Not too long ago, I was looking for something up in the attic, and I came across some old promos — marketing materials I created a few years ago when I was first looking to promote myself as a consultant. And here’s a key frame from that …
Times have changed a lot since then … and Lord knows, I’ve changed a lot since then. But you know what? My brand hasn’t really changed all that much. Seeing that promo again reminded me of that.
I’ll tell you a little more about that in a moment. But first, some tips that might help you in developing your own brand identity:
1. Don’t think of yourself as you the person. Think of yourself as a set of benefits and a user experience that may at times need to be communicated to new audiences in a succinct and meaningful way.
2. Your personal brand should also communicate your personal POV. In the product world many brands offer, fundamentally, the same things. But, when it comes to human beings, we’re all different, so it should be much easier to differentiate your brand.
3. It’s probably easier to think of a personal brand as a tagline … but having an image in mind might be an even better place to start.
As a former special education teacher, I fervently believe that each of us has a unique set of talents, including at least one thing that we do as well or better than anyone else. As a marketer and especially as a consultant, I realize that many of us in the marketplace are seen as commodities. What are we going to do about that — how are we going to convince a prospective client or employer that we are differentiated from every other candidate?
Spend a few minutes each day thinking about that — honing and refining your personal brand identity — and I guarantee it will be well worth your time.
Now, back to why I ask “What ever happened to the written word?”
I still believe – I’ve always believed – that no matter where or to whom you are communicating, you must have at your core an interesting and well-written message.
Yes, you must have actual words in your marketing. And, quite likely, more than one or two. You need to embrace that, and own that and realize that copy isn’t an afterthought … it’s your actual thought.
That’s certainly not revolutionary or even particularly original. But, I bet a lot fewer people are nodding their head and saying “Right On!” to that than may have done so at the beginning of my career. But, even given the fairly indefensible nature of my stance, I have definitely had folks tell me, quite pointedly, that the words don’t really matter because “People just don’t like to read.”
But hearing that is nothing new. I’ve heard a version of it since I started writing copy. Write shorter DM letters … people don’t like to read. Forget the paragraphs, just use bullets … nobody wants to read your paragraphs. Forget about print entirely … nobody wants to read a letter or an ad when they can click on a banner … get a text … read a tweet.
You know what I say? “Nobody wants to read …” is BS. What people don’t want to read is stuff that has no personal meaning or relevance to them. And that’s ALWAYS been true.
It’s just now, with so many options and ways to filter what media and messages we see, it’s much easier to avoid those messages in the first place. So you have to try that much harder to be IMMEDIATELY relevant and interesting. Life happens faster than ever. Marketing has to, also.
I will be the first to admit that people read DIFFERENTLY than they used to. They’ve grown to expect that a message will be succinct and to the point. As a result they are unlikely to engage with a message unless it appears to meet those criteria. If it looks like a lot of work, it will probably be skipped.
Another difference is that people don’t just read straight from the Very Beginning to the Very End. They will survey and scan and spend no more than a second or two to decide “What’s in it for me?”
As writers, then, we’ve got no Wiggle Room. We can’t use a torrent of words to disguise the fact that we may not actually have anything particularly new, compelling or relevant to say.
But, again, is that really such a new notion? The great Leo Burnett nailed it, generations ago, when he said:
“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”
So, in your zeal to be modern, edgy, interactive, digital, social, tweetable and fill-in-the-blankable, don’t write off the good old, poor old, written word.
That’s my brand. What’s yours?