21 Jan

What Deidre taught us

Whether you watch Coronation Street or not, you will probably be aware that the character Deidre, AKA Anne Kirkbride, sadly passed away this week.

Given that Coronation Street is part of the national identity – an institution – and Anne has played that part for over 40 years, there’s been something of an outpouring of grief over her death.

Have a think about that, though: 40 years – four whole decades – playing the same character, in the same soap … and playing her well.
In fact, over the last few days, I’ve seen her referred to as Deidre – her character – more than I’ve seen her referred to as Anne.

But, although she played the same character for such a long time, she showed how brilliant and versatile she could be, as an actress, just within that one role. She played funny, sad, angry, mournful. She covered stories such as her affair with Mike Baldwin, being falsely imprisoned for fraud, dealing with the death of her mother – the battleaxe, Blanche.
She just became known as being fantastic at being Deidre, and showing that off in many different ways.

She wasn’t like the soap actors and actresses that can only play one role, are in it for a bit, then return again when they can’t play another role (think about Eastenders: Sharon Watts, Nick Cotton, Sonia Jackson all keep coming back to the soap having done little else in between).

Deidre/Anne was great as one thing, stuck to that thing, and showed great versatility within that same role. Her legacy is Deidre.

The point I’m getting to is – certainly in business – be known for one thing  and be brilliant at it: be able to adapt within your one, fantastic skillset, but stand firmly for that one thing.
If you’re known for too many different things, or your service offering is too diverse, then I don’t know what one thing you’re brilliant at. It dilutes your other offerings, or I look at all you offer, pick the one I think you’re best at, and offer that to others as your speciality…. because other people cover the rest of what you do, as their ‘one thing’.

I could start dabbling in art direction and graphic design, but there will always be far better art directors out there than me (my previous art director, for starters), so why not stick to writing copy and become the best copywriter I can possibly be.
I can still show versatility across DM, press, radio, content, or I can show how easily I can adapt to writing in a new tone of voice, or I can switch between copy, prose, poetry etc.

The point is, I aim to stand for one thing, and one thing alone. People know to only come to me for that one thing. There’s no point coming to me for photography or web design – just copy/content: words.

We can all learn a little from Deidre. Stand for one thing, absolutely nail that one thing, and – with a bit of luck – leave a legacy for having been phenomenal at that one thing.

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