Why Standing Out is More Important than Ever

 

Your Personal Buzz

Recently, I shared my observations about all things honey.  A honey festival demonstrated that it’s possible to differentiate almost anything—at least from my uninitiated view of the product.

 

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” –Dr. Seuss

 

Differentiate YOU

That amazing array of honey products got me thinking about personal brand.  We are all at a fair of sorts.  Whether the marketplace or in your social circles, there are many others competing for time, for opportunity.  How do YOU differentiate YOU?

Most of us don’t think about a conscious plan for standing out.  We have learned to blend in.  But great leaders stand out.  Work that is extraordinary captures our attention.  If you fail to stand out, you will be passed over at promotion time.  Overlooked in the marketplace.  Ignored for the most important opportunities.

 

“Great leaders stand out.” –Skip Prichard

 

Some work stands out so much that it generates that viral buzz that the media savors.  If it makes you uncomfortable just thinking about that type of attention, I have good news.  It often is tiny differences that make the big difference.  Success often happens at the margin.  If your work is only slightly better, you have an enormous advantage.  Often we look with interest at the shocking or spectacular, but settle for purchasing or consuming something closer to our version of normal.  The choice we make, however, is usually one that is just ahead of the competition.

Are you a leader?  Leaders do not blend in.  They don’t hide their unique qualities.

 

“Be the one to stand out in the crowd.” –Joel Osteen

 

Are you a blogger? More than the look and feel of your blog is the personal touch, the sharing, the authentic voice.

Do you have an upcoming speech?  Share a personal story or do something that no one else would do.

5 Tips to Avoid a Branding Collision

 

A few weeks ago, I was in the middle of a traffic jam.  Not the slow moving type, but the “get comfortable you’re going nowhere type” that shouts, “You missed your morning meeting!”  Realizing that a traffic accident could be to blame, I decided to practice gratitude.

“I am thankful that I am in a comfortable car, safe and sound.  God, if someone is in an accident up ahead, please be with them and provide comfort.”

A short time later, the traffic began to move.  It’s a good thing because I can only meditate for so long before I feel trapped.  I’m sure I was there for at least an hour practicing mindfulness and gratitude, which means I was stopped for about 27 seconds.

 

Accident Ahead

As we moved up, sure enough, I could see what was causing the delay:  an accident.  I did what you would do.  I steeled my eyes on the road ahead and drove without so much as glancing.  Yeah, sure you do.  Trying to keep moving, I glanced ever so quickly to note the vehicles, the emergency responders, and a fleeting view of the injured.  I try not to look—I’ve read that rubberneckers cause numerous secondary accidents—but I’ve also read that looking may be good for you.  Eric G. Wilson, the author of Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck: Why We Can’t Look Away, argues that it helps us understand life’s deeper meaning.

At the very least, we can tell ourselves that studying wrecks helps us learn from others’ mistakes.

As with accidents, I watch corporate disasters the same way.  Several memorable disasters including Bridgestone’s tire recall, JetBlue’s trapping passengers onboard as categorized by Business Insider.  Anything from the Paula Deen meltdown to Target’s PR nightmare qualifies.

This past week, I witnessed a different type of branding wreckage.  Sure, it may not be as noteworthy as the mistakes above.  It doesn’t involve a consumer brand name, and it doesn’t endanger anyone’s health nor involve racist or offensive remarks.

Still, it provides lessons that are worth exploring.

 

“If you are not a brand, you are a commodity.” –Philip Kotler

 

Platform Confusion

Last week, the National Speakers Association (NSA) announced it was jettisoning its venerable brand in favor of a new name.  That name is Platform.  Though I was not in attendance, I almost immediately was made aware of the announcement via emails, texts and tweets. (See also Rory Vaden‘s excellent post on this subject).

Platform?

It was almost as if I could hear the tires screeching, the glass shattering, the metal twisting.  This was a branding collision, and the onlookers would be gathering to watch.  Why?

First two disclosures:

 

DISCLOSURE #1

One of my close friends is Michael Hyatt.  He is the NYT Bestselling author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.  He runs a conference called the Platform Conference and has an online community that will make your head spin at Platform University.  He was the driving force encouraging me to blog.  On the book jacket, you will see my endorsement:

“Michael Hyatt, one of the pioneers of social networking and blogging, shares his successful blueprint for raising your visibility. Learn from his experience and save yourself time, money and frustration by following his step-by-step advice.”

7 Brand Building Principles of the Best Brands

What Makes a Brand Great

Denise Lee Yohn knows what makes a brand great.  With twenty-five years of experience building some of the world’s greatest brands, she knows the strategies that work.  Whether Burger King, Land Rover, Jack-In-the-Box, Spiegel, or Sony Electronics, Denise has knows the principles that make a great brand. Her book on branding is a must read: What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest.

“Make the small stuff your business.” -Denise Lee Yohn

 

If you think branding is a logo or an advertising campaign, think again.  You may think you don’t “do” branding, but then you will miss learning some incredibly important business ideas—because corporate branding means more, and all of us have a personal brand.

start inside

Denise, when most people think of branding, they think of a television commercial, an internet ad or a new logo.  It’s ironic to me that branding itself is not branded properly.  Your book completely redefines what great branding is.  Why do most people have the wrong impression about branding?

 

“Great brands ignore trends.” -Denise Lee Yohn

 

Branding actually refers to the practice of putting a symbol on a thing – ranchers used to brand their cattle with a unique mark to indicate their ownership.  The practice was then adopted by companies selling products.  They developed logos to put on their products to distinguish them and to signal which companies made them.  Over time these symbols became cues of product quality and meaning – people would assume a product from a particular company had a level of quality consistent with the company’s past or other products, and they would attribute some meaning to it when they associated the logo with it.   Marketers worked hard to develop compelling logos and strong positive associations with them. DLYohn Headshot Portrait 2013

So technically the understanding of branding as a business practice is still correct, but it’s clear that the value of branding has diminished.  It’s no longer enough to develop a creative logo or to launch clever marketing campaigns to express what your brand stands for.  Companies must execute on their brand identities too.  Today’s savvy customers can see through a branding veneer, so a company must translate its brand vision into customer reality.

Let’s touch on a few of your branding principles to give a flavor for your unique approach to brand-building.  The first is great brands start inside—with culture.  Why is organizational culture the starting point?

Culture is the necessary first step when you want to define or re-define your brand because culture is what ensures your employees understand and embrace what your brand stands for and understand their roles in interpreting and reinforcing your brand.  So great brands rally their people around common cultural values and use their brands to focus, align, and optimize the inner workings of their organizations.

3 Tools to Break Through the Noise

Rise Above It All

We’ve all heard that your brand and your platform are important to your success.  But what if, after all of your platform and branding work, you are lost in a sea of competing messages?

That’s where Jonah Sachs enters, arguing that we are in the midst of the Story Wars.  The Story Wars are raging around us.  With so many messages bombarding us daily, fewer resonate and make it through the cacophony.  What cuts through the noise?  Stories.  And the subtitle of his new book signals the importance of the story teller:  Why those who tell—and live—the best stories will rule the future.

Jonah Sachs is the co-founder and CEO of Free Range Studios, helping major brands create unforgettable marketing campaigns.  He has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fast Company Magazine, CNN, and FOX News. He has created numerous viral marketing campaigns.

 

Stories that empower are better performers. –Jonah Sachs

 

What Goes Viral

Jonah, let’s start there.  You’ve created viral campaigns.  Why is it that some campaigns take off and go viral and others fail to break through?

I’ve been exploring that exact question for 14 years. I couldn’t figure out the pattern at first. No rules seemejonah-sachsd to universally apply. At times I thought it had to do with humor, shock value, beauty, good taglines. And then I discovered that one thing viral successes seem to share: They tell compelling stories that appear to give audiences the chance to see themselves as heroes in it. Instead of just talking about how great they are, brand campaigns that break through tend to talk about how great their audiences can be.

Is this where you developed the idea for Winning the Story Wars?

Yes. It was this search to understand what works in viral campaigning that led me to study mythology, neuroscience and psychology in the hopes of understanding what makes stories work. All that thinking eventually became my book.

 

5 Sins of Marketing

You talk about the five sins of marketing:  vanity, authority, insincerity, puffery and gimmickry.  Would you touch on just one of them and give an example of how the sin destroys?