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Taking Control Of Your Personal Brand

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr Seuss

And dead or alive you know that you are going to be ‘Googled’. You may not be able to control what others say about you but you can take steps to tell your own story and actively manage your reputation.

‘Personal branding’ is simply how we market ourselves to others, we do it subconsciously every day in the way we dress, speak and act. Think about it as a way of framing your reputation. In the old days when we lived and worked in the village it was possible to do business and strengthen your reputation just by being the only butcher, baker or candlestick maker in town. That’s a little more difficult to pull off these days.

A Google search for ‘graphic designer’ turns up more than 25 million results and the designer David Airey shows up as one of the first. David has built a personal brand online and stellar reputation in his niche over six years with hard work and generosity.

He did this by:

1. Investing time in creating a reputation by choosing to define who he is and what he stands for with an online presence.

2. Deciding how he would like to be perceived in his niche and setting goals for what he wanted to achieve.

3. Leveraging his online platforms to communicate his ability and showcase his expertise.

4. Building a community and connections around his work and his passion using three blogs, David Airey, Logo Design Love and Identity Designed.

5. Evolving his brand as his reputation grew and authoring a book based on this.

6. Openly displaying his work, ethics and authenticity across all of these platforms in both posts and comments.

7. Giving people in his niche a place to come to stay up to date, interact, acquire and share knowledge.

8. Doing great work for clients he chooses to work with.

All the tools that were available to David six years ago and much more are available to you today.
If your story is going to be told you might as well be the one to tell it.

Image by Shawn Rossi

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They’re Telling Your Story

“We have to realise that the days of controlling the message are absolutely over.”
Wendy Clark Senior VP of Integrated Marketing Coca Cola.

You work hard to create an impression of your brand or business. To make your idea spread. You tell the story with your packaging, website design, logo, products, copy and service. You share it in print, video, at events and on online networks. Those impressions you work to create are only a tiny part of what makes up the complete picture of your brand.

Of 146 million views generated for Coca Cola on You Tube, 26 milllion were impressions generated by Coke. 120 Million were generated by the expressions created by consumers!

“Who’s controlling the dialogue? It’s not me.” Wendy Clark VP Marketing Coca Cola

Now your business has a fantastic opportunity to engage with customers and fans, to enter into a dialogue, to listen, to reach out to them and understand how and why they use, love or hate your product.

You might have the trade mark, you might even wear the crown, but you don’t own the story.

What you do have though is an opportunity like never before to give your customers a great story to tell.

Which brands (big and small) are doing this best? How are you listening to and engaging with your audience?

Image by Doug Focht

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What’s The Most Important Marketing Question In The World?

“The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.”
George Eliot

Head down to your nearest Borders bookstore (while there still is one) and you’ll find hundreds of titles that all aim to help you answer this question. If Borders had asked the very same question and acted upon the answer they probably wouldn’t be liquidating right now.

So what is the number one thing you should ask yourself before launching a product, designing that service, writing your book or opening the cafe?

Why will people care about this?

*Bonus* – The second most important marketing question in the world is:

How can we help people to care about this?

Image by las-initially.

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What Worldview Are You Marketing To?

“No matter how brilliantly an idea is stated, we will not really be moved unless we have already half thought of it ourselves.” – Mignon McLaughlin

Sometimes our ideas spread because their time has come. Maybe because we’ve worked out who we need to be talking to and what some of those people are ready to hear and believe.

It doesn’t matter what you are selling or which story you are telling, if people are not ready to listen then you can’t make them. That’s why ideas like these that are framed around a particular worldview are the ones that fly.

Chris Guillebeau a non-conformist writer and entrepreneur travels the world showing people how they could do the same. His followers are people who aspire to be like him and break free from the 9 to 5.

210,000 people who aspire to leading a simpler life read and support Leo Babuta’s Zen Habits, making it one of the Top 25 blogs in the world in 2010.

Millions of people tired of the bureaucracy in large foundations were ready to hear the truth and see the impact of their donations to charity. Hence the success of charity:water

25,000 people with a particular worldview are wearing Blackspot’s earth-friendly, anti-sweatshop, and cruelty-free shoes.

Worldviews are the reason billions of books are sold every year without the buyers knowing what the contents are and why 140 women and willing to pay $1,000 for a one day event.

What do the people you are marketing to really want? What do they want to believe?

Image by Momentary Glimpse.

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Do You Sound Like You Are Amazing?

Does your brand story give people something to buy into, to care about and to engage with? I’m not talking empty hype you could create, I’m talking about how you frame the truth.

Some of the worlds best loved tiny brands took off for two reasons. Firstly they had a great idea and secondly they knew how to tell a story about the idea that would excite and engage people. A great story can’t prop up a bad product or service. But a great product based on a true story, that makes people care is irresistible.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

Innocent drinks – Fruit is messy, it’s important to be healthy. Here’s a way to get it into you and your kids that’s easy, tasty and makes you feel good. Oh, and we are good guys who like to have fun too.

Zappos – We know you love shopping day and night. Let us make it easy for you to do that online without any down side, with free delivery and free returns, no questions asked. You can trust us to always be here for you and do the right thing by you.

Moo – You want to make a great first impression with your business cards. Custom printing and design is expensive. We can help you out with fabulous designs or a custom process that is fun yet seamless.

After over seventy years Old Spice is proof that the story you tell matters. It used to be the smelly stuff you bought your Dad for Christmas. Now you buy it (or your partner does) to ‘smell as fresh as you look’.

“Like water slowly cracking rock, stories begin to change what matters to us.”
Emiel van den Boomen

No point being amazing if you don’t sound like you are.

Image by Kami

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Understanding How To Spread An Idea

“Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.” Nolan Bushnell

So how do you begin to make an impact and spread an idea?

1. Create something that people want to talk about.
2. Give people a way to share it.
3. Know who you are talking to or targeting.
4. Understand your audience.
5. Work out what people want before they do.
6. Think about what one person will say to another to recommend it.
7. Question why someone will buy, use, or talk about your thing over another.
8. Believe in the idea yourself.
9. Be the best choice.
10. Create for a few.
11. Make it work for the many.
12. Ask people to try it.
13. Engage people and build trust.
14. Connect your true fans.
15. Help people to care about what you do or sell.
16. Ask your followers to share it.
17. Make people laugh.
18. Make people cry.
19. Do something unexpected.
20. Be generous.
21. Promise something and deliver on it.
22. Create something people want, not just something they need.
23. Be passionate.
24. Start!
25. Evaluate and make it better.

Image by Today is a good day.

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How Will I Know You?

The 1915 design brief for the original Coke bottle was simple. The criteria were that it must be recognisable in the dark and if it was broken. The result; a timeless, elegant solution which plays a huge part in creating a memorable brand story.

Think about how you could apply criteria like these to make your brand unforgettable.

Do you have a memorable voice like Virgin?
Are you showing up every day like Seth?
Does your service WOW! like Zappos?
Are you more vivid than Sydney?
As friendly as IKEA?
Do you make people feel as creative as Moleskine?
Can you show your impact like charity:water?
Are you the best in the world like Bill?

Brands that succeed stand out. Ideas that spread stand for something.

Image by AJ Brustein.

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6 Questions For Crafting Your Relevance

When was the last time something caught your attention? In our increasingly noisy world things that captivate us for more than a few seconds are few and far between.

We have become experts at shutting things out, at not paying attention to anything that doesn’t hold relevance for us. In any market we need to think about how we can become relevant. Remember relevance in the eyes of our customer might not be the same as relevance in ours.

Six Questions For Crafting Your Brand Relevance

1. Who do we want to care about what we sell or do?
2. Why would those people care about what we do or what we are selling?
3. Why would they cross the street to buy from us?
4. What emotional want are we fulfilling?
5. How can we make this more about them and less about us?
6. What will they be able to say to their friends to recommend us?

We need to give people one reason to care about us, not just a hundred different reasons to buy from us.

Image by Barbara Mazzarella.

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25 Ideas On Using Instagram For Business

Instagram is a ‘real-time’ photo sharing application currently available as a free App for iPhone and iPod with plans to extend to a website and other mobile platforms in the near future.

More than that though it’s a storytelling, entertainment and engagement platform with 3 million users and growing, (update now at 10 million+) from every corner of the globe. You can see the world as it is, as it’s happening through the eyes of real people, share your own images and start conversations. Instagram also enables users to share their photos on other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Four Square.

Why are people using it?

The beauty of Instagram is that it erodes all of the problems of photo sharing. It’s fast and easy to use on the go. It makes photos, even ordinary ones look beautiful with a series of filters you can apply in seconds. It integrates seamlessly with other social sharing platforms. There are an increasing numbers of websites and platforms which allow Instagram users to share and buy physical products of images. It connects and entertains people. It allows them to tell their story. And it’s free!

Why should brands and businesses be interested?

Instagram is a place where people are sharing and telling their story through images in the moment. It goes beyond Twitter’s; ‘what are you doing?’. In fact many commentators are describing it as Twitter meets Flickr.
It provides ‘real time’ insights into how people are interacting with the world and most probably your product. This platform will enable brands to connect directly with users and customers like never before and gain ‘real-time’ insights into how consumers are interacting with their brand.

How and why businesses and brands should use Instagram?

1. It helps brands to find products for their customers not just customers for their products.
2. It’s an opportunity to conduct real-time market research.
3. To drive momentum.
4. To get people talking about what you do and why you do it.
5. For customer engagement and intuitive marketing.
6. To deepen relationships.
7. It enables you to put the customer front a center.
8. For running competitions.
9. To see and hear what consumers believe about your brand.
10. To get opinions before you need them.
11. As a way to create a buzz about what you are doing.
12. As a platform to help fans find and interact with each other over a shared love of what you do.
13. It’s free!

Getting started

14. Download the Instragram App and create your profile.
15. Obtain the all important username (many brands have yet to act on this, think Twitter).
16. Post photos of your products and behind the scenes of your business.
17. Announce your Instagram arrival to your followers and fans on other social sharing platforms.
18. Ask for feedback.
19. Listen to comments.
20. Interact with your followers.
21. Search hashtag categories to gain insights into how people are interacting in your space.
22. Tell your brand story in new and interesting ways.
23. Post regularly and monitor your account.
24. Share your photos across other social sharing platforms.
25. Optimize.

UPDATES:
How non-profits are using Instagram to engage with their communities.
Is your business on Instagram?
How to run a photo contest on Instagram.
Instagram tips from top beverage brands.

Image by Xava du.

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How Apple Succeeds By ‘Thinking Different’

“We’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know.” Steve Jobs.

Lots of people can do what you do as well as you can do it. If that’s not the case and you’re lucky enough to be the best in the world, or even better the only one in the world, then you probably won’t be for long. Plenty of other companies make good reliable computers. That’s what they are about. How Apple succeeds is by understanding and communicating what they’re not about.

“What we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done.” Steve Jobs

What Apple wants us to know and believe about them is that their company has a soul, that they don’t respect the status quo and that they work to help people with passion push the human race forward.

What are you not? And what do you want your customers to know?

Image Nathan Makan.

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