- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘appearance’
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.
Ever stop to think about how much your thoughts shape your world? Most of us tend to never even stop and think about our thoughts. We are too busy doing our “thing” in life.
Consider the fact that on the Internet I read we have anywhere from 50,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day. How in control of your thoughts are you? Do you think it matters to the overall scheme of your life- to make money, get rich, retire wealthy and then finally “be happy”?
In this post, I ask you to consider that your thoughts impact your everyday behavior and interactions with others. As such, your thoughts impact your personal brand tremendously.
For instance, if you are running around like crazy because you have so much on your “to-do” list, the odds are you have random (and maybe not so random) thoughts flying through your head. If you never stop to assess the situation here’s what we likely see- a frantic, out of control, less-than credible person running around trying to get their life in control. On top of it all, odds are you are likely cranky or unhappy- with friends, family, colleagues, with yourself and with the world.
So try this challenge on for size: For an entire day try to be as aware as you can of every thought you have. Then quickly assess: if you met someone who didn’t know you, would they want to get to know you and then hire you based on your thoughts? Put yourself in our shoes and try to imagine what we all see when you are “thinking” and running around. Is it a personal brand you want to own?
For more on this topic, stay tuned for my interview with Byron Katie on June 19, 2014.
First of all, let me say I write this blog post only with the intention of being helpful and being of contribution with my personal branding expertise. If you are cynical and want to think otherwise, please stop reading this now.
I know many of you fans think Adam can’t and shouldn’t be labeled. It is exciting. I appreciate how you want him to be self-expressed. I’m not trying to put him in a box and label him and make him cookie-cutter. I’m trying, like always, to help him be self-expressed, let his fantastic voice be heard, reach and move as many people as possible, be happy and fulfilled as a human AND get the music industry to welcome him.
The reason for my intention is that I can’t seem to get over the conundrum created for musicians, such as Adam Lambert. When you are so talented, shouldn’t that be enough? Every time I see this problem play out, I get sad for the artist and for his fans.
For guidance of this personal branding puzzle, I turned to the people who know Adam best- his fans. I’ve incorporated some of their wise insight below. One thing will always be true- if you don’t stop and listen to your fans objectively and collectively, in an effort to learn from them, your brand is a bust. As Adam once said of his fans, “I see people of all races, etc and there’s something really great about that. It speaks to the universal power of music.”
My goal is for everyone, whether an artist/entertainer or a professional lawyer/financial adviser, to have an “intentional brand”. This brand is built on each person’s natural gift and talent that allows them to give to others without any expectation of any reward. Adam’s natural talent is his fantastic voice and his being. One fan thanked him by saying he is a Shaman (healer) with courage to share his gifts. He has a message to share- one of struggles being overcome, joy being resonated and not “acting” and “putting up pretenses”.
I offer this support because he actually does heal people, as his fan said. Noskerdycat, a fan wrote to me explaining this phenomenon. She said she once turned around to view the audience (instead of Adam) from her front row seat at his concert. What she saw was surprising, but it is exactly why I want to support him with this blog- because he heals people. Noskerdycat states,
“What I saw… or what I THINK I saw was this crowd of people and faces totally and utterly connected to this individual on stage. I could have sworn that I actually saw the strings of glittery light energy that each person was exchanging with Adam as he performed. It was utterly beautiful. In fact I still shake my head in awe when I remember it.”
So who is Adam Lambert, as a self-expressed musician, and what’s the problem? Over the weekend, I was musing over this issue with a colleague of mine who works with another artist, Jason Mraz.
As one Glambert so aptly put it, proactively building your image and then marketing it is easier than having it thrust on you somehow and then managing it. The latter often feels like drinking from a fire hydrant because you have been “labeled” by others. It stinks to be out of control and not living your true intention in this way. It’s confusing.
So Adam came into the public eye via American Idol. It wasn’t by his own intentional branding plan as such. As a result, he was labeled the “wild Idol” when he was the runner up on that show. So he tried to live into the wild brand projection that was thrust on him. But why? I’m not sure it worked so well. Something just seems to be ‘off’ with this label and brand.
Confusion often leads back to lack of brand clarity and consistency. That’s what we had here. Lots of American Idol fans recalled him for the love songs he sang on the show. But his “wild” side had him wearing lots of make-up and singing with Queen, etc. As a result, the music industry was put off and the “love song” fans were confused. Still to this day, he has a new visual brand (different hair and clothing style) pretty much every time I see him.
Confusion leads to aggravation. When we don’t connect with an artist, we don’t “get” them and then we get scared. This doesn’t have to be logical. Subconscious processing of this kind is rarely logical. It comes from the heart, not the head.
So can Adam, or any artist, be all things to all people? When you can sing anything as well as Adam can, it seems everyone wants what they want from you- the record labels, the fans, and everyone else in the mix. Not having one consistent brand is alright, as long as it is not confusing- for the fans and for the artist.
In all this, what about Adam the artist? As fans and management, no doubt you want the best for Adam, right?
So the questions for Adam, and any artist, to consider are:
- Do you self-express via your voice OR the actual music? Many artists have an average voice, but a sweet message. Successful artists understand the difference and know their truth here.
- How did you come into the public eye initially and what’s your intentional branding plan? And I’m not talking about what your management or your PR folks think….this is about YOU, the artist and the human.
- Are you joyful and happy at every turn that you take as an artist? If not, then you deserve to be- for yourself and for your fans.
I recently attended a concert by Adam Lambert. For those of you who need a refresher, Adam is the San Diego native who came in second place on American Idol, Season 8. Some would say looking back he really should have won and has had a more impactful career than the actual Season 8 winner.
The concert was fantastic- fast, fun, funny with a quality vocal performance by Adam and band. No one could possibly have been disappointed by the hometown boy who kindly displayed his loyalty and appreciation to San Diego.
Putting on my personal branding expert hat, I was baffled as I looked around the fan base during the concert. After the Michael Buble’ concert a few years ago, I never thought I could be more baffled. However, I was.
Adam’s audience was loud, wild and ….very varied. So varied that my husband even noticed and commented. All of this made me think what kind of personal brand appeal would attract this audience and why? At first I thought it may have something to do with the venue being the fairgrounds. I quickly dismissed that notion.
Besides the expected young, gay men and heterosexual women in their early twenties, let me give you a sampling:
– Behind us sat three, thirteen year old girls who were clearly unaware of Adam’s sexual orientation. Not only did they scream (constantly and at the top of their lungs. Translation: deafening) “I love you, Adam”, but at some point when he took off his jacket, they screamed, “take it all off!” We chuckled.
-The row in front of us had five fans who were easily between the ages fifty-five to sixty-five. They were dancing, taking pictures and even pulled up Adam’s Facebook page on their phones during the concert. One of them even had a backpack with the name of a monastery on it….
– Next to us on one side sat a mother (forty-five years and above) and daughter (nineteen). They claimed they LOVED LOVED LOVED Adam and this was the second (of many more) time they had seen him in concert. I think the mother loved him more than her daughter did.
-On the other side of us was an African-American man with dreadlocks, a happy toothless smile, and cowboy boots. He was there with his blond hair, blue-eyed wife. Both were in their early sixties, I would guess.
So how is it possible that Adam Lambert has this varied of a personal brand appeal? Leaves the rest of us envious and wanting to do the same with our personal and business brands, I would say.
Well, I would venture it has something to do with the playlist. Not only did he sing all his popular songs, but he sang (and brought in very real, touching commentary about) songs from Tears for Fears, Hendrix, Bob Marley, and Queen. With this varied and exciting playlist, it is easy to see how he captured such a varied audience.
However, the main reason I think he has such a great personal brand is because of his presence on stage. Adam’s dialogue with his audience coupled with his nonverbal communication seemed genuine, thankful, gracious (he tried his hand at comedy and readily admitted he was not a comedian), humble, and get ready for it- JOYFUL! And let’s not forget the semi-regular streaker/fan he has. Yes, she was back. He even handled her with grace, asking the cops not to arrest her.
So next time you go to a concert, look at the singer and see what about his/her personal brand works for you and what doesn’t. How can you adapt your personal brand based on what you saw and felt?
GIVE ME YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK WORKS WELL FOR ADAM LAMBERT’S PERSONAL BRAND
Making the decision to change careers and then taking the big plunge to actually change careers is hard enough. I know what it is like. I remember it all too well. Sometimes I look back and wonder where I ever got the nerve or the courage. I have even asked myself if I would do it all over again, knowing what I know now. The answer is always a resounding “yes”.
Changing careers is scary because there are so many unknowns. We ask ourselves all sorts of questions, including:
– Will I like my new career better than my current career?
– Will I be a success?
– Will I make enough money to live comfortably?/ Can I pay the bills to survive?
Part of the difficulty in changing careers is the unsettling notion we have about how we can conform who we are, as individuals, to the new job. The problem is that most of us identify ourselves with our careers and jobs. If you asked me 15 years ago who I was, I would have told you I was a lawyer.
Clients often say to me that they do not know how to represent themselves (ie, position their personal brands) in networking events, on business cards and in front of others in general. For example, one client practiced as a CPA for twenty years before switching careers to go into the mortgage industry. Not only did she have a challenge with what to verbally say as she introduced herself and her new career, but she also had reservations around her visual brand- how does a mortgage industry specialist show up in public? Is it the same as a CPA or not? More conservative or less? The list was endless, understandably.
The hesitation and confusion is understandable. There is a very real loss of self followed by self-discovery in this process. You have to go through the journey of figuring out how to distinguish yourself and your new personal brand within the context of the your new industry and career. This requires you to know your uniqueness and your story around it. Then you need to find the overlap in your uniqueness, talents and story between your two careers.
So ask yourself: 1) are you ready for a change? 2) would a new career make you happier possibly in the long run? 3) do you have a contribution to society that fuels your passion and purpose? 4) where are the commonalities and differences in your two careers and your skill-set and offerings- ie, where are YOU the same in each career?