Everyone likes a winner. Have you ever noticed when a sports team wins a championship even people from other regions buy and wear the winning team’s paraphernalia? It’s as if by wearing the team’s logo you yourself are elevated in status. (In all fairness, if you wear a Red Sox cap, you do go up a few notches.)
We like to be associated with success. When we watch the Olympics or American Idol, we route especially hard for the person who is from our city or state. They somehow represent us except…they don’t. We haven’t actually done anything, unless you count grabbing a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s and cheering from the couch.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to cheer for your favorite sports team or support your local talent. What isn’t good is when we find our identification as a business person wrapped up in the reputation of our favorite guru du jour. We do a kind of weird reverse projection. Instead of projecting our baggage onto someone else, we suck their brand onto ourselves.
I do think it’s good to emulate success and I even think it’s useful to model yourself after people you admire. However, in order to be truly successful in your own right, you must find your own, authentic voice. Or as Judy Garland put it “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” This is especially true in branding.
There is all kinds of research that shows being first is very important to brand success. Most people prefer Coke over Pepsi, Hertz over Avis and Tide of Wisk detergent. But being first to the game isn’t always possible, especially for entrepreneurs. We know there are already thousands of health coaches, life coaches, CPA’s, yoga instructors etc. out there. How could you possible be number one? You make a new category.
For entrepreneurs, this means, you make the category YOU. There are very few new services in the world. Human beings basically need help with their health, money, emotions, relationships, spirituality and businesses with possibly a few more things sprinkled in. It’s pretty much been this way for thousands of years.
Showing up as business owners to meet those needs is nothing new. What is new is you. The more you can exploit who you are, the more likely you will rise to numero uno status. And just how to do exploit yourself?
Here are few things to think about so you can be a cool cat and not a copy cat:
1. Strategery. If George Bush can do it, so can you. Use language that is unique to you. Do you say “rock on Dude” or “way to go?” Do you say “I’m going to get going now” or “I’m gonna bounce?” When you get deep into an industry, it’s easy to get sucked into sounding like everyone else. Find your own words.
2. Dare to be different. Who says you have to a newsletter? Maybe you’d do great with an online magazine. Or maybe different for you means sticking to your nerdy guns when everyone else is trying to out “cool” each other by dropping f-bombs left and right.
3. Learn to twist. If you do want to do something where you see someone else having success, do it, but put your own twist on things. It could be the way you package things. Or it could be the focus or angle you take. For example, if you are money coach, instead of having people cut their expenses you might have them do a budget where they factor in fun money first.
4. Make some playdough. When you stop trying to be unique is when the magic usually happens. And more often then not your creativity flows when you are playing. So whatever playing means to you, doing crossword puzzles or going for a run, do more of it. You will find a state of flow and your organic genius will speak to you.
Just remember, we’re not number one. YOU are number one.
Your feedback is music to my ears!
What do you do in your business that uniquely expresses who you are?
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If you would like to use this article on your website or ezine, feel free! Just be sure to include the following:Heather Poduska is a brand strategist, business coach and opera singer who helps entrepreneurs and small business owners create client attractive brands, polished brand images and brand communication strategies to increase their visibility and impact in the marketplace and grow their businesses.