Branding It's Stories; not STORY
Yesterday when I was talking to Diane Wagner from Microsoft she recommended that 'builders, leaders and those committed to Solutionarism not lose sight of their personal brand regardless of which venture, company, institution or organization they align themselves with. ( By the way I was really bummed about the production quality/ inability of our online phones to pick up and provide a high quality reproduction of Umair Haque's voice in our interview yesterday- sorry. I'm working on a follow up…)
"CRACK." I love it when lightening strikes.
Diane said don't lose sight of your brand and I say don't lose sight of your value. And because there are a multitude of ways you add value; remember to use STORIES, not a story to convey this. Stories help us understand your over arching theme, purpose and all the ways YOU add value and enhances people's lives.
Keep it simple. Branding is just good storytelling. Hollywood has been doing it for years. And you aren't one story, you are a story book. A collection of life enriching stories. Don't limit your telling to a mere story, we might never understand who you truly are; how valuable and how many solutions you have to offer us, the world.
So here's how I'm currently thinking about my own storytelling- which by the way I am painfully clear I don't do nearly as well for myself as I do for my clients….
Don't confuse having a brand promise, differentiation strategy, sweet spot or focus as meaning you only have one story. Wrong.
Don't limit yourself or your venture. Sure be focused. Know your brand promise; mine is something like;
Growing leaders, building GOOD Businesses. ( the what…of my story-theme)
The brand promise, or theme is what ties the brand, or the personality together. Make sure it weaves through the stories, but for goodness sakes don't just tell us one tired, worn out story. We are complex human beings who connect via story, the more stories around your common theme the better the chance I will connect and understand who you really are, your true value.
Don't think jobs, projects, titles, PRODUCTS, SERVICES, or responsibilities think; VALUE, THICK VALUE, SOLUTIONS; EXPERIENCES.
Sit down and think about what you've created, built, partnered on and contributed to. Look back at your testimonials, talk to people who have worked with you, past clients, partners and peers. What do they say? What are the solutions you've been a part of, what feelings do you create in others? What experiences and opportunities have you created?
To help see your value clearly make a VALUE/SOLUTION TIME LINE .
Keep it simple, take this past year and view your life/venture from the vantage point of others. How would your clients, stakeholders describe what you've created, built, contributed to? Go get those solutions' glasses and put them on…now grab the coat of empathy; you need to practice feeling as if you are 'those you've served, done business with or worked for' feel…what it feels like to be impacted by you, your venture.
For example if I was creating a value/solution time line for me over the past year it would look something like this:
Provided helpful content, ideas, resources and tools on; entrepreneurship, reinvention, change, innovation, life hacking, value, leadership, small business, communication, marketing, thinking, building and scaling a venture, book reviews. Facilitated Seminars, trainings forums creating immersive experiences to help people think and do new. Orchestrated engagement experiences for employees, vendors, alliances, clients to help businesses better understand wants, needs and how to communicate. Partnered to build new ventures, close life sucking ventures, grow and innovate business. Connected teams, partners, resources to grow ideas, people and business….helped others change, shift their thinking, see things differently,learn something new about business ( you get my drift…)
If you look closely enough at the value, solutions you and your business have provided you will begin to see all your stories, and most likely you will see a common theme threading through them. From these stories, create a brand key word map. The 5-8 + words that best represent the soul of you, what you and your business are about, your purpose, what you are interested in engaging in, learning about and providing solutions around.
My brand key word map might include;
Business, Communication, Leadership, Business strategy, change, innovation, Social Good, Engaging, Writing, Inspiration, Personal Development, Personal Growth
Now, each solution, every valuable experiences you've created or contributed to for others is added value; your story. Stories have value. Use stories to communicate your incredible value.
Allow your clients and the people whose lives have been enriched by you to tell your stories.
Now more than ever consumers, employers, employees and stakeholders want YOUR stories told to them by someone other than you. When someone else tells me your story it's credible. Real. Reviewal is nothing more than story telling and it is the new marketing, make no mistake.
Forget about word only stories; engaged storytelling is multi-media and multi-sensory.
People learn differently, we have differing learning styles and preferences. Use a wide variety of mediums to communicate the power of your story to connect across all potential communication barriers. Words and images matter. Short stories, white papers, you tube videos, content videos, narrative, cartoons, art, etc. There are as many ways to tell a story as there are people to tell them. The important thing is to capture the story from the 'recipients' perspective and as often as possible to let them tell the story….
All stories should be easily shareable across today's social platforms.
I love the share widget. Make sure you have one on your platforms. Content matters. Stories can be developed platform specific or not. The key is to share them.
Of course you should be you- developing your brand regardless of what or where you are working and that means you need to become a collector of stories; the valuable stories that help us understand the solutions and value you have to offer us, our friends and family.
Go in value- and tell those stories!