Archive for the ‘Personal Branding’ Category

Winning Brands Don’t Happen by Magic

If you want to get a sense of what it takes to be a winner, I’d encourage you to get your hands on the documentary film, The Audition. It’s breathtaking and heartfelt as it documents the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Each year thousands of hopefuls compete for a cash prize, the chance to sing on the storied Met stage—and the opportunity to launch a major operatic career.

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke, this suspenseful narrative provides a revealing look at what it takes to make it as an opera star, and the intense challenges and pressures young opera singers face as the stakes get higher. FYI The documentary crew was given unprecedented access to the singers, judges, and events backstage at the Met.

Well, on Sunday March 13, the Met Opera National Council Auditions took place. I was sitting in the audience this year at Lincoln Center, and it’s all because I fell in love with the story. Five winners walked away with a future secured on the Met stage.

Here’s my thoughts on what was so intriguing about that day – and so powerful about that film – because it feels as though there’s a metaphor lurking around here. It’s all about how to make your personal brand a winner, of course.

In pursuit of excellence: You could see their desire for excellence bursting right up there on the Met stage. These young opera singers were standing in their brilliance, giving their best because they knew what they wanted, where they wanted to go, and why it mattered. So if you want to soar above the rest of the competition, you have to be in pursuit of excellence every moment. You have to define what it is that has value, and then what you are willing to do about it. After all, this kind of winning takes thousands of hours of preparation, training – and blood, sweat and tears. There’s no way around it.

Discipline: It must take millions of small steps to get to that Met stage. Absolutely nothing gets in the way. Like professional athletes, these singers have to adopt a different kind of mindset. They have to look at their world through a different kind of lens. So if you want to catapult ahead of the pack, you have to rethink all things. Your mindset has to be set and focused on one goal. Total control here. No negotiations. It’s that simple. Using discipline to accomplish one’s important goals is essential.

Performance: Imagine the moment of walking out on that stage. Vocal chords in top form. Their choice of song, posture, attitude – are all indicators as to whether they’re going to be a winner, or not. Guess what? They all have coaches watching their back all the way. So if you’ve determined to be a winner brand, find someone who can help you evaluate your performance. Whip you into shape, if you need it. You’ll need to trust them. And they’ll need to understand your goals so they can encourage you to improve.

FYI We happen to live in a culture where failure is an acceptable part of the learning process. You just need to be prepared to take the risks. (Of course, knowing what you want takes lots of practice. Assume it’s likely you’ll have some failure along the way.)

OK. I encourage you to watch The Audition. The film is so instructive. These young opera singers are exceptionally gifted people but they also have staying power. Watch them do what they do. Because they stay the course, and understand what it takes to do the job. The idea that talent is innate is utterly overrated. Nothing happens as if by magic.

This article was first published on Dan Schawbel’s blog:

Want to Play Brand Detective?

When’s the last time you had a hunch something wasn’t quite right with your brand (or any other brand, for that matter?) Consumers now – and your audience – crave genuine brands so let’s go look at a couple of clues that are getting brands into trouble.
Start with wearing the hat of Brand Detective.

If you need a dose of inspiration, there’s a crafty duo on FOX. They’re eclectic and highly idiosyncratic. (What’s more, the frisson between them is killing me.) I’m talking about Tim Roth (Dr. Cal Lightman) and Kelli Williams (Dr. Gillian Foster) who star in Lie To Me. In any case, they know a lot about deceit. After all, it’s their business to play detective. Always on the look out for clues, they have a formalized system of tapping into behavior, expression, language, gesture – all complex signals and codes – which leads them, of course, to solving the nasty problem on their hands.

Lightman and Foster work with humans. We get to work with brands. Let’s start sniffing:

Clue 1: Lack of Congruence (Look for mixed messages.)
Never underestimate the power of congruence in any kind of communication. If a brand is not congruent, it’s sending out mixed messages. (It’s a sure sign of a brand you don’t want to trust.)

FYI The word congruent describes the quality of all parts being in alignment, agreement and in harmony – with each part communicating the same consistent message. By the way, when people are not congruent in their own behavior or personality, their brands are usually not congruent either. There’s a lack of clarity in the person behind the brand, and you can bet their brand’s message is going to be off kilter or murky.
Notice the congruence between the name of a brand and the nature of what’s being offered. If there’s a lack of connection or synergy between the two, you’ll have that gut feeling that something doesn’t measure up, and people will walk away scratching their heads. (A confused mind never buys.)

Apple is a good example of the quintessential congruent brand. Its name, product design, messaging, store design, merchandising, people and entire energy – right down to the color palette – are in total alignment. No confused minds here. Good energy. Pure acceptance. Astonishing congruence.

Clue 2: Lack of attention. (Look for bad behavior.)
Brands will act out if no one behind the scenes is paying attention. Brands misbehave, too. (This is another sign of a brand you don’t want to trust.) At least once a week, amazingly enough, I have a business owner confiding that they’re so preoccupied with working on their business, they’ve totally ignored their brand. Some haven’t touched their site in months. I call that an abandoned brand. You can tell when:

• The lights are out, so to speak. No one’s home. (So what I am sticking around for?)
• Listed offers, events or classes are all out of date. (No sign of being up to date. Good example of Dead Brand Walking.)
• Photos or images online are all standard stock photos. The ones you see on other bland brand sites. (No indication of any individuality or desire to set this brand apart from the pack.WOW. )
• No pics of founders, team, people, dogs – nada. (FYI Avatars don’t have a pulse.)
• Style of writing feels like a robot at work. The kind of entity that doesn’t have any blood pumping through its veins. Plus, you’re being kept at arm’s length. (What’s to trust?)

You want visitors to stick around your site, lean closer to hear your message, get the feeling that you are who you say you are, get that you have blood running through your veins, you’re congruent and hugely energized? Be your own Brand Detective – and make sure the complex signs and signals are sending the right message. (The message you want to send.)

This article first appeared on Dan Schawbel’s blog

Is your Brand Getting a Standing Ovation (Or Not?)

“Engage me. Make me fall in love with you.” That’s Julie Greenwald, chairwoman & CEO of the Atlantic Records Group, talking to Adam Bryant about the way she hires. The interview appeared in the Corner Office, one of my favorite columns in The New York Times Sunday’s Business Section. What’s more, when Greenwald is interviewing a candidate, she can tell whether the meeting is going to be a short one or not. It’s when “the rhythm’s not there and they’re not trying to engage me.” She thinks, “Somehow you got in to see me. Engage me.”

Julie Greenwald clearly doesn’t want to see a disconnect. If you’ve somehow got in to see her, and you’ve got her attention, you better be prepared to show up, engage her – make her fall in love with you – or else.

How does your personal brand score on engaging your audience? Let’s take a leap here. Imagine there’s a new reality show or contest coming to your neighborhood. It’s the ‘Make-Me-Fall-in-Love-With-Your-Brand’ show, and you’re one of the eager contestants. How would your personal brand measure up on stage with the bright lights blaring!?

• When you have everyone’s attention, are you engaging your audience 100% Y/N?

• Is the audience falling madly and deeply in love with everything you say, do, and produce Y/N?

• Are you showing up big time Y/N?

• Would you get a standing ovation Y/N?

Do you know what you’re known for? The business of branding is the business of perception management, and it’s certainly about feelings. If you can manage your feelings around your brand, then others will be able to (more easily) recognize and perceive your brand in that light. Of course, you have to be who you say you are. That’s the bottom line.

Do you consider your brand to be your most formidable asset? Your brand is a living, dynamic organism and functions best when nurtured by a heart-felt guardian. (That’s you, of course.) Are you paying enough attention to your brand so you can engage easily with your world, and have them fall helplessly in love with you?!

When’s the last time you did an informal survey? It’s a smart idea to regularly find out how your brand is being perceived. You can work with all the analytics you want, and use your left-brain thinking to the max. But it in the end, it all comes down to the way people feel about your brand.

Think about doing your own informal survey to see how your brand scores on the feelings quotient. Ask colleagues how they perceive your brand, how they feel about it. Notice what kind of language they’re using to describe how they’re experiencing what you bring to the table.

Keep your survey questions casual and conversational. Make your questions clear so you can access the kind of information you’re looking for. When you get your feedback, if it’s constructive criticism, act on it immediately. It’s important that you listen closely and act when you are offered helpful feedback. (PS Your colleagues will know they were being heard.)

How is your brand measuring up? Did you get a standing ovation Y/N?

This article was first published on Dan Schawbel’s award winning blog,

Why Does One Brand Nail It (and Others Fail?)

I have a sense there aren’t enough people out there having a blast with their brands. What’s that all about? Wassup?! OK. I’m giving you my top picks of two brands that nail it online, and my reasons why. It’s the thinking (brain and heart) behind the sites that’s so hugely pleasing. Why? They allure and intrigue, and they’re having fun along the way. But what keeps me going back for more? It’s their high energy levels. Take a look:

1) It’s the vibe
The vibe – the energy and emotional resonance of your brand online – tells your story loud and clear. The bigger the energy, the bigger the feeling – the more you’ll find yourself literally leaning in closer (yes, closer to your screen) because you’re craving to know more.

My Top Pick #1:* Marc Koska is on a quest. As inventor of the K1 syringe, a non-reusable syringe now used in India and other under-developed countries, he’s founder of the SafePoint charity, responsible for one of the largest global health campaigns ever, reaching an audience of 500 million people

As a global visionary, Marc makes things happen. His brand is visually bold, big and exciting online. Feel his high-energy level and passion on every link? You bet. This is the real power of authentic storytelling. Read ‘My Story’ and you understand how he thinks, feels and why he does what he does. His energy is carried across every aspect of a brilliant design platform. Watch his films, look at his photography, awards, the lot. Immerse yourself.

What’s the vibe you get riffing through Marc’s site? Hugely inspirational, moving and highly charged, for starters.

So how can your brand inspire others? Identify your energy vibe and tap into the emotional core of what you’re doing. Then, spread the word. (This is a flash site. It’s not ideal for certain purposes but appreciate it for its vast visual and energetic storytelling capability.)

2) It’s the tone of your voice
How relaxed are you about your language online? Does it sound like you or someone else? And what’s your tone, anyway? Speak in your own voice. It’s much easier for others to get a sense of who you are so they can start a dialog or suggest doing business, hire you or go out and play.

My Top Pick # 2: There’s something about Nancy Duarte. I like her language, the sound of her voice. I don’t know her but it’s actually the tone of her voice that keeps me going back for more.
As CEO and Principal, Nancy Duarte is on the cutting edge. She’s built an internationally respected design firm, created over a quarter of a million presentations and helps shape the perceptions of many of the world’s leading brands and thought leaders. Go through every inch of her site…

But first, listen to her language here: (Click on the TEAM link.)

We love whiteboard, sweet design, vegan cookies, bacon cheeseburgers, the afternoon regroup and the 4am idea. We believe in the power of a great story to move an audience and the power of an audience to change the world.

What’s the tone here? She talks with conviction and with a twinkle in her eye. She is in the business of transformation, after all. She’s not talking about designing a power point presentation for a keynote speaker at TED. She’s talking about why she does what she does, and the transformative power of story – and audiences – to change the world. That’s why you want to work with Nancy and her team. Their intention, desire and their willingness to do whatever it takes (to change the world) is clear.

So how can you share your mission with your world? Speak in your voice. Bring your intention and desire to the front. Then, let the tone of your voice nail it.

One more thing. Here’s Nancy’s answer to the following question: How would you define yourself? It’s the tone, again, that informs. P.S. It tells me she’s a master of visual storytelling and a magical creative thinker.

I’m a conquistador who liberates the undiscovered, sets boundaries for safe play, and builds fortresses where dreams can be realized. I create, protect and conquer the future with extreme respect and reverence for the past.

Ready to start nailing your brand online and have a blast? P.S. Add a generosity of spirit, and it’ll be all the more alluring.

This post was published online on February 6th, 2011 at 1:30 pm on Dan Schawbel’s

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 She is the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking: A Brand Therapist’s Viewpoint. Follow her on Twitter

Do You Dare Challenge your Personal Brand Anxiety?

For those of you focusing 100% of your time on getting your personal brand 100% perfect, this is for you.

For that voice in the back of your head that gets in the way of releasing your creativity out in the world, this is for you.

And if you’re struggling with any hint of personal brand anxiety, this is for you, and it’s all because I spoke to Clay Hebert on NY Brand Lab Radio recently. Clay is Chief Engagement Officer of Tribes Win. He got his MBA from marketing genius Seth Godin and now helps brands lead their tribes. I’m inspired to help spread the word and, in particular thing, one thing he dared our listeners: Dare to Ship.

The expression apparently comes from Steve Jobs who said ‘real artists ship’ at an off-site retreat in Carmel in January 1983. In fact, Jobs began the retreat with three “Sayings from Chairman Jobs.” They were meant to set the tone for the meeting, no doubt:

1) Real artists ship.

2) It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy.

3) Mac in a book by 1986.

I’m only addressing Chairman Jobs’ #1 saying here. Here’s your First Challenge:

Challenge #1: Dare to ship

In his book, Linchpin, Seth Godin urges all artists to push past their fear and resistance and just “ship.” Get the job done. Clay challenged entrepreneurs and artists on NY Brand Lab Radio that if they have something to say, it needs to be shipped. If not, your creativity – ideas, message, products, services – are not being shared with the world. It’s being wasted. Note: If you’re shipping out and it feels too easy, it’s not considered shipping. Go outside your comfort zone. So what’s your job now? Ask, What am I going to ship today?

But, of course, what’s that voice you’re hearing in the back of your head? Or the one sitting on your shoulder! Let’s face it, most of us (no, all of us) experience a desire to do something – plan something, launch something, finish something – but something gets in the way, right? Resistance gets in the way. The fear of not getting it perfect. Not getting it right. Or, worse. What will people say?

The one way to overcome that resistance? Here’s your second challenge.

Challenge #2: Identify & defeat the resistance

Resistance is the enemy within. Clay talked about the best-selling author Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battle. In the book, Pressfield says, “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” (The initial cap R for Resistance is Pressfield’s.) So here’s to spreading the word: I’m quoting from Pressfield’s chapter, Defining the Enemy, listing his first 10 pointers. (Pressfield’s words are in bold.)

1. Resistance is Invisible The first thing to remember is that your Resistance has a job to do. Clearly, that job is to stop you from doing your work and whatever truly drives you.

2. Resistance is Internal You can’t fool yourself into thinking Resistance comes from the outside. It’s the enemy within. You can’t blame anyone else here.

3. Resistance is Insidious Your Resistance is seductive, fickle. It will do whatever it takes to trick you into not doing your work.

4. Resistance is Implacable It has one job to do: To get in the way of what you need to do.

5. Resistance is Impersonal Never forget for a minute that Resistance is not out to get you personally. It just has that job to do.

6. Resistance is Infallible
Its job is to get in the way of whatever calling or action you most desire. It’s that simple.

7. Resistance is Universal Remember everyone struggles with Resistance. You’re not the only one.

8. Resistance Never Sleeps In a nutshell, you’ll never see the back of Resistance. The fear is here to stay.

9. Resistance Plays for Keeps Resistance plays dirty. Our most unique and priceless gift is its most favorite target. Nasty business.

10. Resistance is Fueled By Fear Resistance is not fueled by its own rocket fuel. It comes from one source: You.

Ready to overcome your resistance? Then, ship? Excellent.

* First, get a copy of Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art (Grand Central Publishing)
* Then, go to Seth Godin’s site and Clay Hebert’s site:
* Want the free mp3 of Clay’s interview on NY Brand Lab Radio?


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 She is the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking: A Brand Therapist’s Viewpoint. Follow her on Twitter

What’s your Future Brand? (Ask your Future Self)

To get a glimpse into your Future Brand, here are three questions, from a Brand Therapist’s point of view, to get you started:

1. How many of you wish you had a magic wand right now? Hands up?
2. How many of you wish you could predict your future? Find out exactly what’s ahead for you in 2011? Hands Up?
3. How many of you are impatient, unsure and irritable that the direction you think you’re supposed to be following is just not making itself clear – enough? Hands up?

Yes, yes and, yes? Keep reading.

No? I’d recommend sticking around anyhow. A good magic fairy with a decent wand is hard to come by these days. Instead, what you’re getting here is a Brand Therapist stepping up to the plate recommending one idea that works when it comes to working out what your Future Brand looks like.

Clue: Imagine your Future Self has already done everything that you want to be doing (as it relates to your brand and your business.) Your Future Self can inform you on all things. Listen to him/her. Because they’ll suggest ideas, directions, things to do. They’ll even give you very informed clues regarding what your Future Brand is going to look like. It’s a matter of getting into the right space and asking. (Feeling optimistic?!)
Imagine this step-by-step scenario:

BRAND THERAPIST: OK. This is really about seeing the future of your personal brand or your business thrlugh a different kind of lens. (Lens is the critical word, here.) Even thlugh, right now, I know some of you are asking yourself, “What in the hell is she talking about?”

YOU: Yup…. You got that right.

BRAND THERAPIST: Well, this could be a new idea for some of you. Not so, for others.

YOU: Er …(detect hesitant tone?…)

BRAND THERAPIST: You’ve been told before to trust your intuition. Listen to your gut, yes? Are you are doing that?

YOU: Hmmm…(detect bewildered tone?…)

BRAND THERAPIST: If you want to know the future of your personal brand or business brand in 2011 and you’re not having much luck chasing the magic fairy, you need to spend a bit of extra time and energy here. Willing to do that?

YOU: Need to know more, please…(irritation creeping in…)

BRAND THERAPIST: No problemas. This is quite simple. If you can talk to your Future Self, you’ll get the kinds of answers you’ve been looking for. Willing to try this?

Select a spot in your home, office, study or a place that resonates with you. It has to feel special. Either it gets the sun, or there’s a great view, or it has some other kind of meaning for you. (Found the spot yet?)

YOU: Yup (…irritation starting to seep in, again…)

BRAND THERAPIST: Good. Now create an imaginary circle on that special spot you’ve selected. ‘See yourself’ actually stepping into the circle. Got that?

YOU: Er…the dog has a round bed – a kind of mat. Can I step on that?

BRAND THERAPIST: Nope. (sigh.) Keep thinking of the imaginary circle on your bare floorboards or carpet. PS Step into this circle with bare feet. (Say, three to four feet diameter.) Can you do that?

YOU: Can do.

BRAND THERAPIST: Great. So you’re in the circle. Despite the lighthearted tone here, I’m serious, kiddo. Because this is the circle and space from which you can access and talk to your Future Self.

YOU: What was that, again? (questioning tone…)

BRAND THERAPIST: To recap: We’re exploring here how to determine your Future Brand. I’m suggesting you start a conversation with your Future Self. Are we on the same track?

YOU: You bet…

BRAND THERAPIST: Excellent. Now here’s what happens next.

1. Remember this is your special circle where you are going to meet your Future Self.
2. It’s a special space where you have 1:1 access to your Future Self.
3. Enter this circle (bare feet) with a quiet mind. Be in a meditative state/frame of mind.
4. Get centered. Quieten down.
5. You’re going to start a conversation now with your Future Self. Bring one question that you would like an answer. Keep it simple for starters. (Don’t want to overwhelm.)
6. Be relaxed, informal. How about staring with “hi.” Then, stop. Breathe. Take this seriously because your Future Self has all the answers.
7. Ask your question. Doesn’t have to be out loud, of course. Then be quiet.
8. Listen again. Then listen some more. Getting some interesting new ideas?

YOU: Yeah…WOW…

FYI My special colleague, mentor and award-winning producer in LA shared this with me. She uses it. I use it. Many others use it. Anything you want to know about your Future Self and Future Brand is available to you 24/7. Your Future Self will share mindful, remarkable and amazing insights. All you have to do? Just ask.

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 She is the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking: A Brand Therapist’s Viewpoint. Follow her on Twitter.

This post was published on Dan Schawbel’s award-winning blog on January 16th, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Stimulate your Brain. Challenge your Brand.

We’re living in a staggeringly fast-moving world, and it’s only getting faster. There’s one thing that’s certain. In the world of personal brand building, the most significant piece is that irresistible spark of yours that stops people in their tracks. Without it, you’re invisible – a Dead Brand Walking.

It’s a tough trap. It’s never appealing to see a brand with the lights out, or when you can tell no one’s home. It’s a bit like Halloween. Remember the difference between the welcoming house all lit up with beaming faces at the front door? And then, remember that sorrowful dark house with the curtains drawn? Right.

In a lifeless state, brands just don’t function. Time to make some tweaks.

Some people, however, are under the impression that making adjustments to an oxygen-deprived brand is difficult, time consuming and painful. It’s not.

It could be as simple as changing your mind. Acclaimed neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks, who as a physician treats patients with neurological conditions, wrote a piece that appeared on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times on January 1. In This Year, Change Your Mind, Sacks addressed the brain’s mysterious and extraordinary power to learn, adapt and grow.

Challenging the brain is essential to cognitive fitness, according to Oliver Sacks. So thinking about an existing problem in a new way will stimulate your brain to change and grow.

Our brain’s plasticity – the capacity to create new pathways – can be a part of everyday life for each one of us, writes Dr. Sacks. “While it is often true that learning is easier in childhood, neuroscientists now know that the brain does not stop growing…”

In a salute to the New Year, here are 10 statements (not affirmations, statements) to help stimulate your brain and challenge your thinking about your personal brand to keep it active, agile, nimble and playful. (Say goodbye to any hint of Dead Brand Walking.) Please feel free to tweak, edit, adapt or add to the list.

1. I am absolutely in the business of perception management.

2. I pay attention to what feels real and right to me. (The best part? Inspiring others.)

3. I love it when creative sparks fly.

4. I now sense a generosity of spirit goes a very, very long way.

5. Curiosity is my rocket fuel. (I have to find out more about the meaning of ‘allure.’)

6. Negative messages (subliminal or otherwise) are no longer permitted in my vocabulary.

7. What I do is valuable. I am making a substantial difference in the world.

8. My personal brand attracts attention, people and opportunities like crazy. (I like that.)

9. I challenge my thinking. (It’s essential for my brand’s fitness.)

10. I can do it. (You bet, I can.)

Please add your own statements here!? You know, the ones that are going to stimulate that brain of yours and challenge that brand:) Looking forward…

This posting was published on January 9th, 2011 at 1:30 pm on Dan Schawbel’s blog,

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 She is the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking: A Brand Therapist’s Viewpoint. Follow her on Twitter

Brands have More Fun in 2011

With a bright new start to 2011, let’s just face a couple of facts. This is the year for making smarter moves when it comes to building an unforgettable personal brand, but there’s one condition: It requires having more fun with your brand.

Why? There’s a new brand landscape out there, all the rules have changed and, well, the timing just feels perfect. Longing to land a spot on the global map? Then this is your year to gulp a few big breaths, break some of the rules, and dare to bring a bigger sense of play around your brand. (Sound appealing?)

These are my three rules
(use or break, please) to help you kick-start a ‘My Brand Is Having More Fun campaign in 2011’:

Rule #1: Focus on attitude | what you know is less important than who you are

I remember reading an inspiring article many years ago in Fast Company. It certainly resonated: Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill. (In fact, I wanted to track it down for this piece. It just took me two seconds, of course, on Google. The writer: Peter Carbonara. The date: August 31, 1996.)

In the article, Carbonara explores the idea that you can’t build a great company without great people, and reports on several smart hiring tips from Southwest Airlines, Nucor Steel, and Silicon Graphics. By the way, it’s still a terrific read. Check it out:

Carbonara poses several questions: How can you recognize great people when you see them? How do you separate the winners from the losers, the good hires from the bad hires?

Here’s the answer: “What people know is less important than who they are. Hiring is not about finding people with the right experience. It’s about finding people with the right mind-set. These companies hire for attitude and then train for skill.”

So think about this: In 2011, start having more fun when it comes to getting your head around your attitude and mindset. Explore what’s important to you, and why it matters. Be totally clear. Understanding the importance of attitude and mindset when it comes to various kinds of brand encounters – from interviews to negotiation to landing a new client – is going to make you stand head and shoulders above the rest. The fun part is making sure your personality shines through, and your brand communicates, in all its messaging, that you are who you say you are. What could be more exhilarating that that?

Rule #2: If your ship hasn’t come in, then swim out to it

The year 2011 is not the year for feeling (i) sorry for yourself or (ii) it ain’t going to happen or (iii) I can’t swim. This is the year for going after exactly what you’ve been dreaming about.

So think about this: Yes, dream. And then, dream on, some more! Go for it. Have a blast. Get your hands on books like Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos. Because if you ever thought any of this is crazy, your thinking might just turn around. His model for achieving success? “By concentrating on the happiness of those around you, you can dramatically increase your own happiness.”

Rule #3: Be master of serious play

If you’re feeling any brand anxiety, and have that worried look on your face, guess what? You want to lighten up a little. If you’re ambitious, and you want your brand name out there in big lights, you might want to think about enjoying the journey. Certainly there’s hard work involved. But clearly, it’s not meant to be painful! This rule also states that when you, as Master of Serious Play, have a brand with that unmistakable special spark, you’re in the money. (Without it, you’re toast!)

So think about this: It’s time to put a smile on your face and start to relax! If you have no idea how to enjoy the journey, look for some support where you need it. The fun starts when you get to coax out the spirit, power and sass in your brand. It’s just a matter of you being able to tap into it and articulate it. (Believe me, it’s there!)

Are you willing, ready and poised to have more fun with your brand this year?

This article was posted on Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog on January 2nd, 2011 at 1:30 pm. Go to

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 She is the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking: A Brand Therapist’s Viewpoint. Follow her on Twitter

Brand Review, Anyone?… (Before Ringing in the New Year?)

You’re counting the days. You’re doing things like taking stock, assessing your life, re-evaluating what you’ve accomplished in the last 12 months, and of course, you’re determined to make 2011 the best year ever. Yes/No?!

Hurrah. So let me pose two questions: (1) Is taking an Unofficial Review of your Personal Brand on your To Do List in the last few days of December? (2) If you answered no, what’s the chance you’d consider taking a closer look at what you’ve accomplished this year with your brand?

Let’s call this conducting an Unofficial Review of your Personal Brand, and see if you can squeeze it in before December 31. It’s bound to tell you where your brand stands. Look at it as an evaluation that will improve your brand’s rating for 2011. Does that sound like something you’d put on your To-Do List Yes/No?

OK. Some more questions for you. See how you respond, if you relate to the following options, and how you’d rate your brand in 2010 in this Unofficial Review:

1.) In the last 12 months, would you say your personal brand has been: (i) totally irresistible? (ii) awesome but that’s because you believe what your colleagues are telling you? (iii) in need of some serious tweaking?

2.) In the past 12 months, have you had unresolved brand issues when it comes to: (i) creating your own power-packed brand? (ii) showing up so your audience can find you, see you and want to engage (ie. work) with you? (iii) not daring to have more fun with your brand?

3.) In the past 12 months, have you been craving to find out how you: (i) really stack up in the marketplace? (ii) are going differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack? (iii) can truly create a hugely likeable personal brand?

4.) In the past 12 months, what’s your gut sense when it comes to your reputation? (i) it’s on the rise? (ii) it’s idling? (iii) it just might need a bit of kick start?

If you could respond and relate to the questions (above), now let’s look at the next two steps in the Unofficial Brand Review that will help turn around your personal brand for 2011. Ready?

Step 1º IMMERSION PROCESS Get clear on exactly what you want your personal brand to stand for next year. This is about getting a sense of your brand’s inner trajectory. Where do you want to go? Where do you want to land? What do you want to accomplish? Get immersed in your brand’s goals, objectives, strategies, tactics and expected outcomes. Next, make sure you have a process set up so you can evaluate your progress, month by month. (Otherwise, this process is rendered meaningless.)

Step 2º REALTY CHECK OR, IN YOUR DREAMS... What message do you want your personal brand to send out to your audience next year? How do you want people to feel about your brand? What powerful clues are you going to embed in your brand that will captivate, engage and attract new audiences and keep them coming back for more? (As I said, this is in your dreams… and note, dreams do come true.)

FYI The stronger your brand, the more powerful you are, and the better you can inspire, captivate and engage your audience.

The good news After conducting your own Unofficial Brand Review, you’ll find your personal brand will emerge with a clarity and ability to make more meaningful emotional connections in a world with a low attention span. (That is seriously good news.)

Remember Your brand is sending out thousands of snippets of dialogue, conversations and clues nonstop, whether you know it or not. Conducting your own Unofficial Brand Review is going to help you turn these around so you can create a more synergistic and congruent brand dialogue that will provoke and captivate your audience.

On a final note, a few benefits from conducting your Unofficial Brand Review:
• Your personal brand will land a clear spot in the psyche of your target market
• Your personal brand will differentiate itself as a desirable client attraction magnet
• Your personal brand will create immediate emotional connections with your audience
• Your personal brand will create a more highly enhanced personal image
• Your personal brand will give you a distinct competitive advantage (with competitors still scratching their heads)

Last question Are you willing to add an Unofficial Review of your Personal Brand on your To Do List in the last few days of December Y/N? If you are, let me know what you’ve come up with and how your brand stands up for next year.

Is that a deal Y/N?!

Posted by: Mary van de Wiel on December 26th, 2010 at 1:30 pm on Dan Schawbel’s blog

How to Create an Intuitively Desirable Brand

There’s a reason I’m on the radio every week talking about brands. It’s because I’m interested in looking at what makes brands tick, what gives a brand that irresistible spark that attracts business like crazy, and why one brand nails it while others fail.

One of the most exhilarating aspects of working with brands is interpreting the invisible clues that are actually screaming out ‘go away’ and ‘don’t buy’ – or ‘lean in a little closer.’ It’s the latter that informs you that an intuitively desirable brand is looking right back at you. Pay attention to these kinds of clues, get a sense of which ones resonate with you because it’s the best way to make sure your brand online is instantly likable and intuitively desirable.

A great example of a desirable brand? Check out the remarkable Laura Belgray, her brand and her business online at Talking Shrimp. People respond to it because, more than ever, they’re craving the emotional connection an intuitively desirable brand creates.

Name: Talking Shrimp

Owner and Creative Director: Laura Belgray

Description: This is the site of New York-based professional copywriter Laura Belgray who is not only one of the best copywriters I know, she also clearly started her business with a twinkle in her eye. Why? The clues on her site informed me – long before I ever invited her to be a guest on NY Brand Lab Radio – that she’s a quintessential Brand Maverick.

Unique Domain Name: There’s a reason she chose this name. (It’s on her site, and Laura can tell the story much better than I can.) Go read her story. It’s the first clue that tells you she’s not interested in the ‘same old/same old.’

Engaging Site Design: A bright hot pink site with talking/dancing shrimp welcomes you with thought bubbles saying ‘Hola.’ It’s a clue that tells me she’s having a blast. She’s not only having fun playing with color and language, she’s letting you in on her true persona, who she is, and what she’s all about. It’s now up to you, the viewer, as to whether you want to engage or not.

What’s the Feeling? Everything on the home page immediately makes you smile. It’s instantly likable, and that’s a top secret to creating an intuitively desirable brand. You can easily get a sense of the person behind the brand. In fact, you like and trust this person – immediately. The clue here is that it’s her humor that captivates you, engages you and wants you to know more…

A Clear Hierarchy of Information: You’re given a choice of three things to do. In each case, you find yourself smiling at her language and the way she expresses her work, brand and expertise. The clue here? There is beauty in restraint – and only offering three options is key here. You don’t have to scratch your head and wonder, ‘what on earth am I supposed to do now?”

So here are the three options she’s giving you. Notice how her language is upbeat, fun and engaging. You’ll see her client logos appear at the bottom of her home page: HBO, TV Land, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, Oxygen, Sundance Channel, WE, Disney Channel, Bravo, New York and Spy as well as entrepreneurial business leaders.

Who says you can’t be fun, lighthearted and professional at the same time? FYI: The Q & A below are mine.

Option 1º

Q: My writing gets results and wins big, shiny awards! Want to see?

A: Watch my TV Spots

Option 2º

Q: Want copy that grabs people by the coconuts?

A: Let’s Talk

Option 3º

Q: Want the five secrets to writing non-sucky copy for any medium?

A: Get them here – Free.

Footnote: Here’s what Laura had to say recently about how to break the rules when it comes to writing your copy so you create a more desirable brand. She was my guest on NY Brand Lab Radio not so long ago:–

1. Whatever rules you’ve ever learned about writing in the 6th grade, don’t be afraid to break them if that makes your copy sound more natural.

2. Write the way you talk. (Sound like the person you are.)

3. Humor gets attention. (No need to be stuffy or overly earnest in your copy. It’s fine to be earnest if that’s your personality. The thing to avoid entirely these days is sounding formal and corporate. “Professional” no longer means buttoned-up and serious.)

4. Paint a picture. (Vague copy is bland and boring.)

Ready to create your own intuitively desirable brand? Hear the full interview with Laura on NY Brand Lab Radio. Go to Just keep scrolling down until you find her name, photo and free download. Enjoy!

This blog was published online at on Sunday December 19th, 2010 at 1:30 pm.

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 She is the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking: A Brand Therapist’s Viewpoint. Follow her on Twitter