- Who & Why?
All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘visual brand’
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.
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 was at the American Bar Association (ABA) annual meeting last week in San Francisco where once a year it seems all of us lawyers descend on a major city. I was having a conversation over drinks with a litigator friend/client of mine.
We were chatting about the diversity of my clients. We work on the personal brand development of clients ranging from lawyers and accountants to entertainers and rock stars. So she asked a very interesting question, wondering if the personal brand development dilemmas of lawyers and rock stars/entertainers were the same. The answer from my experience is that professionals, such as lawyers, have different personal branding issues than rock stars and other entertainers.
In the professional services world and personal brand development, we are aiming at developing, positioning and marketing a personal brand and story that resonates with clarity and consistency to as many people as possible within a target market range that’s right for you, as the professional- lawyer, accountant, CEO. The tough part is making sure you are memorable and visible, yet always credible in your substantive work. The resulting tough part is making sure your target market is aware of you at all times so you stay top of mind. After all, there are tons of lawyers and accountants!
In the entertainment world, the personal brand development has the same construct, but plays out differently given what entertainers do. For example in developing the personal brand of a rock star (take for example Adam Lambert), we are still aiming to develop, position and market a personal brand and story that resonates with clarity and consistency the real Adam Lambert.
However, our main concern and issue is not to make sure the entertainer is visible and top of mind to his/her target audience. When the entertainer is known, his/her target market is aware of them at all times. There is only one Adam Lambert.
The problem for rock stars and singers often times becomes having too broad an audience and fan base. This is often because the messaging of the rock star and who he/she is gets diluted, thus capturing too many fans who now expect (and want!) different things from the star. This creates a marketing nightmare and an inconsistent personal brand because there is lack of clarity about who the star really is and what his/her story really is/should be to the best audience for him/her.
So this may be the only time you see an article comparing lawyers and rock stars. As humorous as it may be, remember whether you are a lawyer or a rock star, you still have a personal brand to develop and own! Enjoy the process.
Personal Branding involves your visual brand, including what you wear that reflects your personal branding goals.
How many times have you attended a crowded networking event where it seemed every professional in attendance was wearing a blue or black suit? How many times have you left events where everyone and everything seemed like a blur? What I mean is you could not quite remember anyone’s name or practice. In other words, no one left any type of impression on you. No one was memorable, let alone credible. Ever wonder why? It is because no one stood out for you. In a sea of sameness based on profession, what is it that you have to help you stand out?
Visual branding is about how you show up for me visually. In other words, we are talking about your actual appearance. Your appearance is only about twenty percent of the personal branding package that we are working to create, but nevertheless an important piece. When you are at a crowded event are you wearing something that will make me stop and take notice of you in a positive way? Or do you choose to blend into the background? Another good way of thinking about your attire and visual brand is to keep asking yourself, “does my attire and appearance bring me profit?”
This is often the point where people roll their eyes. In their opinion the visual portion is “fluff”. After all, not many of us professionals are working daily to make a fashion statement. I tend to agree. However, we also need to realize that society is visual in nature. Why do you think it is that so much money is spent each year by retail clothing stores, and designers producing clothes, marketing them to us and the rest of society?
Society (and businesses who would hire you) tend to pay attention to these things. Michelle Obama is a great example. How often have we heard and seen commentary about her fabulous and toned arms? Or what about her Gap sweaters and casual skirts? And the latest was all the commentary around her red Jason Wu gown at the inauguration ball.
I can’t say I was a fan of her red Jason Wu gown. In the past her clothing selection has denoted a personal brand element for her that was consistent and had clarity. This particular Wu gown did not send the same message to me about Michelle Obama’s personal brand. That’s my perception, that’s my reality and therefore, it is correct- for me.
Regardless of whether you liked Michelle Obama’s red gown or not, the fact is that we are talking and writing about it. There was even a column in the Huffington Post on it! Just as we notice Michelle Obama’s arms and gowns, people notice you and your visual brand and form judgments about you and your business based on it. If you disagree because you claim you are not the First Lady and thus, not super visible – you are fooling yourself!!
Does your attire bring you profit? What is your visual brand? Does it work for you? If not, what will you change and how?
In personal branding, your visual brand (attire, clothing, etc) is a part of your personal brand. Therefore, we do spend time making sure your attire and clothing options reflect the personal brand and business brand you want to project. We do this so you stand out, are memorable and feel good and look like you are “owning” your profession and service/product. In a world full of sameness, your visual brand and attire are a very easy and effective way of being unique and showing us what value you can bring to us- without ever saying a word.
Last week I had the privilege of being invited to Neiman Marcus for a Spring Trend preview given by their style adviser, Alex. Twelve of us were treated to a personal fashion show of the Spring trends in a way only Neiman Marcus does- Mimosas, gourmet breakfast and class.
The Spring trends include:
- Various shades of the color pink- from hot pink to pale pink
- Colorful clutches
- Various shades of yellow (my favorite!)
- Dramatic earrings
- Colorful pants, including pajama pants (yikes!)
- Mixing prints
- Scuba influences (minus the water)
- Tribal influences
- Strong eyebrows
Now, here’s the deal. The list above is not the “Truth”. I don’t think any of us should be wearing something just because it is “in” or trendy. I see so many people clamoring to wear the latest trends or style to fit in. But what are you fitting into exactly? Are you losing yourself and who you are to fashion and trends or are you incorporating trends into who you are to accent you and make you memorable and unique? Believe it or not, it is possible to wear trends AND stay true to who you are.
We should be wearing clothes because: 1) they make us look good and therefore, feel good 2) they reflect who we are as a person and a business brand and 3) they are comfortable.
The most important from my experience with clients is comfort. As part of our personal branding process, we dress clients. The first question I always ask is “does this outfit/attire make you feel comfortable?” If the answer is anything less than, “yes!”, we go back to the drawing board. If you feel uncomfortable in your clothing, then you come across that way to others- stiff, uptight, fidgety and unsure of who you are. In other words, it does nothing for your personal brand.
So go ahead and wear neon and scuba-influences attire. Wear hot pink and tribal influenced clothing. Go crazy with hot prints! However, only do so if these trends lend to your personal brand, enhancing who you are and how unique you are while making you look good and being comfortable.
What trends do you love? Email us and let us know.