Tag Archive: holiday

What do Your Thanksgiving Eating Habits Say
About Your Branding Efforts?

Now that November is here and the ghosts and goblins have gotten their treats, our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving. In many ways Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays, not only because it celebrates the Pilgrims who helped settle several of the original colonies, but because it is totally dedicated to overindulgence. What could be more American than gorging yourself on delicious food in the name of people who devoted themselves to hard work, sacrifice and austere living?

Different people follow different eating habits on Thanksgiving Day. Believe it or not, how you eat your Thanksgiving feast can say a lot about how you approach your branding effort. Some people start with the appetizers (such as cranberry sauce or rolls), move on to hearty slices of turkey with maybe a little gravy and plentiful sides of stuffing and vegetables, and then save room for a piece of pumpkin pie.

However, some people have a tendency to skip right over the main course to the sugary stuff, rather than work their way through the nutritious part of the meal. Not satisfied simply with the prospect of a enjoying a giant meal with family and friends, many people ignore the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce etc. and jump right into the pumpkin pie. Some folks will even stuff themselves on candy and nuts before the meal starts (but they probably still have room for dessert even though they are “too full” for the mashed potatoes and green beans).

Which style of Thanksgiving eating best reflects your brand-building efforts? Do you dig in heartily and with joy, without skimping on the meat and potatoes (i.e., networking, skill development, education, taking on extra work, researching your marketplace)? Do you immediately indulge in the sweet stuff that follows (taking a long vacation, buying expensive things, celebrating your success with a night on the town)? Or do you skim through the meat and potatoes of your meal (and your effort) in an attempt to obtain instant gratification that you have not really earned?

Drinking beer and eating fried chicken…

To further illustrate my point, let’s look at the recent collapse of the Boston Red Sox. After a poor start in April, the Red Sox buckled down and went on an impressive run that gave them the best record in baseball for most of the 2011 season. However, when September rolled around, the Red Sox suddenly lost focus, stopped giving their best effort, and quickly faded away, not even reaching the playoffs.

There were numerous reasons for the historic collapse (which are still being deciphered), but one fact that came up was that several members of the Red Sox pitching staff were drinking beer and eating fried chicken during games. Even though these were games they weren’t scheduled to play, this dietary choice clearly shows a lack of preparation and focus on what should have been the players’ main goal: building a brand as a championship-caliber baseball team. Having a cold one and a chicken wing may have provided some short-term instant gratification during games, but in the long term it contributed to poor physical conditioning, mental distraction, low morale and generally bad teamwork.

Don’t be tempted by the “fried chicken and beer” in your daily life! Save them for the occasional treat after a hard day’s work of brand-building is over. Maintain the physical and mental conditioning, morale and teamwork you will need to make it to the top.

So have a Happy Thanksgiving, and remember that pumpkin pie doesn’t count as a vegetable!


Even the Best Gifts Need Proper Wrapping!

After developing the substance of your personal brand and landing it, you need to package and market it to your audience (employer, group, organization).

Answer these questions: Who am I? What do I want to be? How do I want to be perceived? Most of us don’t think of ourselves as “a package,” but all of us are packages (i.e., “she is so plain, don’t depend on him he will never deliver, he is just boring”). Here is the trick: you want to make sure that you control your packaging (the look, feel, and experience) and the message that illuminates from it.

Looking at it another way, since we are in the holiday season, think of your personal brand as a gift. Because it is! You are offering your time, expertise and talent to serve the needs of the marketplace.

Now think of gifts you have received over the years. The first thing you always notice about a gift is how it’s wrapped. Does it come in a solid package covered in colorful paper with a fresh, original pattern and a shiny bow on top? Maybe a nice personalized card attached? Or is it stuffed into an old shoe box with a ripped-up edition of last week’s Sunday funnies halfheartedly thrown around it, held in place with fraying twine?

You have to package it right if your want top dollar

While this example has been exaggerated for effect (especially the second part), honestly, how many times have you received a gift and had your heart sink before you unwrapped it because of the dull, generic packaging? That’s the main reason we also want to pay less for generic products on the shelf – the packaging is uniformly dull. When we see a package that shouts “Energy, Invigoration, Crispy, Clean, Colorful, Beautiful, Sophisticated, Expensive,” we get excited when it comes as a gift, and we are willing to pay more when it comes as a product for sale.

In essence, good packaging helps speed the purchasing decision and leads people to pay top dollars (and that’s what you want your packaging to do right?). Packaging is how you express your personality. So think about how you want to be perceived, and what kind of competitive edge you want your packaging to send.

Remember, the way you decide to package your unique brand should be evident in everything that you do and attach your name to, the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you dress, the content and appearance of your resume/cover letter, and your award winning interview.

Authenticity above all else

Also remember, the market can spot a phony a mile away! Your brand needs to reflect your core substance. Build your brand around your genuine strengths, not the ones you think the market wants to pay a lot of money for right now. You will always do better in the long run by being yourself, both in business and in life.

Nailing your brand is not something you do once and then walk away. It is a constant process of fine-tuning and adjusting your brand to the changing needs of the market and your changing interests, abilities, experiences and skills. Here are a few simple things you can do to help nail your brand today, tomorrow and far into the future.

Yes, you can tighten your bow in 6.5 minutes

In the next 6.5 minutes, check an RSS feed which offers up-to-the-minute news and information about your area of branded expertise (or sign up for some!). In the next 6.5 hours, read a newspaper or listen to/watch a radio or TV news broadcast, so you understand how current events may affect the way your brand needs to be packaged.

Even tighter in 6.5 days

In the next 6.5 days, place small notes to yourself reminding you of your personal and professional goals and aspirations in conspicuous places around your home, office and car so that they are always top of mind. In the next 6.5 weeks, create a “30-second Super Bowl commercial,” a 30-second pitch that powerfully sums up your branding message, like the multi-million dollar commercials which air during the Super Bowl telecast every year.

The amazing will happen in 6.5 months

And in the next 6.5 months, step “outside the zone” and do something good for yourself or a friend, relative or colleague. Doing good generates good karma, plus if you constantly focus on your brand you run the risk of “overthinking it” and turning your package into something overly contrived and forced.

If you still doubt the importance of nailing your brand, consider a huge branding gaffe made by one of the greatest marketing organizations of all time, Coca-Cola. In 1985, Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most recognized and successful brands, changed the formula of its signature beverage to meet what the company thought was growing consumer preference for a sweeter cola. Coke drinkers everywhere were outraged by this inferior product called “New Coke,” sales sharply declined, and three months later Coca-Cola reintroduced the original formula. Coke regained its dominant position in the global cola market that it holds to this day.