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At the recent Country Music Awards (CMA), I saw a very entertaining, yet unusual occurrence. The show paired two very unlikely brands to sing the first song of the night.
Out on stage came Miranda Lambert, who is about 40 pounds lighter these days. That was just fine. However, she came out with Meghan Trainor who sings the hit song, “All About The Bass ”. What an odd duo vocally.
Not only was the duet an odd brand pairing vocally, but it was visually strange. Here they were singing about how they were bringing booty back and that size is irrelevant. Miranda Lambert was looking sleek and thin, obviously through effort and a desire for it, singing it doesn’t matter our size.
Yet, Miranda Lambert has been very verbally public with her weight loss and well, less of a booty these days. While Lambert has said she is happy any size and loves to eat fried chicken, she has also said she loves being inspired to look at/listen to Brittany Spears when working out.
I respect her verbal stand on the topic, but if I hadn’t read anything about her stance and just saw the performance, my perception would possibly be very skewed for the worse.
In brand development, I always point out the “2 C’s”: Clarity and Consistency. Clarity is all about knowing who you are as an artist and as a human. It would seem Miranda Lambert is clear that she prefers being a smaller size and that’s fine. Consistency is about communicating your same brand in the same manner every time to everyone. Without consistency, your audience gets confused, can’t track you, relate to you, be your biggest fan or follow you. Since branding is all subconscious processing of information, perhaps your fans won’t actually be thinking these exact thoughts, but they will be “feeling” something is off and uncomfortable for them- about you.
I remember when I first stopped practicing law, I had no clarity on who I was as a personal brand. Since I had decided to stop practicing law, I was so lost and confused. My identity as a “lawyer” had been stripped from me. I had no idea who I was, much less how to consistently show up as a brand. As the first step to my brand clarity, it took me really learning that I was NOT my career/profession in order to really be able to show up and gain a following.
So seeing Miranda Lambert up on stage singing a song about loving ourselves regardless of size when she had lost all that weight, was not true to her current visual brand, I would say. I think it is great that she has lost so much weight. Good for her. But you always have to watch what brand statement you are making with anything in your life, including weight loss. This is especially true when you are up on stage standing next to someone who has a current brand around a hit song stating verbally the opposite.
What does this mean for you? I realize both “C”s are hard to master. For starters, all you need to do is to be self-aware. Be self-aware of who you are and how you want that message to come across to others.
Remember, branding is subconscious perception. That means, you have to know it and believe it before we do. And yes, your visual brand matters just as much as the verbal brand message you give us. Always remember, we likely see you first before we hear from you, so you need consistent verbal and visual brand messages.
This week let’s examine the fourth part of our four-part discussion on deliberate brand creation of ourselves. We’re going to wrap up this four-part series with really looking at building a brand that is true to ourselves. I’m continuing to put my own spin on Oprah’s October 2014, “What I Know For Sure” column in her O Magazine. I have a lot of appreciation and respect for Oprah’s presence.
As Oprah said in her column, she would want to come home during a party but would feel compelled to stay at the party because she thought she had to do so.
How often do we all compromise who we really are in order to fit in or fit into a stereotype we are living into? Most often if we stop and really evaluate the situation, we’d find that our assumptions are wrong. Heck, maybe no one wants to stay at a party but everyone feels compelled to do so! What a fun party that is. I don’t know about you, but I’d always rather be at a party of one (me!) than at a party where no one wants to be there.
I remember in high school how awkward I was and never felt I fit into the “scene”. I especially remember when I was invited to parties and felt compelled to show up. I would get there and have an awful time. Mostly I would look around at the other kids and wonder why they were drinking so much. Not that I was a saint, but I never did identify with the drinking. I was always waiting to go home from those parties. I rarely enjoyed myself. I wasn’t being true to myself.
Now, as an adult and business owner, I love getting out there at parties and meeting people. I have no problem walking into a room full of people I don’t know. What’s changed? I try to be true to myself nowadays.
However, after several unhappy social events, I’ve come to discover that I don’t need to be everywhere all the time. I have rules for myself about socializing. Basically, if I don’t feel like I want to be around people, then I don’t go. I make a conscious, self-aware choice to only show up and project a brand presence that works for me and for my audience. I share this information with my clientele, too. I do this to be true to who I am as a person and as a brand.
Not being true to who we are as individuals hurts in so many ways. Staying at that party too long not only wastes our time, but it hurts our brand. Anytime we don’t honor our desires, and ourselves, then we are devaluing our brand in other peoples’ eyes. Others cannot find our brand relevant and worthy of respect if we don’t respect our own brand. There is a certain level of power and ease and grace with being true to who we really are as people.
So ask yourself how often do you stay too long at that “party”? If so, why? How can you find ways to be true to yourself and your brand?
As the seasons continue to shift deliberately this October, we continue our Deliberate Brand Creation this week. As I said last week, I’m putting my own spin on Oprah’s October 2014, “What I Know For Sure” column in her O Magazine. As I’ve said in the past, I have a lot of appreciation and respect for Oprah’s presence in this world.
This week, let’s explore how being genuine or “real” about who you are is such a big part of your deliberate brand creation. I like to call it “owning” who you are.
I am not a fan of labeling people as introverts or extroverts. However, once I read Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet”, I became a fan of the concept of introverts and extroverts. Let’s explore these concepts with your brand.
As Oprah said in her October column, when she was younger she used to go to parties even when she didn’t want to be there because she didn’t want to miss anything. As I’ve often said, this desire to be at a party or to run home could be a function of who you are as an extrovert or introvert.
I suppose I am what you would call an extrovert. I get energy from those parties and enjoy being there meeting new people. I know it and can count on it most often.
As Cain explains, it is natural for extroverts to want to stay at the party and get energy from being there. However, the introvert would want to fly out of the party and head home to be alone.
Neither is right nor wrong. The point is you need to know what works for you. If you are an introvert and you force yourself to stay at that party, then there are issues to deal with as a result. Not only will you be miserable, but your personal brand will be poor, as well. If you ain’t happy, no one else will want to be around you at the party, either.
Why would you want to do that to yourself and others? I suppose it is because we compare. An introvert will look around at the party and see the extroverts having “fun”. The introvert will assume something is “wrong” with him/her because she is not having fun. In order to fit it, the introvert stays at the party- stays miserable.
As an extrovert, I can actually say I’ve walked in the introvert’s shoes at some parties. There have been plenty of times when I haven’t wanted to be somewhere but forced myself to go. Each time I did so, I paid the price: my confidence was low, my stress was high, I was bitter and angry at myself and thus, bitter and unfriendly to others at the party. It was awful and so was my brand. I suppose I assumed that just because I am an extrovert, I should WANT to be there. People expect it of me, right? Wrong! I wasn’t being real and “owning” myself in those moments.
So stop and ask yourself, how well do you “own” your tendencies as an extrovert or introvert? Once you can “own” it for what it is and who YOU are, then you are well on you way of creating a deliberate brand that is real, genuine and attracts people naturally to you.
Today we come to the final blog in a four- part series in which we look at the different ways we all stagnate; in business, in friendship, in family and in our spirituality.
As I said in all three of the other blog posts, Oprah has talked about this topic of Stagnation in her “What I know for sure” column of her September 2014 O Magazine, “The Two Questions You Should Ask Yourself Each Day”. Oprah, whether she knows it or not, is my mentor because I have incredible respect and appreciation for her presence in this world.
So I took her topic post and went deeper, looking at it from one of my viewpoints. This method is how I decide what is the next best area that ‘sparkles with rightness’.
So what the heck do I mean when I say, “stagnation in your spiritual life”? Most of us avoid the topic of spirituality for similar reasons. We don’t want to be seen as tree huggers, fluffy, not taken seriously or perceived as not credible.
The list goes on and on. But if we are not even addressing our spiritual life, then how could it stagnate and impact our brand value poorly!?
I’ve found the main reason we don’t venture into our spiritual life is because of fear. This fear triggers all the reasons/excuses I listed above.
I know I personally was afraid for a long time. At first, I was afraid of looking at the concept of spirituality in my life. The definition of spirituality is different for everyone, as it should be.
I got over that fear as I evolved and changed careers from law to brand management. In fact, my spirituality and growth as a human was what helped me transition careers and be stable.
But my fear did not end there. Now that I was finding my spirituality, I found that I feared sharing what I learned and knew with my clients. In other words, I was afraid my business audience and clientele would not take me seriously if I wasn’t just talking to them about using their brand to get business and sell themselves well. I was afraid of not being taken seriously and seen as fluffy and nutty, I dare say.
Then one day not too long ago, I just got tired of flying under the radar and bringing ‘stealth spirituality’ to my work and clients. I got that I was stagnating in my message and purpose as a personal branding expert. I was only sharing and giving up half of what I knew. It wasn’t fair to me – I wasn’t self-expressed. It certainly wasn’t fair to my audience.
Since my “awakening”, I have started sharing my personal branding expertise and know-how completely differently with my audience. I share from the heart and share from my own experiences and issues. I’ve found they are applicable to everyone somehow, so everyone can relate and learn and grow and also teach me something new!
What does this mean for you? Stop and think:
- What areas of your life are you afraid to look at? Why?
- Where are you stagnating as a result of this fear?
- How can you take one small step today to be dynamic in your entire life and personal brand? What would be possible as a result of that one small change?
In Part III of my four-part series on Brand Stagnation, let’s chat about stagnation of our personal brands within our friendships. As a recap of “why” this series, I’ve been thinking a lot about brand stagnation lately. It just so happened that so has Oprah!
Oprah has talked about this topic of Stagnation in her “What I know for sure” column of her September 2014 O Magazine, “The Two Questions You Should Ask Yourself Each Day”. Oprah, whether she knows it or not, is my mentor because I have incredible respect and appreciation for her presence in this world. For four weeks, I am taking her topic post and going deeper and looking at it from one of my viewpoints. This method is how I decide what is the next best area that ‘sparkles with rightness’ in the branding world.
So what is Stagnation of your brand within the context of your friendships? Well, these days the word, “friendship” has an entirely different meaning to us all. We have so many “friends” virtually that we seem to have lost the concept of real, dynamic, non-stagnate friendships.
I have lots of Facebook friends and many more people who want to be my Facebook friend whom I have not “accepted” as friends because I don’t know them- at all. While I appreciate that these unknown wanna-be-friends are out there, I’d rather have a cup of coffee with each of them and then “accept” them as friends- on Facebook or in person.
I used to get all out of sorts over my Facebook friends. I would think to myself that I should “accept” all these friends or the world would think I am not loved and don’t have enough friends. Perhaps this would be a sign that I’m not running a good enough/successful enough business if I don’t have enough friends and “likes” on Facebook? I would start to hyperventilate (sort of) and couldn’t focus on my work. How dumb of me! At some point, I stepped back and decided I had gotten sucked into the virtual friendship hole of mis-perceptions that feeds our low self-confidence levels. I couldn’t let Facebook drive my confidence down!!
I think of it as this- I don’t need so many friends all over the place, just friends to whom I provide the same level of connection that I would want back for myself from a friend. This means quality, not quantity for me. And if someone chooses not to do business with me because of the number of my “likes”, “Facebook friends” or LinkedIn Connections, then so be it! I can’t afford to be a half-way friend and risk my brand connection- more does not equal dynamic brand quality. The more virtual friends, the more I found that my brand connection to them stagnated.
So how dynamic are you as a Facebook or real friend? How far would you go to be a “good” friend (whatever you define as “good”)? Does your personal brand shine as a friend or is it dull and stagnate?
A good test of this concept is the following: next time your friend makes a request of you, stop and think to yourself “how would I want my friend to respond if I was the one making such a request?” If you wouldn’t want it done to you, then think twice- your brand is not coming through and your friendship may have stagnated.
Another good test is to consider your friends circle- did you really “pick” them as friends or not? Same test could apply to your friends who are family- would you be friends with your siblings if they weren’t your siblings? Why or why not? Be honest…that’s how you get to a dynamic brand with your friends.