Archives for May 18, 2009

{Rules of PR no.6} Making Your Brand

Please Return to Tiffany by *Peanut (Lauren) at Flickr. All Rights Reserved 2009.

One need not read the label to associate a little blue box, wrapped in white ribbon and draped in a silver chain to know that it’s from Tiffany & Co. That is a given because those colours are synonymous with the Tiffany brand.

Branding is the look and feel associated with something specific. What your brand says about you, professional or personal, probably says more to your audience than you think.

So how do you make your brand convey “you?”

  • You are how you write.

We all do it, we sound one way and write another and sometimes our personal isms and twangs get the better of us. For example, I know in my personal life, I’m guilty of using the word “y’all,” instead of saying “all of you,” “you all,” “you guys” or “you are.” However, when I write I would never scribble the word “y’all” and that distinction is very important.

Words are our personalities. Our words shine through and actually say a lot more about us than we think.

For example, though I never write “y’all,” speaking it begs the question, “Where are you from? You do not have a Southern accent. What do you?” The answer is simple, I spent four years in northern Florida at the University of Florida in Gainesville; a small, rural, college town drenched in all things flashing back to the Old Southern Republic. When I graduated, I got my degree and some Southern twang attached to it. Hearing the term “y’all” reeks thoughts of broken English and folksy-poor education. That much is a given. But the term is a Catch-22, it’s as cultural as it is an echo of American social order.

Seeing and reading it are two very different beasts.

Seeing me gives someone the luxury of watching my facial expressions, manner of my dress and body language. By talking to me in person and meeting me, you would not question my level of education or question what I convey because of the fact that you are physically seeing me and the manner in which I represent myself. I am not being read. Therefore, regardless of whether the term “y’all” slips out of my mouth on occasion, I will not be held responsible for its connotations. The same cannot be said about writing.

Through words we set a tone and create a particular level of expectation by communicating our thoughts and ideas (the good and the bad). Words need to make your clients trust your company, your brand, what you do, and most of all, trust you.

The words you choose to use in your presentations, websites, products, services and daily business life should foster a clear message that emulates who you are, what you wish to be and what you do.

Brands by MLeak via Flickr. All Rights Reserved 2009.

  • Who are you?

For such a simple question, only made up of three words, it’s the most difficult to answer.

Take some time and ask yourself a few questions — What is my company culture? What font should I use? Is this really the best picture of me? What does my logo really look like? What words do I want to associate with myself? Is that really the right colour for me?

The thing is, all of these questions can be applied to both your professional and your personal life.

Job seekers are brands, whether they realize it or not. Walking into an interview or audition, your potential boss is looking at “you.”

Your image, whether that be a logo, or daily dress, says so much. Most times, you don’t need a designer suit or a watch that costs five figures to seal the deal. You need to look like you are the deal sealer. Do you seem trust worthy? Are you casually dressed for something formal? Do you stand out (for better or for worse)?

Using specific words to reflect who you really are says a lot about you. We are not just talking about what you do; the words you choose to use speak an ample amount about how you see yourself. How you see yourself will reflect upon how others see you.

Culture is one of those blurry lines in the branding world that often gets lost in translation.

Think about a stranger coming across you walking down the street or arriving at your website, what will they think? How do you reflect yourself?

If you own a business, try listing some of your company’s values. If you are looking for a job, mention it in your objective or cover letter. At the end of the day, you want to ensure that what you set out to represent yourself as, is actually the same message your audience is receiving.

Remember people are not mind readers, they don’t have “ESPN or something,” you need to tell them who you are, what you do and why they should be choosing you.

But whatever you do, do not forget that you have a personality and should utilize it. You are unique. Finding what makes you unique will separate you from the ton.

It’s really not that hard, it just takes the right questions. Plainly put, start off with your likes and dislikes — humanize who you are and what you represent. It is always easier to talk to someone to whom you can relate, rather than not.

Coca Cola Art Pinup by Coke Art. All Rights Reserved 2009.

  • What are you good at?

If you talk about something you do not really know about to someone who does, they will know you full of hot air.

If you talk about something you do not really know about to someone who doesn’t know, eventually it will come back to haunt you when your project fails via a little something called karma. That’s just the way of the world.

Know your strengths and know your weaknesses. Capitalize on your strengths and work hard to improve your weaknesses. Defining these in your goals will help define you and your brand.

Leverage what you have and work with it.

For example, through clever advertising and the emergence of the i[Book, Phone, Pod etc.,] Apple was able to save itself from filing for Chapter 11. They always knew they produced superior products, but the pricing wars and production of the “generic” brands got the better of them for the longest time.  With the introduction, and cornerstone branding, of the iPod came their new wave of market ownership.

It’s very simple really.

Apple knew that they were the best at what they did, they knew what they had and they worked with that knowledge to make you, the audience, were quite aware of that fact too.

 

Little Pink Book’s Rule of PR #6:
You are your brand.
Represent yourself
the way you wish others to see you.
Inside and outside of the work place.

–

Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations and an M.A. in International Administration.

Copyright © 2009 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.

Liar, liar, Nancy Pelosi’s pant suits are on fire!

Nancy Pelosi. Photo courtesy of Stinson Lives.

By: Anuradha Pandey, guest blogger

The recent uproar over whether or not top congressional Democrats knew about the interrogation techniques the C.I.A. employed on terror suspects is an example of smokescreen politics and hypocrisy at their best.

Instead of addressing the question at hand — whether or not the interrogation techniques can be identified as “torture” and if they are therefore illegal —Republicans are instead accusing Democrats of being complicit in the C.I.A.’s “advanced interrogation techniques” program that Bush administration Department of Justice lawyers deemed legal and necessary to the War on Terror. This debacle has been particularly disastrous for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

C.I.A. records released this week show that four members of Congress were briefed on September 4, 2002: Senators Bob Graham (D-FL) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Representatives Pelosi and Porter Goss (R-FL). This group is the “Gang of Four,” the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees.

These four members of Congress could not have taken any action to change or stop the program once the Bush administration had decided to implement it. They needed the whole of Congress to exercise the Constitution’s checks and balances, but could not have told their colleagues because disclosing the information would have harmed the agency’s operations and would have been political suicide.

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In the last few weeks, Pelosi has been in the middle of a political disaster waiting to happen as one of the most hated Democrats in Congress. According to the New York Times:

Congressional Republicans on Friday accused Democrats of full complicity in the approval of the Bush administration’s brutal interrogations, citing a new accounting that shows frequent briefings for some top Democrats on waterboarding and other harsh methods starting in 2002.

The new chart of briefings, prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the first full listing of briefings, appears to call into question the assertion of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that she was never told that waterboarding and other methods were used, only that the Central Intelligence Agency believed they were legal and could be used.

Pelosi said that she knew of waterboarding as an interrogation technique but that she was not told that it had actually been used on the detainee and terror suspect Abu Zubaydah. Again from the Times:

Ms. Pelosi said that at the sole briefing she attended as the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee in September 2002, the only mention of waterboarding by C.I.A. officials was that while it was deemed to be legal, the technique was not being used.

Pelosi said that she only found out after the September 4th briefing that waterboarding had been actually used while Goss said he specifically remembers being told about it, though it is not clear whether that means he was told that it had been used on Zubaydah.

While it is deplorable that Pelosi did not acknowledge until it was disclosed in late 2007 that she knew about the Bush administration’s sanction of torture, any objection to waterboarding after the September 4th briefing would have come too late because Zubaydah had already been tortured 83 times that month.

Torture Political Cartoon by Donzer.

She still asserts that she was told that waterboarding was not being used, though she did admit that she knew by early 2003 that detainees were being subjected to it.

The Speaker apparently saw little recourse to challenge the practice except by regaining Democratic control of the House and Senate.

On the one hand, it seems ridiculous for Republicans to use this as a political distraction to both try to destroy Pelosi’s political career (the outcry from her liberal supporters has been considerable) and to take attention away from the fact that Republicans and the Bush administration sanctioned torture as a method of interrogation.

Political Cartoon by Gristoon. Courtesy of the Washington Post.

On the other hand, Pelosi is a polarizing figure who has tended to alienate people ever since she became Speaker. Pelosi is as much a slimy politician as House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). I have no qualms criticizing her because I often consider myself too liberal for even the Democratic Party.

If Pelosi had been from a conservative district she’d be comparable to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the woman who called for the investigations of Democratic members of Congress who were supposedly unpatriotic à la Joseph McCarthy.

I’d have liked to know that top congressional Democrats already knew about the interrogation techniques. However, I recognize that Pelosi and Graham couldn’t have done anything because the administration’s decision to only brief four members of Congress was a calculated political move so those members had no choice but to stay silent.

The possibility of political fallout on the part of the administraion was abated because they could say that they had indeed warned Congress and that ranking members had the chance to object. This entire situation is ridiculous, and should not distract (though it probably will) from the investigation of those DoJ lawyers who decided torture was legal.

This is another shining example of Congress’ inability to transcend infighting to get anything done and to correct past sins.

Related New York Times article here.

Anuradha Pandey is a graduate student at the University of Florida. She has a B.A. in History, Religion and a minor in French from UF. Currently, she is a candidate for an M.A. in British Imperial History and hopes to pursue a PhD in the same field. In her spare time she is a political junkie.

Copyright © 2009 SashaHalima PR. All rights reserved.