Brands, Art, and Fear

I had the chance to meet Seth Godin about 8 years ago. His perspective of marketing and branding is so unique and spot on. I always say, branding is who you are and where you are going.

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It’s about the humans behind the name, product, or company. It’s about making things. It’s about the creation of ideas and the risk of crushing the status quo. We have to care. We have to love what we create. People don’t want to be fooled by flashy logos and bright colors, only to find out, the soul of the individual, product, or company doesn’t give a sh*t. As the old saying goes, “give a damn, many damns.”

Continue reading “Brands, Art, and Fear”

Engagement

It’s easy to get mesmerized by the Follower and Like numbers on your Instagram account, but learning how well you’re engaging is key.

I always remind my clients that while Social Media is in fact media (algorithms, numbers, ratios), it is very much a social platform. In the real world, social success in not rated by how many people said they were interested in a party, but how many actually showed up and actively engaged. Not how many people you know, but how many friends you feel you can actually call.

Most people are surprised to find that many 500K-2M follower Instagram accounts are averaging any where between 3%-9% engagement. It becomes a numbers game. You spend a lot of money on advertising hoping some will actually engage, increasing your ROI.

For years, Social Media “gurus” have preached that content is king. Well, it’s true, but people want a king that feels accessible. Delivering content that has both value and access is imperative on these platforms. Keep the narrative clear, offer valuable content, keep it as authentic as possible, and make sure it’s something your audience would want to share.

Of course, coupling this with effective boosts and promotions via Instagram and Facebook definitely helps. But that’s for a different day…

Morning Rant

Thoughts on Branding & Marketing. What makes you unique? What sets you a part? How are you telling that story to create a positive emotional response?

 

The Crazy Ones

firstmachello“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ― Rob Siltanen

Steve Jobs didn’t just create a computer. He created a form of technology that was a direct extension of human imagination. Human imagination is limitless, thus Apple was not limited by technology, but only limited by human creativity.

We must understand that our brand, our product, our non-profit, our corporation, our identity, if set up properly, can only be limited by your ability to create…to imagine. That’s how you change the world. That’s how you make a plastic box with wires, chips, and tubes, revolutionize culture.

Gary Vaynerchuk: Stop Storytelling Like it’s 2007

Please note: This talk contains adult language.

In a world with Vine, Snapchat, and Twitter, how can creatives capture attention to make their voices heard?

In this 99U talk, best-selling author and founder of VaynerMedia, Gary Vaynerchuk breaks down how our work can cut through our current “A.D.D. Culture” — one where we binge-watch entire television seasons in one sitting and prefer texting to phone calls.

“We’ve gotten to a point where everything is on our time,” says Vaynerchuk, “So why is everyone storytelling like it’s 2007 in a 2014 world?” The best digital storytellers, he says, use the social media to “hook” audiences in for the deeper stuff. We should give, give again, and give some more before ever asking for anything from our community. “We have to start respecting the nuances of every platform.”

0:39 no matter what you do, our job us to tell our story
1:44 storytelling in micro moments
4:05 storytelling on social
8:14 quality storytelling always wins
8:34 social networks = distribution
10:30 biggest asset: time
11:56 eyes and ears “attention is the only commodity”
12:58 “give, give, give, ask”
13:30 give people happy stories, make them laugh
14:51 we have to act human.

The Magic of Branding

With over 6,400 books written on branding, the subject has gotten complex. Yet simplicity is where the power exists. This video was conceived, written and narrated by award-winning designer, branding specialist and Fast Company blogger David Brier to distill branding down to its basics answering that basic question “What is branding?” Written simply with equally minimalistic motion graphics, this video unveils the magic, the spark and the simplicity that is branding in its most fundamental form.

Be Irreplaceable

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.20.53 AMAs a branding/marketing specialist, I’m regularly asked to find creative ways to annihilate the competition, or least give them a run for their money. The easiest way to do this is to highlight what is uniquely yours, what makes you irreplaceable. Once you show up as a unique option in the sea of mundane mediocrity, you will be noticed. Not everyone will love that unique part of you, but the goal is not to get everyone to like you and follow you. The goal is the hunt down the consumers, the followers, the fans who will fall in love with your uniqueness and follow you to the ends of the earth. The ones who have been secretly wanting what you have to offer.

What is Value?

I often point out to clients that value is not just about money. It’s about necessity. It’s about urgency. It’s about happiness. We all value different things.

Cadillac-CalaisI remember when I was a child, growing up in a lower-income neighborhood of Miami, learning this lesson. Many of my friends, whose family were on government assistance and struggling to make ends meet, had many of the so called “luxuries” my family could never imagine providing. New Jordans, gold chains, Cadillacs, big TVs, and more. The issue for many of these families was not whether or not they could afford it, but rather what they valued. Some lived in a run down house, but the feeling of driving down the block in a great big Cadillac (Diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin’ the scene with a gangsta lean, gangsta whitewalls, TV antennas in the back) seemed to make them feel better. Some bought their groceries via food stamps, but doing so, wearing fresh Jordans, seemed to bring a sense of confidence they desired to “make it through” the situations they found themselves in. Keeping up with their impression of Mr. Jones was what was most important to them at that place in life.

Now, I’m not condoning this sort of behavior, however the lesson learned was, people will find a way to make things happen if it is important to them. In a down economy, it’s not necessarily money that changes what we buy, but value. Consumers may not buy what you’re selling simply because they don’t value it. Maybe they value family, rest, their home. Maybe they value luxuries that make them forget, even just a little, during hard times.

Here’s a little of what Seth Godin had to say about value: Continue reading “What is Value?”

Advice to My 18 Year Old Self

Asymmetrical Press released a book called “Advice to My 18 Year Old Self.” Branding is not a logo. Branding is who you are and where you’re going. Who I am has not changed significantly over the years as much as my comfort with who I am has. At 40, I give myself significantly more permission to be myself than I did 22 years ago. I have become more confident in the brand that is me. This same concept applies to artists, businesses and products.

Here’s my letter to me, at 18.


Dear Joshua:

ME at 18You are smart and see things differently. Stop worrying that people don’t think you’re smart. Your confidence will be far more useful than trying to prove how smart you are. Don’t try to suppress your imagination and A.D.D., use it like the FORCE to envision millions of ideas, all while everyone else in the room is still listening to the question.

Embrace mistakes. Make a ton of them, as quick as possible. Try new ideas. Experiment with the old. Question everything; this will get you in trouble, but just smile and take it as a compliment. Read Socrates and Aristotle.

Be kind. Not everyone sees things the way you do. Warning, the way you see things can create a very real threat to other’s status quo. Don’t feel so bad about the relationships that didn’t work outyou’ll soon meet a girl, marry her and have a super amazing kid.

Who you say you are isn’t interesting, people don’t care. What you do is everything. Just do things. Create. Make the world better. Do, and then you’ll never have to tell people who you are. They’ll know.

Serving your community will be your everything and that look will way different than you think it should look at 18. The more you learn how to speak for others, the more you’ll gather people and empower them to speak for themselves. Remember, a great leader works their way out of a job. Also, remember, sometimes, silence justifies those who are doing wrong, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Freedom comes with responsibility, so, don’t waste your liberties by watching tv and wasting time.

Don’t worry so much about finding a jobget some experience under your belt, and when you’re ready, make one up and be the best at it. Live in such a way that you won’t need to retire.

Finally, Joshua, know that all that you do for the world is great, but that the sooner you catch on that your humor is the best way to warm people up to the real lessons you want to teach, you’ll see that everything goes better. It’s like that great philosopher said, “Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Humor is how you’ll remind everyone that they will inherit the earth.

Sincerely,

Your 40 Year Old Self

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The Humility of the Artist

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog post this morning and it profoundly hit the nail on the head. Here’s what he said,

It seems arrogant to say, “perhaps this isn’t for you.”

When the critic pans your work, or the prospect hears your offer but doesn’t buy, the artist responds, “that’s okay, it’s not for you.” She doesn’t wheedle or flip-flop or go into high pressure mode. She treats different people differently, understands that she is working to delight the weird, not please the masses, and walks away.

Isn’t that arrogant?

No. It’s arrogant to assume that you’ve made something so extraordinary that everyone everywhere should embrace it. Our best work can’t possibly appeal to the average masses, only our average work can.

Finding the humility to happily walk away from those that don’t get it unlocks our ability to do great work.

Knowing who you are and where you are going is branding. That is the brand, whether the brand is you, a product or service. Being confident in allowing your brand to be itself is not arrogantit is strategic. We must be artists, creators, innovators; we are all original.

I asked a client (singer/songwriter) the other day in a session, “Who was Michael Jackson like?” “What about Prince? Or Miles Davis?” The answer, obviously was no one. They were confident in being themselves and they created forms of music that no one before them had created. We don’t really consider musicians who followed in their footsteps to be legends. Being legendary requires being unique, different. It required these artists to be themselves, not attempting to please everyone, but pushing to have personal integrity and originality in their work.

Michael Jackson Prince Miles DavisNo one can be you. There is no competition to you. When you choose to be yourself and stay focused on a clear path, you don’t really compete with anyone. You now have something unique. Now all you have to do is market, effectively tell your story to a specific demographic. Branding and marketing…defining who you are, where you are going, and sharing that story effectively. 

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