Home / Branding and Distinctiveness: Are You Telling Me It’s Okay to Ignore You?

Branding and Distinctiveness: Are You Telling Me It’s Okay to Ignore You?

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Be honest now. Are you (and your business) forgettable?

"You know what I like about you? You don't care what anyone thinks!"

That "compliment" came from my mother-in-law when she first saw the eggplant painted walls in my living room. It's true; we are not living our lives in a ready for resale home. My husband and I don't play it safe and squelch our creativity. We don't believe our lives were meant to be neutral statements.

Why tell you this? Frankly, I see crushing levels of mediocrity out here in Chicago's suburbia. When I get out and surf the web to check out some of your businesses, things don't look much better. So much creative inhibition in the lives and businesses of otherwise fine people! Just makes me want to scream, “For the love of God, people, please come alive! You are boring me to tears!”

Seriously! So please, let me take a moment to go all Tom Peters on you.

Let's talk about your brand presence. Yes, yours. Oh. I see. You aren't self-employed or working in marketing, so you don't think you need one? That's interesting. Good luck with that next time you go on a job interview. Understand you need one, but don't really have one? Yes, I know.

If you are a self-employed person or small business owner with a website, are you engaging me immediately in a compelling dialogue from the moment I find your site? Am I so clear on who you are, what makes you cool, and why I definitely want to have you in my universe that I can't help but reach out to you? Are you so clear on who you are that the whole concept of competition has become a meaningless and arcane concept?

If you don't get this, you are losing customers. A lot of customers.

Real Life Example: When I enrolled in coach training, I spent some time checking out coaching websites; many coaching websites. Even then, not having ever thought about business or branding (I was a therapist, after all), I found myself becoming bored and, in some cases, actually turned off by 98% of what I saw out there.

By the time I looked at the 40th site, I couldn't remember any specific coaches, save one. I contacted the only coach that caught my attention just to congratulate him on being memorable. Keep in mind that I was just surfing. I wasn't even looking to hire anyone. It hadn't even occurred to me to consider it.

The site engaged me, so it felt natural that I respond. This led to a reply and a suggestion that we talk live. I called. At the end of the hour, this coach asked me what I wanted to do. It wasn't until that minute that I knew I wanted to hire him, and I did.

Having a site that was compelling enough for me to want to know this individual when I didn't even know I was in the market for his services put about $4,000 in that man's pocket.

This illustration relates to my experience with a coach, but this phenomena is certainly not restricted to that industry. Regardless of the type of business you are in, go back and look at your company's website, even if you are just an employee. How do you rate your site on its ability to achieve similar results with your visitors?

And if you are unique this year, how will you keep from becoming a commodity next year?

Your business presence is just one manifestation of you (no matter what your position). Your physical environment is another. While I recognize it has been practical for many people to live in resale-ready homes due to frequent career moves, I also know that trends have changed and many are settling into their homes for a far longer time than had been in the last decade.

Unfortunately, the way many people relate to their homes continues to reflect a sense of impermanence. Worse yet, having a conscious eye toward resale makes you a temporary inhabitant of someone else's home! You have to ask yourself, who's house are you in — the next buyer's, your parents', your boss or coworker's, your hired decorator's?

If I walked into your home, would your place engage me in an immediate dialogue about you? Hint: Yes it would…but what, exactly would it tell me? It would tell me what values you live by (not the ones you say you live by, the ones you actually do live by). It would tell me how you feel about yourself, how it feels to be you, what you ignore, and what you embrace.

Borrow the eyes of a stranger, if only in your mind, and walk around your environment. Open a closet or two. Look at your clothes. Notice where you feel pockets of dead energy and where you feel flow. If you have ever found yourself wondering what you stand for in the world and who you are…well, your environment has a great deal to tell you about what you have been projecting to the rest of us.

If your environment is not making a bold statement about who you are when you are at your best and it is not clear to everyone who sees it (even if it is only you) that you are joyfully engaged with your life, take a stand now to correct that.

You cannot be successful in life in any lasting and vital way if you do not have an Environment that supports you. Yes, Big E, Environment. Who you hang out with and what you feed your body, brain, and spirit are parts of your Environment as well. And consider this: You will not attract to you the opportunities and resources you desire if what you show to the world tells us that it is okay to ignore you.

With the change of seasons, it's a great time of year to start setting goals. Make being memorable one of them. Embrace your extraordinary uniqueness.

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About Laura Young