Website copy, direct mail letters, radio scripts and magazine ads that use persona-based language are pulling buckets of gold from the dwindling rivers of mass media.
Persona-based ad writing is rooted in self-definition, that life-long process by which we determine who we shall be in our minds.
If you understand what I just said, you can see that not only does self-definition provide the familiar image in the mirror of persona-based writing, but it is the strength behind branding as well.
1. Self-definition begins with a perception of family and our place in it.
At an early age we begin answering the question, “Who am I, what is my place?”
Am I my parents’ Reason for Living? (Common among only children)
Am I the Protector of my sibling? (Common among eldest children)
Am I the Protected, mischievous one? (Common among second children)
Am I the Guilty one? (Common among abused children)
NOTE: These are, of course, just a few of the many possible perceptions of familial relationships in childhood. Please don’t feel limited by them.
2. Self-definition is further influenced by our companions.
“Who am I, what is my place?” Am I the Fast Runner? Am I the Quiet One? Am I the Comedian? Am I the King? Am I the Outcast? Am I the Sidekick? Who am I?
3. Self-definition is reinforced by feedback from our teachers.
Their words and attitudes shape us far more than we, or they, suspect. To pay teachers poorly is to hold them in low esteem. It ensures that the best and brightest among us will likely choose a profession other than teaching. And the next generation will be greatly diminished because of our lack of vision.
4. Self-definition is molded by media.
Continually confronting us with its own definitions of “good” and “bad,” we are forced to consciously reject the media each day or it will modify our unconscious self-perception. “Are my armpits dry enough? Am I supporting our troops? Do I have gingivitis?”
5. Self-definition is expressed through our choices; actions, words, and purchases.
Yes, we buy much of what we buy to remind ourselves, and tell the world around us, who we are. Our choices of footwear, clothing, hairstyle and automobile are statements of self-definition, assuming of course that we chose these things ourselves.
“Show me what a people admire, and I will tell you everything about them that matters.” – Maggie Tufu, The Engines of God, p. 398
Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy? According to most estimates, 60 percent of us are stuck in that third level from the bottom. We’re still trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up. Our Need to Belong is our greatest, unmet need.
Does it offend you that I believe we are flawed creatures capable of flashes of brilliance, heroism and amazing wisdom, but following these fine, few moments we lapse into the cloudy self-definitions we’ve carried from childhood like woolen blankets fresh from the dryer?
“I suppose I do sound crazy,’ Binnesman admitted. ‘But everyone has a touch of madness, and those who can’t admit it are usually farther gone than the rest of us.”
“In choosing one path we ignore others. And wonder what might have been.” – Binnesman
“Many adventures await you upon the road of life. Enter these doors, and take your first step…” – from a placard above the Horn and Hound Pub
“Life is a journey, and with every step we reach a point of no return.” – Gaborn Val Orden
“Thoughts are the threads that bind us to deeds. Deeds are the ropes that bind us to habits. Habits are the chains that bind us to destiny.” – inscription carved on the West Wall at the palace in Maygassa
I’m glad you came on this walk through the woods with me.
Till next time, Arooo! Aroo-Arooooo!
Roy H. Williams
Who is Binnesman? Surprise! All the quotes in today’s memo came from characters in books of fiction. Binnesman is simply a wise man in a science fiction series by David Farland. What is a fictional character but a wooden puppet from whose lips the author speaks? – RHW