Let Your Freak Flag Fly: Generate a Magnetic Brand Experience

I recently learned that my good friend, Catherine Juon was a marathon runner. Maybe I’m late to the party but WHAT?! A MARATHON RUNNER! I had three reactions to this interesting piece of news that she just casually threw out in an email.

One: I now understand why she has that freaky, Jedi calm demeanor that masks a fierce competitor. 

Two: I honestly did not feel a hint of jealously because I recently celebrated running for one minute on the treadmill at Planet Fitness (I immediately treated myself to the fabulous whole body massage vibrating machine for 12 minutes. YEAH!). 

Three: I went to her website immediately but didn’t ‘see’ this fabulousness there either anecdotally or directly. I have to admit, I felt let down. The natural correlation of her marathon training to the patience and discipline required to manage a 12-24 month SEO or digital marketing campaign is striking.

[Pause for a confession] I have mad respect for Catherine Juon and I think that the brilliant color of her red hair is directly responsible for the leaf changes in Michigan. Just look up next time you’re outside and say, 'There goes that Catherine again, showing off.’ So, everything I’m sharing is done with the utmost respect and admiration. I want the world to know not just what she can do, but why she’s the one to do it.

That’s the stuff behind her brand that can draw people in and keep them there. That’s the…wait for it…the story of Catherine Juon. But, she must tell that story.

Catherine is just one of literally thousands of examples where we as entrepreneurs literally lead with the product or service we’re offering. When we lead with product, we voluntarily jump into an extremely crowded, noisy box of 'That’s similar to …’, 'I can do that …, or worse 'what…did you say something?’ Sally Hogshead, author of 'How the World Sees You’, describes these three beasts of burden as:

* Distraction
* Competition
* Commoditization

She writes: 'Distraction is a jealous mistress….it lures people away from you and your message. Competition can lead you down the wrong path, leaving you stuck playing someone else’s game. Finally, if distraction is the jealous mistress, commoditization is the silent assassin, permeating your relationships with complacency transforming you into a generic replica.’

So, how do you win and overcome these beasts of burden? It’s simple. Build a powerful narrative that leverages your secret sauce: You.

Your journey which include all of the victories and defeats, tears, fears and regrets are relatable and key to building an authentic experience. It’s life. Robert McKee from the Harvard Business Review writes, 'Self-knowledge is the root of all great storytelling. The more you understand your own humanity, the more you can appreciate the humanity of others in all their good-versus-evil struggles….Great storytellers are skeptics who understand their own masks as well as the masks of life, and this understanding makes them humble. They see the humanity in others and deal with them in a compassionate, yet realistic way. That duality makes for a wonderful leader.’

Finding your story (the right one) is not easy to do, especially, when the first thing that comes to mind is, 'I have so many stories, examples, etc. Where do I start?’ Start with one that conveys the clearest and most relevant experience that explains what drives you to do what you do and the way that you do it. Keep building your narrative from there. Next time, we’ll explore how to take that narrative and connect it with what inspires your top three fans.

In the meantime, do two things for me: Own Your Advantage: YOU and let your freak flag fly, love! Trust me. The world will be a better place if you do. Stay fabulous