Sarah Ancalmo Ashman
Sarah Ancalmo Ashman
Stand Out (and Stay Out)
by Sarah Ancalmo Ashman, Brand Strategist + Creative Director, Public Persona Studio
It’s no longer enough to have stellar work or products – or impressive names on your client list or testimonials – or even impressive appearances on podcasts.
It’s no longer enough to have a singular “unique value” that’s succinctly summed up as a headline on your homepage—and then expect for THAT to set you apart from all of the others floating in your sea-of-same.
It’s not even enough to have a head-turning web presence with killer logo, slick photography, and impressive copy—without an ethos to back it up.
If you want to stand out in today’s marketplace, you can’t just look or sound different.
You have to actually BE different.
You have to…
- Do things differently.
- Take a unique (and perhaps even controversial) stance in your industry.
- Create your own visual language.
- Develop your own unique voice.
- Leverage your story (and personality) to turn heads
(Yes, all of these things).
But – before overwhelm sets in, let’s forget about doing everything and focus instead on one thing –
being more YOU.
You are the face of your brand.
As the face of your brand, you have an automatic advantage because you ARE inherently different.
You bring to the table a unique perspective, a different set of life experiences, a distinctive personality.
You are what makes your business and brand distinctive – and so by bringing more of YOU into your business and brand, standing out becomes second nature.
But before we can do that, we need to first get clear on what makes you – well, you – which I do realize can be a bit tricky. We’re often way too close to our own business so that it’s hard be able to take an objective look at who we are – let alone attempt to capture in words and images what we’re best at.
Here are some of my favorite tips when it comes to zeroing in on who you are and bringing more of your own “je ne sais quoi” into your brand…
- Look at your story, your background, your expertise. Is there something there that you can leverage or call out that is relevant to what you do that you aren’t yet highlighting?
- What do your customers love about what you do? How you do it? What is that little extra sumthin’ sumthin’ that you weave into all of your services and/or products? Go back and think—are there any added benefits that you provide for your clients that you can articulate and use to your advantage within your service offerings?
- Survey your former customers, ask them—What did you like best about working with me? … What made you choose me over another? … Were there any additional benefits you found in working with me? This may reveal a lot of things that you never even considered as being a part of your business.
- What about your personality makes you distinctive? Your sense of humor? Your opulent opinions? Your kindness? Your __________?
- Try to notice what it is that you possess that makes you, well… you. And brainstorm ways to inject more of that into your brand, your web presence, your copy, your photography, and even your social media.
Don’t Be Afraid to Strut Your Stuff
When we provide services for others, it’s common for us to make what we do more about THEM and less about US…
And while a giving mindset is a valuable cornerstone for any service-based business, what many fail to realize is that it doesn’t make the job of a prospective client ANY easier when it comes to who to choose to get the job done.
Branding is all about telling your audience, ‘This is who I am—
my history and personality, this is what I look like, and this is
what I can do for you.
It’s okay to scare people away
When you put yourself out there—however vulnerable that might feel, you’re instantly telling people if you’re the right fit or not.
It might feel polarizing, but hey, those who are turned away wouldn’t be as happy with the results you offer anyway, so think of it as saving you a lot of time and energy upfront.
Results vs. experience
Another thing to consider is that results are one thing—the experience of working with you is another…
Service-based entrepreneurs often forget that a large part of the equation in terms of who they choose to work with is the experience that they’ll have and the person who will be performing the service with and for them.
They often want that person to “rub off” on them, to influence them and their thinking somehow.
They want to get to know them—not just what they can do for them. Look at the rise of influencer marketing if you don’t want to take my word for it.
So when you can create and offer a 3-D experience of you and the service you offer through your brand—by LOOKING, SOUNDING, and actually BEING different and you show this on your website you’ll likely notice a sizeable growth spurt in your business.
So there you have it – how can you bring more of you into your brand (and business for that matter? How can you create that “3-D Experience” of you?
Don’t worry if the answers don’t come to you immediately, branding after all isn’t an overnight process – but it is a well-worth-it endeavor that when properly considered has the potential to not only help you stand out – but stay out…
Sarah Ancalmo Ashman is an award winning creative director + brand strategist. As founder + Creative Director of Public Persona Studios, a small multidisciplinary brand consultancy and creative studio, focused on fashioning personality-led brands from head to footnote.
Sarah cut her teeth on New York’s Madison Avenue – creating brand and advertising campaigns for the likes of Mercedes Benz, Estee Lauder, Apple and Madonna. She now focuses on personality-led brands—beholding the power of individual stories to draw customers and clients to a brand. It’s those stories, that essence, that she helps identify, articulate, and innovate.