Ski Instructor Brand Development

If you watched Kate Howe’s video on Branding for Ski Instructors, you know that brand logos personify their product.

What do you think about when you see the PSIA logo? A document on The Snowpros Website explains that the logos represent the PSIA brand personality, which encompasses the following traits:

Passionate
Knowledgeable
Professional
Trusted
Friendly
Approachable
Fun
Relevant
Legitimate
Industry-leading
Inclusive
Sincere
Open-minded
Responsive
Progressive
Hopefully, as a member of PSIA , you identify with these traits. However, as Kate points out, these character aspects do not distinguish you from the other red or blue instructor jackets on the mountain. Branding makes your unique personality traits stand out, in a manner that attract your ideal client. But who is that client? Marketers call this the “buyer persona. For the purposes of this article, let’s refer to the buyer persona as “ideal ski student persona.”

Ski Student Persona


Marketers developed the concept of the buyer persona in 2002. Marketing expert Tony Zambito elaborates on the definition:

Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions. (Today, I now include where they buy as well as when buyers decide to buy.)

Check out the “Sample Sally” image from Single Grain. What can you guess about this skier from looking at the image? How would you fill in the different categories? Does this ski student persona match you brand? If not, who would you refer her to?
Use this type of chart to create your own ideal ski student persona. Once you put it together, you can build your brand according to this student’s needs.

Defining Your Brand

Raymmar.com has an insightful article on brand definition. The author identifies some of the essential elements of defining your brand:
1.Mission Statement: A clear and concise definition. “My mission is to have fun while teaching students new skills.”
2.Vision: This describes your goals on the horizon: “Students who ski with me will become mogul-meisters.
3.Essence:Refer to the exercise in Kate Howe’s video. Choose one word to describe your teaching brand. Examples: Motivating, Patient, Fun, etc.
4. Unique Value Proposition: What do you bring to the table, aside from your teaching experience? An advanced knowledge of gear? Secret stash spots on the mountain?

The article also mentions personality. This requires its own section.

Uncover Your Brand Personality

Big Brand System offers a free worksheet to help you develop your brand personality. Download it here and print it out. This is what the chart looks like:

BRAND PERSONALITY SPECTRUM
Personable and friendly___________________________________Corporate, professional
Spontaneous, high energy __________________________________Careful thinking, planning
Modern or high tech___________________________________Classic and traditional
Cutting edge___________________________________Established
Fun___________________________________Serious
Accessible to all___________________________________Upscale

Examine the different brand personality aspects, and place dots closest to wherever your brand personality falls along the spectrum.

If most of your dots are to the left, you take a contemporary, fast-moving and energetic approach to ski instruction. You’re a risk taker, with a friendly and approachable communication style.
If most of your dots fall to the right, you prefer an established method of instruction. Your professional style of communication appeals to an older, corporate client.
Here’s how these traits translate into ski instructor personality types.

Ski Instructor Personality Types

Ski Instructor Brand Personalities

This photo shows examples of four basic ski instructor brand personalities.
1.The Nurturer takes a maternal or paternal approach to ski instruction. He or she works best with fearful skiers, or skiers who started in their later years. Lift conversations often revolve around family.
2. The Professor finds joy in the science and biomechanics of skiing. He or she works well with students who want to know why things are done a certain way. Lift conversations are often about the mechanics of skiing.
3. The Ski Bum lives for the thrills. His or her motto is “just do it!” This type of instructor works best with advanced, adventurous. Lift conversations will revolve around local bars, gear shops and ski town lifestyle.
4. The Fashionista,also known as the Sophisticate, works at upscale resorts. This instructor brand has skied around the world. So have their clients. If they’re lucky, their clients take them along on European ski vacations. Lift conversations might revolve around travel, or upscale restaurants in the area.

Keep in mind, these are generalizations. Many instructors will fall into more that one brand personality. However, problems arise when a student persona clashes with an instructor personality. Unless you have developed a distinctive brand personality, your ski school director might inadvertently assign you to someone who is a bad match. As Kate Howe says, developing your brand helps out your ski school director.

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