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You are your own brand. Design it

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Your Name is a Business

Reimagining Brands

When reimagining brands for our clients, we often like to ask the question: “If your brand were a real person, who would they be? Describe that person to us.” At first, this may seem like a strange question to ask. How can a brand be a person? How does this question help with the design process?

Believe it or not, this very question yields tons of valuable information about the brand and the company it represents. By describing their brand as a person, we begin to understand the values, company culture, style and mission of our client’s company. We begin to understand the true identity of their brand.

However, this post is not about brand identity. This post is about you being your own personal brand, and representing yourself accordingly.

The question we would like to pose to you is:

“If you were a brand, how would you describe yourself?”

Your Name is Your Brand

What do people immediately think about when they hear your name? Successful? Lazy? Kind? Arrogant? Go-getter? Untrustworthy? Conservative? Risk-Taker? Reliable?

Your name is your brand, and like all of the major world brands, you must work hard to build the reputation of your brand. Companies invest significant time and large amounts of money in shaping their brand reputation and connecting certain characteristics and qualities to their brand name.

For instance:

  • Dove = Beauty
  • Ford = Tough
  • Coca Cola = Happiness

In a similar fashion, you should be intentionally shaping your personal brand to match the characteristics and qualities you want your name to stand for. If you want to be known for punctuality, make sure you are arriving to meetings early. If you want to be known for great communication, don’t wait a week before responding to emails.  Do you want to be viewed as a professional? Then you might want to hold off from posting all of those drunken party pictures on your social media sites.

List the attributes you want to be known for, and allow those attributes to act as the anchor in your personal code of conduct.

Your Brand Needs a Tagline

All the awesome brands have a solid tagline:

  • Nike = Just Do It
  • Apple = Think Different
  • Olay = Love the skin you’re in
  • Under Armour = I Will
  • YouTube = Broadcast yourself

What is your tagline? According to 10 Tips for a Remarkable Tagline, a good tagline should communicate a story and what you stand for in just a few words. Creating a good tagline for yourself helps you stay centered and focused. It becomes your own personal mantra that you live by. It helps you define your personal brand.

Check out this quote by Albert Einstein:

In other words, if you don’t truly know yourself, you may have some trouble crafting an accurate tagline. If you can’t explain who you are and what you stand for, how are you supposed to promote yourself to the professional world? How are you supposed to position yourself for success?

Take some time to come up with a few drafts of what your tagline might be. Need some help? Involve your friends, family and colleagues. You might receive some valuable feedback on how others currently view your personal brand.

Operate Like a Business

Learn how to operate like a business when it comes to your personal brand. Know your core values, base your decisions on how it would effect your brand, strategically present yourself on social media, and be mindful of how you conduct yourself in social settings. Your personal brand is ALWAYS in motion and is constantly under observation. Make your brand work for you.

This excellent infographic designed by Beehooved illustrates the elements of treating your personal brand as a business:

Design the Story of Your Brand

Every brand needs a story and you are a master storyteller. Be conscious and intentional in designing the story of your brand. 

“A brand is really nothing more than the sum of conversations being had about it.”

Dave Caroll  

TedX

The ultimate goal is to design a brand for yourself that you are proud of. However, it won’t happen overnight, it’s a process. True to the design process, you will have to constantly prototype and refine. Be open to feedback and modify accordingly. Embrace failure and learn from it. And please remember, just like any relevant world brand, you can evolve and enhance over time.

(Call to Action)

If you’re interested in reimagining your own personal brand and need some help designing it, please click below (insert bitly link that directs to our contacts page)

– Written by Gabriel Lomeli, Jr.

Twitter: @G_Lomeli_Jr

Land a meeting with almost anyone in 5 easy steps

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The Information Interview 

Landing an in-person meeting is the golden ticket in the networking world. Whether you are in sales or marketing, looking for a new career, or maybe you are an entrepreneur looking for a major funder, an in-person meeting with your target person can heavily influence your success. In a world where time is money and everyone has their calendars filled to the brim, how is it possible to reach out to someone you have never talked to and convince them to meet with you in person?

 

Well, it’s not as difficult as you may think.

 We have a strategy called The Information Interview that can help you land a meeting with almost anyone you’d like. We say ‘almost anyone’ because the president of the United States might be a bit challenging to reach, however, we are not totally ruling it out.

 

What is an Information Interview?

Simply put, an Information Interview is a meeting that you set up with a person that you are genuinely curious about to retrieve as much information from them as possible. It is more of a conversation than an actual interview.

The Information Interview is a strategy we taught our students in the Designing Your Life course. Our students were given the assignment of using the information interview to schedule a meeting with someone who works at a company or field they were interested in. The rate of success was incredible. Most, if not all, of our students were able to a schedule a meeting or phone call with their target person.

Currently, our team at Conclave uses the information interview for networking and to establishing new partnerships.

Take a look at how to land an Information Interview in 5 easy steps below:

 1.Do your research

First, you must do the proper research on the person you want to meet with before reaching out to them. Look them up on Google, check out their LinkedIn profile, and even feel free to skim their social media pages to learn more about their professional and social interests and achievements.

 

2.Find common ground

Look for any subjects or topics that you share in common with your target person. Did you graduate from the same school? Do you have similar hobbies? Have you worked on similar projects? Do you cheer for the same sports team? Any piece of information you can find that links the two of you together is golden. This information will play an important role when crafting your message to them.Send a Note – Make it about THEM

 

3. Craft a message

Now that you have done the proper research and have found some common ground, you are now ready to craft a message. Take a look at these example introduction messages below:

 

Example #1

 Hello, my name is Gabriel Lomeli. I am interested in learning more about your company. I am an entrepreneur in the creative media industry and am looking to expand my network. I am looking for collaborators for my current project. Would you be open to meeting in person? Please let me know.

 

Example #2

 Hello, my name is Gabriel Lomeli. I came across your LinkedIn profile and noticed that you are a Creative Director at GoPro. That sounds fascinating! I’m also in the creative industry, and it would be great to hear all about your story over lunch or a cup of coffee (my treat). Would you happen to have a 30 minute slot open in your schedule next week for an in-person meeting or phone call?

What would you say is the main difference between examples #1 and #2? As you  may have noticed, example #1 is all about me, while example #2 is all about them. When attempting to land an information interview, you have to center your first message around your target person. It will highly increase your chances of receiving a response.

Let’s break down the elements that make Example #2 a much more inviting message:

    • Hello, my name is Gabriel Lomeli.
      • Introduce yourself. Short and sweet.
  • I came across your LinkedIn profile and noticed that you are a Creative Director at GoPro.
      • Let them know that you intentionally did research on them and that you know exactly who they are and what they do for a living.
  • That sounds fascinating!
      • “You think I’m fascinating? What a coincidence, I think I’m fascinating too!” Boom – instant rapport established. Everyone thinks they are fascinating – let them know that you agree. You both already have that in common.
  • I’m also in the creative industry…
  • Establish more common ground by highlighting interests/work in common.
  • …and it would be great to hear all about your story over lunch or a cup of coffee (my treat).
    • The one thing that everybody loves to talk about…is themselves. Give them the opportunity to do so by asking to hear their story.
    • Sweeten the deal by offering to buy them coffee or lunch.

4. Follow-up

 After crafting your message, go ahead and let it fly. We recommend sending your message through email or LinkedIn’s messaging system.

If you’re lucky, you will receive a prompt response. If not, make sure to follow up with them. If you are targeting a senior level person, chances are that your message got lost in their inbox. A good rule of thumb is to wait a week before following up with them. It is okay to follow up at least 3 times if you do not receive a reply. 

 

5. Ask a BUNCH of questions 

Once you receive a response from your target person and have successfully set up a day and time to meet, make sure you come fully prepared for the information interview. Write down anywhere between 20 – 50 questions to ask (seriously, 20 – 50!). Ask as many as you can in the duration of the interview. 

What I have found during the information interviews that I have conducted is that at some point during the conversation, my subject will say: “ahh, I feel like I have been talking about myself this whole time. Enough about me, what about you?

 Bingo.

At this point, you can talk about your own interests and goals, along with your background, and begin to explore ways in which the two of you can collaborate. It is an organic and authentic approach to networking and exploring new professional opportunities.

Outcomes from an Information Interview

You would be surprised how many great opportunities can sprout from a good information interview. You can receive additional referrals, job offers, and/or valuable information and advice for your professional career. Approach all information interviews with an open mind and be open to all possibilities. Do not pass up an opportunity to reach out to someone that you would like to connect with – some people are just waiting to tell you their story.

 

Written by Gabriel Lomeli, Jr.

Kick Start Your Creativity

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The Mind-Map

A Design Thinking Tool

Being creative is hard work. Most people take the easy way out and declare: “I’m just not a creative person!” Well, as it turns out, that is not entirely true. According to the good folks over at the d.School at Stanford University, everyone is creative – you just have to practice it as a skill.

Before working full time with Conclave, I had the awesome experience of working as a lecturer with the School of Design at Stanford University for two years. I was on the d.Life teaching team led by Dave Evans and Bill Burnett. We taught students the elements of design thinking and how they can be applied to various industries and life experiences. One of the courses we taught was called Designing Your Life. In this class, one of the modules I taught was centered around the practice of Mind-Mapping to help spark creative ideas.

How does the Mind-Map work?

The Mind-Map is a quick and easy way to kick your creative skills into gear when you are feeling stuck. Although it is designed to be done individually, you can easily do it within a team environment and share your results.

The steps are simple:

Step 1

  • Write a topic of your choice in the middle of a paper
  • Draw a line to the 1st thing that comes to mind
  • Repeat 4 -7 times from the center point
  • Do the same thing 3 – 7 times from each topic
  • Repeat out to 3 – 5 idea layers

You want to use free word association while you are doing this. Write down your first topic, then immediately write down the next thing that comes to your mind, and so on and so forth. The topics in the outer layer do not have to be directly related to the topic in the middle.

For instance, let’s say I wanted to design my next summer vacation. I could use the Mind-Map to come up with some quick wild and creative ideas to help me think outside of the box. Take a look at my mind map below:

Step 2

Once you have completed mind-mapping all of your ideas, combine 2 or more things from the periphery of your mapUse an unusual combination of things. Take a look at the topics I chose in the outer layer:

Step 3

After you have chosen 2 or 3 things from the outer layer, combine them to design a brand new idea related to your main topic. In my Mind-Map, I chose the subjects: Pirates, Reggae, and Puerto Rico. Based on these subjects, here is the new vacation idea I created:

“My next vacation will take place in Puerto Rico where we will cruise the island on a pirate-themed ship (costumes and all), while a live reggae band plays on deck.”

Boom. Best vacation ever. Thank you, Mind-Map.

Using the Mind-Map at work

If your job is anything like mine, you understand how stressful coming up with creative ideas under a deadline can be. Here at the Conclave, we continuously have to create and design new concepts, ideas and innovative strategies for our clients. We like to keep our ideas fresh by practicing and utilizing several ideation tools, especially the Mind-Map. For instance, if we have a client who needs a few ideas for a commercial we need to produce, I like to do a few Mind-Maps to help create some new concepts I can share with my team. It is a quick and easy tool that helps us gain some momentum in spitting out a bunch of ideas, and gets the ball rolling on the ideation phase.

Being creative is contagious. Being creative is also about having fun. Next time you feel yourself “stuck” in any ideation phases, pull out the Mind-Map tool and have some fun with it. You never know what kind of cool and innovative ideas you might come up with! Good luck, and “Design on!”

Bonus***

The Mind-Map can also be used in places outside of work. If you’re up for it, try mind-mapping your next birthday party, vacation or family reunion!

-Written by Gabriel Lomeli, Jr.

Connecting with People through Storytelling

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(image is featured on Science of Storytelling)

Stories are how we connect with people. When we share our experiences or information through storytelling, our listeners begin to connect what they are hearing to some of their own experiences. Through this process rapport is built, along with credibility and trust. Meaning is embedded in the stories we tell. As you can imagine, this is why the practice of storytelling is huge in the fields of digital marketing and creative media.

Let’s take a look at storytelling in a social setting, and then dig into the science behind the actual practice of storytelling. Lastly, we’ll dive into how we here at Conclave Agency use stories in our digital media strategies.

 

Stories ready to go

I always have a few go-to stories in my back pocket to share with others at parties or networking events to get the conversations going. For instance, sometimes I tell people about the time I interviewed a woman on film at a fundraising event but had no idea who she was until after I finished the interview. It turned out she was Laurene Powell. Or sometimes I tell people about the time I accidentally drew a giant phallic symbol on a whiteboard in front of an entire class of Stanford University students while demonstrating how to create a MindMap (ask me about it later – it’s a real knee slapper).

Although these experiences were a bit embarrassing at the time, I have found that they make for great stories to tell to break the ice in social and professional settings. Of course, not all the stories I tell are humorous, but I make sure they contain some sort of key takeaway or insight. By sharing a story or two with colleagues or potential clients, I am able to establish an immediate foundation of trust, comfort, and rapport. Not to mention, it’s a great way to show others that you have the ability to laugh at yourself and/or learn and grow from past experiences.

When you share a story, it’s like planting seeds in the world, and sometimes they sprout new opportunities.

 

The Science of Storytelling

“When we tell stories to others that have really helped us shape our thinking and way of life, we can have the same effect on them too. The brains of the person telling a story and listening to it can synchronize…”

As it turns out, there is an actual science behind the practice of storytelling. During my time as a lecturer, we would have our students read the The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains for homework. It is a super easy and fascinating read. Below, I have outlined some of the key points that jumped out at me:

  1. We are more likely to remember a story than a list of boring facts
  2. Different parts of our brains are activated when we are being told a story as opposed to other methods of communication. If we are being fed facts and tidbits of information, we are only using a part of our brain to process the information. However, when being told a story, our whole brain is put to use.
  3. When listening to a story, we automatically want to connect it to one (or more) of our own existing experiences. This, in turn, helps us build empathy and an authentic connection with storytellers (this is HUGE in marketing and sales).

 

How Conclave uses Storytelling in video concepts

Here at the Conclave, we use storytelling in several of our projects including website design, video, proposals, and presentations. We believe in connecting audiences to the mission and values of unique brands of the clients we work with. The best way to do this, is through storytelling.

One great example of how we do this is through our collaboration with ASUS Computers. ASUS computers was launching new technological products and wanted to introduce them to their customers and online audience. One way to do that is by producing a standard product video showcasing the product and having a qualified representative explain every one of its new technical features…

 

Sounds kind of boring!

Although that style of video would be effective in informing its viewers of the new product features, it would be no different from someone retrieving that information from an online article or product website.

Instead, our team and the team at ASUS decided to use the power of storytelling to demonstrate how these products can be beneficial in the everyday lives of their users. After presenting several video concepts, we produced five short videos to live on their company YouTube channel – each with a unique story demonstrating how their new products can benefit their users.

The results? SUCCESS. We were able to meet and exceed each one of ASUS Computers project goals and expectations, including reaching over a million combined views on YouTube.

 

Here are the completed videos: 

 

It’s All About Connecting With People

 

Whether you are on a marketing team and need to come up with the next super viral campaign, or if you are at a family gathering or networking event and would like to engage others in your experiences, storytelling is a skill worth practicing and obtaining. Seize any and every opportunity to share a story with those around you. Add stories in your presentations, conversations, and work projects. Be on the lookout for other storytellers and observe their style of casual presentation. Remember, the purpose of telling a good story is to connect with others. You’ll be surprised to learn how many stories you’ll receive in return from your listeners.
-Written by Gabriel Lomeli, Jr.