The 5 C’s of Personal Branding: Creativity

Over a decade ago, USA Today published an article that forecasted and outlined a marketing problem that advertisers are still battling today. The article by Theresa Howard states that technology has “given time-pressed consumers more choices and control over what they tune in or tune out — and also split the audience into narrower slices. Advertisers raised spending 10% to $140 billion last year, according TNS Media Intelligence, to put more ads in more places, but that onslaught may just be turning all marketing messages into white noise.”

With the barrage of marketing we face around every corner, how can we cut through the noise? Essentially, it comes down to creativity.

We are in a 5-part blog series covering the 5 C’s of creating your personal brand: clarity, content, connection, creativity, and community. Check out our blogs on clarity, content, and connection if you missed them. Today we’ll be looking at how to engage thoughtfully in the creative process through 3 steps.

Don’t Criticize

It’s important to remember that creativity has, at its root, the word “create”—to innovate, to bring into existence. If we want our personal brand to stick out in a sea of white noise, we have to create something that is new, valuable, and interesting. Our brand has to move people.

To build your personal brand, you have to engage in the creative process which means giving yourself permission to play. Neuroscientific research tells us this boils down to silencing your inner critic. Scientists have studied the brain activity of musicians who were improvising and rappers who were freestyling. And both studies showed that the “parts of the brain responsible for self-monitoring and the conscious control of actions were suppressed.” So in order to create, you have be willing to suspend all criticism.

Appeal to Emotions

You also have to be willing to step outside of the box and open yourself up to wonder. Look for the ideas that catch your breath and surprise you. That emotional response is what you are looking for in creativity.

In an article for MarketingWeek, Sarah Vizard says that some companies are now using neuroscience to measure the creativity of an ad by looking at whether it makes an emotional connection. Steve Challouma, marketing director at Birds Eye, said, “We are looking for, ‘does a communication stimulate the right responses in the brain that we know will mean the consumer has an emotional resonance with our brands and will lay down memories for our brands?’” Interestingly, for the companies who are using neuroscience and biometrics to measure creativity, these unconventional methods are delivering “better results” and have been named the “most useful.”

While you may not have the resources to conduct neuroscientific research for your personal brand, you can keep in mind what that research is measuring. Emotional response and connection. How is your brand marketing tied to emotions?

Grab Attention

Alluding to the digital age we are living in, MarketingWeek writer Charlotte Rogers says marketers of today need “thumb-stopping content.” She recounts the wisdom of Carly O’Brien, the performance marketing director of Shop Direct. O’Brien says, “On social [media] we’ve got just seconds to inspire the customer. That’s a huge test, but we rise to it by constantly challenging our creative thinking.”

So what is it that stops that distracted “scrolling thumb” in its tracks? It could be just about any form of creativity. A color. A headline. An image. An emotional connection. Contrast. A sound bite. Think about what will make your brand stand out enough that it makes someone stops scrolling.

Once you get someone to stop scrolling, your content needs to make an emotional connection with your audience. It’s that creativity in the form of emotional connection that will get customers talking. This is often referred to as “creating a buzz.” When you create a buzz, potential customers will actively seek out your brand because they want to know what all the hype is about. The good news is that it’s now easier than ever to create a buzz because of the shareable, linkable nature of social media.

So let’s sum this up. To be creative you need to do a few things. You have to silence your inner critic and give yourself permission to play. Then, you need to make sure your brand marketing is aimed at making emotional connections with your audience. And finally, you need something that will capture the attention of the audience and create a buzz. What will that “something” be? Well, that’s up to you. It’s time to get creative.

If creativity isn’t your strong suit, consider enlisting the services of our award-winning design team at Ethos3.

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