Makeovers are a daunting task, but I’m no stranger to self-transformation. I typically overhaul my branding strategy every few years to keep up with market trends, with the purpose of 1) increasing profit margins and 2) streamlining my approach towards Self-Actualization.
As I undergo my re-branding, I thought I’d share a little history of my product strategies. Before my aggressive self-promotion began, I was just an average food-motivated suburban kid.
I realized that if I ever wanted to move up on the social ladder I’d need to invest more of my income into self-marketing. I modeled my brand after popular images circulating around my 12-13 year-old target audience/peer group:
I drew thick black eyeliner on my face and started writing morose stories about girls who died in gym class. I turned off all the lights in my room and recited poetry by candlelight. Hot Topic scared me, so I bought black pants from Aeropostale and completed the look with black seasonal tees from Old Navy.
Old Navy Seasonal Tee
In 9th grade, I went to a new school and had to adapt to a new target audience. I retired the Goth brand, picked up some banned books, and became Rory Gilmore. I straightened my hair every morning. I got a boyfriend who found my literacy strange, but charming.
High school, as we all know, is a period of rapid re-branding. Successful products become those that can adapt quickly to mercurial market trends. Ever alert, I started going to yoga classes and listening to Dispatch. For my birthday, my mom took me to Hippie Gypsy and bought me some sheer floral-printed dresses.
This was the general idea.
But when Veronica Mars came on TV, I knew it was time to change. She was way cooler than Rory and the girl waving the tie-dye blanket. I got snarky and acted like a badass teenage PI who solved mysteries even though I actually just hung out with my mom and went shopping at Target. I was so over high school and all the stupid rich kids roaming the halls with their stupid rich kid faces.
Soon after graduation, I found myself at a small liberal arts college, unsure of what my marketing strategy should be. Lost and confused, I fell in with a group of girls who spent their summers volunteering at an orphanage in Panama. They had long hair and loved to draw sunflowers. I re-tooled my image and went back to this:
There wasn’t a meadow on campus, but that didn’t hold us back from rolling out our aggressive ad campaign. We wore our hair in loose braids and ate Heart Thrive bars. We twirled. We were totally FREE.
When summer came, the other girls went back to volunteer in Panama and I finally admitted to myself that I had outgrown the free-spirit look. I was edgy. I was an English Major. I studied literary theory. I was cultured as fuck.
I re-branded into slender Patricia from Jean Luc Goddard’s Breathless. Short hair. Artistic. Fun at parties. Maybe an heiress.
I was also modeling my brand after Audrey Hepburn (all female English Majors take their branding cues from Audrey Hepburn, and if they say otherwise they’re lying to you). In fact, Audrey from Funny Face was my primary marketing icon senior year. She was intellectual, beautiful, and intriguing – everything my brand needed to be. Sure, I wasn’t a model, and when I danced I looked more awkward than avant-garde, but I did wear a lot of black.
But by the time I graduated, I was over the school bullshit. I retooled my brand to attract the kind of people I wanted to meet – real people, enlightened people. I was going to travel and see the world for how it REALLY was. I invested in a large backpack and a sturdy water bottle. I became:
Lady Kerouac, if you will.
I did a lot of staring into thrilling vistas. I developed a striped Teva-tan on the tops of my feet. I also discovered that the people who were attracted to my brand weren’t quite what I was hoping they would be – everyone just wanted to keep taking pictures of vista after vista after vista.
My latest target audience is too mature and too professional for full-time Teva-wear. So once again, it’s time for a marketing overhaul. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll tell you that I’m designing my strategy around this Jil Sander promo:
You know, like, “You could totally hire me to do something and I’d still remain mysterious and disaffected.”
Anyway, can’t give away much more than that. Just remember, if you dress it, it will come.