Who do you get out of bed in the morning to be? This isn’t the first question that most of my clients expect me to ask. It may not even be something they’ve ever thought much about. But if you want to really unleash your voice in the world—if you want to be heard and seen and appreciated for something that will get other people interested in you—it’s the first question you need to answer.
Traditional branding strategy says you should start by understanding your target audience–and knowing what they care about is a critical step if you want your message to resonate. First, though, you need to understand who you are and what you’re passionate about offering up to the world so that you can have a vibrant, vital, authentic, arresting conversation about it.
Defining and articulating the essence of who you are is what unleashes your authentic voice, and allows you to engage others at the human level where real relationships grow and flourish. It’s what connects others to you in a lasting way, gives life and shape to what you have to offer, and provides a foundation for inspiring messages. When you understand yourself, you create the kind of zeal that gets attention. Your success can then be enhanced by shaping what you say in ways that are relevant to others.
What’s the best way to do this? It’s all about seeing your organization or yourself in the context of a meaningful and motivating narrative.
Doing that allows you to take the three most critical steps for unleashing your voice:
- Step one: Defining and sharing the great story you’re moved to tell in the world
- Step two: Fully stepping in to the role that helps others most understand and connect with your core purpose
- Step three: Shifting your communications away from informational and promotional content to messages that connect and motivate
So if you’re a non-profit, it’s great for me to know you have 452 programs for helping those you support—but you won’t touch my heart until I see you as a Caregiver who recognizes and develops the potential in all. If you’re a government agency, I do want to know that you have the world’s largest database of critical scientific information—but I won’t feel a strong connection until I understand you as a Sage who uses that information to answer tough questions affecting my quality of life. If you’re a food manufacturer, it’s great to know that your nutrition bars have eight superfood ingredients—but I won’t feel much loyalty until I see you as a Hero on a mission to reshape healthy eating in this country.
Caregivers, Sages, Heroes—they’re all characters in great stories that people love to her and share. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we all have an essential story we were born to tell that features a compelling character. The strengths and values of these characters can shape our organizational or individual purpose, and give us the courage to stand up and stand out in the world.
I get out of bed in the morning to be a Creator. When I build my business and my professional life around Creator gifts and talents, I’m at my most effective, productive and fulfilled. When I’m acting on my Creator mission—to help others understand and express who they are in the world—I’ve got a lot to talk about. Often, I find that the right people, partners and clients are listening. So, how about you? Who are you in the story you most want to tell?