What’s the difference between having a business and selling products or services… and having a brand that people powerfully identify with, are crazy loyal to, rave about and buy from over and over again?
The answer: self-identification.
(Self-identification is actually 1 of 6 “emotional markets” I reveal in my 6-part video series that’s all about fulfilling on the emotional needs of your tribe vs just sharing information about a product or service. You can find the other 4 videos here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4).
When people hear your or your company’s name, you want them to think and feel something that’s about MORE than just what you sell…
You want them to be able to self-identify with you and your message, so that they can get behind you and your brand and say, “Yes, this is me too!”
A perfect example of this is Kermit’s Tremé Mother-in-Law Lounge, a music lounge in my hometown of New Orleans.
This is a business with a rich history…
The Emperor of the Universe
The lounge used to be called Ernie K-Doe’s Mother-in-Law Lounge, after R&B musician, Ernie K-Doe.
His most popular song, “Here Comes the Girls” was #1 on the Billboard Charts for a long time.
Up on the roof of the lounge, there’s a big banner that reads, “I’m not sure but I’m almost positive that all music came from New Orleans.”
People from New Orleans are so self-identified with the music of the city that we believe all music descended from here and nowhere else!
Ernie was a lovable eccentric and some of that’s rubbed off on the lounge.
He used to be on the radio in New Orleans and he was known for his explosive announcements and blatant self-promotion. He’d say things like “I’m cocky, but I’m good!” and because he had that self-identification of being a total badass, everybody believed it!
He even called himself “The Emperor of the Universe” and he went around town in a crown and a cape.
Ernie’s widow, Antoinette K-Doe, took it over for a while and when she died a man named Kermit Ruffins took it over… and Kermit is also known as quite the character here in New Orleans!
It used to be called Ernie K-Doe’s Mother-in-Law Lounge, after an R&B musician. (His most popular song, “Here Comes the Girls” was #1 on the Billboard Charts for a long time.)
Ernie started his music lounge roughly 30 years ago and it remained a thriving, bustling business until it got destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
It was quickly rebuilt by another musician — pop superstar Usher, believe it or not!
Ernie’s widow, Antoinette K-Doe, took it over for a while and when she died a man named Kermit Ruffins took it over… and Kermit is known as quite the character here in New Orleans!
But bottom line, whenever anyone from New Orleans hears the name, Kermit’s Tremé Mother-in-Law Lounge, it represents much more to us than just a lounge where you can listen to music and buy some food and drinks…
We self-identify with this brand, because people from New Orleans naturally think of their city and its contribution to jazz, music, culture, food and all that other good stuff.
This business reminds us of who we are, where we come from and what we consider to be a rich cultural history. We feel like this is a business that represents what we’re about, and so we flock to Kermit’s because it feels like US.
Name It, Claim It, Own It
When it comes to you and your business, you can self-identify as whatever you want to be, as long as you name it and you claim it, you OWN it.
As long as you have the energy of, “Yes! This is who I am!” people will believe you.
And people who self-identify in the same way as you will want to connect with you and have that tribal affiliation.
My company, Live Your Message, is a perfect example. People who join my tribe are drawn to me and what I represent because they believe in living their message, too…
In the case of Harley Davidson, people are drawn to that brand because they self-identify with loving the freedom of the open road.
Your specific flavor of self-identity is like a Bat Signal that tells other people who have the same tribal affiliation, “If you’re like me, come follow me because together we’re absolutely going to get along!”
Do What You Wanna
What I love about Kermit’s Tremé Mother-in-Law Lounge is it’s such a hotspot for New Orleans culture.
And even though Kermit Ruffins owns it now, he still honors the legacy and pays tribute to the late great Ernie K-Doe because Ernie was a true New Orleans musician.
There’s a lot of respect for music here, there’s a lot of respect for tradition and roots and there’s such a self-identification of being from New Orleans.
And I’ve got to say when I moved here in the middle of eighth grade, it changed my life and really contributed to making me who I am today because I realized that I could self-identify as more than who and what I was born into.
I could self-identify as more than what was “appropriate” because my mom (who’s from Thailand) told me to be modest, to be quiet and that children should be seen and not heard.
But I was like, “You know what? I’m going to be seen AND heard and down the line it helped me create a much bigger, bolder, better brand with Live Your Message.”
We’ve got a saying here in New Orleans… do what you wanna do.
Self-identity is all about doing what you want to do and no matter who you are and what you want to do there’s someone in the world, who’s going to resonate with that and they’re going to want what YOU want!
So, I’m curious…
If self-identity is your emotional market, what do you identify as? What is your Bat Signal out into the world?
What do you want to be known for? How can you show people that you stand for more than business, that you stand for more than what you sell?
Share in the comments below. I read and personally reply to each one.
Now go out there and Live Your Message!