When people ask me for advice on how to brand themselves, I sometimes suggest they watch reality TV. I know… odd right? But a show like Married at First Sight makes it easy to illustrate a few points because I’ve found this show to be more open and authentic than other reality TV shows. If you’re in the process of building your own brand, this exercise can help.
Instead of focusing on what’s working or not with your own brand, detach a bit and pretend you’ve been asked to craft a new brand for one or two of the people you see on the show. After watching about 3-4 episodes and reading through the #MarriedAtFirstSight Twitter feed, ask yourself a few questions about the people you’ve seen:
- Of all the people I’ve seen on the show, which ones really intrigue me and why?
- What are they most passionate about?
- How would I like to interact with them? TV, Internet, Radio, Print, Podcast, Blog, Live Interaction, Talk Show?
- Do you find this person to be natural, friendly and open in front of the camera?
- Can you get a sense of who they really are?
- When are they the most open? The most guarded?
- When do they light up?
- I get a sense that they know a lot about ______.
- What other companies would I pair them up with?
- Who would I continue to follow on social media after the show ends?
- Who really causes me to have a strong reaction, whether angry, sad, happy, thoughtful, etc.?
By simply watching the show and asking these types of questions, you can really predict who has an exciting brand waiting to unfold, and who might fade into the background after a few interviews. But that’s not all – the answers to questions like the ones above have far-reaching impact. Using questions like these, I have developed:
- new marketing and sales goals
- eCommerce sites
- media kits and outreach plans
- product launches
- compelling show concepts
- speakers platforms
- intriguing blog, webisode, workshop/classroom and book content
- image and style blueprints
- studio/set designs
- identification and contact strategies for the best networks and partner brands/companies
- brand clarification strategies
- networking opportunities, etc.
So… now let’s get back to your brand…
This mini-exercise provides a few things to get your brain moving – but admittedly it’s sometimes difficult to do a proper for your own brand. Here’s where I’d suggest getting an outside party or focus group together to do an evaluation for you using whatever content or concept you’ve created so far. I think it’s important to have a new perspective, so finding a professional or unbiased analyst is ideal. If you have some followers, use your Twitter, Google or Facebook analytics data to get a sense of which content you produce that people resonate with.
In my unofficial poll of the people in my circle more than three-quarters have made a negative remark about Reality TV. Which suggests that not only should the Reality TV stars be concerned about their brand and image, but so should the people producing these shows.
I actually watch very little TV, so it’s surprising to some that when I do turn it on, that I actually choose Reality TV as part of the lineup. I’m fascinated by it all because I learn so much by studying people. But I also watch with a pragmatic eye. I’m aware that it’s mostly about business. And while I do see many opportunities for improvement; by wholly condemning the medium we end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Sherri Shepard from The View said recently on Twitter…
Sherri raises a valid point but I think it’s important to take it for what it is – Reality TV is a medium which will always attract some viewers through drama, nonsense, violence and tragedy. Maybe some producers think that is the only way they will get us to watch. There is another side however.
The discerning can glean the positive aspects of Reality TV. Not just for branding and launching new ventures for which I take special note – but topics around relationships, communication, health and wellness, friendship, family ties, and tenacity of spirit. I acknowledge the value in all of these things and remain hopeful that Reality TV isn’t tempted to sink to the negative depths of the nightly news.
Let’s tell a better story.
Yesterday I was in the presence of a visionary. We began talking about one subject and found ourselves 2+ hours later in an altogether different place – with many stops along on the way. I enjoyed our conversation immensely. It’s what makes my line of work so interesting in fact – following a person’s train of thought and then distilling their ideas into a tangible product, brand or service.
That’s the key though – the distillation process. Where visionaries sometimes find frustration is in their attempts to create a website or a branding statement is when they attempt to include all of their ideas in one place. Sometimes this does work if it’s branded under a particular personality or larger entity. But what often ends up happening is that most people don’t follow, give up and move along. And that’s a shame – because there is so much to be learned by working with someone with an extraordinary vision.
If you are a person with many ideas and you don’t want to pick just one – here are a couple of quick insights to share with you:
- I was reminded yesterday by Ms. Toni that all of your ideas don’t have to be thrust upon someone during a conversation all at once. If people follow and remain intrigued then by all means go forward with the conversation. If not, back off until they have reached common ground once again. I loved her insight (and her home-grown tea)!
- This second issue comes up over and over with my clients – don’t let a single website be the place to dump every idea you’ve ever had without a clear delineation of your brand concept. Because even the best of us with the capacity to follow along a winding trail of thought will wonder what the heck you’re talking about. Instead consider your audience and then add another URL or sales page to detail and elaborate on your next idea. In this way you can capture the specific audience you want and then ask them to take the next step with you.
That’s it for now…
I had an awesome meeting this morning with Captain Valerie who owns her own sailing firm. I’ve grown to adore the way Valerie talks about her sailing trips. She is truly a master at sharing the most amazing details of her travel experiences from around the world. She undoubtedly wins more business because of her ability to create a highly authentic connection to her clients, allowing them to peek behind the curtain of her very compelling brand.
I am guessing that her high rate of repeat business is due in part to her storytelling skills. She is open to sharing instead of selling. People just want to know about your business – and in Valerie’s case, the amazing food, cultural experiences and open seas. I have no doubt that her clients continue to share her stories with others since they have such a vivid image in mind of what she offers.
When you are able to communicate your company mission as Valerie does there will come a tipping point for your company as well. You know you’ve succeeded when your brand speaks for itself and your fans promote you because they believe in what you’re doing – you’ve been consistent and honorable and people have fallen in love.
Here’s to your success Valerie! To learn more about her amazing sailing expeditions, visit her website, and mention that you’d like to hear her stories – they’re awesome.
We are all creative. Some may even claim the title of artist, but lately I’ve been thinking that it’s not the title that really matters — the important thing is the lifestyle you aspire to. Here then is my list of characteristics I’ve noted about people who live with creative intention and build creative brands. I’d love to know if you find yourself anywhere in the description that follows.
From what I can see…
Creative people live in spaces that help them cultivate their ideas and develop new projects. We may find inspiration in a fabric, a photo, or a childhood memory. We use these ideas as a starting point to develop our homes and work spaces to our liking. We use materials in unique and innovative ways. Our home work spaces contain lots of inspiration. We are collectors of ideas and materials. Because we are always creative, our homes serve multiple functions. Our homes are a conglomeration of ideas — a test bed of sorts.
To feed our creative efforts, we shop. We shop for things both old and new. We reuse. We search the past for familiar ideas and make them trendy and stylish again. We may haunt the aisles of large retailers, but we often have a cadre of smaller companies we frequent whenever we need specialized products or services. We love places like Etsy.com, Creativity Portal, Illustration Friday, and a myriad of fun, quirky, and captivating websites and blogs that provide suggestions on new products and services.
We are introspective. We find inspiration from details others may overlook. We play with materials, words, and ideas; we push the envelope. We find joy in creating the simple and the complex. We like to try our hand at multiple things, often with the skill and insight to combine two or three seemingly disconnected things into one cohesive design. We appreciate the imagination and the inventiveness of others. We marvel at our own vision. We are insightful. We are out-of-the-box thinkers and are often called visionaries.
We love to see the impact of our work on others; because much of what we do comes from a place deep within ourselves. We make statements. In our work we capture the beauty and tragedy in life — and all the emotions in between. Sometimes we make things to trade or give; and other times we make things to sell.
We are connected. The internet gives us a space to set up camp and declare who we are. Sometimes we are part of the support system supplying materials and resources for other creative people to use. Other times we are the front line; showing our work and sharing ideas. We join mailing lists, read blogs and create online communities. We move offline and connect in person through clubs, correspondence, conferences, classes and co-ops.
Creative people share. We provide hope, inspiration and innovative techniques. We know the importance of artful living; of passing down our creative knowledge to our children, friends, parents, siblings, partners, and visitors. We keep track of our techniques, and of our progress and setbacks.
We know how wonderful it feels to see a project from its concept stage through material selection, organization of thoughts, and completion. It is like therapy for some. For others it is our passion.
Creativity is what we live. It is our legacy.