Live Your Brand

Buzz words have a shelf life. They cycle in and out of popularity and the frequency of which you hear them rolled off the tongues of those in business, from entrepreneurs and in social media, can be a bit numbing. We talk about our brands, but do we commit to honing in our the act of being beholden to them? It’s time to live your brand.

We’re nearing the end – if I may say so myself – of the use of the word community, as it is becoming a bit overused and diluted. Collaboration is likely soon to be on the clearance rack. Adding to the rotation of buzz are the words “authenticity” “thought leader” and “influencer.” Those words will likely also soon be blue light specials, if I do dare say.

One of the more loudly shouted buzz words over the past two years is branding. In the United States, in some locations more than others, business owners use their vehicles as a form of advertisement. Company names become abbreviated onto license plates, awkward square magnets that often don’t match the color of the vehicle proclaim the industry of the driver of said car. Recently, window vinyls have gained in popularity. When you’re trying to stand out in a sea of businesses who are doing the same thing you are, it’s imperative that you get creative with your marketing and advertisement choices. I’ll admit that it’s brilliant to use your vehicle as a way to let people know what you do and what you can offer them.

I happen to be a slightly aggressive driver. I blame it 100% on three factors. My grandfather, who taught me how to drive, instilled a really solid sense of confidence behind the wheel. While I sat on his lap, he pressed the gas pedal and I learned to work the steering wheel, how to signal with my blinker and look over my left shoulder.

Another reason I happen to be a bit snarky behind the wheel is due to my driving habits in Singapore. The kiasu method of life is a bit mind-blowing and it is definitely a get ahead or fall behind mentality. I refused to be the foreigner who got inched out of the spot I had rightfully earned. The third factor is simply because I believe when driving (as I do with most things in life) that when you hesitate on a decision, often that thing passes you by.

I say all of this to bring you to the reality that I readily admit I am an aggressive driver. I know it. I own it and I am quietly a bit proud of it.

Having said that.

My children also are very aware of this reality. Back in 2014, as I began perusing my opportunities to market my new real estate and relocation business, I started asking my daughter her opinion on window vinyls. She has been my biggest cheerleader all along the way and her opinion is highly valued as I go through this journey. She was instrumental in the creation of my logo, and gave thumbs down on several website designs before the final version. When I asked what she thought about advertising my business on my rear window, she tilted her head to the side and said “Well, I guess it’s ok, but you know that you’re going to always, always have to be nice when you’re driving, right?”

I didn’t quite get what she meant right away, but later it sunk in.

She was forewarning me that as soon as I place my business name and website on the back of my car, I would be judged accordingly, based on the brand that I lived out when behind the wheel of my car.

I would forever be holding myself accountable EACH and every time I sat in the driver’s seat. No texting while driving, no applying lip gloss in the rear-view mirror. No reckless driving. No aggressive driving. No rude parking maneuvering.

EVERY time I got behind the wheel of the vehicle that proudly sported my business name on the back window, I was careful to appropriately represent and live out the brand that I wanted others to adopt.

Along the same line of discussion, there’s another brand that I’m adopting for myself. That is the strange thing called Jeep culture. I didn’t know what it was when I chose my beautiful red Jeep Wrangler. We had to order it, because I was insistent on RED. The used dealership transported it to us and as I drove home that first day, I had the oddest of experiences. People kept waving at me. Two fingers up, lifted from their place on the steering wheel.

Jeep Harley Naomi Hattaway

Later that night, I told my Husb, “Babe, it was the weirdest thing, people kept waving to me as I drove home from the car lot today.”  Being a Harley guy himself (another vehicle type deeply rooted in a very specific culture), he knew immediately what I was talking about and said “Ah! The Jeep Wave.”

There’s a belonging, a sense of community with fellow Jeepers. Simply by virtue of selecting the same vehicle, we’ve beholden ourselves to each other. We will likely never meet … and our only connection will be that of belonging to a greater community.

(to my fellow Jeepers, did you know there’s a Jeep Wave Calculator? My score was a 27 “Jeep Trail Rider”)

To the points brought up in this video, to what do we owe each other when it comes to our personal beliefs?  If we’ve found our tribe, do we expect them to tow the line, or simply come up for air after the fact?

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