A Guest Post by Jeremy Miller, President, Sticky Branding
In this two-part series, we are examining how some people naturally gravitate towards platform building, and what companies can do to harness that talent.
Humanizing your company can be an immense competitive advantage. It immediately differentiates your firm from everyone else, because it provides a person who embodies your brand.
For example, Apple had Steve Jobs, Virgin has Richard Branson, Facebook has Mark Zuckerberg. Each person is not only a symbol, but a human being that, at their core, represents the brand and its values. And it’s people that customers identify with, get to know, like, and trust.
The human factor creates a richness to the brand that is incredibly engaging and powerful. And it’s not just the big companies that can harness these personal brands — any company can harness a Platform Builder to humanize its brand.
A Person to Connect With
An excellent example of a firm that has integrated a Platform Builder into its corporate brand is Twist Image.
Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image, explains, “We made a decision in the very early days that a human face would best suit the company’s brand. And that happened to be my bald face. Out of all of us it was me because I was a content creator and I enjoyed it. It’s something I really like doing.”
Mitch has the DNA to be heard. Prior to joining Twist, he was a journalist and an entrepreneur. He is a fantastic writer, speaker, and connector. And he has done a remarkable job applying those talents at Twist Image.
He’s written two bestselling books, Six Pixels of Separation and Ctrl Alt Delete. He’s a sought after professional speaker with big name clients like Google and Walmart. And Mitch blogs seven days a week, podcasts weekly, and writes for a number of newspapers and magazines.
But Mitch is more than a Platform Builder who is an executive in a company. His work is strategically integrated into the company’s brand and business strategy.
Mitch says Twist Image manages three brands:
- Twist Image: The digital marketing agency
- Mitch Joel: The persona or the human manifestation for the brand
- Six Pixels of Separation Content Platform: The blog, podcast, speaking, books, Facebook page, and all the other content touchpoints
The three brands work in harmony. Mitch is the face of the company, the content is the platform and vehicle for connecting with a large audience of influencers, and the business delivers client services.
Integrate the Platform Builder Into the Corporate Brand
Mitch Joel’s name is intrinsically linked with the Twist Image brand, and vice versa. Customers identify the company’s perspective and quality of their work with Mitch’s platform.
But it is also not “the Mitch Joel show.” He explains, “People know that I’m part of Twist, because every time I ever have my name somewhere it’s ‘Mitch Joel, President of Twist Image’ or ‘Mitch Joel, Twist Image.’ It was a very deliberate, concentrated effort to ensure the clarity of the words ‘Mitch Joel’ were always followed by ‘Twist Image.’”
When he describes the brand he’ll say, “Twist Image is a digital marketing agency with one hundred plus people in two offices.” This is also a deliberate branding line he uses to keep the Twist Image brand front and center.
He continues, “Part of my thinking through the years is social proof is a big part of how people make decisions. When the blog and the platform became so popular I was concerned I would get lumped in with the independent social media gurus who speak and write for a living. I was speaking and writing as an engine of business development, and it just so happened that the platform became popular.”
The platform is also fully integrated with Twist Image’s business model. Mitch could make an outstanding living as an author and professional speaker, but he does not take a dollar from the revenue he generates. All of his speaking, book sales, and writing fees go back into the firm as a revenue stream.
“If we’re not driving economic value to the brand, the company, then there’s no point doing any of this. So when I speak, it’s an engine of revenue. And when I write, hopefully it’s an engine of revenue,” says Mitch.
Create Space for the Platform Builder
A Platform Builder will grow their personal brand and their platform no matter what. It’s in their DNA. They are naturally drawn to the spotlight, and will seek it out.
And this creates an opportunity for you and your company. If you find a Platform Builder in your midst, the question should not be how to manage them. The challenge is how to empower them, support them, and integrate them into your business.
The Platform Builder’s natural desire to connect with people and be heard creates an immense opportunity for your business. They can generate a significant amount of customer interaction and brand awareness over time. And they have the ability to humanize your brand, and reach out and connect with people at a deep, personal level.
The challenge is how to harness their talents and integrate them into your corporate brand. This will include a combination of strategy and evolution. But if you spot the talents of a Platform Builder in your midst, you’d be a fool to ignore them. That Platform Builder just might be the golden goose who puts your company on the map.
Jeremy Miller is a Brand Builder, Keynote Speaker, and president of Sticky Branding — a brand building agency. Jeremy helps companies stand out, challenge the giants of their industry, and grow Sticky Brands. He is the author of Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers and Grow an Incredible Brand — it’s your branding playbook. For more information or to connect with Jeremy visit www.StickyBranding.com. Or connect with him @StickyBranding on Twitter.