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Do you know why you do what you do?

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Listen to this post:

 

Do you ever stop and wonder what the hell you’re doing, or – more importantly – why you’re doing it?

Do you ever find yourself suddenly struck dumb by the depth of the disconnect between the thing that consumes most of your waking hours (for most of us, our work) and the thing that is truly “you?”

I do.

 

I lie awake in bed and my brain does somersaults in the dark – flip, turn, roll, flip, turn, roll.  I go over the day’s events and tomorrow’s plans. I think back to when I was a kid and I wonder what it will be like when I’m old and near the end of my days. My mind flies back and forth along the continuum that is my life, weaving random thoughts together like the shuttle on a loom.

I try to connect the dots. I look for patterns and meaning. I wonder what kind of hole I will leave in the world.

 

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When I drove my daughter home from school yesterday, it was an exceptionally beautiful day. I was high on sunshine and the frisky wind that cavorted through bright, new foliage. I was singing along to track 10 on KT Tunstall’s Eye to the Telescope album – Stoppin’ the Love.

“Mom, stop it.”

“Why?”

“I don’t want to be one of those people other people can hear outside the car!”

 

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Kaarina Dillabough wrote a post called Why Are You Doing It? She encouraged readers to ask themselves, “Is what I’m doing resulting in results? Is it productive? Does it create something meaningful, beneficial, profitable, or necessary?” She then asked, “If not…why are you doing it?”

Good question, Kaarina. Good question.

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Craig McBreen wrote a post called  Do you want to be remembered? Do this. He wrote about being the spark, making a difference, and realizing your full capabilities. He asked, “So, why not wear a little chunk of your heart on your sleeve?”

When I originally read the post, I had been moved to comment. This is part of what I wrote:

People talk about “voice” and “authenticity” all the time, but I think what truly magnetizes a brand is more about enthusiasm – about being SO excited that you can’t contain yourself, about letting your love or passion for something spill over and out and into the world, about being SO zealous that you don’t care if you look like a fool. You will dance in the streets, scream from the rooftops, say the thing no one else will say, admit you’re wrong, sing, write poetry, stand up in the boardroom and tell it like it is … because you believe with all your heart, because your excitement compels you to take action, to speak out loud.

 

People who can capture and share this kind of unbridled enthusiasm will be remembered. They will be remembered because, in the words of Maya Angelou, “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

 

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Connecting the dots. Click. Click. Click.

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Do you know what makes your heart sing? What inspires you to surrender, to drop your guard, to let your unbridled joy shine out? What is it that unleashes your inner geek? For what cause, belief, or love will you willingly be a fool?

Have you forgotten? Have you lost your way? Are you afraid or ashamed to admit the source of your passion?

Why?

Why have you forgotten why you do what you do, why you’re here?

This thing – whatever it is – this thing that brings you such joy and strips away all the extraneous layers, this is your purpose. It’s what gives your work meaning. It’s what gives your work value.

Don’t just sing in the shower. Don’t just sing in the car with the windows rolled up and the world whipping anonymously past the windows. Sing out loud. In the world. For other people.

Whatever your passion is, if you let it out it will infect others. Your enthusiasm and excitement will spread like a beautiful virus. It will attract attention, draw people in, and fascinate them.

And the best part? Your willingness to proclaim your love will give others permission to proclaim theirs.

 

 

Image Credit: Pinot W. Ichwandardi (freeze frame from one of his awesome Vine videos)

Branding is NOT optional – Part 2: Let them eat your dust

Some marketing lacks logic.

I’m being kind, here.

 

You know that saying about putting the cart before the horse? When you see it illustrated, it’s pretty clear that it’s a Bad Idea. That cart isn’t going to pull that horse anywhere and you will go nowhere fast. Even the horse can tell that something is wrong with this picture. “Cart before horse” is a sure recipe for a total lack of locomotion, if you know what I mean.

But, people do this in their marketing.

All. The. Time.

 

They get that cart all loaded up and climb on board. They look earnestly in the direction they are trying to go, whip in hand, and wait expectantly for the wheels to start turning. After a while, they wonder why they aren’t getting any closer to their destination. They may move things around in the cargo area to try and jumpstart their journey. When that doesn’t work, they might try a new coat of paint on the cart. They never even look at that poor horse, standing there, patiently waiting to do his thing.

 

Wake up! Branding is the horse that’ll get you (and your cart) to the finish line.

I recently read an article that made my head spin. Brand specialist and brand identity expert David Brier (@davidbrier – follow him) got tired of listening to the debate about social media vs. branding. To settle the smackdown, he compared the Google search frequency of three terms: “brand strategy,” “social media,” and “branding.”

Do you want to take a guess at the results?

“Social Media averaged around 80 on Google’s chart whereas branding came in around 20 and brand strategy was near 0 (zero) by comparison.”

Ouch.

 

A cart is just a vehicle. Social media is just a channel.

  • A cart (or any other vehicle) without an engine is nothing but a big (expensive) paperweight.
  • A marketing channel without a strategic branding message is nothing but a big (expensive) budgetary black hole.

Putting your marketing cart before your branding horse means you’re opening your mouth before you know what you want to say.

The correct order of things is horse and then cart: brand message and then marketing.

Branding is how you discover and define the unique and differentiated essence of who you are, what you stand for, and the visual and written elements that help you convey that message.

Marketing is how you get your message in front of people.

Know what to say, then say it.

 

Put things in the right order and you’ll put yourself miles ahead of the competition.

Time and time again companies skip over brand development (or give it a very superficial treatment) and dive straight into marketing. They start talking without thinking through what they want to say. They pile up all kinds of content in their cart, but they have no way to drive it home in the minds of their audience.

If you are willing to invest in brand development and brand strategy, you will immediately leave half your competition in the dust.

 

Doesn’t that sound like a good place to be?

 

And just because it’s loads of fun (and makes its point with clarity and hilarity), here’s the video David did for Fast Company around the importance of branding and the fact that social media is just a channel. You’re welcome.

 

You might also be interested in:

Get mad: marketing from your dark side

Do what you love.

Follow your passion.

Lead with your heart.

I have more Pollyanna DNA than most, but this tired advice has always felt a little empty to me, a little one-dimensional. After all, life isn’t just rainbows and unicorns. Life has a dark side. The trick is learning to access that dark side for good instead of evil.

 

No one is a hero without a villain.  Click to tweet. 

Your brand is what you stand for. It embodies the things you want to be known for – speed, agility, creativity, beauty, progress, simplicity, the lowest price in town, etc. What so many people forget, however, is that the best brands also stand against something.

What is the opposing force that your brand is poised to fight? What war cry would your brand scream charging into battle? What sends you into apoplectic fits of rage and indignation? What injustice are you determined to undo? What piece of insanity do you want to wipe from the face of this Earth?

Everyone – even the sweetest, most mild-mannered of us – fights an enemy. What enemy are you fighting?

 

The villain isn’t a “who,” it’s a “what.”

Be careful not to confuse your enemy with the competition. They are not the same.

Your competitors are actually your allies, battling beside you against a common enemy. You compete against each other for the loyalty of your shared audience, but at the end of the day you’re fighting the same fight.

Your enemy is much bigger than your competitors. Your enemy isn’t a “who,” it’s an idea or a situation or a philosophy. It’s a way of life, the status quo, a lack of something, or too much of something else. It’s the thing that makes you want to write a proverbial letter to the editor each time you encounter it. It inspires you to get up on your soapbox and preach your personal gospel to the world.

 

The villain helps define the hero.

Without an opposing force, a hero is just a person who is going through the motions.

Without an opposing force, there is no fire in the hero’s soul. There is no sense of greater purpose, no fierce commitment, no do-or-die mission.

Without an opposing force, we never get to see what the hero can really do.

Like it or not, your enemy is a big part of who you are and why you are.

  • Who is Luke without Darth Vader?
  • Who is Frodo without the Dark Lord?
  • Who is Buffy without vampires?
  • Who is Erin Brokovitch without corporate corruption?
  • Who is Katniss Everdeen without the Captial?
  • Who is Liz Lemon without Jack Donaghy?

You get the idea.

What idea or status quo is your brand pitted against?

 

The battle brings critical conflict to your story.

You know that marketing with story is a powerful technique, but do you know what makes a story a story?

Conflict.

No conflict, no story.

If you haven’t identified and called out your enemy, your story lacks conflict. It will fall flat, failing to pique the interest of your audience, never mind inspire them to loyalty or incite them to action.

When you get clear about the nature of your enemy, you get clear about the war you’re fighting. You know what your battle cry should be. You can make a strong stand not only for something, but against something else.

This is important.

 

Do what you love, but know why you love it.  Click to tweet. 

Love does not exist in a vacuum.

  • I love being out in the quiet of the woods because it provides me with an enlightening escape from the overwhelming, multi-tasking world of my computer.
  • I love beautiful art because it strikes a blow against the boring and overly utilitarian.
  • I love simple, well-designed apps because they help me wrangle and manage the chaos of my life.
  • I love second-hand clothes because they help me express my individuality amidst the sea of mass-manufactured clone-clothes that hit the chain stores each season.

 

  • Quiet vs. Noise
  • Beauty vs. Blah
  • Simplicity vs. Complexity
  • Individuality vs. Mass Market

Like love, your brand exists in the context of what you’re passionate about and what makes you passionately crazy. They say necessity is the mother of invention, but being ticked off about something is often what drives someone to build a better mousetrap.

 

When you are working on your branding, don’t forget to look the dark side in the eye. Know your enemy. Name it. Call it out. Rally your troops and wage your battle. Get mad and then get even. Accept both the loving and angry sides of your passion – when you have both working for you, you will be unstoppable.

 

Can you name your enemy? What is your battle cry? How does the dark side of your passion – your anger – help define your brand in a positive way?

Image Credit: matthijs

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