Our Work

Your Personal Brand. Are you Paying Attention?

by Marla Carlton

Humans are attracted to personalities. Why? Well, because the personality communicates some sort of a promise of an experience. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. It’s true. When we meet someone at a party, or a bookstore, or online we imagine what it will be like to hang out with them. Date them. Maybe even marry them. So let’s take a moment and think in terms of brand. Brands have personalities even when they are not human. Brands make promises. Brands promise and hopefully deliver on a promised experience. It doesn’t matter what size your brand is or if your brand is just you, one person. Your “fans” expect something from you. I’d like to look at brand, not matter if we are talking about a company or an individual as a single person. Let’s take your brand on a date. Out to dinner. So, you are sitting across from your brand. Take a good look at it. Is your brand worth a second date? To better understand your brand, step into your brand’s shoes for a moment and look at one person you’d like your brand to connect with. Here’s what that person will be asking while they are on the date with your brand.

Are you a good fit for me? I stare at you. I listen to what you say. I try to figure out as quickly as humanly possible if we are right for each other because time is limited you know? Time. Is. Limited. What’s so special about you? Do I want to get to know you better?

Am I Your Type?

Look at your person. Sitting across from you. What do you see? Where are we? Are we at a restaurant? At a bar? At a coffee shop? Where does your person connect with your brand? What do you see? What do I look like? What am I wearing? Where do I buy my clothing? How old am I? Do I have kids? Am I Single? Married? Divorced? Single parent? Do I have a college degree? BA? MBA? Ph.D.? Am I American? Am I from the city? Or country? What are my hobbies? Do I believe in God? Do I care about equal rights? Am I a woman? Do I like to travel? Do I like to read? Which magazines do I read? Which newspapers? Which websites do I like? Which apps do I use? Which political party am I a card carrying member of? Am I political at all? What is my income level? Middle Class? Upper Middle Class? What’s my favorite place to vacation? Do I prefer the beach or the mountains? What’s important to me? What kind of car do I drive? What kind of car do I wish I drove? Do I own a home or rent? Do I live in an apartment? Do I do yoga or prefer to hit the gym? Are you asking the right questions to really get to know me?

Who Are You? Who is your brand?

What do you want from me? What motivates you? What’s your end game? What do you stand for? What’s important to you? Why are you different than the others? Do I want to take the time to get to know you? Are you someone I could be there for? To listen, to share, to support you in your endeavors. Do you talk about topics that are relevant to me?

I’m wondering if we share the same values. Are we from the same generation? Do we communicate the same way? Are you a boomer, GenXer, Millennial? Do you know who you are? Are you comfortable in your own skin? Are you confident? Humble? Knowledgable? Reliable? Trustworthy? Hip? Honest? Sarcastic? Funny? Edgy? Serious? Warm and fuzzy? Do I like your tone? Do I like you? Could I love you? Is this just a fling or could I stick with you for the long haul. Either one is fine with me, I just need to know going in.

Common Ground

OK our first date is over and we’ve both made some assumptions about each other. An unspoken promise, if you will, of a guaranteed experience. I can guess with a degree of certainty what our next date will be like. I will decide if I want to take the next step and get to know you better. Assuming you were authentic and didn’t pretend to be someone you weren’t, the second date should be smooth sailing. And, with each consecutive date, if you say what you mean and mean what you say, there should be minimal misunderstandings. Even if we do have a hiccup here or there, you have shown me that you are a good communicator so I’m not worried about it. I trust you.

I begin to look forward to our time together. I am thrilled to connect. I tell my friends how amazing you are. How I’m so lucky to have found someone as great as you. They ask me if you have a sibling? They want to have the same experience. They ask me how I found you? They want to know how to get what I have. I smile.

Relationships Aren’t A Walk in the Park

Make no mistake, I know it won’t all be a bed of roses. Maintaining a good relationship with me takes dedication, time and consistency. You have to be there when I need you. I have to know I can rely on you. That I can depend on you being you. That you won’t let me down. I mean I have expectations now. You can’t treat me different once we are a team. I hope you continue to deliver on your promises. Will you still entertain me? Cheer me up? Give me guidance? Make me laugh? Help me if I need it? Stand by me? Whoever you were when we met, I hope you continue to be at least that.

Staying Power

If you keep your promises and put my needs first there is a good chance we will have fulfilling, long-lasting relationship. I look forward to it.

In the end, most people want to be in healthy relationships. The relationship a brand has with their audience is not much different than a relationship a human has with a significant other. To thrive in any relationship you must take the time to get to know the other person. You must take the time to nurture that relationship. You must take the time to listen, to hear, and take action. To show that you care, that they matter to you, that you need them. Brands are simply a promise of an experience. Your product, whatever that may be—-maybe your are a musician, or an artist, or an actor, or a creative professional—-is a promise of an experience, just like a person, we know how we feel when we are with them.

When a brand focuses on the ONE person they would like to reach, and they make a serious effort to communicate on the same wavelength, it makes that person feel special. We all want to feel special. Brands that know their audience, and know them well, are immensely successful. Their audience sticks by them through thick and thin. On the other hand, when a brand loses sight of who they are, and ignores their core audience they die a slow death, or sometimes not so slow.

I have many long term relationships. Apple. Crate & Barrel. Whole Foods. Audi. Nirvana. Dave Grohl. Francis Ford Coppola. Martin Scorsese. Reese Witherspoon. Christian Bale. Leo DiCaprio. You get the idea. I know I can rely on each and every one of them to give me what I need. They never let me down. They made a promise to me a long time ago and none of them have broken that promise. I know what to expect from them, and they deliver, unfailingly. There have also been brands who have broken their promise. They weren’t there when I needed them. They changed. I didn’t know what to expect from them anymore because they were so different when we first met. They didn’t reach out and talk to me. Their values changed. They stopped communicating with me. I moved on.

So, you see, I’m really looking for a human connection with a brand. I’m looking for brands who relate to me and understand my needs. I’m looking for a personal touch. I’m looking for consistency in our conversations. I’m looking for brands who can consistently deliver on promises. I’m looking for quality, high integrity, and lately, I’m looking for brands who consider their social impact as well as their carbon footprint.

Does that sound like you? If so, reach out and talk to me. I’m listening.

Twitter: @marlacarlton
Instagram: WritingDropbyDrop