Attention Entrepreneurs: A Maverick Mindset is Brand Candy

We all know what an oxygen-starved brand looks like, right? You can spot one a mile away. The lights are out, so to speak. Well, if you have a hunch your personal brand might need even a bit of resuscitation today, adopt a maverick mindset. After all, in this economy, brands thrive on a sweet cocktail of eclectic thinking, a provocative point of view and the desire to stake out your territory like no other. To shift your mindset so your brand can revive itself – and flourish – I’m putting three ideas on the table to get you started:

#1: Start wearing the hat of brand maverick OK. What’s a Brand Maverick? Here’s my pocket version definition: (i) a nonconformist who prefers taking an independent stand; (ii) a master of making a mark on the world; (iii) an innovator with a desire to do things their way; (iv) an individual who challenges the status quo; (v) a risk taker who pushes harder than most.

Take Richard Branson, for example, the quintessential Brand Maverick. Overseeing his Virgin brand of 360+ companies, Branson’s willingness to pay attention to building his high-energy brand is pretty clear. What’s more, he’s having a blast along the way. (Just look at that twinkle in his eye!) Apple’s Steve Jobs is another Brand Maverick – although less flamboyant than Branson. An innovator who is changing the world, Jobs has that behind-the-scenes maverick personality. FYI Brand Mavericks are not required to parachute jump out of planes or live out loud on a regular basis. It just depends on what your particular personality craves.

Ask Yourself: Are you willing to put on the hat of Brand Maverick? It involves a conscious decision to look at your brand through a fresh, new lens. It’s about taking a more provocative approach. Ditch those traditional methods of doing things that don’t work for you anymore. What’s going to take you out of your comfort zone? Do it. Make it a conscious habit for five days. Then watch what happens.

#2: Think of your brand as a dynamic, living organism Consumer psychologist and brand strategist Mark Rodgers talks about brands as dynamic, living organisms, and the importance of creating healthy and highly-functioning brands. You need to create the conditions for growth, and that requires being nurturing, congruent, empathetic and having integrity. Paying close attention to your brand as it grows and evolves is key, and you have to evolve, too – right along with it.

Ask Yourself: When’s the last time you nurtured your brand? Are you paying particular attention to the dialog your brand is having everyday – whether it’s with your raving fans, employer or clients? Are you aware of the hidden messages that your brand is expressing on a daily basis? Brands are a bit like puppies, you know. They need constant attention, affection and pats. They also need a firm hand, too. How are you nurturing and nourishing your brand today?

#3 Have more fun with your brand I can always spot a brand with low energy levels or a dark cloud hanging over it. It’s a clue that tells me that the ‘guardian’ behind the brand is either not engaged, motivated or inspired. Let’s face it – not a great strategy. I’d say most people like to work/play with others who are open, energized, have a relaxed sense of humor, and enjoy life and living to the max. You? Let’s look at Pentagram, for example, a global brand that loves having fun. Pentagram is a 2D-3D design firm with offices in London, New York, SF, Austin and Berlin. They’ve created this microsite where you can check out what kind of personality type you are. While you’re on the site, think about the kind of fun you could be having with your brand. (My personality type? Cooper Black Gothic.) www.pentagram.com/what-type-are-you

Note: There is only four simple personality questions, and make sure you keep the sound on!

Ask Yourself: How much fun are you having with your brand right now? If you’re not, go back to the drawing board and remember what inspired you to create your brand in the first place. Probe deep. Be honest. Because the more fun you’re having, the more others will turn their heads in your direction and follow you. Be the real master of serious play. It’s magnetic and powerful stuff, and just part of the joy of wearing the hat of the Brand Maverick.

Will all Brand Mavericks please stand!

Author: Mary van de Wiel is best known for her global expertise when it comes to coaxing out the real power in brands to dramatically increase sales. Van is founder and Creative Director of ZingYourBrand.com. She is the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking: A Brand Therapist’s Viewpoint. Follow her on Twitter

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