August 22, 2016
AMA Playbook presents a week-long series celebrating workplace equality, exploring the challenges, obstacles and frustrations faced—and overcome—by businesswomen. The series will run through Women’s Equality Day on August 26.
Often businesswomen avoid talking about our hobbies and passions to clients and prospects because we worry that it might make us seem unprofessional or uncommitted. This can be an acute issue for women who in some traditionally male-dominated industries are still battling the glass ceiling and fighting for credibility.
My experience as a corporate branding consultant and founder of an online Brand School for entrepreneurs has shown just the opposite to be true. In fact, imbuing your business brand with your personal TWIST can help you stand out in crowded markets and attract the kind of ideal clients that you can do great work for – and enjoy working with.
These three businesswomen are all Brand School alumni who strengthened their brands by including relevant personal TWISTS.
Liz, a graphic and web designer, is an avid amateur trapeze artist. Every waking moment she is not creating websites and logos for clients is spent flying through the air—trying to master catching the bar from her partner and completing some aerial trick. Even though she is often bruised and bloodied from her trapeze practice, she can’t get enough of it. Through her work at Brand School she realized that her love of acrobatics wasn’t just a side hobby. It revealed something fundamental about her personality that was, in fact, very relevant to her design business. It is all about trust. Being able to let go of the trapeze bar and reach blindly for the hands of the other trapezist about to catch you is a proof point of a whole new height of relationship commitment. She began to infuse her branding with her love of trapeze. She rebranded her design services as “big top services,” using an elegant circus visual design motif, and began deliberately talking about her hobby—presenting it as a “combination of fearlessness, honesty and creativity that you won’t find anywhere else.”
Joan, an award-winning kitchen designer, had grown disenchanted with her brand and was looking for a way to stand out. A sidebar discussion during a one-on-one session in Brand School revealed that she was an avid amateur ballroom dancer. At first, Joan had trouble seeing the relevance of dancing to kitchen design. She then made a list of all of the attributes that made her a skilled dancer: dedication, a keen aesthetic eye, elegance, grace, a focus on movement and flow through spaces. It didn’t take long to realize that these are all traits that her clients and prospects were also looking for in someone they were trusting to redo their kitchens. She is in the process of revamping all of her branding materials under the concept of “kitchen choreography.”
Lisa, a private wealth manager, was re-entering the U.S. workforce after spending many years living abroad in Germany in support of her husband’s career—like many businesswomen. While in Germany, she was able to indulge her passion for yoga and had become a sought-after instructor. She came to Brand School with a keen desire to jump back into financial services— daunted by the need to explain her nearly decade-long work gap. Along with updating her certifications, she decided to explore her passion for yoga for some insights to set her apart. She created a Venn diagram where on the left-hand circle she listed all of her strengths that applied ONLY to being a yoga instructor. On the right-hand circle she listed all of her strengths that applied ONLY to being a financial advisor. In the middle were the strengths that were relevant to BOTH. There was a lot of relevant overlap: flexibility, balance, making calm and centered decisions, honoring her commitments and relating to her clients on a deeper, more connected level. She leveraged this TWIST to hone in on her ideal investor—one who was interested in growing his “money with meaning.” She created a new type of exploratory client meeting—Tesla test drives—to attract this client, and in no time her investor roster was full.
Life’s too short for businesswomen to subdue our passions in the name of “professionalism.” Explore your personal story for TWISTS that can add credibility and profitability to your brand.