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Hot Guys on Cruise Ships: What Makes a Brand Sink or Swim

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Nicole LarsonIs it just me or do you think there was enough room on that floating piece of wood for Rose to move her ass over and let Jack on so he wouldn’t freeze to death? Am I right? (Note to Self: need to move on and forgive Rose so you can heal). But it isn’t Rose I’m really mad at.

It’s that damn iceberg.

The one that—spoiler alert here you guys—crushed the Titanic and sent Jack and all of our romantic fantasies of being sketched with charcoal down to the bottom of the ocean. (By the way, I kid you not, as I write this, a piano version of “My Heart Will Go On” just popped up on my Pandora station…Jack knows).

I digress.

There’s a reason the saying, “The tip of the iceberg” exists.

Because the part that is floating above the water—the part we can see—is only a small manifestation of the larger part lurking underneath.

The iceberg allows us to see only what it wants us to see, hiding all the juicy parts under the surface for us to explore on our own. Truthfully, it reminds me of people and how our outward appearance is only one small part of the person we are underneath. How we let others see us goes beyond the “Han Shot First” shirt we are wearing. What we let others see is built upon years of personality layers, eons of experiences, and most importantly—our established identities.

Notice how I mentioned “seeing” about a million times in the above paragraph (sending my internal editor into unattractive gurgling spasms).

What we see is only a fraction of the full story (kind of like your friend’s Tinder profile).

And it makes sense. As individuals, we want to be seen in a certain light. To make a very specific first impression. We want to be known as the quirky one, the smart one, the sexy geek, the trustworthy one. We want to profess our individuality with our sense of outward style ranging anywhere from stripped suspenders to kitten heels, to “just got out of bed” hair and everything in between. We want to portray ourselves as sounding intelligent, funny, boisterous, maternal, or as charming as…well, Jack from Titanic.

For most things, a first impression that can make or break it. As we move through life, first impressions allow us to subconsciously say to ourselves, “This looks interesting, let me explore it” or “He looks hot, why must he wear pants?” If what we see is attractive or sets off a spark, then we can’t help but try and go deeper. Whether it’s a potential hot date, a book cover, a movie trailer, and yes…a brand. It’s only after we dive in that we realize what is really going on underneath and if it’s worth sticking around.

The tip of the iceberg indeed.

You already know that people are so much more than “What you see is what you get.” However, what is less known is this “seeing” isn’t just talking about people (or icebergs). It’s talking about brands.

The good brands—the ones you can’t wait to tell your mom about—are just like people.

In other words, what you see in a good brand is the sum of what’s underneath it. There’s a reason they chose the color they did. Or the font. Or the social media they haunt. Just like you have reasons why you do the things you do, so does the brand. You aren’t a painting that we’ve slapped some clothes on and said, “good luck!” as we kick you out the door. And your brand shouldn’t be either. It’s all the stuff under the water that’ll make your personal brand look hotter in those aforementioned kitten heels (and will most definitely make you win the award for “most likely to save the love of her life from a sinking ship”…a most prestigious and sought after award). And we do this by building our iceberg from the bottom up AND the inside to out.

In my travels of trying to learn the brand dance (similar to the tango), I get asked these questions quite a bit:

“Do I need a website?”

“Should I make a Facebook page?”

“How often do I post on Twitter?”

“Can’t I just use my favorite color?”

“Do you want another mimosa?”

These are all fine questions, but they are only scratching the surface of what a brand is. When it comes to figuring out a brand, that’s where most people spend the bulk of their time: creating the things we can see (like website, business cards, social media, videos). And I can’t say that I blame them. The vast amount of varied information out there about branding (or platform) is like trying to date a hot Italian guy: you can’t really understand him and his dolce tongue, so you forgo the hellos and jump him, sucking face with wild spaghetti abandon. You get to the good stuff, the stuff you understand. The stuff you can see.

Needless to say, a brand is not just something pretty to look at (unlike Mr. Spaghetti over there). A brand is a living and mysterious thing. Like a person. It has a distinct appearance and a particular sound, but it also has a personality. And a purpose. Just knowing this simple fact is enough to get you and your brand sailing in the right direction. And recognizing that building a brand is like building a character in a movie, book, or play will open up an entirely new world for your creative career.

As creatives we are different. We don’t always have a physical product to package and sell. We are the product. And it’s personal. Very personal.   A cohesive personal brand is the same. Just like you would take steps to figure out your likes and dislikes, your personality traits, your sense of style, and your preference of wine, your brand will have to do the same.

The ideas—and steps—to take to build this person of a brand is beyond the scope of this icy metaphorically packed article. That is why I created this chillingly awesome (see what I did there?) free 7-day brand building email tutorial called ICEBERG.

ICEBERG is my six step process that I put myself through when I am creating a new company or brand. The same process I have shared with other creative entrepreneurs like yourself. You’re here, reading Ms. in the Biz, which means you take yourself and your abundant talents seriously. Give your career a chance. Throw it a life jacket. (Jack not guaranteed)

Nicole Larson

About Nicole Larson

I’m sitting here, writing my YA Novel, waiting for the hubs (to bring me another glass of wine already), when the cat reveals he wants to have his own talk show. This sadly, does not surprise me, so I go back to blogging about taking my creative career seriously. Speaking of blogs…I’m the Founder (and midnight cocktail waitress) of Real Creatives Drink Champagne where I say (cork) screw it to the stereotypes facing all creatives and toast you on living the creative life confidently (including my free 7 day brand building email tutorial called ICEBERG). It’s my own digital (spiked) lemonade stand and if you come over I’ll give you a brownie (because brownies).