Seeing Donna in person for the first time set me back slightly.
I have seen her multiple times on TV but never in person.
She is so petite, almost mousey. Hot enough that if I wasn’t happily married…
She does not look that way as a female news anchor.
Sitting up on the stage platform with a serious and concerned look, enunciating words, nodding her head for emphasis and sounding so smart helps her look much bigger I guess.
Appearances aside, she is amazingly warm and instantly sweet. I want to clip a nip off one of her finger nails and throw it in my tea but I’m afraid it will be too sweet to drink – and also be a bit creepy.
After a little chitchat about how she came to look me up through a mutual acquaintance, we got down to the reason for our introduction. Donna has been a news anchor for a few short years.
Her career has taken off from the start and she is quickly jumping up in networks which is news anchor vernacular for climbing the ladder.
Or at least she was.
This past year she feels that she may have hit a plateau.
“This is a very competitive business.” She confides. “It’s very common to jump up fast and then once you find your seat, you can be there for a very long time. There are few jobs and lots of people wanting them.”
How can I help?
“This is an industry where I am my product. I’ve been able to get this far because I’m tenacious and driven and try harder. But now I’m in a league where everyone fits that description. We all work hard. We’re all are smart and driven. We’re all alike on so many levels – I think that is the problem. I no longer stand out as an individual.”
“I’ve just spent a few thousand dollars upgrading my wardrobe.”
“I need your help.”
This was a revelation to me.
I have helped all kinds of companies develop individuality through branding, but never an individual.
But I can see the value in creating and maintaining a unique, personal brand – just like you would a business brand.
Think back on all the people you’ve met or done business with over the years. Those few who are odd or loud or stand out in some way tend to be the ones you, and consequently everyone else, remember.
Uniformity may be cool for sheep – but it’s a killer for a brand, even a personal brand.
I’ll use three good friends who have NAILED personal branding: Dan Meridith, Jesse Elder and Sean Whalen.
All three gentlemen (I use that term loosely), are in the personal motivation or self-help space. They may dissagree with the labeling but fuck it, it’s my story…
Dan’s message is getting shit done. He has various levels of Facebook Groups set up to build his following.
Jesse’s message is finding your voice and being empathetic to other humans.
Sean’s program is Lions Not Sheep.
I help them pick a differentiation, (USP) make sure they can deliver on that promise and then promote it in the market.
The goal is to help customers remember and then choose the brand when the time is right.
So yeah! Why not for an individual?!
I took the challenge.
“Donna, it’s not just about the clothes.” I said and then pointed to her heart. “It’s about this…”
And then we went to work on her own personal brand.
All-in-all it’s been an interesting experience. I’ve done several more personal brands since and the success has been surprising.
Here are a few things I’ve learned that can help you get started developing a personal brand.
1. View from your Heart – Even if you don’t have a quirky, unique way about you or style, you can. You need to first dig deep within and find out what makes you special. I like to have people remember their dreams before all the shit came down and clouded the vision. What or who did you want to be? More important, why did you want to be that?
2. We all have strengths, build from them – This seems obvious but, as motivated people, we tend to work real hard on our weaknesses. This often leads to us not working on our strengths. If you are going to pinpoint and deliver on a personal brand, don’t choose a brand that you “wish” you had or one that works for someone else. Choose one from your arsenal of strengths.You may have to get an outside perspective to figure out your core strengths. So dig up some people that can help you with this and get them to be honest.
3. Manage your brand – In my courses I drill in the fact that a brand is a reputation. You are going to have a reputation whether you want one or not. You might as well pick a positive one and develop programs to enhance it in the market.
4. Shout your difference!!!!!! – You are special in some way. Once you figure out what it is, really take it to the extreme. It’s a truth that we often think we are shouting, but to our audience, it’s barely a whisper. If you choose the right brand, you cannot overdue it.
5. Look the Look – Pay attention to how you are dressed. Yes, I did tell Donna that her wardrobe wasn’t the key, but it is a piece of the puzzle. In the market, you only get one chance to make an impression. A cool name, logo and unique design style is how products stand out in a busy market – it’s the clothes they wear. Pick clothing or style that matches your personal brand and wear it. I know a guy who always wears a fedora hat no matter what the occasion. He has made a brand statement and it works.
6. Walk the Talk – If you claim to be the best ROR expert in the region, you’d better be the best ROR expert in your region. Work hard at that thing that you have chosen as your brand. The good thing is that having the focus will allow you to really drive deep.
7. Talk the Talk – Update all of your communication vehicles. Personal webpage, social media, business cards, everything must match and shout out your new brand persona.
8. Review and Adjust – Once you hit the streets with the brand, it should not feel uncomfortable if you’ve chosen the right one – because it’s merely a spotlight on what is already there. But after you go for a while, you will want to review your progress and make adjustments accordingly.
Personal branding is not for everyone. It takes guts to choose to stand out from the crowd.
I was recently at a conference in San Diego. There was a couple attending that were older than the rest of the crowd. He wore a black ruffled shirt with tight black pants and dyed, jet-black hair. His aging physique was still impressive. His wife dressed the opposite. She adorned herself in bright pastels, loose, flowing robes and sandals. The juxtaposition of the two burned a hole in my memory. They sell workout videos to the aging market – perfect. Of the thousand people attending, they are of the very few I remember. I’m not in their demographic – yet. But they overcame the first hurdle of getting someone to notice you in a crowded market.
Keep in mind that it is NOT all about appearance and I’m not advocating Lady Ga Ga (however she does stand out in a tough category…). It’s about focus and actions.
My first-step advice for anyone wanting to develop their own personal brand (or any other big change in behavior…) is to sit down quiet and write out your end goal. Start with the end in mind. And then visualize yourself in that role. This will get you going much faster and make the decisions more clear.
PS – Donna became the lead female anchor in one of the top markets in the US and still holds her seat…