Matt Green, Director of event consultancy GMG Network, gives an insight into week seven in the life of a start up.
I am an avid Guardian reader. I know. I fit the stereotype. I may be a little different from the masses of leafy Kent, but this week when I went to see a band, ‘The Hold Steady’ in Camden, I fitted in perfectly. There was a really interesting article in my favoured broadsheet this week about a photographer called Hans Eijkelboom. He studies passersby and their similarities – New York rollerskaters, red anoraks and furry hoods feature in his new book ‘People of the Twenty-First Century’. The point is clear – without conscious effort, everyone fits into a group, a tribe. As an avid fan of middle aged punk bands, I fit my mould quite nicely.
I have become acutely aware over recent weeks, that a big part of selling a new business involves selling yourself. A new company doesn’t necessarily have a ‘brand’; the ‘brand’ is the person, their name, reputation and image. We all take a piece of ourselves to work, some a bigger slice than others. Celebrities tend to serve up the whole pie so that when things change and they ‘re-brand’ (most recently Renee Zellweger comes to mind) the consumer is a little overwhelmed. I’m comfortable with my name, despite it being reminiscent of a tin of Dulux – it’s simple and easy to spell (assuming you remember it’s with two ‘t’s and without an ‘e’ on the end – like the paint).
Similarly, I’m at ease with my reputation, I’ve been doing this for a long time – a bit of a Winston Wolfe type – reassuring and experienced at going in and cleaning up all the problems. Events run smoothly when I’m around.
I’ve never really had to think about my image before. I used to dream of working for myself in shorts and flip flops, but the reality is that I find myself in a shirt more days than others. I’ve even bought a new jacket. But image isn’t just about what you wear. My personality and working style are under scrutiny as well. In offering consultancy services where I’m happy to go in and work alongside teams in their spaces, I’m acutely aware that the person I present to potential clients needs to appeal and fit into a company’s tribe. The challenge is that all organisations are different. How can my brand appeal to them all?
Things are working for me, my client base is building, but am I missing something? Should I sharpen the lens further? The answer of course is simple. Rather than divide myself and my offering into multiple portions, all with a different cherry on the top, I will focus on my strengths, on what I’m good at and serve up the whole pie (with cream). People. I’ve always been a ‘people’ person. I love being with people, energising people, working with people, realising a vision with people. That’s why I enjoy what I do. Events are all about bringing people together and creating a unique experience to be remembered. This is me. This is who I am. This is what I do.
As ‘The Hold Steady’ say maybe I am ‘Stuck Between Stations’ somewhat. Anyone can roll themselves out and mould their services into an appealing proposition, fitting into a comfortable events suburb. But it takes the independent type, a bit of a punk at heart, to take their place on the twenty-first century stage and stay in the spotlight. It’s time to look at my brand and slightly shift the focus.
Any comments? Email Zoe Vernor