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I try to practice what I preach. And after typing that I just realized I used a word I’m trying not to – THERE I did it again!

Try (verb) 1. To make an attempt or effort to do something.

yoda1As Yoda would say “Do or do not. There is not try.”

So when I see clients set a goal to “build a strong brand” I encourage them not to TRY to do that – but to really do that. And that takes guts, commitment, an appetite for failure and ridicule and most important, it takes time!!! Branding will be done when accounting is done. Meaning, if you stop branding, you enter a slow spiral of business death, and eventually the only accounting you need is to “Shut ‘er down.”

This is happening to companies all over the US right now. And so far, I’ve yet to hear of a company failing that had a truly strong, enviable, courageous brand. Most are “me too” products that the world has plenty of.

I just moved to New York (from Seattle via New Mexico). I don’t talk like a New Yorker (specifically living on Lawn-Guy-Land). I don’t really look like a New Yorker (let’s just say, that “weird” works better in the Northwest).

I definitely have a strong brand and my hair is a big part of that brand. It started about 5 years ago – about the same time I got my website, my logo, and began my commitment to

SIDEBAR: My therapist says it’s middle-child-syndrome. I was the third girl born in three years and then two brothers after that – I MUST be seen! But I digress…

“The goal of any marketing effort should NOT be to get ZERO reaction.”

Meaning, it just lays there like mold on a sidewalk…nobody notices, cares, or sees any value. Good branding differentiates you. It makes people stop and stare, ponder, perhaps laugh, or sometimes – scoff.

This happened to me at Giunta’s Meat Farm on Sunday. I ran into the store to grab some broccoli. As I was approaching the check-out stand, this couple burst in the door (they were getting ready to close early for Easter) and this woman shrieks, “Oh my god, look at that woman’s hair!” Her husband tells her “Shhhh.” But she can’t help herself. She covers her mouth and bends down laughing as her husband is dragging her by the arm down an aisle.

Did it hurt my feelings? Sure. For a minute. But then I realized that I take a risk looking different. On the other hand she looked very average. In fact, if you were to walk by her on the street, and then someone stopped you one block later and asked you to describe her, you probably couldn’t.

img_0950My hair has kind of become my own weird sociology experiment.

Allow me to share my all time favorite comments:

1. TSA guy at the airport. Big dude, arms crossed, standing at the exit from terminal
into baggage claim (you know, that point of no return): “Nice hat.”

2. The guy at McDonald’s yesterday who said as he was handing me my coffee “Girl, you got it going on!”

3. The dozens of people that infer that I can somehow “pull this hair off” when they never could.

and my all time favorite…

4. The dude in a bar that said, “Did you lose a bet?”

Your brand should stand out. Sometimes it scares the heck out of me, but most of the time I feel it’s worth it. I’m not for everyone. But for those folks who have hired me, I thank you for your courage and commitment to building something different.

Nelson Mandela inspired me years ago by saying that:

..your playing small doesn’t serve the world
we are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us
and as we let our own light shine
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

I hope you shine today.

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April 2009