As a marketing professional, one of the things I was hired to do was go into a company or organization and help define its brand. Define its “deliverable claim of distinction”. My agency was hired to find that special something they do better than anyone else in the marketplace. Find the service or product that set them apart from their competitors. Once uncovered, we would make sure no other competitor was claiming the same or similar message.
We would typically spend 4-6 hours with the client going through a branding process that we developed over the years. It was a deep dive into the heart of the company. Usually with the CEO or President and 6-8 key employees of the company. Aside from the senior marketing person and the CEO whose attendance was mandatory, we let them decide the rest of the participants. The one rule was to make sure that we had employees who had been with the company for a long time and one or two who were new to the company. Title didn’t necessarily matter. We wanted people in the trenches getting their hands dirty.
Usually, during the meet and greet one of the employees invited to participate would comment that they knew nothing about branding. Often someone in a computer programming position. Or a loading dock worker. Then at some point during the meeting, without fail, that person would make a comment that was so insightful it would be considered part of what would become the brand message.
I’m not sure why this was the case. Maybe it’s a product of our educational conditioning. We are told time and time again where we excel. The tests we take reflect this belief. So we go through life unquestioning this conditioned truth. My experience shows me that those who often think they know the least can offer more insights than they imagined.
There was always something new to discover at these sessions. It was also a great way to get everyone on the same page moving forward. By the end of the meeting we would have enough information to go back to the agency and develop the beginning of a brand message.
With all this branding experience you would think it would be easy for me to define my own brand. Or rebrand.
Well, not exactly. It’s proven to be a bitch of an exercise. Taking not 4-6 hours to get started but 5 years.
The challenge of branding, especially for professional service firms and B2B companies, is that when you have a strong brand you have to stake a claim. Many business owners and presidents of companies don’t want to stake a claim. They don’t want to lay claim to one particular service because they fear losing potential business in other services they provide. The key word is fear.
The best brands know who they are. They have no fear. They are relentless in their messaging and self-awareness. Think Red Bull. If you want a B2B example think IBM. They have done a great job using Watson as a spokesman for their brand. I would almost say they have become cool. Almost.
So what’s taken me so long to define my personal brand? You already know the answer.
Fear. And the conditioned belief that things had to be done a certain way.
I started a branding consultancy 3 years ago. But I didn’t have a brand. Not really. My website read like a thousand other marketing consultants. You could replace me with any number of talented marketing professionals across the country. I wasn’t unique. Am I capable and experienced? Absolutely. Am I different? Not even a little bit. I don’t bring anything to the table that a thousand other marketers don’t also bring.
The thing is. I do bring something to the table that no one else can bring. No one.
I bring Upsight. My brains new operating system.
I just need to claim it. To own the position. With the realization that it will narrow down my potential list of clients to innovators and early adopters.
I was afraid to be different. I was afraid to sell myself using the most unique thing about myself. Upsight. Why? Because Upsight is different. Because Upsight makes me different. Like really, really different. Like Elephant Man different.
And when corporate America says they want something different and creative they usually mean pretty much the same as everyone else but in another color. Or font.
That’s not me. Not anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I can still tweak a brand message. Help create a new logo. If a change in color is all you want I can deliver on that too.
But Upsight has other things in store for me. And for the businesses I work with.
I am in the enviable position of having lost my mind and then finding it again. Most people who have lost their minds don’t find their way back. I was lucky. I’ve been blessed. Not only did I find it, I found something more. More “mind” than I know what to do with.
Are you an innovator? Do you work for an innovative technology company? Are you an early adopter? Do you know someone who is? Tell them about Upsight. Contact me for more information.