What Makes You Memorable?

by · May 13, 201417 comments

Have you ever stopped to think about what people remember about you after they meet you the first time? Is it something intentional? Or is it different for every person? I’ve spent a considerable amount of time “working” on my personal brand. I say “working” with a pretty ridiculous amount of sarcasm, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

There is a ton of content out there on personal branding and frankly there is some pretty decent stuff out there. But I have a short-cut to building your personal brand and it all comes down to one thing.

What Makes You Memorable?

Seriously, I don’t care what you want to be an expert in or what your specialty is. At the end of the day, it comes down to whether you were memorable or not. And I have a little secret. Being memorable doesn’t come down to the words you practice for your speech, the great ideas in your blog posts or any of the other things that we think defines our brand. It comes down to what strikes people as unique and what stands out above everyone else in your space.

SpecialI remember in full clarity the first time I spoke at a larger social media conference. It was at the Inbound Marketing Summit in 2010. Believe it or not, Chris Brogan had enough faith in me to take a chance and gave me a speaking slot. (Thanks Chris!) I sat through a full day of sessions and got on the stage right after lunch. Needless to say, minds had been stretched to their consumption limits and I realized that I had to do something a little bold to stand out because energy was waning. The audience at IMS was a push the limits casual but insanely smart group. It had a big Freaks of the Industry-esque vibe to it. So when I got on the stage I opened up with “What’s up Biznatches?” which was paired with my black sparkly Converse shoes.

Now, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about whether “biznatches” was part of my personal brand or that sparkly Converse would become my standard shoes for speaking. It was a split second decision and it was memorable. To this day, people who were at #IMS10 still come up to me and say, “What’s up biznatches?” as their hello. Now, I don’t recommend this exact approach. I took a ton of heat at my corporate job for being off-brand, inappropriate, and you name it. They didn’t understand because they weren’t in that room. They couldn’t feel the vibe of the audience. Inappropriate or not, the audience thanked me for breaking the monotony.

And to be honest, I’ve never opened another talk that way. It was something that was uniquely triggered off of the vibe of that group. But I have worn a lot of sparkly converse. And it never fails that someone in the audience or on the social feed will mention them.

To the people at #IMS10 they remember me for that simple opening line. To people at various other conferences they remember me for my red sparkly Chucks.

This conversation came up because Ted Rubin and I were recording several episodes of our new podcast That’s Utter Nonsense (details coming soon) and we realized he is known for his crazy socks and people remember my sparkly shoes.

At the end of the day, you want people to remember more than your little unique thing. You want them to remember what you actually said, value your ideas and contributions to your space. But the funny thing is that while people may respect all of those things many of us need a memory trigger to separate you from all of the other people who want our attention.

So I ask you again, what really makes you memorable? That thing that stands out that immediately comes to mind when someone says your name. Or if they don’t remember your name they will remember instantaneously when someone mentions what made you memorable.

Now, this isn’t to say that you don’t need to work on defining who you are or what you stand for as part of your personal brand. But while you are figuring it out, perhaps start by picking something simple, something effortless that doesn’t require work. Something immediate and undeniable.

Sorry, sparkly Converse has already been taken. ☺

And then, how about just being you. Let your brand be YOU. Let the work involved in “defining” your personal brand be honing in on who you are and what you represent. If you can do that, the rest will fall into place.

So what makes you memorable? Leave a comment and share. Perhaps readers will give you an honest assessment on whether or not it actually does.

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About Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly is the CEO of Social Media Explorer|SME Digital. She is also the author of How to Measure Social Media. Her team helps companies figure out where social media fits and then helps execute the recommended strategy across the “right” mix of social media channels. Do you want to rock the awesome with your digital marketing strategy? Contact Nichole

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.ripplecentral.com Rippleon

    Really great post Nichole. Your advice is spot on.

    Ripple On!!!

    • Nichole_Kelly

      Thanks so much!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Michael.Dado.Phares Michael Phares

    Funny, depending on where people know me from, I have a different “memorable” differentiator… Flip flops with a tux (wedding), surf dude (apparel worn during biz mtgs in inland states), guy smiley (apparently I wear a smile like Tammy Faye Baker wore make-up), laughter (not the nervous kind, the genuinely happy kind), or BIG watches (hey, big guy… Big watch).

    Thanks for the reminder of what it is that stands out when everything else fades away.

    • Nichole_Kelly

      What’s awesome is for each of those they help you identify how they know you! :-) Thanks so much for commenting.

  • Phyllis D. Wallace

    People have consistently shared that I have “Amazing Energy” which translates into compassion for my students.

    • Nichole_Kelly

      Fantastic Phyllis! Energy is contagious and definitely memorable. Thanks for sharing.

  • William Indursky

    As a trend and branding expert I ask people to mine their childhood. That is where most people’s perceptions, proclivities and bias come from and are formed. That is why you are you. Only when you can face that and reflect on it will you know your personal brand. I ask my clients to give me the oddest things within their childhood – its like being a naughty shrink. The weirder the better. I hear all the time strange things like – i HATE the color ORANGE (as if a color could engender such hatred. It is what happened in your childhood that makes you associate ORANGE with something you don’t like. What is that? Why? We recreate our family relationships in life over and over again. Learn what those are and use it. I ask them also what they hate most about themselves. Then I use that to develop their personal brand. It is only when you can embrace what you hate or what makes us different that you can succeed in personal branding.

    Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol’s druggie muse once said, “Use your faults, use your defects, and then you will be a star!”

    I believe it and have helped many clients find all their flaws/success.

    • Nichole_Kelly

      Wow. That sounds like a pretty intense deal. I just wear sparkly Chucks. ;-)

  • Tessa Hood

    Great post Nichole. I’ve been in Personal brand for over 14 years now
    and that’s one of the best posts I’ve read about marking your
    differentiation. You did it without being totally outrageous just with a
    smile and a crazy opening. Good on you! Please connect on Li if you
    feel the urge. Tessa Hood

  • Murhaf Taia

    “What’s
    up Biznatches?” :) Great article, as usual!

    • Nichole_Kelly

      Hee hee. Thanks so much Murhaf.

  • Kelsey Williams

    Great post!
    I have an upcoming presentation in one of my classes at the University of Oregon, so it was helpful to see your advice on how to be memorable. It is important to remember to always make yourself stand out in the crowd and not take the easy route and follow the pack. I will definitely be using your advice in my presentation and try to find a way to express my uniqueness.
    Thank you for your thoughts!

    • Nichole_Kelly

      Kelsey – Fantastic. Let me know how you decide to express your uniqueness. :-) Good luck!

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  • Lisa McDonald

    Thanks for sharing. I am currently trying to define my personal brand and I will be using your advice to find a way to make me unique and stand out in the crowd.

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