Monday, June 6, 2011

Why Being 'Sticky' is a Good Thing!

For those that have worked with me, you know that I often steal (in the nicest possible way!) ideas from one discipline to apply to another. I think that you are able to learn lessons from almost anywhere and apply them to your own life and situation. Such is the case with the concept of 'stickiness'.

In 2000, Malcolm Gladwell wrote his definitive book TheTipping Point. (for those that haven't read this yet - and you should! - I've provided the link below). It was in this book that he first introduced us to the concept of The Stickiness Factor, which was one of the key determinants of whether an innovation would 'tip', would become an overwhelming success.

This concept rang a bell with the brothers Heath (Chip and Dan) who were busy investigating a different phenomena. They were trying to determine the specific elements that made ideas memorable. They then went on to publish their book... Made to Stick. Although both of these works focused on making ideas or products sticky, I think there are strong messages concerning what makes your own personal brand sticky as well. What makes you memorable?

Chip and Dan Heath define 6 basic characteristics of sticky ideas. Let's take a look at each and see how they might relate to your developing a strong and memorable brand.

Sticky Principle 1 - Simplicity

An idea must be both simple and profound for others to not just remember it, but to want to remember it. Your brand message needs to also be simple. Too many people try to highlight everything they are and bring to the table, which tends to dilute their message and decrease their memorability. Instead, focus on two or three key elements that truly define you and build your brand around those. These are those messages that you want to be top of mind with your associates and audience whenever they think of you. The more consistent these are across circumstances and audiences, the stronger your branded message.

Sticky Principle 2 - Unexpectedness

Ideas need to generate interest and curiosity, in order for them to endure. So do you. Although you don't want to build your brand around the 100 or so skills and abilities you have, you do want your audience to recognize that you are more than just your overall branded message. You need them to be curious about you, to want to learn more about you. The better you are around driving this interest the stronger and stickier your brand.

Sticky Principle 3 - Concreteness

The stickiest ideas tend to be those that are made clear through the use of concrete images; descriptions that help your audience to clearly identify and relate to the message. Ensure that your brand is clear. Don't fill your description of who you are with so much jargon that your audience is left wondering. You want them to remember it, not run from it! Use analogies, metaphors, and twists on proverbs if they help to provide the clarity your audience needs to understand exactly who you are, what you do and what you stand for.

Sticky Principle 4 - Credibility

To make an idea sticky, it often requires credibility. It might not be sticky just because you say so, but having an expert say so is enough to tip it over the edge. Consider then, how important it might be to have others selling your brand for you, rather than yours being the only voice speaking to your value. This is the benefit of focusing your brand on two or three key elements. Creating a strong branded message means that your audience is clear about what you represent. As a result, they are more likely to speak up on your behalf, share with others what you represent. Although it is often necessary for you to toot your horn, it is much more powerful to get others to do it for you.

Sticky Principle 5 - Emotions

We know that if we are to win people over to our ideas that we need to get them to feel something. So too with our personal brand. If we can present ourselves and our brand in a way that helps our audience to relate and connect to us, then we will definitely be remembered (and more favorably!) than those that don't. Make sure that you have your audience in mind when you are crafting and, in particular, delivering your message. Always be clear about how you want the other party to respond to and feel about your message. This will determine how you need to present it, in order to evoke those reactions and responses.

Sticky Principle 6 - Stories

Stories have proven to be a great tool to help drive people to action. Great presenters use stories to help draw their audience into their presentation and to make their ideas more memorable. Great marketers use stories to help people relate to their products and to help potential customers remember what their product does. If we want that same experience, we are driven to purchase their product. When it comes to your brand, you too can use stories to help your audience to understand not just what you do but, especially, what you can do for them. In addition, stories are repeatable. We have been retelling stories we have been told since we were children. Sharing a story about yourself gives your audience something that they can immediately connect to and restate, making them marketing ambassadors for you, helping to extend your brand message.

There you have it; six simple but sticky ideas to help you to stand out and be more memorable. Apply them and, like in their commercials, your clients won’t just be stuck on band-aids… they’ll be stuck on you!

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