I thought about her comment for a long time. As I walked around from workshop to workshop, I realized why she had said it. I had gotten a new haircut and a dress suit for the event. Almost every other female speaker was dressed much more informally. There were a few in lightweight dresses and some in slacks with blouses, but the overwhelming trend was to the very casual. In fact, more than one women presenting that day had on jeans, a tee-shirt, and tennis shoes.
In that one conference, I was voted favorite speaker and invited to speak at a number of other events, including a few out of state. Now I'd like to think some of that was because of the content and presentation style, but I'm positive it was also in part due to the fact that I dressed and behaved in a professional manner and not like it was just another day changing diapers and doing laundry.
To be clear, I'm not a formal gal. I have decided to boycott high heals — as being injurious, idiotic, and misogynistic. My struggles with weight have made clothes shopping a dreaded necessity to be avoided whenever possible. That has resulted in a ridiculously minimal wardrobe and a far more casual appearance than I really want. (Am I the only one who can't bear to buy “fat clothes”?) I'm not going to climb up too far on my appearance soapbox. Suffice it to say that how we speak, look, interact, all impact how others see us — and how we are seen is our brand.
Successful branding is a matter of creating an image that is positive, relevant, and memorable.
I'd like to modify this definition a bit. When we talk about “positive” branding, many tend to think about being happy, glowing, and sugar sweet. And if that's the definition, I'll vehemently disagree. (How not happily glowing of me!)
Recently I received a post comment that was typical of this mindset. The woman objected to the fact that — in a post about common sense — I had included multiple examples of political foolishness. While I realize she was likely offended that I exposed progressives looking dumb things, her stated grievance was that I would post something negative. Her claim was that doing so was incompatible with personal “growth.”
In my opinion, it's impossible to reach our potential — as an individual, as a family, as a community, as a nation — without dealing openly and honestly with the problems we face. Sometimes that means not being nice.
As far as branding goes, I don't mind if I'm seen as someone who is willing to call a spade a spade, as someone who is willing to ask hard questions, as someone who will look for truth, even of those who prefer to smile and lie to my face.
If that is “negative,” so be it. But I suggest that “positive branding” isn't about smiling and cooperating with everyone. Rather, it's about doing good, making things right, and having the end result be a better situation than where we started.
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