You learn a lot when you write a book. You learn about editing, proofreading and publishing. You learn about cover designs, distribution channels and royalties. And you learn that when 200 books are delivered to your home during the day your wife is likely to leave them on the front porch because those boxes are frick’n heavy.
A surprising thing that I learned by writing my newly published book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? is that a lot of people want you to sign their books. And I’m not just talking about your Mom or a detective trying to sneak a handwriting sample from you to compare to crime scene evidence.
The first time a friend asked me to sign a copy of my book for them I thought, I don’t know nothin’ bout signing books. (Or birthin’ babies.) But then I remembered a lesson I had learned years before from Major League Baseball All-Star Torii Hunter. It was a lesson I never thought I would use.
Torii Hunter was a center fielder who played for the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (which is weird to say), and Detroit Tigers from 1997 through 2015. Hunter was a five-time All-Star, won nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards as a center fielder, and was a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner. Torii and I filmed a commercial together for Met-Rx Sports Nutrition several years ago in Detroit. (Although for some reason Wikipedia doesn’t mention that.)
During our time together I had Torii sign several items, both for the camera and for prize items that were going to be shared as part of a promotion we were running.
I still remember one of Torii’s lines from the commercial: ‘Enter The Met-Rx Baseball Diamond Sweepstakes, where you could win a two carat diamond, a VIP trip to New York, or other prizes.‘ I could hear that line in my sleep during the edit.
Three things stood out to me from my time working with Torii.
- His huge diamond earrings.
- The fact that I lent him my belt to hold up his baseball pants during the shoot.
- How clearly legible his signature was.
Most celebrities have terrible signatures. And not just because they fancy themselves doctors. A fast, sloppy, illegible signature is understandable for people who sign hundreds of things in one sitting for fans, sponsors and divorce attorneys.
But that was not Torii’s style. His signature was perfect. You could clearly recognize each letter. I was so impressed that I commented on it. Here’s the exchange:
Me: Wow Torii, that’s a great looking signature!
Tori: I learned that from Kirby Puckett. He told me you want everyone to know exactly who did this. Kirby said, “If they look at this item years from now and no one can tell you did this you didn’t add any value to it.”
I love this. I’ve seen a lot of unrecognizable signatures from people like….hmm. Actually, I don’t know who they were. I COULDN’T READ THEIR NAMES!
Your Signature is Your Brand Mark
A clearly legible signature brands the item you sign. It makes a positive statement. It shows pride and attention to detail. And one by one, those signatures add to your story, add to your brand, and add value to the things you have signed. It doesn’t matter if you’re signing baseballs, books, or the documents and forms we all sign on a regular basis.
John Hancock knew this. He signed his name with authority, clarity and size. And we remember him for it. In fact, John Hancock is now synonymous with signatures. That and skyscrapers. He was a duel threat.
Your signature is your personal brand mark. It’s a symbol of your reputation. Put thought and care into it. Make it clear. Make it easily recognizable. Let it add to your story and your image. And may it add value to everything it graces.
*If you know someone with a gnarly signature (or a beautiful one), please share this message with them.
If you enjoy stories like this one, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media. If you’d like a signed copy I’d be happy to add my Torii Hunter/Kirby Puckett/John Hancock to it for you.