How well does your brand work for you? Will just the mention of your name make someone flock to you or send them scurrying to the exits? Recently, a stranger told me I’m “rude and self-serving,” mostly based on my social media posts. Does she know me? No, but she knows my brand and it clearly doesn’t prove a fit with her. When she said that I immediately thought of Amelia Earhart and all of the negative crap Amelia had to deal with as she forged new paths for women in the 1920s and ‘30s as she soloed across the Atlantic in 1932 and disappeared forever in 1937.
Amelia Earhart wasn’t the best pilot in the world, but she had the best brand in the world. And that made all of the difference. EVERYONE recognized her and today everyone still does. Her publisher and her publicist husband, George Putnam helped Amelia publish a book, endorse products, write magazine articles (she was a contributing editor in Cosmopolitan) and give speeches on the women’s college circuit. Amelia loved fashion and knew that what you wore bore a powerful impression.
How do you brand yourself like Amelia did?
- Figure out your purpose and what makes you different from everyone else
Amelia exemplified the pioneering spirit and never gave up when many others could have. She believed in women’s equality and wanted to prove to men that women were very intelligent and capable of doing anything they set their minds to do. I’m sure she would love seeing Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee! Growing up as a child of an alcoholic father, Amelia probably felt like the weirdo in the room and wanted to prove to others she was worthy of love and respect—this fueled her drive and ambition. Yes, she was not the most skilled aviator and she did not keep up with new technologies because of her heavy promotion schedule, but she had enormous amounts of courage and raw determination; she also had a great sense of humor, calling herself a “sack of potatoes” when she was the first female passenger to cross the Atlantic in 1928. What makes you different from your competition? When folks think of you, what POSITIVES come forth? Like what happened to me, your positives could be someone else’s negatives. Don’t be all things to all people—know what your strengths/weaknesses are and don’t feel like EVERYONE is your client.
- Promote yourself in everything you do
Flying cost money and Amelia needed to keep promoting herself to fill the coffers—not an easy task during the Great Depression. As a little girl in Kansas, she sewed clothes for her dolls and later as a teen that skill proved useful when her family was struggling and she made her own fashion from scratch. With her husband’s help she designed her own line of ladies’ sportswear. Her label featured her signature of “Amelia Earhart” with a red line marked through from bottom right to the top left. At the top of the red line is her red plane! Her line was affordable, washable, and had long tops so you wouldn’t become untucked if you reached for a high object. The line also featured aviation motifs in the form of wings on the buttons and parachute cords on the belts. Where is your logo and your message displayed? When folks see your logo, what comes to mind first? For instance, Amelia’s clothing line exemplified her brand of freedom, fashion and Midwestern values.
- Look like the role you’re playing
Amelia cut her hair short to both fit under her pilot’s helmet and because other female pilots had short hair. Her hair was messy and sometimes not picture-perfect. Feeling insecure that she wasn’t has experienced as other pilots, she slept in her new leather jacket so it would look distressed. Loving her neutrals of tan, brown and black, she rocked dress shirts, leather jackets with fur lining, and pleated pants that flattered her thin and tall frame. She added color to her look with colorful silk scarves. In other words, she dressed like a cool, badass pilot, even if her flying skills weren’t so badass. She also had a great smile! What do you wear that makes you look like the role you’re playing? For instance, I wear leggings even when I’m not Irish dancing; I also wear pink Converse sneakers and my Boba Fett necklace. If it’s colder out, I wear a scarf. Last year I attended my very first bluegrass jam and the banjo guy who greeted me immediately thought I belonged. He said, “Are you a singer?”
Lastly, if you want your brand to work wonders for you, exude confidence and authenticity. Amelia loved to fly and she wanted women to shine; not even her critics could discount her passion and hard work. Be your true self with your audience and don’t be afraid to be seen!
I’m giving a talk on branding in Raleigh through Femfessionals. Here’s the info:
Femfessionals June Lunch & Learn Featuring Alice Osborn
Location: City Club of Raleigh, 150 Fayetteville St #2800 (28th Floor), Raleigh, NC 27601
Tuesday, June 14, 2016 Time: 11:30am-1:00pm
Fee: Business Member price: $25/Community Member price: $35
Register HERE: http://www.femfessionals.com/events/femfessionals-raleigh-june-lunch-learn/
Join Femfessionals of Raleigh for this lunch & learn talk: “Brand Yourself Like George Washington, ” presented by author/editor Alice Osborn. How do you stand out from the crowd and make others remember who you are? Through your personal brand! George Washington believed in personal branding and it helped the Continental Army win against the Red Coats. Alice started her own successful writing and editing services company a decade ago and is here to share her secrets (and George’s secrets) with you. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to build your brand by highlighting what makes you different from the crowd through how you show up, how you dress, how you network and how you volunteer your time. Alice will also discuss how to create a strong logo and a branding must: being consistent in all of your printed and online materials, to include your website, social media networking and blog. Ultimately, a powerful brand will help you attract, engage and retain new readers and fans as it builds the loyalty of your current ones. It may also win a revolution!