Friday, February 15, 2008

Branding Sara Kurtz Photography

Sara Kurtz is an up-and-coming event photographer who met with me because she loved the work Red Dream Studios did on another event photography, Dominic Fuizzotto. Not only did she want a complete redressing of her portfolio website, but after some talk, it was agreed that a new corporate branding would bring a measure of prestige, professionalism, and freshness to her image.

In talking with Sara, we determined that while it was important to convey that her company provided photographic services, we didn't want to overkill the point with a photograhic icon. We therefore made the logo "her own" by incorporating a dragonfly -- an insect that for her represented grace, beauty, and wonder. I naturally agreed to this because for me, injecting personal flavours into a brand is what makes the company adhere to the imagery the most.

In order to get the classical, professional look, we used a very scripted font, and in the end, placed the dragonfly along the path of one of the letter's loops to give the illusion that the dragonfly had traced the path of the lettering. In this manner, we were able to tie together the script with the icon -- one of the hallmarks of good logo design.

Sara's new logo is shown below:

For more information, visit Red Dream Studios.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

About Branding: "Be you because others are already taken"

Although he doesn't quite realize it, Mitch Joel, President of TwistImage, a digital marketing agency (and somewhat of a minor competitor to Red Dream Studios, although not really, but I digress) has been somewhat of a mentor to me. Mitch left the corporate 9-to-5 world several years ago to become a digital marketing guru, reknowned blogger and podcaster, and sought-after speaker who has shared the stage with former President Bill Clinton, Dr. Phil, and Anthony Robbins.

Several years ago, I sat in a very small room at YES Montreal to listen to one of his presentations about personal branding. His insights were compelling to say the least. It transformed me, and essentially helped propel my own desire to leave the workforce and become my own company brand. I too was then eager to start spreading the gospel of personal and corporate branding and have had the pleasure of being a guest speaker about the "art of entrepreneuring" last Fall at the very same YES Montreal.

So on this Valentine's Day, I will pay hommage to one Mitch Joel, by pilfering a transcript of an interview he conducted with the amazing Susan Bratton. Susan is the co-founder and CEO of Personal Life Media, Inc. a podcast publishing company producing 15 weekly audio shows and companion blogs on personal growth, relationships, longevity and spirituality for people on the leading edge of culture. I recently have had the honour of linking together with her on LinkedIn.

Here are some excerpts of Mitch's wisdom:

Susan Bratton: So I want to go back to personal branding. That’s a subject about which you speak. I would really love your advice for our listens who, in today’s world, “Who in business doesn’t need to have their own personal brand?” With things like the vanity experience of things like our Facebook pages or our blogs or our Pod Casts or whatever we might be doing. Tell us how to marry personal branding in today’s world with some of the technology applications.

Mitch Joel: I think a lot of the things to just clarify; a lot of people think I need a personal brand or need to develop a personal brand but that’s actually not really the case scenarios where the toothpaste is already out of the tube. It’s got a personal brand, it already is. What I tell people is, “If you’re not working on your personal brand, other people are for you.” And that’s really what it’s about. It’s about understanding who you are.

I know what happens. When I say personal branding I know people are going to thinks, “Oh he’s going to give me a bunch of tips and tricks to connect and it’s totally the opposite. And I think that’s why my personal branding message seems to be resonating with bigger and bigger groups.” Because what I’m trying to say to people is, “Find out who you truly are and what you’re really about; your values, your goals, beliefs.” That’s actually part one of what I talk about.

I have three conversations when I tell people what personal branding is about. The first one is your internal conversation. What are your values, goals, and beliefs? What do you stand for? Two is your one to one conversation. How do you connect that to people? And this is where it gets tricky because people think about networking and their elevator pitch. Those things are really important but they’re not good if they are not based off of your internal conversation or based off of authenticity. What I tell people is, if you’re really introverted and shy that’s fine. You’re goal is to actually connect with people who are like you. You’re goal isn’t to try and get you out of there because it doesn’t really work long-term. It’s not a good long-term strategy.

The third conversation, which is the one you are actually asking me about; is what I call the one to many conversation. Traditionally, marketers were the only people that could have a one too many conversations by advertising campaigns or they would do PR. So they would be able to connect their message onto millions upon millions of people. Now through the web and all these individual channels, people like you and I can express our personal brand or get our message out there to millions of people for practically nothing. It is things like blogging, and Pod Casting or social networking. You are absolutely right. They are amazing tools to connect.

But what you need to actually figure out is, “Where are the right communities of people I am trying to connect with?” Is it Facebook? Is it Linked In? Is it both? Is it one or the other? Or it’s a My Space page or maybe it’s not online social networking. It’s having your own domain and creating a blog on it on the kind of thing you are interested in creating. And that is really what it’s about. It’s about understanding that these three conversations are about marketing yourself. People say things like, “I’m not here to sell myself.” But we all are. All of us want to be better family people, better in our community, better at work so we can make more money and connect more. All these things are all about your personal brand and how it’s perceived out there in the quote unquote marketplace that I like to call the world.

I leverage these channels because they exist. They are very very powerful. Never before could I have met people who are interested in hard rock music, public speaking and digital marketing. But now I am connected to 1000s of people who like the exact same stuff that I do and we are intrinsically connected. It’s an amazing experience.

I would say, “Shame on the person who thinks they are too old for the internet or they don’t get it.” It’s so simple and it’s so easy to use that there really isn’t a barrier to entry at this point.

Susan Bratton: One of the things you have done a really good job with, a continuity around who you are with your “Six Pixels” moniker, and creating your Facebook groups. Let’s talk about Facebook groups and let’s talk about how you’ve built audiences for various things; blogs, Pod Casts, Facebook, etc.

Mitch Joel: Yes. I have a really different perspective on it. When people come and see I have over 1,000 friends or over 1,000 people in my “Six Pixels of Separation” Pod Cast as a society group they ask, ”Why? Why would you want to be connected to that many people?” It goes back to having a very early in the internet game, very early on. And what I learned, very early on, being a journalist and having content published all the time was that; I pretty much resigned my privacy. [laughs] It’s just out there. It is.

What I learned from that, in terms of the blog and Pod Cast about Facebook is, “I am actually a media channel. All of us have become media channel. Every time you post a picture in Facebook, every time you post a link, an event, a group, you are broad casting that to your entire network. That is your personal brand and that is your media. It’s who you are.”

So I actually use Facebook as a media channel. Like a TV station is looking to get audience members, I looking to get people that want to be part of my community. I am looking for people who are interested in digital marketing, digital branding, public speaking and those sorts of things. It is actually pretty easy. Part of the reason why it is working for me is because I’m a very community centric person. It’s not actually about me. It’s about the community. So what I actually do is act as a connector.
I think that’s probably one of my best gifts. I presume my parents gave that to me as a value or belief system. But my goal isn’t to get the benefit for me. My goal is to help two other people get the benefit from that. I think the dividends I’ll receive from serendipity and other things that will happen and what I call, “Givers gain” make it that much more powerful for me. So, I look at it really differently. My job and role in all of these online social networks is to help more people connect. And if they are doing it through me, then that’s just amazing.

I guess what I learned in this 15 years of interviewing literally everybody in the music industry and entertainment industry is that creative people aren’t necessarily marketers and marketers aren’t necessarily creative people but in and of themselves they had a real uniqueness to them. Whether it was rap or rock or heavy metal or whatever it was, each person had a really, really, unique character. So you see if you tie that into something a nugget of truth or something. It’s a very obvious to me. It’s Oscar Wilde line. Oscar Wilde said, “Be you, because others have already been taken.”

It’s so true, when I teach digital marketing or I teach digital branding for clients all I’m asking is, “Others are already taken, let’s do something unique. Let’s try to stand out or not stand out. Maybe being unique is not standing out. And so I would say be you because others are already taken.”

To read the full transcript, click here.

For more information, visit Red Dream Studios.