Personal branding is all about telling a story. We’ve all got one. The more outlandish (but true) and memorable, the better.
As Sally Hogshead says ( www.HowToFascinate.com ): “Different is better than better”.
We’ve all got a personal brand.
It’s just a matter of discovering that special thing we all have that is unique to us – then using it to create a memorable tagline.
Because after you meet someone for the first time – how will they remember you?
Or what are you using in the first sentence of your LinkedIn profile that could spark someone to take a second look?
Your tagline is a handle you give people so they remember you.
The story you tell every time you meet someone for the first time or when your latest article post flows across my LinkedIn feed.
To get that second look, sprinkle a little intrigue. The line said in passing, written on your business card (do we have those anymore?), in the footer of your website or in your LinkedIn profile.
I’m going to show you how my own Tagline came about and then I’ll show you the 3 guiding principles that will help create yours.
You see, I’m that marketing guy who drank tea with the Bee Gees.
Tea with the Bee Gees
A cloudless Spring day in Los Angeles 1997 we arrived by black stretch limousine at the 24th Annual American Music Awards.
We’d come from the Nikko hotel on La Cienega Boulevard where we had been staying for the past week, having spent the previous week doing TV in New York.
The Nikko had been our home on and off for the past 8 months.
After dinner the night before, I’d jumped into the elevator with a couple of the members of UB40. Remember them? Classic ‘80s pop reggae. I always get Starstruck whenever I’m in the company of anyone even half famous.
So naturally I didn’t say a word.
Who’d have though I’d be dragging this tiny morsel out twenty years later in a name dropping exercise on my Blog?
Outside the theatre, Merril and I got out of the car and began to walk down the red carpet to the entrance. As the paparazzi flashed and called (not to me) we were ushered inside, down a side passage and through to the enormous backstage area.
At the far end the backstage loading dock’s roller doors were open revealing a sliver of blue sky and the sun drenched day outside. There, dressed in an all white costume and alighting from an awesomely long stretch limo was the young R&B queen of the time, Brandi. She walked inside and through the large doors of the loading dock with her entourage and disappeared into another space.
Our guide had left us alone. The way was clearly marked with signs and arrows. We were now standing beside the door to the Green room.
We entered the ferned, buffet filled room more than a little tentative and feeling way out of our league.
We’d been working most of our lives toward a moment like this.
Two little Australians standing in the company of America’s entertainment giants:
- Garth Brooks
- Paula Abdul
- Mariah Carey
- Alice Cooper
- Arsenio Hall
- Faith Hill
- Lauryn Hill (Fugees)
- Wyclef Jean (Fugees)
- Chaka Khan
- Little Richard
- Mötley Crüe
- No Doubt
- Tony Rich
- Lionel Richie
- LeAnn Rimes
- Shania Twain
Most were mingling, some keeping to themselves and others with the middle distance gaze of those about to perform.
We were keeping to ourselves and hadn’t moved more than a few feet in either direction since we found the buffet.
We were both now holding a plastic cup of tea.
Two girls who’d won a Radio prize to attend backstage were standing close by and we struck up a conversation with them. I have no idea who they were or where they were from but the were buzzing.
I scanned the room like it was a day at the Zoo. A celeb safari. Decades worth of music icons wandered in and out of view.
A few feet away we saw Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees standing with his brothers, Robin and Maurice. They were attending the event to accept a Lifetime achievement award. Each had a small sandwich on a plate had a cup in one hand except for Barry, he had nothing in his hands.
I leaned over and said to Merril ‘Hey, the Bee Gees. Go say hello.’
‘No’ was the answer.
‘Come on’ I said ‘they’re Australians (sort of)’.
After allowing the UB40 interaction moment to slip away the previous night I’d determined not to let it happen again. I took her hand and we both went over.
‘Hello,’ I said ‘we’re fellow Australians’.
Using our shared Australian upbringing as a tenuous common ground, we were welcomed into their circle of conversation.
The rest of the moment went something like, ‘Oh, hi’ and ‘Australia was a long time ago’ and ‘So how are you finding the ride’ and ‘Yes, there’s a story in that…’ and so on.
It was all slow time, lasting for what seemed like three hours but would have been no more than twenty minutes.
Looking past Maurice, I was sent back twenty years to my cousin’s sun drenched lounge room in suburban Melbourne listening to ‘School’s Out For Summer’. Alice Cooper sat by himself in leather jacket and makeup eating a small triangle sandwich.
Here we were, landed on some alien planet drinking tea with all three Gibb brothers and Alice Cooper not more than three feet away eating a dainty triangle sandwich.
We’d worked hard to arrive at a moment like this.
It felt like a bookmark.
What’s Your Tag Line
Years later I use this story to help my brand be a little more memorable than the competitor next to me. Yes, I think I probably overuse it, too. But hey, it’s all part of the hustle. Isn’t it?
So when you’re competing for air time with a thousand other individuals, each with their own uniqueness, you need something your customers can hold onto. You need a handle.
So that whenever anyone meets you at a trade show or reads about you on your LinkedIn profile or ’About Page’ on your website the handle does its work and lodges somewhere in their memory – “oh, you’re the one who ….” “what was that like?” – and the conversation begins.
My Story is:
I drank tea with the Bee Gees backstage at the American Music Awards.
Supporting stories include:
I performed with Merril Bainbridge at Madison Square Garden supporting Sheryl Crow and No Doubt.
There are 2x Gold Records and a 3x Platinum Record hanging on my wall.
I then jumped into Business & Marketing.
How to Find Your Own Story & Create your Tag line
Everybody’s got one.
The 3 Principles of creating your own personal compelling tagline are:
- Make it simple.
- It must be true.
- It helps to be out of the ordinary.
Tip: Distill your story to just the basic elements & delete any word that doesn’t need to be there.