We live in an increasingly technological world. It feels like the advancement of technology is progressing at such a rate that us, mere biological creatures, cannot keep up. Considering social media as an example; we developed a communication tool so powerful to connect the world, offer instant feedback and inform us, but little did we predict the weapon we had simultaneously created. A tool for the sharing and coordination of hatred, a device to create and spread fake news, a data collector for corruption, not to mention the destructive psychological impact the tool can incite from loneliness to jealousy and bullying. In a recent Vanity Fair edition (August 2018), the creator of the internet Berners-Lee documented his “pain” that his “creation” has been so “distorted”. How could something designed for such good morph into something so damaging?
We live in strange times, on the cusp, at the edge. Our world is fast automating, becoming more digital, less emotional but simultaneously more hostile. At its centre is us. Humans. The flawed, sensitive creatures who are highly emotive and highly corruptible but also incredible in their making. The only creatures who are proven to experience full consciousness, can imagine their future and make complex decisions weighing up logic and love.
Being human and the common ancestral trends and psychological, emotional motivators that still bind us, are something we should not forget especially now. It is this part of us that we should still speak to, even when encased in technology.
The Power of Being Personal is the title of many of my talks, and this is both abstract and literal; being a person and being personal. It really all comes down to being emotive. There have been considerable studies into the emotional drivers that influence and inform our decision making, and from my perspective, the consequential buying process. Dr Herbert Simon, American Nobel Laureate scientist featured in Forbes, discusses the impact of external stimuli on our emotional bias and how this translates into actionable feelings. We act on two circles of influence; one inner and one outer. The subconscious (inner) moving and informing the conscious (outer). Simply put, we “feel” first. Then we “do”.
Similarly, Mary Lamia, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and contributor to Psychology Today offers an interesting contribution as she talks about the power of our emotional evolution and our reaction to triggers which we simply cannot suppress. She comments that while “emotions are not particularly sophisticated or precise, their speed and utility make up for what they lack in sophistication and precision” (tapping into that speed of decision making by offering something that people connect with emotionally). Something slightly intangible, so much so that people don’t really “think” about why you, your brand, your products or services resonate with them, they just feel compelled to follow, like, comment, engage, interact and buy. According to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, a huge 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious (inc.com).
This research and opinion is just a drop in the ocean of what has been investigated but safe to say it is worth investing time and energy considering how personal you are in your business, and how you can capture people’s attention for more engagement, opportunities and revenue.
But how do we keep it human?
Start with your values. Values are the core drivers and motivators we all have. Values are part of your fabric, your make up, those things that motivate you to get out of bed in the morning, make a difference, spread optimism, change the world. Companies spend billions curating their own brand values and trying to instil these in their staff, or else to find talent who represent their specific values. The hardest part of defining your values comes down to self-awareness. How often do we look in the mirror and really reflect? How often do we have the time to consider and actualise our real motivators? (This unfortunately comes back to the technological world we live in, that seeks to constantly distract us).
Another challenge to this process is conditioning. It is easier to follow the programming of society, aligning yourself to existing ideologies rather than spend resource defining the parameters of your own belief systems. The reason I believe this to be true is the bamboozled look I get from many clients when I ask them what drives them, what they are passionate about, what their values might be. So, an easier start for this is maybe what don’t you like, what do you stand against? If you stand against division, arrogance and corruption, maybe your values are collaboration, humility and integrity. No one can tell you what your values are. You need to find the time, without distraction to consider these. But I would recommend you find about five values that resonate with you as a starting point.
Personal Branding really comes into its own when you translate your values, drivers, motivators into something tangible and of benefit to others. If you have defined your values and demonstrate true congruence in the way you conduct your communications, you will start to gain a natural following. However, when you purposefully ensure your values can speak to others in a really definable way, this is when people can see the benefit you represent for them and will truly engage.
A great method I use with clients is the “but why” and I always like to reference the tenacity of children here who constantly seek to discover the why.
Example, I choose “giving” as a value.
But why? Because I want to help others.
But why? Because I see that when people have tools, they are better in business.
But why? Because humans love to apply learning.
But why? Because we want to help others.
But why? Because we want to feel good.
This of course can go any number of routes depending on the answer for example it could include the fact that we are time poor and people want tools to enable them to operate more efficiently in business which in turn might make them be perceived as more successful. But asking “but why” helps to drill down on the specifics and starts to unpick the benefits that people will gain from you.
There are any number of ways you can translate values into tangible takeaways for others, most of them different content options from top tips to how-to guides and shortcuts that enable others to extract concise value from you. But we always need to ensure we always focus on the emotive. How do we make people feel? A great colleague of mine has a saying “make them feel, make them follow.” We encourage people to feel by communicating effectively in a very human way, showcasing our vulnerability and tell stories. Not only does this practice make us more authentic as people, we can tap into that 95% who buy for subconscious, emotionally driven reasons.
Personal Branding operates as one significant method in the heady world of digital technology that can enable us to reflect on who we are, why we do what we do and how this positively impacts other humans. Whilst many approach marketing as an output tool that contributes to the already infinite content that exists across the world, keeping it personal through the implementation of Personal Branding techniques and communicating in a more person-centric manner, enables all of us to hold on to that undefinable feeling that truly motivates us. We live in a technological world; this is a fact that we cannot ignore and an environment we cannot predict. The only constant control in this is us, our emotive, sometimes irrational selves. And whether for more sales, or more genuine connection, keeping in personal is the only way to cut through the digital noise and truly help others.