Each holiday, my wife puts out HoliDog. This cute little bit of fluff gets gussied up depending on the holiday. Last month it was a pumpkin for Halloween. This month it will get a Santa’s hat and a red bowtie. You know you’re at our house when HoliDog greets you at the front door.
I love seeing this dog and it makes me smile each time I walk up the front steps. It has personality. It’s patient with us as we dress it up to make our holiday greeting.
But even as HoliDog changes its look for the seasons, it’s always the same dog. It’s the same structure of wire frame and fabric, solid and immovable. We simply decorate it and those decorations have to somehow fit over and with the wire structure. Dog stays dog; the message adapts.
I began wondering how alike or dissimilar I am to HoliDog. I’d like to think I am always the same person, that my basic construction is like the dog’s wire frame. Strong, sturdy, and unchanging. But do my outside decorations change? Does my personality change to fit the season or moment?
I’m pretty sure you will get my same warped sense of humor whether you’re a prospective client or my brother or an old friend. I’m just me and you always know what you’re gonna get when you see me.
But like HoliDog I will change with the environment. For instance, depending on the situation I will change my conversation topics or word choices. If I have a history with a friend, then I can talk in shorthand and remind her of that day we went to that restaurant and then did that thing.
If it’s chit chat before a work meeting, I will stop and think about this person’s latest news and ask myself some questions: Where do they live? What is their job? When was the last time I saw them? Did I read something about them on LinkedIn? What did we talk about last time we spoke?
Then I will decide how to dress the conversation and usually, I try to listen and determine what it is that they want to talk about.
The conversation and the stories change; but my personality doesn’t though I’m always “reading the room.” If I want to share some weird observation I will first make sure it fits with this environment and that this person will get the joke. I don’t want to put on a Santa hat if I’m still holding my pumpkin.
What Stays Consistent and What Should Change
Of course this got me thinking about work messages and when they need to change–and when they shouldn’t change.
The messages we need to share require some consistency but so often I see copy drafts that are basically an old draft with a different date. They are boring. They are always the same, not written for anyone in particular. They are a generic, plain Holidog in all white. Might be something I look at for a minute but not something I’m going to be thinking or talking about later.
Beth and I teach the same concepts and strategies to a huge variety of clients. We never get bored of talking about stories and their power and construction. But the way in which we explain ourselves changes all the time. We are always reading the room to decide how to make our message stick.
Our clients work in engineering, manufacturing, marketing, creative writing, leadership…you name it. If you’ve met us, you know our personalities are pretty much the same in any room yet the way in which we teach, the words and especially the examples we use, are always changing. In a roomful of engineers I’m probably not going to be talking about an ad I saw on Instagram. But in a roomful of marketers, that example may be quite relevant.
Wire Frame of Personality
We must always be changing and adapting our messages and conversations depending on the audience we need to reach. But what will make that message hit home, what makes us truly special and memorable, is that wire frame of personality that defines you or your company or product. This consistency breeds trust; I know what I’m going to get when I interact with you.
Be proud of who you are and what you have to say, no matter the season.