Create a Simple Brand
Create a simple brand. We're gonna do a couple of really simple branding exercises and talk about it. I like the idea of understanding who you are and telling your story, right. So there is a way that you can put together just a little bit of a story to start to test it, to see how people respond to it. That's how you're going to be able to let people know who you are. Not just what you do, right. You have to come up with an identity, to be able to relate to your client. Our brains are actually built on story. If I tell you something and it's just data related, everyone goes, oh, okay, and you probably won't remember it. But if I connect to you emotionally, cause we are already pre-wired to relate to stories, we're probably gonna have a little bit better understanding of that person. Now I'm emotionally connected to you. I'm not suggesting people have to like you in order to hire you, right. Cause you could spend a lot of time on your marketing material saying, "And I do this, "and I'm...
fun, and I sky dive, and I do all that." And the truth is, your client's gonna say, "But do yo do what we need really well?" However, human beings are hiring you so far. It may change. But here's the thing. Human beings are hiring you so you wanna connect a little bit emotionally to them. So they feel good when they get you working with them, right. So I'll give you an example. Here's a story for you. I don't drink coffee when I'm working with clients. How emotionally connected are all of you to that amazing story I just told? (audience laughter) You're welcome. Right? I'm gonna tell you this story now. I don't drink coffee when I work with clients because when I had a permanent job in my career, I had a manager who drank a lot of coffee that was filled with cream and sugar. And he was a close talker. So every time we had a meeting, all I got was sour coffee in my face. And that's all I remember about coffee drinkers, right. So all of you in one way smelled that smell. Got that feeling of a close talker. And some of you might have been like, right? So it tells you immediately that we're already more engaged because the story has details. And I'm emotionally connected to it. And that's actually a true story. Right. So you have to think about it in those terms. How do I emotionally connect? So we're gonna create a simple brand. I love this definition from Debbie Millman. Deliberate differentiation. I am different than someone else you can hire for this job because. If I'm hiring you and I'm writing a check, I need to know why I'm hiring you and what's good and what's not. I might be hiring you because you charge less. I might be hiring you because you have a great value. I might be hiring you because someone referred you that I trust. But I need to know who you are, and how do you differentiate yourself. If you are that person that prices really low, then your deliberate differentiation is I am bargain basement. My assumption is you're not a value. I might not get great work, but I certainly will have a cheaper job to pay for, right. So think about how you're gonna deliberately differentiate yourself. Cause here's the thing, if you don't brand yourself, someone else will. And this is what happens. In this please pick me state, you leave the conversation cause you're not sure who you are. And so that person might think, not experienced enough. Too young. Too old. Right? Unprofessional. Whatever they might brand you with, cause you haven't said to them, "This is who I am." You get to test it. You get to change it. Right. You're not gonna change it for every client. That would be really hard to remember. Who was I for that person? It's just about understanding who you are, and being able to relate to them authentically. I talked about earlier, don't sell yourself, right. There's a part of it, yes, I need to get business. Authentically represent yourself. If you don't know who you are, it's hard for someone to understand who they're hiring. You know. And some people won't care, I just want the work done. Most of the people I work with, there has to be some sort of connection. They have to believe in what I do and why I do it. So that's why I have to come up with something. So I like this idea. Go to your network currently. Or as you build your network. Cause maybe you have one person in your network. Lila was like, "I don't have a large network." That's fine. As you start to build your network, go to them. Friends, family, co-workers, people you've worked with in the past. How do you perceive me? I put some questions in the workbook just to ask them, and it's great. You can ask them, "Tell me three words "that you would use to describe me." Write that down. Some of you might be surprised. Really? I also like this question. If you didn't know what I did for a living, what would you think I did? Cause then you're getting a real understanding of how people perceive you. And then you get an idea, because when you walk into a new client's office, or when you talk to a new client on the phone, that gives you an understanding of what they might be perceiving you as. Use that to your advantage. Oh, that's great, I love that you think of me this way. Oh, you think of me this way. I have to pay attention to that. I write really fast emails. Right. Bert knows, I've sent him some emails. I'm just like, answer, answer, answer. Cause I get anywhere between a 100 and 200 emails a day. So I write really fast answers. And what happened was a co-worker of mine eventually said to me, "When you write like that, I think you're mad at me." (laughing) Cause I'll write, yes, send. Cause I'm just in a really big rush. So I had to pay attention to that. And go, okay, wait a second, I'm not mad at you. Or am I? No, I was like, no, I'm not mad at you. So I had to start to pay attention to how I do that. And now I slow down. The other action I took was I have that delay on my email. So if I send it, I can go, oh wait, and remember. So I've taken a couple of actions to be better at that because I move so fast. It's a great way for me to get that input. What do you think of me? How am I doing? What's going on? You get that maybe once a year when you're in a permanent job because you get a review. Or unless something's not going right. We all move so fast, it's really hard for your boss to take you aside and go, "Hey, I perceive you as a great employee." But they will definitely take you aside if they're having trouble with communicating with you. Right? But as a freelancer you can get that week by week. Check with your clients, check with your network. How am I doing? How am I being perceived? So I love that. Here's an example. This is from Karen Kane from Branding Pays. And I really like this cause it's a really simple way for you all to brand yourself. And it gives you an idea of how to represent yourself with clients. She talks about the rational and the emotional value. The two sides of your brand. And the way she talks about it is the rational, which is the functional. What you actually do, right. I am a photographer. Or I am a writer, and this is what I do. And this is what I'm really good at. She calls that the cake. But the emotional side, which is who I am. I have a great sense of humor. I am definitely fearless. I will be honest with you as a client. That's the icing on the cake. And I love that example because that's who we are, right. A great combination leads to people really liking to work with you. So think about what yours is. What are you looking to do? What's the actual freelance work you wanna do? And what are the technical skills you have? A great way to do this is write your hard and soft skills. Your hard skills are your technical skills. They're skills that can be learned. Software. Specific skills. I went to school to learn this. I went online and learned this. Your soft skills, those are predictors of who you are. Like, I'm really strong at communication. Conflict resolution. Those are your soft skills. Those are things that aren't taught. Those are things that you develop, right. But if we go back to this idea of growth mindset. You should be able to develop them. Right. I'm not strong at communicating. I'm not very funny. You don't have to learn to tell jokes. But you can actually go out and learn how to be more comfortable around other people and be yourself. Who you are as yourself allows you to talk about what you think is funny. To be honest. And that actually becomes a great way to develop a sense of humor. So start to put those two together and that's an idea of who you are. Pretty simple, right? I'm not gonna say to someone, "Listen, you "should hire me because I'm a communications "marketing specialist, I have a sense of humor, "and I'm definitely OCD for grammar, right." But if I know that I can then start to put together an idea of how I'm gonna represent myself when I talk to somebody. But I have to know that first. That's where the six word exercise comes up, right. So, six word story is a really great thing that I like to use to develop a little bit of idea of who you are. The reason why that happens is people tend to tell really long stories. When I ask somebody, "Why do you wanna do this?" Or "What are you doing?" when I'm coaching, they say, "Well, I was born here, "and then I went to high school, "and then I did this, and then I did that." It's a really long story. And you can tell if they were to tell that to a client. about four sentence in, the client is like, what just happened? So we have to be brief, and we have to be specific. And that's the problem is, we have a lot of trouble being specific. And then we don't practice our story. When I teach people how to interview, or how to pitch to clients, a lot of times what happens is they go, "Oh, I got it, I got it." And then they go and they interview, they pitch with the client, and they come back and we evaluate. And what happens is they didn't actually ever hear those words come out of their mouth. So when you get in and it's great, when I interview people or I'm working with clients, if they tell me their pitch and they've never done it before, what happens is there's that moment where you can see them with their eyes go, I can't believe that just came out of my mouth. Cause they've never practiced it before. And it's that weird, ooh, this is uncomfortable, cause I've never tried it. So if you put together this story, you can practice it. And then you can test it. If it doesn't seem like it's as valuable for you, then you can shift it a little bit. So in the six word story, here's a couple of examples. It's literally taking six words and creating a story. So the exercise is can I take elements of me and create this idea and be brief? So here's a couple of examples of just six word stories. Which are for me pretty powerful. Because they tell an entire story briefly. And I have an understanding of maybe who this person is. Or I get a feeling right, that emotional connection. Doesn't have to be a great feeling. But I get a feeling. So I was working with someone recently, and they were having a really hard time putting together who they were and what their story was. And that comes from this fear. This fixed belief, I don't know who I am. This fixed belief, when people ask me things, I'm not gonna give them a strong answer, because I've never done this before. So we started talking a little bit about how you would come up with a six word story. And who you are. In the beginning of this exercise, what you do is you write down a bunch of words that you think describe you. Both who you are as a professional in the freelance world and then who you are as a person. And the point of that is, just write 'em down. Don't think about 'em. Let it be stream of consciousness. Because the moment, for me anyway. When I start writing, if I start to imagine someone reading that, all of a sudden it's like, it's not good enough. Right. I'm writing a sentence and someone's gonna read this so it has to be perfect. Well, how do I know what perfect is. So what I like to do then is I work with this person. And so Chijioki was saying, I have a really hard time figuring out who I am, and I don't know how to represent myself. As a designer. So what we did was we did this exercise. And here's what came up with. After putting together a series of words that came out of an exercise. It's a great place to start. Well, what do I do with that? Is it specific enough? Do I walk around and tell people that's what I do? Maybe. But that's an intro into my story maybe. So then we started talking about his background, and what he thinks he is as a designer. And what that background was I came from a really rough neighborhood. So this idea that I see things that maybe other designers don't, because I have a little bit more awareness of what's going on around me, right. That's how he wanted to represent himself. Because he thought, if I enter the market, I'm that person that identifies things faster, but different angles that maybe a designer who's more experienced will have. Actually perceived. So when we start to build out a story like that, it might turn into something like this. And so now it's a consistent brand. If I look at this person, or he represents himself in this way, I'm a little bit more interested. I'm connected because he tells me what he does upfront. Cause that's the core of it. If you can't do the job, I don't care how much I like you. But then he's interesting to me, so maybe I wanna have a conversation with him. Doesn't guarantee I'm gonna hire him, but what it does is it makes me say, "Here's someone that I wanna look at." Because now I'm engaged, let's see what kind of experience they have. Let's see if they're right for this job. It has been very effective. Simply because it's authentic and it's a test. He's not getting work, we're gonna change it. But it's a great test. See what happens. Here's one that I just wrote. Not now because clearly I'm not writing anything. (audience laughing) But just before, right. So now if I go to a networking event and someone says to me, "What do you do?" I could test this. And I could say, "You know what, I help people achieve their dreams." It's probably gonna engage somebody. What does that mean? Who are you? I'm the dream achiever. (audience laughing) I don't. But it will help people, right. It's a great way for me to test it. Cause what I've moved into in my life is I love to help people be okay with what they're doing. And be confident in what they're doing. So that's what we're gonna do. So I start maybe with this this week. When someone says, "What do you do? "I was referred to you. "Coach, what do you do?" And I'll tell them, "This is what I do." So this is a way for me to let people know who I am and to start the conversation, right. So let's talk about a six word story. Everybody should be able to go through and do that, right. So if you're gonna write down words, just write down some words. Go ahead and write down some words. Everybody write down on the back of your worksheet or on your paper there. Start by writing some words that describe you professionally and personally. And don't think about what we're thinking about. But go ahead and do that. If you want to, it could be personality. It could be qualities you think are great. And capabilities. And if you're stumped, remind yourself you're actually really good at what you do. If you think in your head, I have nothing to describe myself, that's why it's great when you ask your neighbors, your network. How do you perceive me? As long as you get along with your neighbors. I perceive you as someone who plays music really loud on Saturday night. (chuckling) Just write down a bunch of words. It's a great exercise to start to get to know who you are. How many people here when you started freelancing, other than looking at what you do well, in that freelance business, actually looked at who you were? Why will people hire me beyond just my skillset, right? So if you write down a couple dozen words and you think about it, now take those words, and put them into a formula that says this is who I am. I'm not gonna make anybody share unless they want to. But it's one of those ideas of start to formulate how you describe yourself. If I go back to mine, it's really simple. That's what I do pretty much. Most people come to me and say, "This is what I want to be doing." I help them come up with a plan to do that. Now after I tell you what I do, I can start to tell you how I do it. So think about that when you put yourself together. Now you've got a brand. Now you have a place to start. It doesn't have to be perfect, but now you can start testing it. This is who I am. This is what I do. This is what I do really well.