Whether in Magic or Branding, the Tools Are Not the Art

Whether in Magic or Branding, the Tools Are Not the Art

 
What do arcane arguments over magic tricks or other performing arts have to do with your brand and your branding? Read on!

tools-not-artIn the field of sleight-of-hand magic, seemingly innocuous conversations can sometimes bubble over into a rage over the most unlikely topics. Inexperienced performers will flock to social media wondering what trick they should try to learn, and then become irate when a hundred answers are given. Intermediate performers and even some experienced pros will rant about “the best” move to use to accomplish a given task, sometimes becoming adamant that no other version is even worth knowing. I once actually received a phone call asking why I reviewed a product for magicians in a magazine and thought slightly better of it than another reviewer with another set of criteria in another magazine. (How could it be that two people have non-identical points of view on a product? He was legitimately mystified that reviewers could have a range of opinion.)

There seems to be something about magicians that presupposes the existence of an ultimate answer to a question of “What’s the best?” What is the trick to replace all tricks? What is the move to replace all moves? What is the prop to replace all props? Basically, what is the one ring to rule them all… and make me a star in the process?

Similar arguments rage elsewhere. What’s the best monologue, or audition etude, or ballet slipper? It’s difficult to imagine, but yes, there are even arguments over “the best” song to sing.

Some songs, monologues, slippers, or sleight-of-hand moves may be more appropriate, more efficient, more realistic, or better constructed, but the answer of what’s “the best” is usually a distraction from harder questions:

  1. Who is in my audience?
  2. What do I want them to think about this experience?
  3. How do I want them to feel?
  4. What action do I want them to take as a result?
  5. How will I use this song, monologue, ballet slipper, or magic trick to have the greatest possible impact on my audience given my current skills?

 

But What About Branding?

Many entrepreneurs and small businesses get caught up in the same kinds of details. How many Twitter followers do I have? How many people like my Facebook page? What is “the best” subject line for an email? What is “the best” time to post on social media? What is “the best” format for a direct mail piece?

It can be tempting to focus on these kinds of questions because these variables can be measured, changed, argued about, and give one a sense that “I’m doing something.” But one thing I’ve learned as I’ve bounced up, down, and sideways through the mistakes I’ve made in my own business is that no amount of “doing something” is a substitute for doing what needs to be done.

Looking for “the best” solution is only meaningful once you understand who you are, who your audience is, and what you want to accomplish in your relationship with them. The questions artists must ask apply to you, too!

  1. Who is in my audience?
  2. What do I want them to think about this experience?
  3. How do I want them to feel?
  4. What action do I want them to take as a result?
  5. How will I use this [web site, social media account, mail campaign, advertisement, marketing event] to have the greatest possible impact on my audience given my current skills?

Once you have those questions in mind, you can evaluate what is “best” in advancing toward that goal in the same way that great performers choose their repertoire: they know what fits them, their character, and their message.