It has been said that if you have integrity, 99% of your decisions are made for you.
That sounds true.
However, I'm not in the integrity business. I'm in the marketing business.
In the marketing business, it's a little different.
In marketing, if you have a solid brand, 99% of your decisions are made for you.
Branding can feel complicated and ethereal and confusing, but it doesn't have to be.
In fact, you can build an entire brand out of just one word.
That's what we're going to do today.
We're going to get you one word, and that can be your brand.
Today I'll teach you something called The 200% Branding Solution, and it's very simple.
If you're brave, it can take about ten seconds.
The 200% Branding Solution
- Choose one trait or attribute that you ALREADY have. It can be an adjective, like “sweet” or “sarcastic”. It can be a noun, like “dork” or “sci-fi fanatic”.
- Amplify that attribute to 200% of what it is in real life.
- Continue doing that forever, or until you decide you want a new brand.
Don't make it 300% or 500% or 1000%. That creates a caricature, not a brand.
Just enough to make you a little bit larger than life.
If you do this right, it will be the first word that people use to describe you.
Previously, I told you about my early branding, which was primarily comprised of swearing and sex references.
When I'd get talked about, in an article or an interview or a comment or a book, sometimes I got “Naomi tells it like it is.”
Sometimes I got “swears like a sailor”.
It was the first word that people used to describe me.
And, inexplicably and unpredictably, it built my coaching practice.
Now, if you only do this, and you create enough content that people come to connect with you, you'll probably succeed.
You'll get attention.
You'll get social media sharing.
You'll get clients.
You'll also get typecast.
Being typecast isn't the worst problem to have, but it's nice to be seen as a whole brand, and not just a stereotype.
That's where the second part of the hack comes in.
Part 2: The Reversal Rule
3 or 4 times a year, take your trait or attribute, and do the ABSOLUTE polar opposite.
You're absurdly nice all the time? Run a rant post, and take no prisoners.
You're the cynical one? Do a push for a children's charity and shout it from the rooftops.
You're the adorable southern belle mama bear? I want girls' night out photos of you doing body shots in Vegas.
So the big question is, what attribute do you pick?
Can I tell you a secret?
It doesn't matter what you pick.
You can pick what people already associate with you.
You can put out a poll on Facebook and ask all your friends from college the first word that comes to mind when they think of you.
You can just pick the one you like the best. (That's probably your best bet, but it takes guts.)
Let's look at me for an example.
Yes, I have an irreverent turn of phrase. I do swear. Quite a lot, actually.
But! I'm also obsessed with astrology.
And! I have a fairly extensive witch's garden full of obscure medicinal herbs. (This is made even weirder when you consider that I don't actually have a home.)
And! My Harry Potter fetish is probably a classifiable mental illness by now. (I particularly like the apparel, by the way, so if you suddenly find yourself possessed of the urge to knit me a Gryffindor scarf, I won't say no.)
This is actually me. (Surprise!)
It may be hard to believe, but there is actually more to me than just swearing. I could have gone in a COMPLETELY different direction.
I could have been “the marketing astrologer”.
I could have created “the marketing garden”.
I could have given business advice subdivided by Hogwarts house. (Self-Promotion for Hufflepuffs! Customer Service for Slytherins! Work-Life Balance for Ravenclaws!)
I could have done any of these, and they would have worked.
But I went with swearing because, well, I did. And here we are.
Pick whatever you want. Pick however you want. Pick an adjective, or pick a noun. Just pick something that evokes. Ideally, pick something that evokes YOU, at least on a level.
As you move forward with your new brand, people will start associating it with you to a greater and greater degree until it becomes the brand.
Soon enough, you don't really have to make any hard decisions at all.
Examples & Case Studies!
I've got more detailed client case studies for you in a minute, but in the meantime, here are some easy examples to help you wrap your head around this.
Mystic Medusa is 200% wacky.
Nadine and Ron are 200% hippy. (Ok, maybe they're pushing 300%.)
Lauren is 200% helpful.
Steve is 200% nerd.
You could be 200% cerebral.
Or 200% Star Trek.
Or 200% curmudgeon.
Or 200% girly.
Or 200% Dad.
Or 200% blunt.
Or 200% Luna Lovegood.
(In hindsight, maybe I should have gone with Harry Potter branding.)
So you've chosen your attribute. Now what do you do with it?
I got the following exercise from a book by Michael Bungay Stanier called Do More Great Work.
He suggests, when trying to think of an idea of what to do next – with your business, with your marriage, with your lawn – asking yourself the following questions:
(I wanted to quote him but didn't have the book with me because I was traveling. Obliging man that he is, he has provided a picture.)
Now, for future reference, I highly recommend you do Michael's exercise – with your business, your marriage, AND your lawn. But I have created a modified version of it for our purposes today.
Take your word and turn it into one of these questions.
Let's say your attribute is SCIENTIFIC. You love delving into the science of your topic.
- What would be the scientific thing to do?
- How can I add more science?
- How can I make this more scientific?
Ask questions like that before you do anything. At all.
- Content plans.
- Sales pages.
- Blog headers.
It doesn't take any longer than doing it without asking the question. In fact, it makes the process MUCH faster, because you constantly know your angle.
Always, always, always ask the question.
Never stop asking the question.
You've got better branding than anybody else on the internet.
(Except maybe the guy from Nerd Fitness. He rules us all.)
Let's look at some examples from some of my students:
1) Heidi Fischbach is a massage therapist in Massachusetts. She has training in multiple disciplines, she's constantly building her skills and proficiencies, and she's a gifted writer.
She's added Focusing (which is a thing) and more inner work to her practice, and she's working on expanding that further, both through her content and her services.
Heidi's 200% is DEPTH.
She's a deep lady. She's not just going to give you a nice Swedish massage and send you home with some scented oil.
She knows that pain rarely comes from the body, and she's not about to let you waste your money thinking that it is. She's going to help you go deeper and find where your emotions need sorting out so your body can get back to “better”.
Heidi's 200% Branding Question: How can I add more depth?
2) Kathy Stowell is one of my very favorite people on the earth. I have actually considered moving to British Columbia so I can be close enough to hang out with her. I am not remotely kidding.
Kathy's a… coach? Kind of?
She runs a website called Bliss Beyond Naptime, where she helps mamas (MAMAS, not moms or mommies or mums) achieve, well, bliss, really.
When I started conceiving of this article, Kathy was the first person I wanted to use as an example. But when it came time to pick her word, I felt a little silly. The word that came to mind was “She's like a doula. Or a midwife.”
But she's NOT a doula or a midwife. She's a life coach.
So I wanted to call her to see if she was okay with me calling her that.
I pulled up an email of hers to get her phone number and saw this signature line:
Ha! I was right! She IS a midwife. Just not for babies.
It gets better.
As I was trying to figure out what to say about her in this section, I went to her website to see if I could steal some copy. And I found this blog post:
What to expect when you’re expecting a coaching biz
See? 200% midwife. Who's right? I'M RIGHT.
THAT is stellar branding, people.
3) I have a client who's still developing his website. He's a brick consultant.
You know, bricks?
The things they build expensive colleges with?
He's in his mid-70s, and he's hilarious, and this dude can Hold. A. Room.
(He has a name, but I never use it, because I started calling him Bricks on our first call and it stuck.)
(Confession: I'm not absolutely sure I remember his name.)
So what does a 70-something brick consultant use for their 200%?
We're going with patriarch. Paterfamilias. Patrician.
(He's a 70-year-old man from BOSTON, for God's sake. You don't get much more patrician than that. Seriously. Look it up.)
We're going with gravitas, strength, longevity, legacy.
Now, when he goes with it, he's going to have to be extra vigilant with the Reversal Rule.
There's a fine line between “Patriarch” and “Old Guy”.
So three or four times a year, I want a photograph of him heliskiing, or with a pie on his head, or dancing with a garden gnome. I want him answering one of those Which Flavor Of Lip Gloss Are You? quizzes on Facebook. No typecasting here, darling.
Bricks' 200% Branding Question(s): What would the patriarch do? How can I add gravitas?
4) Clare Yuille is a wholesale consultant. She guides product makers through the process of making line sheets, creating catalogs, and all the non-hippy parts of getting products into stores.
Clare is also Scottish. This alone makes her far more down-to-earth than anyone who lives in the entire of North America, or perhaps the rest of the world.
In an industry full of airy fairy hipsters bouncing around in their vat of homespun yarn, telling you to live your dreams, Clare gives you an email script to get stores to buy more stuff on their next order. Or a spreadsheet template.
Clare's 200% is PRACTICAL.
(She's also REALLY funny. Remember with Bricks, with the fine line between “Patriarch” and “Old Guy”? There's an equally fine line between “Practical” and “Boring AF”. If you're going with practical, adding funny is a good choice.)
Clare's 200% Branding Question(s): How can I make this more practical? How can I make this funnier?
5) Nedra Rezinas runs Blue Deer Forest, a Portland-based web design firm specializing in women-owned businesses, non-profits, and other liberal do-gooders.
Her brand is in an interesting place because just as she was starting to rebrand, she got a TON of new clients. (This tends to stop branding discussions in their tracks because, clients.) So she's a brand in transition.
But right now, I'd say her 200% is PORTLAND.
She loves the city. She breathes the city. I'm pretty sure if she won the lottery, she'd cheerfully spend the rest of her days giving daily seminars to already happy Oregonians trying to help them become even happier.
Nedra's 200% Branding Question(s): How can I make this more Portland? What can I do to give this a more local feel?
Ok, now back to you.
(Cute top, by the way.)
The 200% Branding Solution gives you an attribute that you can play up so you can be MEMORABLE.
That is the most important battle in the branding war. It is what will keep you from being lumped in with the forgotten morass of Other People Who Kind Of Do The Same Thing You Do.
This exercise does not have to be hard.
Just pick something, and OWN it.
It can be something that's core to who you are, or that you really love about yourself.
(Again, that's generally the most sustainable way to do it.)
It can also be something you pick out of thin air like a rando and decide to play up.
(There's no law that says you can't just DECIDE to be the most scientific makeup consultant the internet has ever seen.)
But it has to be something.
Pick that thing, and play it up 200%, in your content, on your website, in your offerings.
Run a reversal a few times a year to avoid typecasting.
You'll be unforgettable to the people who will become your clients.
Next up… my 3-step process for raising your rates.
When you're done here, go check out My 3-Step Plan For Raising Your Rates, in which I tell you the… you guessed it – 3 steps that will help you raise your rates without tears or sleepless nights.
So go check that out, and if you'd like more posts like these delivered straight to your inbox, click here to get on the IttyBiz Newsletter. (It's 200% guaranteed to be better than Facebook.)