Little did I know that a chance meeting would forever change how I viewed marketing and the building of brand?
It was in the early morning hours and I had just flown cross country for an event. We had picked up our luggage and I was waiting for the car as there had been a mix up in reservations and it was taking longer than expected. I sat down in a never ending row of stadium seats that trailed off into the distance. It was 12:30am and I was exhausted, we still had another hour or two to make it to our destination and I was anxiously waiting for the car to arrive.
I was looking to my left when I felt a presence on my right. A small framed, pretty woman, with grey hair dressed in a black wrap jacket and slacks had sat down next to me. “All these chairs,” I thought to myself in a selfish moment, she started the conversation and we began visiting with the normal small talk.
I discovered that she was a nun traveling from California and was waiting to meet up with a friend; they were going to attend a conference in the city. She told me of her life and work in California. She shared with me her passion for nursing and in particular her work with aids patients.
I shared with her a fleeting aspiration I had as a young girl to become a nun. I had been inspired by a young woman, a nun Sister Mary Ivan. She was nothing like the other nuns I had ever known. She was young, pretty, she loved to laugh, sing and ride horses. For me seeing a nun out of her habit and in a pair of jeans was a curious site. I told her that I could remember playing monopoly and enjoying time with this special person. I remember with fondness those days, my grandmother used to house the nuns when they traveled around to rural communities during the summer and from time to time we would have them in our home, I remember the fun we had and how she made us feel.
There was some silence between us and then I asked her this question. “Where have all the nuns gone?” “You know,” she said, “when we began integration into the communities, we took off our habits’ and we lost our identities.”
This discussion, early in the morning hours, with a sweet gentle person would set the course for my marketing and branding efforts and dedication to staying true to who you are. Your mark of distinction is your brand, it is your identity. That identity along with the relationships we foster become cornerstones to our reputations and the impressions we make.
I asked this nun, “where had all the nuns gone” because I could no longer easily identify who they were. Their habit, and point of differentiation, made them visible; their goal to melt into the community, taking off the habits, had also made them melt into the crowd.
This moment in time was forever branded in my mind. Did I have fun that summer because I had seen this nun without her habit and in jeans? Was it because she seemed like one of us without the habit? With that thought I began to miss not seeing nuns in their habits, and the values and faith it represented to me with a simple glance.
The nun I had met that evening was doing great things in her community, she was serving a need, she was satisfied and growing in her life, and she was still a nun, but in different clothes.
The market place is crowded and noisy; every brand will face some form of change. In this ever changing environment the importance of staying true to who are and what you value became real. Brand identity provides direction, purpose and meaning for the brand. Remaining true to the authenticity of the brand, focused, consistent, and credible establish lasting impressions and your mark of distinction.
-Go with conviction
-Stay true to who you are, authentic, focused, consistent, and credible
-Make you mark, focus on value
-Create a lasting impresion