“The stars up close to the moon were pale; they got brighter and braver the farther they got out of the circle of light ruled by the giant moon”
― Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
Have you ever looked at your eye? Really? Have you ever just stopped what you were doing and looked into your own eye? Then into the other? Have you stared into the tiny muscular lines of color as they tighten and retract or loosed and expand opening and closing your pupil? Have you looked into someone else’s eyes and really observed them? Taking note of the colors and shape and how often they blink or move them? The entire world rests where it is and we would know little of its beauty if we did not have eyes to see it? How much beauty do we consume through observation, through beholding, and how much do we miss simply because we have no time or desire to look for it or expectation that it may be hiding right there in plain sight?
THE ELEMENT OF SIGHT ON BRANDING
Branding takes place when someone has seen you, experienced your value, and has consciously decided to keep you in mind, good or bad. Branding beauty can seem complicated or impossible.
You’ve issued the call. You opened the doors. You have the right price, the right product, the right elements of service and product. It’s all there and you are ready to pour yourself out on whomever comes through the door, makes the call, or sends the email through. But nothing. People pass by and the see your business, but few even stop to take a second glance. Others note the balloons and the bright lights and music, but continue walking. One might even wave or acknowledge you. I’ve been in many malls across America and the story is always the same. There is always at least one little shop in the middle of the walkway that you know will have a staffer that will smile at you, call out, and even if you avoid eye contact, will walk up to you and try to get you to talk or put on their product. That’s why you don’t look. You aren’t nearly as interested as they are. It can be painful to avoid contact with those salespeople.
It can be equally disappointing on the other side. You pour so much of yourself time and time again only to get the cold shoulder of rejection from all who you seek to serve. It’s a cold world. But then there’s that one person who sees you…and they are looking for something just like you are selling…then BOOM! Sight turns into conversation and all of that pitch you’ve had worked up and practiced flows right out! Maybe they even buy it. It doesn’t really matter at this point. You are revived and ready to get back at it.
SEEING AND BEING SEEN
To be seen, you have to see. You should observe and study the market. You need to drill down into the market to the very people that will be buying your product. Its one thing to see someone and how they dress or what they drive or how many minutes they spend on YouTube or Facebook. It’s an entirely different thing to observe them to the point that you have made sense of their words and actions to the point that you understand their mind, how they think. This is what you want. You want to see them in such a way that you understand their needs, what they do and why, and how you fit into the picture.
FLIPPING THE PARADIGM: FROM SEEING TO SELECTING
If you know the market and the people in it, you know you aren’t right for everyone. Some don’t want or think they need what you have to offer. Some will not appreciate it or see it of value. Others have some form of competition that satisfies their need when it comes to your product. But there are those who are clearly perfect for what you have. It’s like you exist to fill that void in their life. Or, let’s flip it again, their life will be void if they do not see that you are exactly what they need. You’ve been there in that spot in the mall this whole time and they were just blind to see that what they needed was always there.
MARKETING TO THE CHOSEN FEW
There likely aren’t a ton of people that fit this category. If you really look for the right customers, natural replication will occur. They will tell people they know that are just like them and have needs that are just like theirs. This is how successful, long-term businesses grow best: word of mouth from satisfied customers. But word of mouth starts by being seen and viewed as valuable.
You will want to build a marketing campaign that is tailored to seek the customer you are best equipped to serve. Some might think this means: Where do they shop? What stations do they listen to? What attracts them? What gets their attention? That is because most consumers are looking for answers to questions they have or the next shiny thing that sticks out to them. The answer to attract that customer is to go out and make yourself known by being loud and “shiny”. But think of this alternative. Where would the customer you are best equipped to serve be most in need of you? Where would they be stuck and in need of exactly what you have, but completely unaware of how you could help them? That’s where you gear your branding and promotional items to be. Make sure that you are clearly revealed in places where the customer you seek can be found, not where other customers are. Make sure your marketing makes sense to them. Tell your story, your solution in a clear and simply way, even if it is much bigger than it may seem at first sight.
Practical Step: Find a Friend
So how do you “brand beauty”? A good way to start is to look around you. Look closely at the people in your life already. Who is most like the customer you envisioned? Has anyone shown they need the help you have to offer? How did they find out? What did they do before they knew you? How did they find who they called last time? Where were they when they realized they had the need or want?
Let me give you an example. I make music. I make a specific type of music with a very specific type of message and I present the message in even more specific ways. I write music for people like me. But I write music that brings hope to people who are at the bottom of their luck or on their last leg. I’m not your super happy and clubby musician. I tell stories about hard lives and suffering. And I give my customers, broken people with similar and yet varied stories like mine, the hope I was looking for when I was in the same place. So where was I when I wanted hope? Well…I was usually at home or in my car…alone…and trying to stay that way for the most part. I didn’t go everywhere. I went to very specific places like liquor stores and Waffle House and hung out in some kind of dangerous places like parks in bad areas of town. I could hide in the chaos of a house party with a friend too. So that’s where I try to put my message, my brand. We pass out cds at Wal-Mart and Waffle house. I do free shows in parks at odd times if possible. I pass out cards and music at grocery stores, gas stations, and places you generally have to go and can’t avoid. I look for loners and people that look like they don’t want to be approached or expect they wouldn’t be smiled at when they see me. And I smile. I make eye contact. I introduce myself. I pass out my stuff, whatever makes sense and is available. I tell my story through as many mediums as I can.
I’m not a great business man. I’m writing blogs to help pay student loans. My business never took off. I’m still trying to figure that part out. But I know my customer and my customers know me. But they aren’t really customers either. They are family. I know them. I wrote their stories. I crafted a solution to the problem they had and needed a solution to. And I sought them out and gave it to them. And I met them and spoke with them and kept in touch as much or as little as might have been possible. Their story is my story. My product exists because we both exist. I am like them but have what they don’t and it is my greatest joy to provide it to them and them satisfied, truly satisfied.
I don’t know how that all works out for you, but I’ve banked all I have on it and I think you won’t find yourself displeased if you pursue the same. That’s something that can’t be matched, that moment when the person you saw and cared about and worked so hard to serve with what you made for them finally sees you and sees what you have done and is satisfied. That is the beauty that can only be found in the eye of the beholder. Have you looked in someone’s eyes, really looked, and looked because you thought they were beautiful and worthy of beholding only to find that they are looking at you the same way? I hope you will if you haven’t.
For more on Branding, check out our blog series: