Dear Clients and Colleagues:
Have you ever thought about what branding means for you personally and professionally?
Everybody knows the importance of branding products. Starbucks, Dell, Coca-Cola, all are heavily invested in and reliant upon the competitive advantage branding provides. But what about your personal identity? Are you Brand X, who can compete only on “price”?
Gladiator star Russell Crowe is a good example of what I call Identity Branding. The New Zealand actor never captured my attention until Gladiator. Now, I am wowed. So much so, I intend to plop my money down to revisit his role in LA Confidential and to rent his Academy-Award nominated The Insider, which I blew off when it was released. With Gladiator, Crowe achieves star status. I’ll pay money just to see him do his thing.
How is this of value to you? Most successful professionals spend a great deal of time mastering their personal uniqueness within their art. I think of my old friend Robert Duval’s fleeting, but memorable performance in To Kill A Mockingbird. The character Boo Radley was the springboard for his Academy-Award winning career. Just as successful film stars are masters of Identity Branding, so, too, are other kinds of professionals. Think CEO Lou Gertsner at IBM or Jack Welch at GE. These powerful personalities create winning corporate strategies no matter where they are. They have learned to use all their skills and talents to create value in companies, and Wall Street banks on them. Movie star, executive or not, you can learn to communicate your unique strengths and identity so that you, too, are branded as valuable.
I often work with companies to “brand” their most important asset-their employees. Most companies only use a fraction of employee potential. Implementing identity-branding strategies to develop people skills can have enormous economic payoffs. Telecom giant Alcatel saved a $10 million account and improved customer satisfaction ratings from 82 to 94 per cent using one form of identity branding. A recent, IPO-stage client is increasing sales and revenue by turning the tech team into active members of the sales force, thus closing more sales faster. Executives learn communication strategies to motivate employees. In each situation, people are turning their unique, but often dormant, strengths into valuable assets.
To start you thinking more like a “star” with identity branding, review the following tips.
IDENTITY BRANDING: THREE STAR STRATEGIES
- Videotape Yourself
Think of it this way: Compared to standing on top of a hot tub naked, having yourself videotaped is a minor discomfort. This falls under the category of knowing your strengths and weaknesses. It is more powerful than verbal feedback alone. I know, I know. You hate to see yourself on camera. Do it anyway. Get a partner to help you, or bring in a professional. Learn to view yourself objectively. Learn to identify what I call Signature Energy, your personal qualities of energy and spirit. For example, ineffective eye contact, low energy and data-dump diatribes are strategies that never work. You may win the business anyway, but it was in spite of the presentation. FYI, many successful executives developed communication style and skills working privately with a coach and videotape.
- A Daily Swig of Kickapoo Joy Juice
What gives you the energy to wake up every morning excited to be alive and working? What accelerates your heartbeat and quickens your pace? One CFO finds his nirvana listening to blues musicians. Actor Russel Crowe organizes games of soccer and cricket on the set. Staying focused on the big-picture is important, but Identity Branding rarely happens overnight. It is a continuous process of step-by-step activities to position you for professional recognition and acknowledgement. Connect to the little daily joys that give you the juice you need to keep going for the long haul. If your face is expressionless and your eyes lifeless, you may have lost your juice. When your spark is gone, your identity branding score plummets.
- Horse or Batmobile?
Both are means of travel, but with vastly different styles. Put this under the heading of differentiation. Many people fail in creating Identify Branding, because they spend their energy mimicking others. Are you clear about what differentiates you? Try this idea to gain greater clarity: Decide what kind of horse best characterizes you. Think racehorse, polo pony, draft horse, or unicorn.…If horse doesn’t work for you, think car. What car symbolizes you? Batmobile, Aston Martin, Volvo… Is this vision of yourself the image you project to others? If not, then what could you do differently to create alignment between what you see in yourself and how others perceive you? Stories, analogies and metaphors can help you symbolize the Identity Branding you want to communicate both in terms of image and your differentiated skills.
A final note, Identity Branding is more than “image”. Russell Crowe, displaying good biceps and brawn, could have gotten by with a stereotypical portrayal of the grunting gladiator. And I wouldn’t be headed to the video store to rent every film he’s ever made. No, Crowe wins my admiration, affection and money by bringing something special and different to the screen.
Identity Branding means making the most out of your gifts and talents. It means communicating with your unique strengths so that you are valued and not discounted. This idea plays an important role in corporate growth and renewal processes. If you would like to learn more about growth strategies to differentiate and create competitive advantages in your organization, please call me today at 214.696.3510.
P.S. A heart-felt thanks to all my clients for this past year. Business grew 123 per cent. Some highlights: Our clients were featured in national, local and regional news. Our start-up companies received more than $100 million in funding. We were written up in The Dallas Morning News and featured twice on NBC. 1999 was outstanding!