as well without being forced or cajoled into it (I like finding talkers on Facebook, Twitter & most importantly in real life.. coffee shops and conferences are great).
- Don’t feed the dinosaurs. In the beginning you have a VERY small budget for marketing. So why feed dinosaurs with it? I don’t and it has worked better than if I spent thousands a month in print ads, TV or radio. Interruption marketing is going the way of the dinosaurs so you’d be best not to feed into it anymore… the world is full of noise now, especially in media channels. People have developed almost super human abilities to block out what they don’t want to hear. I.E. TIVO (no more commercials) and the increasing ineffectiveness of print ads which consumers now just ignore. Instead create a product, business and brand that people WANT to see and hear about. Make them come to you through various social media outlets and create the feeling of ‘scarcity’ rather than “come on!! Look at me damn it!” which all billboards scream.
- Raising a freaky cow. In Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow he talks mainly about the reasons behind creating a brand and product that is so remarkable, new or buzzworthy that people flock to it without the cajoling and begging of typical media methods. To survive and thrive in a post traditional marketing world you must have a strong brand build upon a well crafted story that resonates and connects with your target market. You must create a deal whether real or imaginary that pulls them in. Why be one of the 100 makers of generic cereals when you can be one of the 100 makers of generic mp3 players that was clever enough to make their basic products a sleek, hip looking status symbol with the name “iPod”.
action item: Go read Purple Cow & comment below to tell me how you are using branding in your business, or ask any branding related questions.