For the past two months, I’ve been working with an amazing new client. For the sake of privacy, I’ll call her Lisanne.
Lisanne is a rockstar leadership coach. I mean she’s got serious chops. Thirty years’ experience, amazing credentials, a giant bag of “ninja weapons” for her clients from formal education in Psychology to Neuroscience to corporate team-building experience to certifications from the most elite and popular coaching programs and gurus. She’s been a life-long learner and performer, and her resume shows it.
This midlife woman, like so MANY that I coach for break-out brands, is literally ON. THE. VERGE. of taking her industry by storm. She is seriously PrimeTime.
But Lisanne had a problem. When it came time to take the next steps to scale her business and brand—which for her were writing a book and speaking from stage–she couldn’t tell me her core message in less than 3,500 words. Literally.
I’d say, “Lisanne, tell me what you do better than any other coach in the world.”
To which she would confidently reply, “I can take a high-performing leader to the next level.”
And, being the branding bitch that I am, I would push her further…
“Those words sound very generic to me, Lisanne. You’re selling me on the concept of coaching, in general. I want to know how YOU make that happen in a way that’s different than any other coach.”
And out would tumble the entire first chapter of War and Peace. If this were her elevator speech, you’d have to ride to the 30th floor with her at least seven times to hear it all.
What’s more, as she was reciting it, she could FEEL that she was getting lost in the words. And it choked her up. It created a sort of panic in her. And then a feeling of insecurity and defeat.
Essentially, her coaching process is magnificently rich, powerful, and 100% unique.
But the fact that she couldn’t articulate it made her feel like she wasn’t special at all. That she had nothing new to say under the Sun…
How’s that for brand irony???
Over the course of time, Lisanne and I worked to create a simple system of key messages that she could literally draw on a piece of paper. A diagram of her process organized in a way that was instantly consumable… with the sweetest stuff (her core message) right at top.
We did this through a process of her telling me, over and over again, HOW she consistently and reliably took high performers to that “next level.”
She told me the story again and again, until she had the story straight. Until it was allowed to settle.
And then… the cream rose to the top.
What came out of this was something that I predicted would happen, but which surprised Lisanne in the most delightful of ways:
Her super-secret process took on a new clarity. 3,500 words became 350, and then 35. And as it happened, she became fiercely proud and protective of those 35 words. She came to OWN them in a way that was insanely powerful. Her clarity gave her confidence. And that confidence took her to WARRIOR-LEVEL.
Because Lisanne stopped homogenizing her message.
You know what homogenization is? It’s the process of emulsifying the fat droplets in milk so they’re mixed evenly throughout. It’s the process of getting rid of the cream. Of making things uniform. Standard.
Homogenization is safe. I won’t argue that. Throwing everything into the bucket and mixing and mixing it allows you to disperse all of your brand’s creamy goodness through every last drop. It allows you to get it ALL in, every time. It feels… complete.
But when you homogenize your message, no one can skim the delicious cream off the top. Instead, they just get a big ol’ glass of… sameness. By mixing everything in, you end up with nothing unique at all.
The “cha-ching” in great branding comes with clear and concise articulation of what you do differently than anyone else. Of how you transform your client or customer’s world, life, day, or moment in an entirely unique way.
And trust me, it doesn’t matter what you sell… your customer buys transformation. Your customer buys what she will become the moment she finishes using your product or service.
The true pay-off in branding comes when a prospect can glance at your message, and know why she should hire you over every other business in the world.
When she sees that your way is the BEST AND ONLY SIMPLE CHOICE for her desired transformation.
When she can SKIM the delicious CREAM, right off the top.
This morning I woke to an email from Lisanne. She said she’d been on a deadline yesterday to write a 10-minute speech, and she’d been stressed about it. But because she now fully understood her core message—and could articulate it so clearly and concisely–the speech just flowed out of her. It was EASY. It was COHESIVE. It was COMPELLING.
Don’t get me wrong. She served the whole glass of milk. But right at the top was the richest, sweetest, creamiest cream ever.
Letting your “story” settle, and allowing the cream to rise, is the first step in developing a brand that transcends. It’s the essential first requirement that every other aspect of branding builds upon. Because every other element of the brand is simply a translation of that simple, tasty, satisfying message that rises to the top.
Your logo? It’s a translation.
Color palette? A translation.
Web design? A translation.
Sales funnel? A translation.
TED Talk? A translation.
Trade Show Booth? A translation.
Everything single element of your brand is a TRANSLATION of a single key message that tells your prospect WHY they should hire you.
This is not a creative process. It’s a process of getting your story straight, allowing it to settle, and allowing the cream to rise.
And so I ask you… have you let your story settle? Have you let the cream rise?
Tell me in the comments below, in 35 words or less, why I should hire YOUR business over every other business in the world. Pretend your brand is a glass of milk, and let me skim the cream right off the top.
And if you want to work with me one-on-one, the way Lisanne did, book a discovery call here. You’ll see the cream rise right to the top. But do know that I only work with clients who are ready and willing to make the investment (four figures) and do the work. Full-fat dairy is not for everyone…