Read an Excerpt
Dig Deep to Unearth Who You Are
I believe that we're here in the world for a purpose. Everything that happens to us, good or bad, is a lesson to help us discover what that purpose is and fulfill it. This is the real business of life, our destiny cycle, played out in our love life and our work life.
Your true purpose can only be discovered when you've looked deeply and honestly into your heart and allowed the true you to declare herself. She may be someone very different from the you that other people see today, but she is the soul of your brand and it's with her help above all others that you'll find your path and your success. When you've discovered her you can begin to honor her by revealing her dynamic spirit to the world. She will reward you with everything you ever dreamed was possible.
What words come to mind when people say your name? What do people feel when they see you? If you can't answer these questions easily, join the club. How can you ever know what someone else is thinking, anyway? And after all, how objective can you really be about yourself?
The truth is you can know what people are thinking about you if you've put certain thoughts in their heads.
What's the Buzz on You?
I'm not talking about mind control exactly, but branding is about having a strong influence over how you're perceived. Look how the best brands bombard us on a daily basis with in-your-face advertising designed to influence how we think and feel about their products. Coca-Cola wants us to think "refreshing" when we hear their name, and to make sure we do they spend big dollars to promote their brand as invigorating and exhilarating. Disney's name is indelibly associated with family values and wholesome kid entertainment. MTV has influenced us to think of hip young people and cutting-edge music. Think Volvo, think safety. Think Jeep, think adventure.
Apply brand promotion to people and you get similar results. For instance, what words come to mind when you think of Madonna? How about Oprah? Or Martha Stewart? Not too long ago, I asked a group of women in the film industry to describe these powerful women, and they came up with these three lists.
It's not too hard to guess which list applies to which celebrity, is it? That's because in marketing terms, all three women are super powerful brands. Their names evoke a strong, even emotional response from us, and we pretty much know what to expect from each of them, which is why we remember them. They're consistent.
Consistency is one of branding's most important laws. Madonna, Oprah, and Martha build their brands by making career choices that reinforce what they're known for. Madonna changes her look almost as often as Oprah chooses another book or Martha recovers a sofa. Oprah continues to make women aware of issues that matter, and we'll never see Martha put out anything short of domestic perfection. Madonna has made extreme inconsistency a part of her brand—changing from the blond bombshell she personified during and around the filming of the movie Dick Tracy with Warren Beatty in 1990, to the raven-haired Indian gurette in exotic saris of 1999. Doing so, she's pretty much locked in to being consistently inconsistent. I don't recommend this. Brand consistency is critical to developing brand loyalty. Brand inconsistency erodes confidence. And so Madonna's "chameleon" quality may ultimately undermine her success. She may never be able to rest or stop changing because if she did, her audience would get bored.
Consistency, clarity, and authenticity are the holy trinity of a great brand.
When I'm hired to help a cable network or Internet company develop its brand, I begin by analyzing the brand's distinguishing qualities, its key attributes, its defining characteristics. If I were doing a brand analysis of Martha and Madonna, for instance, they would look something like this:
Goddess of her own Omnimedia empire (magazine, syndicated column, and TV show), Martha reigns supreme over every avenue of domesticity: home crafts, home decor, and home entertaining. Worth billions now that she's gone public, her ubiquitous presence is secure for the rest of her baking years and beyond. Martha does everything right, she does it meticulously, and she's strict—she doesn't fool around and she expects us to do as she does. You either love her or hate her.
Her core values reflect her quest for perfection, and her love of the best and the beautiful. They play to the new American dream of homemaking: More is better—and you have to admit, it all looks great!
*Vision coupled with flawless taste
*A love for detail that makes something as mundane as repositioning the sofa seem fascinating
*An in-charge personality
Down-to-earth looks, lots of slacks, overalls, gardening clogs, button-up blouses, barn jackets, minimal make up; simple, short hair style. A very casual low-maintenance look balances a very highly contrived product.
*Martha at Kmart—'nuf said
*Soaring stock valuations
*Women all over America are captivated by her and the world she's created
"It's a good thing!"
The last word in American of home crafts, decor, and entertaining
Her arrogance is legion, her attitude intimidating, her taste and talent enviable.
Innovative, influential, and inspiring, a singer, dancer, composer, producer, actor, executive, humanitarian, and mother, Madonna is embedded in our pop culture and collective consciousness as an icon for the liberated, highly physical, sexual female. Always an original, sometimes outrageous, she's never shy about showing us exactly who she is.
*Dazzling, alluring, in-your-face!
*She brings together music, extravagant theatrics, and dance to wow sold-out audiences around the world.
*Touches something primal in us—evokes extreme emotional response.
*She has more than confidence—she has guts. She pushes the envelope.
*An original creative vision and the ability to pick up on and set trends in everything from fashion to design to music. Brand Power:
*She sells records! No less than nineteen top ten singles in the past fourteen years, eleven of them number one.
*Her influence on fashion is revolutionary.
*Recognizing the creative and commercial impact of the music video lexicon, no one has done more to marry music and image.
"I live faster than everyone else . . . out of my own curiosity and hunger for information and change."
What People Think of Madonna:
She's a great marketer.
What People Are Missing:
She's an astonishing talent and a reflection of what many women secretly aspire to be. And that scares a lot of people.
From the Hardcover edition.