If there’s one thing you and I know, with our extensive legal training (from watching The Good Wife and other legal dramas), it’s that when you cross-examine a witness, you need to lead them carefully with pointed questions that require specific, short answers. We want yes/no, or we want very brief sentences that confirm what we already know. It’s almost like we train witnesses to fall into our evil ploy. They can’t help but answer us exactly how we want them to, which is amazing, because when witnesses drop those courtroom shock bombs on you, it’s no bueno . . . at least, not for your side of the case.
And that, my friends, is all related to brand statements. So much so that I bothered my brother (a lawyer) for several minutes trying to figure out if what I was saying was at least a smidgen factual. Actually he was very courteous with my questions; I’ll introduce him to you soon. And just wait, because if you think I’m a crazy person . . . but, moving on.
Brand statements and courtroom strategy. We’d love to hear the connection Regina.
I could go all day. But here it is:
If you answer the question, “So, what do you do?” with a trained, short, unengaging response, it might be time for a (new) brand statement—or even a new brand (but that’s a story for another post . . . and speaking of other posts, here’s one where I interviewed my “twin” on her rebrand). In fact, answering this question like you’re being cross-examined is the main, undeniable sign you need a new brand statement.
I wrote this post and developed a brand statement formula out of necessity really. I was so tired of answering, “I’m a blogger” with my head down, like it was something to be ashamed of. Like it would take up SO much of a person’s time to answer in a bit more detail. When we become embarrassed or complacent with what we do, or when we find it hard to proudly present our brand to the world, conversations go something like this:
Random person at a “networking” event: “So, what do you do?”
You: “Oh, I’m a graphic designer.”
Rando McGruff: “Wow. Cool.”
Mr. McGruff will barely remember this graphic designer in five minutes, and tomorrow, no chance.
Why didn’t you give more detail?
“I design clickworthy websites + blogs for wellness entrepreneurs. I’m Fiona Reddington, FionasFitBrands.com. Slight cheese factor, I know, but that’s totally me.”
“I work as a wedding designer with women who want seriously non-traditional yet hip weddings on a budget. It’s the most fun ever. I’m actually finishing up work on The Ultimate Indie Wedding Planner, which is a 200-page planning binder. So excited.”
“I speak to college students about branding themselves and building a solid platform way before graduation. The market is not what it once was, and it seems more and more like people need something beyond, or something other than, a degree to find meaningful work.”
Sure, you have to judge the situation. Not everyone asking should get your full life story, but if someone answered you with one of the answers above when you asked the “What do you do?” question, would you be more likely to remember them? Or check out their website later? Or remember to mention them to a friend/colleague in need of services such as theirs?
Brand statements, yo.
Which are, statements that define a brand. Kinda like mission statements. Bite-sized collections of information that help people decide how serious you are about your brand, what your brand even stands for, why what you do matters, and how what you do is different from the 107 people they met (yesterday) who claim to do the same thing.
And. It’s not that the crafting of a brand statement is difficult (I’m gonna show you a formula below), it’s that we forget to do it. It’s that we don’t realize how necessary it is sometimes. It’s that we are all flailing about in business to a certain degree, figuring things out as we go, and sometimes we forget to go back and define what we’ve built.
Today is your day. The day you build a brand statement. The day you stand up and stand out with your words—in a sea of people walking around with “I’m a graphic designer” responses.
Forgive me. I was so bored with that, I fell asleep just typing it.
What I’m about to share is neither rocket science nor business genius. It’s a simple exercise we can all do to make sure we have a solid brand statement on deck. To make sure we’re answering people as completely as possible when they ask us about our work. To make sure we give our brand a chance to form a strong, memorable impression.
And now, I shall be bossy. Here’s how to write a brand statement. Follow these directions, now.
Get out four note cards. Or sticky notes. Or any moveable paper product. Write down the following things, one on each card.
1. Who do you serve?
Hint: Be more specific than whatever you just wrote down.
2. Why do you care?
3. What do you actually provide?
4. What do you offer that’s different from everyone else?
Once you have these items on notecards, all we have to do is move them around to the correct order, abridge some stuff, and make it work. I’ll show you what I mean. Let’s use our crazy wedding planner as an example.
Who do you serve? Brides who want non-tradish weddings on a budget.
Why do you care? Because I was a 20-something with no money who met the love of my life and wanted to get married, without all the traditions that made zero sense to me. It was hard to plan my wedding. I want to help make it simpler for others.
What do you actually provide? Supportive semi-monthly check-ins + co-planning of a wedding.
What do you offer that’s different? Step-by-step guidance via DIY materials. Having pre-packaged materials helps me keep costs low while giving the bride control over the process. I’m still able to help tailor plans to a bride’s desires through check-ins.
Now, let’s try a brand statement in a few different orders:
I help brides who want non-traditional weddings, like the one I had when I had no money but needed to put something together in five weeks. I want other brides to have a simpler, guided process, so I offer DIY planning materials and tailored check-ins to help people through their indie wedding planning. [who you help >> why you care >> what’s different + what you provide]
I’m a non-traditional wedding planner. As in, I help brides plan non-traditional/indie weddings on a budget, but I also do it non-traditionally through DIY materials to keep costs low. It’s the service I needed but didn’t have when I got married. [what you provide/do >> who you help >> what’s different >> why you care]
I use DIY wedding planning materials and tailored check-in meetings to co-plan weddings with non-traditional brides on a budget. It’s the guidance I wish I’d had when planning my own indie wedding in five weeks. It was crazypants, and I don’t want other brides to have to go through it. [why it’s different + what you do >> who you help >> why you care]
In 2 – 3 sentences you can stand out, be firm about why you do what you do, show some personality, and clearly define your brand and who you serve.
I’m listening. Leave me your brand statement in the comments of this post, or come talk to me on social media. I want to hear.
Do it now. Okay—ending my bossy moment. For all the coders out there: </bossy>
Photo: Franz Navarrete