Emoticon: Emotion

emotioconpillowsYou may be thumbs up when it comes to flashing a smiley face or any of the canned emoticons that functionally do nothing for your personal brand image. Emoticons are the equivalent of wearing the same dress or jacket everyone wears. My mother who was a fashion designer had an expression for that: “You see yourself coming and going.” In other words: you’re just like everyone else. Or, worse for personal brands: you are like ANYONE else.

You become a commodity

Not that it’s a fatal error to slip in a snoozing or tearful emoticon from time to time, but it certainly speaks to a lack of effort on your part – or a lack of language skills. Consider this: no one ever woke up in the morning and said, “I hope I get a message with a tiny yellow circle comically trying to express how my friend truly feels.” In fact, our subconscious sees red, and whispers to our conscious brain: “Ouch. Here’s a person using the absolute minimum effort to acknowledge our presence on earth.”

The “Like” button, if you use it consistently to respond to our posts, has the equivalent dismissive effect.

These minimalist efforts are equivalent to a man driving home at 7 PM on Valentine’s Day and in a slap dash, half-hearted attempt to show up with something – anything – so it doesn’t look like he’s forgotten his supposed sweetheart, buys a bouquet of flowers from the guy on the median strip at the last intersection before making it home. The problem is your sweetheart takes the same route home and knows how little effort you made.  Nothing would have been a better choice.

Why do you care if we see how much – or how little – you care?

Because like attracts like: you get what you give. At best, you become “better than nothing.”

I have a housekeeper whom I silently call Ms. Half-Measure. I know she will do the minimum possible to keep the house from crawling away. I have slowly downgraded my expectations to: “Well, at least I can say the house is vacuumed.” I actually learned that coping strategy in therapy. When the earth rotates enough times and the universe pops up someone else – anyone else, I’ll replace her.

Are you the half-measure person?

Is that who you are at work as a consultant or employee? Would we only refer business to you if you were the last accountant on earth? In fact, the most common request I hear when I’m at a gathering with small business owners is: “Do you know a good accountant?” No one ever does. We all have accountants, and it’s not that they’re incompetent. It’s just that they routinely do the minimum required, typically at the last possible moment.

If you have ever met someone loyal to a professional, company or brand – you know the sound of a deep and abiding emotional connection: it’s an evangelist witnessing for the best (fill in the blank) ever.

“OMG, I love my dry cleaners!”

“This is the best book I ever read!”

“You have got to meet my post production guy, he’s a genius!”

“I work with this amazing art director, she actually reads the copy!”

Personal brands: that’s who you are looking to be: a much celebrated resource. If you get our attention, the next step is to make our hearts swell up with pride that we know you.

A celebrated resource

Consider what emotional connections are you making. How do we feel when it’s your name or number that shows up on the phone? How often are you the first person we dial when something significant – good or bad – happens?

There are only three things you need to do, in order to be a go-to personal brand.

  • Spark our attention
  • Ignite our emotion
  • Indelibly burn into our memory

If your thumbs aren’t up to that, consider Skype with video chat so we can actually see your smiling face.

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