A new year has begun filled with all of the promise and hope and plans of new beginnings each January 1st creates. In just two short days the new year has brought us any number of significant happenings. Storms are wreaking havoc on much of the country. New – and arguably controversial – statutes have become law. Countless babies have been born bringing with them joy and happiness. The LSU Tigers won the Outback Bowl. Thousands of New Year’s resolutions have been made – hundreds of which have already been broken.
Yes, the year 2014 has begun and it’s been described in many ways – a blank canvas, the clean pages of a new journal, an unwritten book (or chapter). But is 2014 a fearless brand? Or even a brand at all? I would say no (but I am always open to other opinions! :))
Fearless brands are created by seizing opportunities to add to their value.
And that is why 2014 is being featured in this Friday’s Fearless Brand – because of the opportunity it presents. The new year presents a time to review and assess, to rethink and adjust, to renew and start anew. The new year is a perfect time to focus on your brand and its messaging. 2014 can be the year that you build – or strengthen – your fearless brand.
Here are my suggestions for you to do just that…and as you do – Be open. Be thorough. Be fearless.Note: It’s important to bear in mind that while I typically write in reference to personal brands, these principles apply equally to your product(s), service(s) and/or company(s).
Understand the difference between your brand and branding
Your brand is your value proposition – your promise to the public. It is the sum total of all intangibles that make you distinctly unique. Branding is converting those intangibles into tangibles – then effectively and accurately messaging your value to those you would serve. A logo or a website or a specific look is not your brand – they are elements of your branding. Focus on your brand first and then develop the best messaging plan.
Follow a process
There are key elements which comprise a brand – especially a fearless brand – which go much deeper than ‘I am an attorney’ or ‘This is the best shaver’. It is essential to determine competency, passion and relevance for a brand. Effectively developing and messaging a brand can be quite complex. I highly recommend having a process to guide you through these various elements. To explore one such process, take a look at my Seven C’s of Branding.
Plan on writing
Regardless of how you approach your brand assessment commit it to writing. There are great benefits to writing including clarity and accountability. Importantly, writing makes everything real and actionable. Last year I wrote a blog post on the power of writing resolutions which you can read here.
Look long-term … and short-term
Your core brand will essentially remain the same, however it can be modified and molded by changes in competencies and/or passions. In particular your objectives and goals can change over time so your messaging needs to be fluid. Knowing both your long term vision as well as your near term objectives is critical to remain authentic and on your success path.
Move the Flashlight
Remember how different we could make ourselves look by shining a flashlight in our face and then holding it under our chin? That’s what I mean when I say ‘move the flashlight’ – looking at the same thing from a different perspective. It is so important to seek an independent viewpoint from a trusted adviser(s). It won’t come as a surprise that my recommendation is to enlist the services of a professional. Your brand is your most important asset and should be treated with the same consideration as any of your key assets.
Make this the year of YOUR fearless brand. Make the effort early in 2014 to ensure that you realize and deliver your greatest value. In doing so you put yourself in position to drive profit, reach your goals and make your vision a reality.
Be open, be thorough and be fearless. Bill, that is probably the most simplest yet comprehensive statement I have ever heard to drive home a motivated kick-off to a new year. Way to go!
Thank you so much Gary. I’ve found that statement to be very simple to state and somewhat harder to do. I’ve also found that when I am able to do so the resulting benefits and value are immeasurable. Wishing you all the best in the year ahead!