Suddenly Marketing

Brand Messaging | Content Strategy | Writing

Tag: personality

The ONE marketing tool you need in 2013

Imagine it’s December 2013.

Imagine your business has just had the most amazing year. Engagement is up. Sales are up. Press coverage is up. Your customers are raving about you. Your competitors are quaking in their boots. You finally have the time and resources to start making your Big Vision a reality.

Life is good.

As you soak in the end-of-year ambiance and reflect on the year gone by, which marketing element do you think will emerge as the secret of your success?

Social media? Content marketing? Branding?

A new medium like podcasting?

A new channel like YouTube?

Your snazzy new website?


None of the above.


Though any one (or all) of those tactics may have contributed to your stellar performance, I can guarantee something else lies at the root of your achievements:



As you head into the New Year, don’t tiptoe.



It’s a busiernoisiermore crowded marketplace out there. Blogging, social, and content marketing are no longer shiny, new baubles. It’s not enough to be playing in those spaces, you have to excel in what you do there.

Mediocre won’t get you the win.

Your customers are waiting for you to deliver and delight. They want to be educated, informed, inspired, and entertained.


How are you going to do that?

Not with the same-old same-old.

Not with some vanilla execution of a tired idea.

Certainly not with bland corporate gobbledy-gook or lukewarm buzzwords.


To stand out you need to be bolder and braver.

You need to try new things and try old things in new ways. You need to put your personal stamp on everything you do, or risk fading into the woodwork. This goes for you, marketing manager at an established B2B company, as much as for my fellow sole proprietor. your playing fields might be different, but the game is essentially the same.


Four words:

  • Clarity
  • Competence
  • Confidence
  • Style

Doing your branding homework will bring you and your clients clarity about who you are, who you serve, what you do, how you do it, and why you do it.

Diligent practice of your service or refinement of your product will prove your competence and give you stories to share in your marketing.

With clarity and competence comes confidence. You know you have a right to be here. You know what you want to say and you can put yourself out there with authority.

With these three supporting elements providing a strong foundation, you have the ability to layer on style – the “something extra” that makes your marketing presentation memorable, thought provoking, and uniquely yours.


All of this adds up to one word: Courage.

When you have clarity, competence, and confidence, you have the courage to step out with your own style. You don’t feel the need to “tone it down,” put on masks, or imitate the “leaders.” You’re ready to BE a leader. Though you will still get butterflies about publishing a particular piece of content, trying a new medium, or getting behind a message that shatters the status quo, you will find the strength to put yourself out there. You will hit the “publish” button, give the speech, launch the ad, and release the ebook. You will step out of the shadows of mediocrity and into your own spotlight.

And it will serve you well.


People don’t like boring. They don’t like “the usual.”

People want excitement. They want to feel something – surprise, pride, belonging, humor.

If you can find the courage to push past your fears and deliver “brave” marketing, you will win not only the minds of your audience, but their hearts, too.


… and that will make all the difference in the world.



You might also like:

Get mad: Marketing from your dark side

Marketing Fear: It’s all been done before. Get over it.



Photo Credit: Arild Storaas (location: Thorvaldsens Museum)

Lies about personal branding

There is a rampant myth about personal branding running unchecked across the Internet. It croons soothingly to the unwary and the uninitiated, assuring them that all a person needs to do to create a powerful personal brand is “be your most authentic self.”



The oft-proffered advice “just be you” is – at best – incomplete and lazy. At worst, when taken at face value, it’s downright dangerous. People who unwittingly take this advice to heart without knowing how to properly apply it, usually wind up with mash-up “brands” that frequently wander off-track, sink into the gooey mire of the ego, and – instead of becoming catalysts to build a business – confuse and alienate potential customers.

Make no mistake. Successful personal brands are no accident. They are carefully crafted works of art that are based in a person’s authentic personality, but designed around a core purpose or mission. Ultimately, that “just be you” personal brand has a much more complex and intentional structure than some would have you think.


Not all about you

It’s not that people don’t like you or appreciate your quirky personality. They do. And the fact that they like and appreciate you personally does have a positive influence on whether or not they will buy from you. However, it’s not the critical factor.

Another frequently heard and wildly misleading phrase is, “People buy from people they like.” This is true enough, but only to a point. Studies have shown that most people make decisions based on emotions rather than logic. That being true, it’s important to establish an emotional connection with customers. However, random emotional connections alone will not move someone to click “buy.” I may like your pins on Pinterest or find your tweets clever and entertaining, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to trust you with the contents of my wallet.

In most cases, being likable is a tiebreaker. It’s what tips the scales in your favor when someone is choosing between two similar options. It’s the icing on the cake that makes your offer that much more attractive. Likeability comes into play only after you’ve done something to attract positive attention. Before you can get people to like you, you have to get them to notice you. The thing that will get you noticed is less about the personal side of your brand and more about the value behind your brand.


Authentically you – but only the best bits

Your personal brand is a work of art, and – like any work of art – you need to be selective about what goes into its making. A photographer frames her pictures carefully, making deliberate choices about what is in the frame and what is outside the frame. A sculptor adds or removes material to his creation with specific purpose, slowly building the image in his mind. A writer crafts a story by linking together only the bits of narrative and dialog that will move the action forward, cutting out anything extraneous or irrelevant.

As these artists create their work, so you should create your brand – deliberately, with purpose, and always focused on the relevant elements that will move your customer to take action.


By all means, be you.

Bring your personality into play. Tell your story. Share your experience. Showcase your style and flair. Reveal the occasional personal detail. But, do so within the context of your brand. The personal aspects of your “personal brand” must fit within and complement the brand value and brand promise. They must make sense within the Big Picture of your purpose. They must help to tell your story and the stories of your customers.

Imagine your personal brand is the hero in a movie and you’re in charge of writing the script. What scenes will you use to define this character? What pieces of the backstory are important to share because they illuminate the character’s passion and motivation? How will you portray interactions with other characters and what will that tell the audience about the character’s personality and philosophy. Will you use inner monologue to let the audience peek inside the hero’s mind? Why? Does each scene build on the others, helping to form a larger story arc?


As with many things, less is often more.

Be authentic, but be selective. Branding – personal or otherwise – is about creating a connection between your audience and your message – their need and your solution. Be you, but concentrate on the pieces of your personality and experience that answer the universal customer question, “What’s in it for me?” Don’t let your personal brand become an ego-driven, runaway locomotive. Stay focused. Build a strong, solid engine that runs smoothly along the tracks, fueled by the purpose and promise that underlies your brand. Be intentional about how you weave personal elements into your brand identity and story.

Be you, but be the most relevant you. Be you in the context of your brand.


Whose personal brands do you admire most? What attracted you to them? What do you find most intimidating about creating a personal brand? What do you find most exciting?


How to create strong branding that kicks your fear to the curb so you can soar

In my last post, I talked about the fears that plague entrepreneurs as they set out to craft and share their Big Idea with the world – the power of the its-all-been-done-before belief to shut us down before we’ve even begun. (If you missed that post, go back and read it now (please). I want you to be in the right frame of mind before you read any further.)

Ok – all set? Ready now? Good.

“Brand experience” sounds suspiciously like some kind of marketing buzz word, but I promise you it really is the key to kicking your fear to the curb so you can get on with gettin’ on and making things happen. First let’s set some ground rules:

Ground Rule #1: Your “brand” is much more than your business name, logo, tagline, and content. It is a “living” asset that evolves or devolves based on the quality of the relationship between you and your customers.

Ground Rule #2: Your brand isn’t defined by what you say, it’s defined by what your customers say. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts. What your customers say is influenced by one thing – their experience with your brand, hence “brand experience.”

Ground Rule #3: The stability and authenticity of your brand is at least as important to you as it is to your customers. A strong brand gives you a firm foundation to stand on. It brings clarity and boosts your confidence so that you can go forth into the world and deliver your Big Idea with persuasive conviction and contagious enthusiasm.


5 Magic Elements for a Kickass Brand Experience:

The traditional brand development process covers things like market analysis, perfect customer personas, value propositions, messaging frameworks, and … are your eyes starting to glaze over yet? There is value in these things, and I work with many of my clients on exactly these types of exercises, but they aren’t the whole story. A delightful brand experience needs something more – a little pixie dust, if you will.



Philosophy is the “why” behind what you do. It reflects how you see the world. It is what ties all your values together. It is your war cry, your soapbox monologue, your manifesto. Philosophy permeates everything you say and do. It’s part of your DNA and should also be part of your business’ DNA. Some people might refer to philosophy as “passion,” but – although I appreciate the fire-in-the-belly nature of passion – I like the way a philosophy conveys a sense of deep thought and conviction.

What’s your philosophy? How does that translate into your business’ philosophy? Could you write it down as a campaign slogan? How about 10 commandments? As a love letter?



Ah, the cult of personality. This is the “who” of your brand. Integrating your personality into your branding helps you stand out, connect more deeply with your audience, make a memorable impression, and feel more “at home” in your marketing. Often, personality is the only thing that differentiates two (or more!) similar businesses. Don’t miss the opportunity to give your brand something extra by bringing your unique and genuine personality to the party. People buy from people – not brands. More importantly, they buy from people they like. Don’t be afraid to be your best self – fully and honestly.

What are you sharing through your branding that expresses your one-of-a-kind personality?  How do the people you admire bring their personality to their brands? Can you apply what they do to your own branding?



Your approach is your “how.” What’s your roadmap, your plan of attack, your process? How do you get people from A to B? How do you break things down and put them back together again? Your approach stands firmly on your philosophy and includes a healthy dash of your personality. It’s a reflection of how your mind works – how you solve problems. Your approach might be very methodical or more freeform. You might come at things in a very direct way, or meander towards a solution by way of lengthy conversations. Your approach could involve a lot of formal documentation, or none at all. You might solve problems in a single session, or over the course of a longer engagement. Your approach could include research, role play, mind mapping, list making, hypnosis, tarot cards, or neuroscience. How you get things done is a big (and often overlooked) part of your brand.

Do you have a typical process? Have you mapped it out? How can you pull the concepts, benefits, and individuality of your approach into your branding?



Humans are built for story. We live in stories. We view the world in stories. We express ourselves in stories. How you use story and metaphor to shape your message also helps to shape your brand. I tend to use a lot of nature metaphors, for instance. Being out in the natural world is a big part of my life (personality) and I believe it has huge benefits (philosophy). It helps me see things more clearly so that I can solve complex problems (approach). (See how all these elements work together!) Stories bring context and texture to your brand. They give people an easy way to identify with you and your ideas. They are more memorable than lectures. Stories help you draw people into a circle around the campfire of your brand.

How do you use stories and metaphors in your branding? What stories can you tell that will help convey your philosophy, personality, and approach? What types of metaphors do you use to explain complex ideas? What do those metaphors say about you and your brand?



Finally – experience. This is what it all boils down to. You put philosophy, personality, approach, story, and metaphor into a big pot and stir. Your customer spoons a mouthful of the savory brew into her mouth. What does it taste like? Does it nourish her? Does it fill her up? How does it make her feel satisfied, tantalized, energized, relaxed, reassured, excited? Everything up to this point you can (but shouldn’t) fake. But, when it comes to experience, we’ve reached the point where you’re either walking the walk, or you’re not. People will know the difference. Crafting an “authentic” (to your philosophy, personality, and the rest of it) brand experience is about integrity – being who you say you are, doing what you said you’d do, delivering the goods and then some.

How does your brand experience stack up against your brand-on-paper? Are they aligned? What do your happiest customer say about working with you? What stories are they sharing about the experience of working with you? Are you making sure you’re recycling those glowing accolades back into your front-facing branding?



These are the elements that make up a deep, strong brand. If you build your brand with these pieces and questions in mind, you will give yourself a rock solid foundation from which to launch your ideas and your business. You will know who you are, why you do what you do, and how you do it. You will start to see stories and metaphors everywhere you look and you will learn to use these to tell your story and explain your ideas. You will understand exactly what you need to do to give your customers an amazing brand experience that will keep them coming back for more and telling their friends and colleagues about you.

Doesn’t that sound nice?


What do you think? Does your brand already include these elements? Do you think one is more important than the others? Have you seen any amazing examples of other people or businesses using these elements in their branding? 


Amazing and gorgeous photo by fiddle oak

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