Category Archives: personal branding

Giving directions #doodle

Giving directions - doodle no.1603
2012-10-24 #1603

You may have noticed a different signature on this doodle. The other day my friend Sarah called me “Doodleslice” in a reply to a post on Facebook. It just clicked with me, so being a dutiful nerd I immediately grabbed the domain name, even though I have no idea what I might do with it. I also decided to start signing the doodles with it. I’m proud of my name and my family, but in this very connected online age, there are many David Cohens in the world, some of them even artists. As far as I know there is only one Doodleslice. I’ll still give my scribbly signature on the back, but I think I’m going to give this new name a go as my official nom de plume, or maybe I should say nom de marqueur.

Do you like it? Do you have a nickname? A moniker? A secret alias? Ever wanted one? C’mon share your secret alter ego! 🙂

http://www.EquationArts.com/2012/10/giving-directions-doodle

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Endearing imperfections

Endearing Imperfections

The world is not a perfect place – a quick glance at any newspaper, newsfeed, news site, or newscast will provide ample confirmation for that idea, but so what? Where else are you going to live?

The world is not perfect, and neither is your spouse, sibling, parent, friend, child, or pet, but we love them, warts and all, right? I mean my dad sneezes so loud it shakes the windows, my cat refuses to use a scratching post in any room that has a sofa, and I’ve learned the hard way that when my girlfriend asks for a tiny bite of my sandwich she really means something in the range of tiny-for-a-shark-sized bite to just-go-ahead-and-make-a-new-sandwich-sized bite – but do I love them any less? Of course not, in fact sometimes it’s the foibles, the goofiness, the vulnerabilities, the endearing little imperfections that are well, endearing (except the sandwich thing that’s just annoying).

So why are we trying so hard to be perfect online? Why do we have this impulse to sanitize our communication and project some glistening fantasy of personal brand image for the world to embrace? Vanity? Insecurity? Fear of rejection? Well I say vanity-shmanity just be yourself.

In a photoshopped world filled with spin doctors and corporate speak more and more people are seeking authentic, plain as folk, communications. Letting down your hair, lowering your guard and risking letting a little bit of the real you out into the light of day can be a healthy thing for you and your personal brand. It’s a lot more sustainable and reliable for you to just be you than to always try to live up to the glistening fantasy you. Instead of doing cartwheels to try to project a flawless facade, focus on what you got that rocks – that stuff you do with world-beating zeal and samurai skill. Put the attention on those things and the warts become a whole lot less important. I mean if you think about it, someone with zealously applied samurai skill can be intimidating, but if they’ve got a well placed wart too that might be just enough to make them seem approachable.

Focus on your strengths and don’t get bent out of shape about your flaws – they might just be the endearing qualities that help you build an authentic personal brand.

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Love, brands and forgiveness

love and forgive

Doubtless there are tons of marketers spending heaps of time, money and resources toward trying to make their brands lovable. Sadly, many of these efforts fall far short of that lofty goal and at best achieve a temporary state of likability.

Cool features, great packaging, witty ads, attractive pricing are all dutifully studied, discussed, reviewed and presented and are all too often cast aside when a new ad, a better price, a shinier package, one extra feature or yikes! – one misstep comes along. Loyalty, or rather its lapse, tells us if we are liked, but not loved.

Perhaps the thing to put the attention on and the energy behind is not to strive so systematically to be lovable, but instead to figure out if your brand might be forgivable.

What does it mean to be forgivable? When we forgive we are letting go of resentment that we feel when someone has offended or hurt us. We look past the infraction, the shortcoming, the fumble and refocus on something else, something that forms the basis of the relationship, something that we deem worthy of forgiveness, something that merits a second chance. Is it love? Maybe not always, but it is certainly a step in that direction. When a company can give us something to believe in and then consistently acts in accordance with that belief – demonstrates the belief not just in words, but in choices and actions, then it is developing for those aligned with that belief something that for want of a better word I would call forgivability.

If I can forgive a brand for a mistake, even an offense, then it is likely that I am drawn to some ideal, a value, belief or empathy with that brand. Certainly some offenses are too severe to be forgiven, but I think that more often forgiveness is simply a moot point, because despite the efforts towards being lovable there is no relationship established, no buy-in to anything meaningful beyond the veneer of product, package and price.

If your company should stumble, release a clinker of a product, have a little scandal, make a PR gaff, who would forgive your brand? Who amongst your customers would give you a second chance? Learn who they are and why they would deem you worthy of a second shot and you may find yourself staring at a mirror’s reflection of your core brand values – or perhaps a compass for finding a true and sustainable path to your customer’s hearts.

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So say what you're trying to say.

Do you ever get word-stuck? Tongue-tied at the keyboard as it were? You know, those moments when you want to get the words out, but you’re tangled, you can’t start it right, it just won’t flow? Here’s an idea: say what you’re trying to say.

But you protest – “I am trying to say it.” No, I mean actually say it – out loud. I learned this from one of my best resources, my dad. Besides being the Cohen family business sage, Scrabble champion, pun-meister and Thanksgiving turkey carver, he also has often worn the hat of writing coach and editor for all his progeny. Many was the time that me and my sisters would be stuck on a school paper or later, a business brief or some such, and invariably he would invoke that simple little nugget “So… say what you’re trying to say” and it always worked.

Saying (out loud) what you’re struggling to say (in written form) somehow seems to take the pressure off. It engages another part of the brain, obstacles slide away and you’re able to just let the words flow – maybe not smoothly, maybe not in a grammatically sound way, but the raw meat of meaning will be there. From there the rest of the writing job is cleanup and polish. Saying it gets the idea out in the open – no longer hidden behind a tangle of pressure stemming from deadlines, or uncertainty, perceived importance or even vocabulary.

So next time you’re writing, or rather, not writing because you just can’t get the thought out through the pen or the computer, try another path. Get a friend and tell her to ask you what you’re trying to say. Call your own phone, ask “What am I trying to say?” and leave yourself a message so you can transcribe it later. Turn on the mic on that laptop of yours and just blurt away. The point is set aside the style and the structure, get them temporarily out of the path of the idea so you can get that idea out into the world. Birth it, or maybe burp it, just get it out rough and raw. You can then shape it. Make it better, clearer, more focused now that it is out – which by the way is something else my dad is great at, but don’t call him, I keep him busy enough as is 😉

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Talk, Talk, Talk, Draw, Draw, Draw

Julie stuart - Making Ideas Visible
Wow, it feels like I just started podcasting and I’m already up to episode number, now wait a second, let me get my calculator, tap… tap.. tap.., carry the one, oh yeah there it is – episode three! I know, big milestone right? But it is a big transition to go from “I’m thinking about starting a podcast” to actually have guests planned in advance – it’s exciting too! Especially when you’ve got some interesting guests on deck – and I do 😉

Tomorrow is going to be cool Julie Stuart will be joining me for episode 3 – Julie has a very cool and unique job: she is a visual facilitator, in other words she makes ideas visible. Combine the skills of a meeting facilitator, an illustrator and a mind-mapper – mix them all up with a big smile and you’re getting into Julie’s territory. When I first stumbled across her website I was wowed – I had never heard of anyone doing a job like that before! It takes talent to draw, to move ideas into images, and a lot of people with that talent would run screaming from the room if you asked them to draw while standing in the middle of a room full of people – not to mention a room full of high-powered executives. Julie’s created a brand for herself that is not only unique, but highly effective – she’s notched clients like the CDC, GE Energy, ConAgra and the National Wildlife Federation. You better believe I’m going to ask how she’s taken her talents and woven them into such an effective brand story. You don’t want to miss this one!

For those of you not familiar with Blog Talk Radio, the show is presented live and you can call in with questions. Shortly after the show is done the recording is available to download or stream at your convenience. My show is live Mondays at 10:30am EST http://www.blogtalkradio.com/david-cohen and the Call-in Number if you want to ask a question is (347) 989-8132. I hope you’ll chime in!

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    Caitlín Mowbray"I adore your doodles... I swear looking at those bunnies lowers my blood pressure, calms my mind and makes me smarter. Who needs meditation when there are bunnies?"
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