Recently, my five-year old daughter and I had breakfast with Santa at Macy’s here in New York City. Santa was in town for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and to officially kick-off the Christmas holiday season.
Watching my daughter so mesmerized and overflowing with excitement to meet Santa, telling him she wanted a Frozen Elsa Pop-up Doll and then proceeding to give him a “high five” got me thinking.
As a personal brand strategist, what branding lessons can we learn from Santa? After all, he has one of the most iconic and recognizable brands in the world, as well as being the very successful CEO of the largest toy production company in the world.
Five Things Santa Can Teach Us About Personal Branding
Whether you believe or not, if you want to build a powerful and very recognizable personal brand, here are five things we can learn from Santa:
1. Compelling Personal Story: Santa Claus, also know as St. Nicholas, got his start in the 4th century province of the ByzantineAnatolia, now in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor. In the 16th century in England, Santa became known as Father Christmas, known for his spirit of good cheer at Christmas, bringing peace, joy, good food, wine, and revelry. Since the 20th century, Santa brings presents to good children once a year on December 24th, the night before Christmas. Also, he has been featured in numerous books, movies, and songs, making his image recognizable to multiple generations.
Lesson: Successful brands take years to build. For people to believe in you, they must be able to connect to you on a deep personal level, knowing you are authentic, and your intentions are true. Although Christmas has become highly commercialized, Santa is respected for not just “chasing the cash”.
2. Clear Brand Message: Santa is clear on “Who He Is” and “What He Does”. Santa Claus is an expert in secret gift-giving. He brings presents to good children once a year on December 24th. Santa keeps a list of who’s been naughty or nice, and checks it twice. If you’re good, you get a present. If not, you get a lump of coal in your stocking. It’s clear and direct!
Lesson: If people can’t figure out what you do, they are not going to do business with or recommend you. Also, it’s important to be able to set clear boundaries so you can stay focused on what you do best and are most passionate about.
3. Great Team Around Him: To have a great brand, you can’t do it alone. With Santa, he has a whole team of elves that helps him, plus flying reindeers to pull his sleigh. They also look out for Santa in protecting his image and reputation. Santa even accepts diversity, such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Santa’s brand is bigger than ever.
Lesson: Ask yourself: Who is watching out for your brand? Is your support staff willing to think outside the box? A trusted team is critical when building a personal brand. Just like your money, you need to manage and protect your personal brand and online reputation.
4. Excellent Reputation: Santa is not “all about himself”. He has a reputation for secret gift-giving and doing well. He is also known as Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe.
Lesson: Successful personal brands take years to build and seconds to destroy in the court of social media if you’re not careful. When assessing opportunities or posting to social media always ask yourself “does this support my brand and reputation?” Having a reputation that can cross platforms into various fields can also have its advantages.
5. Jolly Personality: Santa is known for being a happy, jolly, and very likable person. His positive energy lights up the room and makes people want to be around him. When he meets children, he gives each child his full attention, which makes them feel like they are the only person in the room.
Lesson: Positive energy attracts people. When you make people feel like they are special or take the time to help them with a problem or challenge, they will be your brand ambassadors. Listen carefully to your clients and what they want. When people believe in you, they will share with others “Who You Are”, “What You Do” and “What’s Your Story” and do your marketing for you.
As 2014 comes to a close, enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season. May your personal brand stocking be filled with good will, and here is wishing that 2015 brings great joy and happiness.