Does your brand look good naked?

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We all need a little bit of light relief at the moment, don’t we?
A bit of welcome distraction. My latest guilty pleasure was an escape into the delightful world of Gok Wan.

Understanding how you can see yourself differently to how others see you got me thinking about the same challenges for our business brands.

On one hand, Gok might say that we shouldn’t care about what we look like, so long as we are comfortable within ourselves. But he and his gorgeous Gokettes also explore how what we wear or how we present ourselves can help us feel more confident and ready to take on the world.

His warmth and exuberant calm help women struggling with body confidence to dig deep to rediscover what they love about themselves, not just what they look like.

It feels similar to how we marketers work with businesses to reveal the hidden truths about their brand, to encourage them to be true to themselves and then be authentic in how they present themselves to others.

The enchanting Mr Wan encourages his guests to accentuate the positives. Celebrate the true you. Many small business leaders wouldn’t be comfortable with the ‘get naked’ vernacular. It’s time to reveal all. Strut your stuff. Stick out your chest and be proud of who you are! We’re not particularly great at that in New Zealand, are we?

So many Kiwi businesses, especially SMEs, don’t like to trumpet their successes or put their head above the parapet to tell their potential customers how genuinely great their business is.

Those who do ‘put it out there’ are often dismissed as brash, arrogant and full of themselves. It’s not the Kiwi way. But, as the insightful British stylist says, projecting yourself with confidence doesn’t always need to be a big bold statement. The metaphorical neutral textured scarf can be just as memorable on one person as the vibrant cerise pashmina on another.

You don’t have to reveal all to look sexy, just as the visual language of your brand doesn’t need to conform to clichéd expectation either. You don’t need to have staid and traditional graphic design to look professional. You don’t need to use florals and pinks to appear feminine, or heavy industrial-style typography to appear solid and strong. You can if you like, of course, but most of the time we’re a lot more subtle. And thank the design gods for that.

As some of Gok’s ladies talk with blushing excitement about the positive impact of their new-found body confidence on life with their significant other, it makes me think about how a brand’s relationships with its customers uses a similar terminology.

We talk about being attracted to brands, about life-long relationships, partnerships, brand loyalty. It’s no surprise then that so many creative agencies have copied the language coined by Saatchi’s Kevin Roberts as he introduced us to the concept of ‘lovemarks’ all those years ago. There’s a phrase I use a lot with new clients in particular: ‘you are a business that is ahead of the image you present’. Many of us are too busy getting on with running our businesses and dealing with everyday challenges to focus on how we look all the time.

We get comfortable in our own brand skin, the familiarity of the known, the fear of making the wrong decisions if we consider a change. We know there is strength in consistency and that a new look simply for the sake of it could be costly. You need a good reason to move away from the trusted black dress before you take boldly to the catwalk in bright look-at-me blue.

Gok tells his lovelies that it’s okay to reinvent yourself, hit the reset button, if that’s what you need to do to make a much-needed change. So long as we understand what is authentic to our business’s brand and we express it with clarity, even if in a different way, it’s still fundamentally you underneath.

It’s not always about being up-to-date with the fashions (unless your brand relies on an audience for whom that’s their priority) but about telling the stories and using a narrative that reflects what brings you and your customers together.

You don’t need to get your kit off in Gok’s trendy studio to examine the true you, but it’s healthy for your brand to take a good long look in the mirror every now and again, to reveal any hidden truths to help your brand face the world with confidence.

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About Author

Vicki Jones

Vicki Jones is director of Dugmore Jones, Hamilton-based marketing management consultancy. Email vicki@dugmorejones.co.nz