At its core, a brand is ever only the people who represent it.
This weekend I attended the Clearwater Festival for the first time. If you’re not familiar with the festival, here’s a brief description from Clearwater's website: Since the 1960s, the Clearwater festival has grown into the country’s largest annual environmental celebration, its music, dance and storytelling, education and activism attracting thousands of people of all ages to the shores of the Hudson River.
Now, Saturday here was just a gorgeous day—the kind of day invented for outdoor festivals held in expansive parks tucked up along a beautiful stretch of river. I have no idea how many people passed through Croton Point Park that day; my friends and I stayed till the chilly end where a “full house” at the main stage enjoyed Arlo Guthrie and family doing the honors of closing down the day’s events. During the 8 hours we were there, we saw many, many families with young children, and many folks who toted in their own food and beverages, but what we didn’t see was a scrap of litter—even with an artisanal farmer’s market offering all sorts of delicious wares for sale and sample, food vendors, and beverage stands and water vendors stationed through the park. No napkins, food wrappers, empty bottles or cups; not even a cigarette butt carelessly tossed aside or abandoned in the grass.
Make no mistake: we didn’t see litter not because there were cleanup crews working round the clock to manage the mess that a boatload of thoughtless people can make in less time than you can say, “landfill” and “non-biodegradable”, but because people simply didn’t leave their trash behind. The environmental message of the festival and Clearwater itself, I’m sure, was a potent motivator, but more compelling was the highly visible “zero waste“ campaign Clearwater incorporated into the festival—the message clearly reinforced by trash and recycling bins placed in key locations around the grounds. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a cleaner event attended by even half as large a crowd!
Lining the main thoroughfare of the park, which gets you from one end of happenings to the other were banners displaying inspirational quotes by a diverse and varied group of contributors extolling activism and personal responsibility toward community. In this clever manner Clearwater compelled attendees throughout the day to aspire to “the better angels of our nature.”
And, for a festival that includes four different simultaneous music performances going on all day long, a full slate of dance and storytelling performances, a juried craft show, an artisanal farmer’s market, an environmental and activism expo, river activities and educational demonstrations, merchant vendor stalls, a healthy “food court”, accessibility services for wheelchair-bound, hearing-impaired and sight-impaired individuals, and much, much more, everything seemed to run pretty smoothly. No long line at the entrance, no dangerous crowd control issues, and everybody grooving to the music and able to get the information and assistance they needed.
Now, I’ve been to a lot of music festivals, many of them in the out-of-doors, and I’ve certainly been lured to any number of bucolic locales by the promise of a unique musical experience, but here’s the thing that really struck me about Clearwater--
From the compostable plates, forks, knives and spoons used by all the food stall vendors to the nifty hand-washing stations placed next to each port-a-john area to the fountains set up for refilling water bottles to all of the larger messaging mentioned above, Clearwater’s environmental mission that is the core and very essence of its brand identity was, well, absolutely clear and present. These weren’t showy or gimmicky stunts, but thoughtful details and thematic motifs that demonstrate how deeply those that manage the Clearwater organization and plan the festival really embody and live the vision and values of the organization. And that radiates out to everyone in attendance and is the reason Clearwater is truly a very unique and special kind of festival.
At its core, a brand is ever only the people who represent it. If you’re not getting the results you want and you’re wondering why your brand isn’t “sticky”, consider whether it's defined clearly and fully enough to win over your own employees—if they’re not sold, how can they sell anybody else? If you’re a solopreneur, how deeply are you committed to your own brand values; to what level of detail are they evident in how you conduct and manage your business?
Comment below, call or email me about how to create or deepen your brand values and customer relationships and experiences.
If you’re letting deadlines, To-Do lists and budgets rush critical decisions that’ll affect your business, you’re focused on the wrong priorities.
I’ve been helping one of my clients rework her website content and last week was the major push to get a lot of the content and architecture changes implemented.
It’s all been part of a larger discussion and strategy for her brand, which we both agreed needed a new tagline. I prompted her to do a deep dive around her brand values and attributes and then connect those to a straightforward concept that would strike a chord with her audience. All of a sudden, however, I found myself bombarded with emails containing lists of “variations on a theme” ideas all laced with urgency due to the looming deadline of her designer/web developer’s scheduled updates to her site.
Basically, my client was rushing through a critical element of brand development as though it were just another item on her To-Do list, because she wanted to be sure to add it to her designer/developer’s work order rather than have to pay for a second round of edits. Now, I do understand this on the one hand—money is tight all over. But, on the other hand, if you’re not taking the time you need to make the best, right strategic decisions for your business you’re not investing your money wisely to begin with.
My client, of course, is a very smart cookie. When I pointed this out to her, she immediately realized the error of her ways and took a step back to truly evaluate her options and consider what would work well for her brand, business and audience.
In the end, we quickly hit upon a tag my client loved, and I recommended a fun new way to use the elements of her existing logo on her business cards. Best of all, everything made it on to her designer/developer’s To-Do list within the requisite timeframe without sacrificing the cohesion of my client’s brand or dampening her enthusiasm or excitement for each element that, ultimately, represents her and her business.
If you’re letting deadlines, To-Do lists and budgets rush critical decisions that’ll affect your business, you’re focused on the wrong priorities. Good strategic decisions chart a course for development without impairing your ability to manage day-to-day operations. Alternatively, however, when you’re too focused on the day-to-day that you don’t give yourself time to think and plan strategically it’s hard to create long-term success.
Focus on your audience and center your activity around theirs—cheer them on, help them out, raise them up—connect what they’re doing online with what you want to achieve.
Whether you’re looking for customers or career opportunities you know you’ve got to be and be seen online. The question is: Where and how should you be seen so you get the right people to notice you? And, to make things even more complicated, should you figure out the answer to the question, tomorrow everything could change. That’s what social media has done not just to online marketing but marketing in general.
So, how do you make the right decisions for your business or career to invest your resources wisely? Here are a few rules of thumb for maximizing your social media ROI:
Focus on your audience and center your activity around theirs—cheer them on, help them out, raise them up—connect what they’re doing online with what you want to achieve and you may just have a blue ribbon recipe for social media marketing success.