In the business of shaping legacies in the speaking business, I spend a fair bit of time thinking about the legends in the speaking industry. I had coffee with a recently retired network news anchor, who is actively considering writing a legacy book after his successful 27-year career in front of the bright lights on the 6:00 news. Bright-eyed and full of energy, this local celebrity and I explored ideas while touching-on the names of influential authors/speakers whose ideas are still active a century after they wrote their books. Names like Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill and Earl Nightingale entered the discussion.
So what do these influential people have in common? They all built successfully communicated their ideas, communicated unusually well and leveraged the tools available to them during their time whether it was a pulpit, books, record albums or the media.
Branding is what sets ideas apart; it is what showcases who you are and clarifies that for which you are known.
Just as big companies create slogans, logos, and ads to support their brand, you can apply some of these tools to build your own legacy. As you consider the values that set you apart, you are well along your way to establishing a presence that people will gravitate towards. So let’s ask this – what can you offer the world which will be irresistible to discuss with friends & neighbors?
Let’s say you’ve already landed on a specific vision for branding yourself, and have carved-out a persona that is unique to you. How do you then use your brand to successfully spread your ideas and life philosophy? Better yet, how can your personal brand do your work for you in spreading your message?
In reality, your brand is like a simple device. You use this device over and over again to put across the essence of your being. It’s boiled down to a simple image of what you represent. The operative word here is simple.
Let’s take a look at a couple modern-day authors who have built a successful brand in the speaking business, and evaluate how they’ve done it.
Dan Waldschmidt is an international business strategist, speaker, author and extreme athlete who has built a brand that is both memorable and captivating. Upon first glance at his website, you can tell what his mission is: “Radical help for people who want it.” Doesn’t that make you feel like you can trust him? There are millions of brands, companies and people that are attempting to serve and care for people like you and me.
What makes YOU stand apart?
People need to feel like they can trust you. Dan plays on this in a number of ways you can observe from his website alone, the first being a bold move: putting his personal email and cell phone number for people to contact him. When you take a big risk such as disclosing personal information, you are creating a space where someone feels like you are inviting them in. Dan and I talked about this recently, as his previous Brand seemed unapproachable to his fans. So to break down this perceived barrier, Dan choose to open himself up to his fans. When people feel like you are taking a risk for them, then trust is quick to follow.
Another way that trust is instilled is when you are a living example of your slogan / life philosophy. Let’s look at another example.
Former professional major league baseball player Todd Stottlemyre offers this: “Dream big, set big goals, and go for it. It’s time to awaken the champion that lives inside of you.” Since he is a 3x World Series champion, you can trust that he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to what he has branded as “Major League Achievement.” He candidly admits that he’s had both failures and success, and in doing so knows how to work with you through both extremes.
Branding is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your brand needs to reflect the needs of your marketplace. It needs to be both classic and timely. It begins with your startup phase and never stops.
Because it’s simple, your brand needs to be repeated to be effective. Conversely, because it needs to be repeated, it must be simple. Here’s why:
The average person has to be exposed to information 7 to 15 times before acting on it. Even a highly intelligent person requires at least 3 exposures to that same information in order to retain it and internalize it. That means if you’re not reinforcing your brand, you’re leaving money on the table.
Consider your customers’ experience as they go through their day to day activities. Your message, sales proposition and your brand are a blip in a sea of messages. The athletic company Lululemon has done this exceptionally; to the point where you can simply see their swirly logo on a pair of pants and automatically know who designed them.
Your brand needs to be powerful enough to rouse your customers into action, and at the same time it needs to actively express you — what you’re about and the uniqueness of your offering. In fact, for people to decide to hire you to speak or buy your book, your brand needs to be crystal clear, exciting and alluring. It needs to stand up to relentless reinforcement.
So it goes with branding. Once you design your message, carry it forward through all your promotional materials. Consistently use your slogan, logo and other brand elements throughout your marketing materials and other types of customer communication. Let it be persistent.
We see this with Waldschmidt’s “EDGY” acronym. You can see it not only in his book title, but branded on shirts, wallpapers, blogs, and all across his website. His brand is reinforced by the life-size sword with the words “STAY EDGY” etched across the blade that he presents to key clients. It’s short, to the point, and it “sticks.” There is no doubt that you will remember EDGY after you’ve browsed his website, as it is mentioned a handful of times and referenced in every Tweet, blog post and podcast episode he publishes.
In order to get your message across in all its subtle glory, it needs to be simple and seamlessly circular… like the wheels on a bike. It needs to go around and around in your prospect’s head like that song on the radio. You may feel a bit self-conscious about repeating yourself, thinking that your prospects might become bored with your message if you use it too often. In reality, brand repetition equates to consistency in the vast majority of consumers’ minds.
Using this tactic lends a sense that your business is bigger than it actually is. It also lends consistency to your message, regardless of which rookie on your staff is trying his/her level best to louse it all up (LOL). Brand repetition means consistency.
Now go out and start crafting your own personal brand, and watch the world take shape around your ideas!