Behind the Brandtag, Part 1: Lessons Learned from Shipping Art That Matters

“It’s not about the art – it’s about the person you become as you create the art.”

That mantra rules my life.

As an artist.
As an entrepreneur.
As an evolving human being.

Especially this week, as I celebrate the launch of brandtag.

This project is the most exciting, most risky and most remarkable work of art I’ve ever executed.

Much of my inspiration for this project can be attributed to Gaping Void, namely, Hugh Macleod’s cube grenade. To him I owe a debt of gratitude.

AND THE BEST PART IS: After fifteen months of hard and frustrating work, I’ve discovered dozens of cool things.

Today we’re going to explore a few of lesson learned during the process:1. Infect people with your vision. Otherwise your dream will never make into their hearts. That’s what most people don’t know about brandtag: It took fifteen months to execute. And not because I was procrastinating.

Rather, because I was documenting every single phase of the creative process – then, privately sharing it in a twenty-minute slide show presentation – with people who matter to me. Partly to obtain their feedback, but also to infect them with my vision of what the world would look like when these art pieces finally shipped.

And to my delight, when brandtag set sail, those people were already on board and willing to help me paddle.

Remember: If people can’t see the passion in your face, they won’t hear a word that comes out of your mouth. Don’t just show them the way – show them the why. How will you inspire people to see the world as you do?

2. Bring your cause to life. According to Gallup’s thirty-year employee engagement study, disengaged employees cost companies three hundred billion dollars every year. The question is: How much of that money was lost by your team? And what are you going to do about it?

For example: Employee’s inboxes don’t need another boring, overextended piece of corporate communication that they delete immediately or, at best, peruse passively. If your words don’t speak directly to what’s important to them, you’re nothing but spam.

That’s why brandtag works: It’s custom designed to stop the financial bleeding caused by disengaged employees. By displaying the art within your company walls, your team, and the people they serve, are ultra aware of your commitment to them. And that’s how approachability converts into profitability. Are you delivering your story in a lifeless way?

3. Expand your role repertoire. When I first started my company, I had a book. That was it. A decade later, my business has evolved into a diverse, robust enterprise. Now, my clients can use me in eight different ways. And this not only diversifies my business and positions me as a valued resource, but educates my clients on the depth of my deliverables.

That’s why brandtag was so exciting to me: It was a new role.

A combination of artist, translator and consultant. Not just a guy who writes books. And if you want your business to accomplish the same, try this: Physically map out a chart of every possible way clients can give you money. By doing so, you’ll be able to better articulate the diverse offerings that emphasize your expanded role repertoire.

Remember: The goal is to transition from “Should we hire them?” to “How should we use then?” Do your customers truly know all the different ways they can engage your services?

4. You’re defined by what you decline. It’s a beautiful moment when you realize what you can’t do. After all, sometimes that’s the only way to free yourself to focus on what’s left. Like the boxer with a broken arm, you realize you have no choice but to develop your speed.

That was the hardest part about executing brandtag: I couldn’t draw a straight line if I tried. I’m an artist of the verbal – not the visual. And as much as my ego wanted me to be responsible for every part of the process, I eventually made the decision to surrender.

Thanks to the suggestion of my friend Matt Homann, I hired out the artwork to a brilliant letterpress shop called Firecracker Press. And to my delight, their craftsmanship was a million times better than anything I could have ever attempted. What are you afraid to let go of?

5. Safeguard your artistic vision. I kept brandtag a secret for fifteen months. That was painful. But as Julia Cameron taught me, “The first rule of magic is containment.” That’s why I only told a select number of colleagues about my art project. In my experience, there is a direct relationship between how many people you tell about your dream and how quickly that dream becomes a reality.

If you force your ideas to hatch before they’re ready, they’ll arrive to the world stillborn and lifeless.

My suggestion: Don’t blow the lid off your idea by telling too many of the wrong people about them. Not everyone deserves a backstage pass to your dream. Just tell the few people who matter most and then get back to work.

Protect your dream. Otherwise the vultures will destroy your seed before you have a chance to harvest it. Are you gushing to people who are just going to belittle your ambitions?

REMEMBER: It’s not about the art; it’s about the person you become as you create the art.

Stop waiting for permission.

Go execute something that matters.

How risky is the work you ship?

For the list called, “10 Unmistakable Motivators of Human Engagement,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.
Now booking for 2011-2012!

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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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