In Kate Howe’s branding video, she gives an example of two different ski instructors with very different brands. If you don’t know the Aspen Ski School staff, you probably don’t know who she’s talking about. However, everyone who did know them nodded their heads emphatically. Why? Because these instructors have created a recognizable brand. If their brand is recognizable to their colleagues, it’s also recognizable by their ski school director, and by their clients. This means that they are always working with their ideal client. This article will present examples of ski instructors who have elevated branding to an art form. Follow their lead.
The Four Questions of Branding
Here are four questions to ask yourself when developing your brand:
1.What do you want clients, peers and supervisors to associate with you when they think of your name?
2. Is there a certain type of skiing or terrain you want people to associate with your name?
3. What do you want your voice to be?
4. What is your story?
Your story is the most important question, because it encompasses your passions, hobbies and lifestyle. An engaging narrative makes you more interesting to potential students. Consider Leon Joseph Littlebird’s story.
Leon Joseph Littlebird: Colorado Authenticity
Leon Joseph Littlebird is a Summit County Colorado icon. Everything from his Native American heritage, his music and his ski instruction embodies what it means to be a native Coloradan. It’s this authenticity that draws his students. He’s also a man with a story. A cancer survivor who lived beyond his doctor’s expectations, Leon is an inspiration. When he’s not teaching skiing, he performs Native American concerts, and officiates over local wedding ceremonies.
Thanks to his ability to blend these aspects of his life, Littlebird has a distinctive brand. Although he’s a PSIA trainer/examiner, his signature teaching style requires students to feel the movements, rather than analyze them. In fact, Leon makes fun of the techno-babble that many instructors favor.
In an interview with the Summit Daily, he describes the connection between skiing and composing:
They’re the same. It’s about freedom and self expression. I love writing and performing original music because there will be an idea, a brand new seedling and it will start to grow. All of a sudden there is a song, where before there was nothing. It’s like when you hike up to some amazing place on your skis and look down at a virgin powder field. Then you take off your skins, tele down and leave your signature on it.
Kate Howe: Inspiring and Versatile
Her blog is called “Skiing in the Shower.” She’s a ski instructor, a yoga teacher, a massage therapist and an artist. When the lifts stop turning, Kate travels to India to explore the culture and teach yoga. Furthermore, she has a story. Kate started teaching skiing when she was 35 years old, and 60 pounds over weight. Herstory inspires anyone who thinks that age, weight and parenthood limit your possibilities.
Mermer Blakeslee: Conquering Fear and Empowering Students
Mermer Blakeslee wants her student to have a conversation with fear. In fact, she wrote a book on the subject. Mermer is also a novelist, and an avid gardener.
Her brand is so established, that she earns good money for her workshops at Windham Mountain.
These three instructors share one thing in common: Their names come up on the first page of a Google search. This is what happens when you devote enough time to developing your brand, and letting people know who you are.
If your name is hiding on Google’s back pages, it’s time to take control of your ski instruction business, and develop your unique social media strategy!