Let’s face it- you can’t light a match without friction. To get a business off the ground you need a way to light a fire in the minds of your customers– which means you need a little bit of friction. The way you set your brand on fire is by figuring out exactly where the friction is in it. With any brand, its the friction that causes people to take action.
Your grit will come from something true and honest about you and why you are motivated to do what you do. My “grit” for The IAE comes from my family background, and more specifically from the parallels between life with my mom and the career paths of far too many artists. My mom was an artist who spiraled into the ground as a result of not having the rudder she needed to sustain her creativity for life. While it is a risk to share my family story, it is indeed WHY I am opening a school. So, while I risk that exposing my grit will leave some thinking nothing more of me than that I have a crazy family, I am taking this risk for those who will be inspired by my motives. Inspired enough to come closer in to visit with me and share their own stories because they identify with the values and beliefs that I am exposing in the grit of my brand. Values and beliefs, after all, are gritty because they expose who we really are…
While my story telling about my mom is a draw to some and controversial to others, this is partially how I know it has enough grit to get traction with those who I need to reach. Why? Because grit always provokes a reaction. The reaction you are looking for should be a positive one from those who you perceive are your core customers. If you are attracting at first a few and then a small stream of them you have found enough grit to start a fire.
This past Saturday was our first Sustainability Contest for The IAE. Those who came to participate in the contest were really sparked to be there because of my story. I can’t tell you how much positive energy was present through out the day as contestants came for their appointments. It was amazing to me how many deep conversations I had with most of the contestants. While not all of them may become students of The IAE, all of them left knowing a great deal more about what the school stands for and what, as an institution, we are here to accomplish for our students and why we are uniquely positioned to help our students achieve their goals.
During the event, I was also SO inspired by how much time each of the contestants spent thinking about what kind of art they wanted to make from the free clothing they selected. One contestant took a silk shirt that still had a $500.00 price tag on it and told me he was going to shred it and blend it with acrylic to make something. At the end of our conversation he saw the price tag dangling, which he had not seen before, and then said he felt guilty shredding it. It was so empowering for both of us for me to remind him this contest BY DESIGN was intended to create art from my mothers clothes. As a model my mom had a lot of expensive clothes. As a rudderless artist they sat in dry cleaning bags never worn. The least they could do was jump to life again as art in honor of all of her extraordinary, albeit largely under-utilized, creative gifts.
I can’t help but share one amazing story with you from one participant who specifically came for Designed to Be Empowered. While I cannot share her name, I do have permission to share the story.
Hello Lisa, I have a pretty amazing story for you and a donation to your sustainable arts contest…Well, on Saturday I could not have been more thrilled to receive the beautiful red dress and purse from your collection. I was so thrilled I even took the purse out that evening singing the praises of your project no less! So, after a long evening I was grabbing for the cards I put in the side pocket and lo-and-behold I pulled out several dollar bills I did not recall placing in there in the first place. As it turns out there was two 20’s and two 10’s ($60 total) in perfect 1981 crisp bills tucked away in the pocket of the purse. As you were gifting me with love on Saturday I’d like to do the same by returning the $60 to you/donating to the project. I would love for you to have the actual bills (you should see how different money from 1981 looks compared to today’s bills), but hesitate to mail them to you. SO, please drop me a line. I cannot wait to give this donation to you. Good Karma my friend..
The irony of this story is that indeed my own mother is making a contribution to The IAE through this contest. While I am sure this was never the intended use for this money, it certainly is a very ironic consequence and one that does indeed have some pretty amazing karma.
So, where is the grit in your brand? Are you willing to stick your neck out and begin to share it with your audience so you can find your customers for life? Your own magnetic karma?
The IAE expects to have one more Sustainable Creativity Competition Day before our auction next spring. More to come on this soon…