Brands are basically the way you portray yourself (this applies to individuals and organisation). They’re also the way people see or understand you to be. Your brand is basically the persona built by a combination of what show as what people generally perceive as who or what you are.
I wanted to have this post’s title as “Leading Your Tribe And Product Development Like A Boss – Learning From John Saddington“. The only challenge is that my very SEO savvy 8bit developed Standard Theme told me it would be too long and unfriendly.
There’s enough talk about the death of SEO, but that’s for another post… Anyways, also, I think it would look messy as a headline. Before I get distracted or too carried away about headlines, I should get back to why I’m writing this post.
I’ve followed John, from the 8bit days and before he killed Tentblogger. I kinda got my feet as a blogger learning from him (and Michael Hyatt Check out his book, Platform, Get Noticed In A Noisy World). Focus!
I’ve experienced the evolution of Standard Theme under John’s leadership and backed one of his coolest projects, Pressgram. As a fairly avid user of the app I’ve closely followed not only its development but drew some leadership lessons from John by way of observation.
This may seem rather obvious but is critical for success of any and every leader. One of the things John did well, from the start, is communicate a clear vision. Vision doesn’t necessarily have to be simple, but it must be communicated clearly. ‘Everyone’ must understand it. Not necessarily support it, but understand it.
I’m a fan of obvious. Every leader is responsibility for making sure vision never leaks. That people always know they why behind the what and how. Saddington did this consistently.
Genius is amplified through releasing your vision to other people [Click to Tweet]. One of the most significant marks of Pressgram is community. Again, this is obvious but it is about the way it is done. The most significant lesson in this point may be:
Take great care who you involve and at what stage you do so
In leadership, you need different kinds of people and different skill sets. This is important even as far as product development is concerned. You cannot include everyone at every stage.
Do as much as you can to identify your needs and the kind of people you need at different stages. Pressgram has a great community team, who do what they do in addition to their normal lives (whatever that is).
As great as momentum is, it is easy to fall victim of it and lose sight of your focus. A significant part of Pressgram is version 2.0… The greater story is not the version, it is the journey to it.
As part of moving forward it is critical for leaders and developers to make sure that every, no matter how minute, action helps purpose of their intent. Version 1 of Pressgram had a social layer, which was not necessarily the core reason for Pressgram’s existence.
Every leader or developer must have guts to take huge and well thought action especially when it comes to alignment to vision.
One of the things John did well was making the decision and communicating the drastic change for the future of the app. This is an example ‘simple’ yet significant and necessary communication.
When you’re going to make changes, communicate, communicate and communicate. Forget the myths of communicating change. John has a clear sense of responsibility to the users and community of Pressgram, hence the constant communication. It doesn’t make sense for leaders or development not to communicate.
Tweet, blog; whatever you do, have a clear way of communication. Besides that, make sure those you serve know where you do this. Be accessible for communication to you. Leading like a ‘boss‘ can also be engaging those you serve in the comments of your blog posts. John does this well. (How do you make the time, John?!)
I’m not sure if Saddington did this consciously but in communicating version update I picked up an undertone of scalability.
Leaders and developers, keeping and addressing scalability issues is not an option. Great impact (whatever that is) is linked to the scalability of your product and tribe.
I tend to annoy Ingrid when I think out loud. It is not easy undoing thirty-something years of practice. In the context of leadership and product development, thinking out loud is like outsourcing brain power. John, through blogging, asked people’s opinions. I have no doubt some of those conversations sparked new ideas and enhanced existing ones.
Innovators are often loud-thinkers [Click to Tweet]
Sometimes isolation is the enemy of innovation. The challenge of leadership is identifying when brainpower / processing is necessary.
Sustained impact means finding ways of not only seeing your product survive into the future but thrive. Because of relationship with the community, it wasn’t a difficult thing to include in-app purchases in version 2.0 of Pressgram. (In my thinking relationship was critical for that move).
Many leaders and developers lose out on sustained success because they’re thinking and acting ‘survival’ instead of ‘success’ (however defined)
In planning your product or future of your enterprise, what provision for oxygen, those things that allow life and thriving, in place? This may mean making bold moves, such as losing (seemingly) significant features, which may sometimes be nothing but superfluity.
Leading your tribe and product development is a combination of leading people and processes [Click to Tweet]
There are a few other lessons I’ve learned from observing John and the story of Pressgram unfold (and continue to do so) but I will have to end here, for now. There are a few more things I could share from observations.. However, one of the most important things for growing leaders is reflection. It will save the the trouble of going forward into the past. Ciao!
In an earlier post, I covered one of the best ways to bran yourself and some reasons why. This is a follow-up to that post.
Blogging, regardless of the media or platform you use for it is one of the best ways to manage your brand on the Internet. Your blog should be one of your brand’s best friends and sit on the first line of defense and offence.
In addition to the other reasons in the aforementioned post, here are a few more:
Do I really need to say much on this? For the sake of some perhaps I should… Blogging comes free but not really. It costs you time, which can be translated into dollar value. Maybe not… Blogging takes effort and a lot of energy, but the returns compared to the investment are worth it.
Blogging is one of the most cost-effective ways of marketing. I dare say that blogging can be part of the frontline of your marketing strategy.
Blogging doesn’t have any restrictions as far as expressing your brand is concerned. Social media platforms tell you what you can do when you’re there but you are in charge when it comes to your brand.
You have complete ownership and control over you content, unlike some *book and *gram platform(s) that own your photos and data when you put them there.
You get to choose the media of your communication. Unlike some platforms, which only allow you to use video or photos, you can mix as you please. Your house, your rules. Your data, your stuff!
You brand is can be summarized in a phrase or word. Maybe not. Though you can communicate what you’re about in a few meticulously strung words, it doesn’t make it the sum of your brand.
Tag lines or campaign slogans are merely hooks. Invitations for people to give you a little more of their precious attention.
Blogging is a great way to communicate who you are and all you’re about in manageable bite-sizes. This keeps your brand constantly in minds of people you reach. Guess who they’re going to call on when they have a need you meet… Doh!
For those who ask, “why should my enterprise blog?” the question should be, “why should you be so dumb not to?”
I’ve written about branding a little ;-) As people and organizations, we want to project ourselves in a way that we want to be identified and loved for whatever end we have in mind.
I’m not against brand promotion (whatever that is), however, I’m about being truthful in how we project who we are what we aspire to be.
There’s a craze to find the holy grail of branding. The silver bullet is nothing but a myth. There are no three keys or seven ways to… or whatever… When bloggers and authors try to make it sound like it is only their strategy or ways that makes things happen, they lie.
There’s always a factor that is either unaccounted or not fully accounted for. Something misinterpreted due to being misunderstood. I’m not saying they’re wrong with some of the things they put forward. I’m saying they don’t have perfect knowledge or wisdom, applicable as is across the board.
Understanding context is often the differentiator when it comes to applying anything else someone has done elsewhere. Sometimes even the geniuses get it wrong when the environment and other variables change.
Thus the thought I’m about to share on the best way to brand oneself is not comprehensive. It can be one of many keys in a larger strategy. Here it goes:
One of the best ways to brand yourself on the Internet is to BLOG. And here’s why I think so:
To employ analogies… A blog is like home. Other social media platforms are coffee shops where you occasionally hang out. You may frequent them with friends etc. If you think about it, those you have the best relationships with are those you sit around a table with in your home(s).
Those are people you invite into a space somewhat sacred to you. Blogs are home. The place you have conversation and interaction that transcends the limitations of coffee shops or café. There are no closing times and no one is in charge but you when it comes to your home.
I know some brands that delete their YouTube videos after each campaign, so that they only have their most recent videos. Big mistake.
This is because blogs give a history, a sense of legacy. Deleting old videos or posts is like erasing memories that have helped make the relationships with the lives your brand touches. Think carefully before hard resets of that nature.
Check out the follow up post here.
Our generation is a weird and wonderful one. We obsess about how we express ourselves. We have a name for that; “branding”. I wonder how the idea of thinking of ourselves as brands took root. Seriously? I suppose those of old had their version of “branding”.
“Brand” simply put: the way people or organizations project themselves on the basis on of how they want to be perceived. Sounds rather vain. We obsess about how people see us.
I guess everyone wants to be perceived in some light. Their version of the best them. Unless you’re blinded by your own ego, you know you have flaws. I have many. Somehow we think we’re the only flawed ones.
We see everything right with others. Other people, brands (whatever that is) and organizations are perfect. We’re the ones with issues. Right? Wrong.
On the other extreme is the inner me that sometimes thinks he has it all figured out and everybody else doesn’t. I know better. In many ways with the Internet and a million ways and platforms to publish, we portray ourselves as having it all together.
Though one of the reasons I blog is for the “notes-to-self”, I’m at the risk of projecting “the sage”. Yet I’ve learned enough to know that I don’t know much.
Could “branding” be a label we’ve developed for “how we want others to see us” and not who we really are? [Click to Tweet]
What if the best brand you and your enterprise could be is yourself. Your flaws exposed. I’m not talking about exposing your flaws as in “feel sorry for me or our enterprise” but not putting make up on them.
What if we showed people who we are; that we have aspirations. That we have a picture of who we want to be. What if we just took that and shared it with everyone and used the energy saved from showing what we are not, to move us closer to our goals?
Liberating: no need to remember how we projected ourselves and keeping up appearances.
Organizations wouldn’t need to lie to keep clients or share prices up. Transparency breeds trust. Honesty and transparency, unlike lies and deception, endear trust and loyalty.
What if we all aspired for a simple ‘brand strategy’: TRUTH?