by Bryan Heathman
“What we learn only through the ears makes less impression upon our minds than what is presented to the trustworthy eye.”
Wherever you are, whatever professional path you’re pursuing, you’ve got to come across to the people you want most to reach. If you want to have any influence at all, you’ve got to grab their attention right up front, let them know what you’re about, and make yourself memorable.
Whether you’re an author, a corporate executive or a business owner, there are four must-have elements that need to go into your public image – your brand. Nothing else matters more in those crucial first three seconds of exposure when a person decides whether or not to like you.
I don’t say this lightly. I learned these four essentials early in my career, seated at a mahogany boardroom table on New York City’s Madison Avenue. It doesn’t get much edgier than that in the world of corporate marketing, and I must admit to being a little daunted myself at the time. The players in the room included an all-star team of international marketers, design engineers, product managers, a couple of top executives, and a heavy hitting team from a New York ad agency (the ad people were the ones who owned the mahogany table).
And then there was me, a Sales executive fresh off the turf, cheeks still ruddy from hoofing my territory in California. It seemed like it took only a few years to get to this meeting, putting one shiny shoe in front of the other. They called me a rising star, but sitting in that boardroom I felt like a Fourth of July sparkler.
Our task at the time was developing a new sub-brand for a corporation with a multi-billion dollar valuation, my employer. The project was inherently fraught with challenges, and at that level, there was no small element of posturing, political maneuvering and chest thumping. We had to incorporate the company’s branding heritage while developing a fresh contemporary feel for the new product line. All of this was balanced ticklishly with some major ego fluffing, highlighted with an occasional gentle clink of platinum cufflinks on the boardroom table.
No one was sweating – at least not outwardly. The atmosphere was briskly sober and seemingly friendly. “Say, when do the martinis come out around here?” someone joked. It was only 10:00 a.m. The reality was that if we missed the mark, we were all fired.
We simply had to get it right. We were playing a high-stakes game, and the prize was winning customers – the chance to stay in business one more day. No matter the size, every company faces this same daunting task, the chance to stay in the game.
Anatomy of An Epic Brand
What got me to this table in the first place was my understanding of the basics, the dynamics of creating a compelling brand. That knowledge was tested and cemented there in that room with some of the keenest minds in the business. And yes, I got to keep my job.
Here are the basics – the 4 elements of an epic brand.
1. Be Unique
You need to be able to communicate the value proposition of your brand in mere seconds. Stand out. Be unique.
In a job interview for a management position at a fire station, a young fire-fighter tied in his leadership traits with stories about his upbringing on a goat farm. He left a unique impression on his interviewers, who all agreed that the “goat guy” would get the job. He stood out from the sea of equally qualified applicants with his unique approach.
2. Be an Authority
Know your topic. Read trade journals relevant to your industry, and keep up with the latest trends. Share the insights you learn with your customers, co-workers and managers. Use social media to your best advantage, and post your findings liberally. Also, don’t underestimate the power of blogging. Spreading your insights in writing has a powerful influence on the impression you make.
3. Be Memorable
It takes seven brand repetitions to make an idea stick in the mind of a consumer. By delivering repetitive messages, your name or brand will be easily recalled when the time is right.
4. Create Desire
People make buying decisions based on WANTS versus NEEDS. They decide with their hearts and justify those decisions with their heads. That is why advertisers play up the WANTS in their advertising messages. Ads that make you laugh or cry are the messages you remember.
In conclusion you may never find yourself re-branding a billion-dollar corporation, but the numbers matter very little. It’s the message you convey that counts.
As you advance through your career and home life, your own personal brand is showing up on you. You can influence people more effectively and communicate what you’re about more clearly by implementing these four principles of branding. When you do, you’ll be well on your way to creating a lasting impression.
Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success. Bryan works with authors as a publisher, rainmaker and marketer including Zig Ziglar, Donald Trump and John Maxwell. Bryan is author of the book Conversion Marketing, on creating marketing campaigns to convert website visitors into paying customers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes executive positions with Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.