A few years ago I had the great privilege of working with Joan Rivers. Because Joan was famous for her "take-no-prisoners" interview style, I was concerned she might embarrass me on the interview, but was willing to risk it to get the attention.
Unless you had ever met Ms. Rivers you would only know her for what you had seen on television -- a bold, brash, raunchy comedian with no boundaries. If you heard her story then you’d know she was one of the great “whatever-it-takes” people of all time.
When I met Joan Rivers I realized how little I knew about her. She showed up at my home in Hollywood at the age of 79 after a full day of work and a cross-country flight from New York to Los Angeles. She showed up face-lift positive, with the attitude of a 20 year old in love, grateful to be working, and demonstrated a whatever-it-takes work ethic.
At Joan Rivers’ funeral, her friends talked about her as though she had become a symbol or a brand for them. People were no longer just talking about her as a raunchy comedian but as someone who would not quit.
This got me to thinking about branding. Merriam-Webster defines branding as “the process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumer’s mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme.” But does branding always require advertising? Does advertising always require you to spend money? I don’t think so.
Joan Rivers proved that branding and advertising were a result of her actions. Businesses and individuals have become too reliant on spending to get attention and don’t how to build a brand with action.
Everyone has a brand. You, your spouse, your kids, your friends, everyone! You created that brand through advertising without spending any money. What causes people to perceive you in the way they do is dependent upon what they see you doing most of the time.
Millennials have been branded as lazy texters, rich people as greedy and rappers as thugs -- you get the point. How have you branded yourself? If you don’t know you need to be concerned. You should be able to identify your brand with three words that capture what you do most of the time.
Think of someone you really admire and I assure you that you respect him or her for the thing they do the most. That is their brand. I’m known as a promoter-marketer, author, speaker, salesman, social-media driver and someone that is willing to work and do whatever it takes.
Joan Rivers told me, in that raspy straightforward-no-BS way of hers, “don’t sell your programming to those greedy suits. Do it yourself! You have the talent and the resources.” I took Joan’s advice and the same week she was celebrated for how she lived her life, I launched Whatever It Takes Network.
So figure out what you offer and what you stand for. What’s your special "thing?"
Spend time on your brand every day, enhance it, reinforce it and do whatever it takes to let the world know through your actions that is who you are.
R.I.P. Joan Rivers and thanks for the great advice.