People like to make fun of me. Not in a mean way. They do so more in a playful, often times, sarcastic way. Much like I enjoy exchanging friendly jabs with them.
I am an easy target.
Why? Because I am consistent.
How, you ask? Let me explain.
Almost every day, I wear a black, v-neck American Apparel tee shirt. Size medium. I have somewhere between 60 and 70 of them in my closet. If it’s cold, I might substitute a black v-neck sweater – usually from Banana Republic. Typically, I pair the v-neck with a pair of jeans, black or grey socks, and a pair of black loafers. This is my uniform.
Sometimes, I will break the uniform and add an oxford shirt and a black blazer.
When my girlfriend, Amber, recently threw a surprise birthday party for me, most of the guests wore black v-neck tee shirts.
My hair is always the same. There are varying degrees of length depending where I am in the life-cycle of my cut, but it consistently looks somewhat pointy on top, and my sideburns are just slightly too long for a normal person.
I use the same product all the time, and when a company changes packaging or discontinues the product I regularly use, I feel an enormous sense of loss. It requires me to develop a strategy for moving forward.
I drive 30+ miles to Boston to have it cut by the same guy, Rich Wright, every month. He has been doing so for at least 11 years now. When each cut is done, I grade it. Sometimes I even text him updates about it.
3. Food & Drink.
I eat a lot of salad. Usually with chicken or salmon on it. And I eat a good deal of Mexican food. I eat these things at the same places a lot of the time. I like to order “the usual” whenever possible, and I like to get to know the people who are my food service providers. I think of them more as friends.
For breakfast, I drink dark roast coffee.
For lunch, I drink iced tea or water.
For dinner, I drink water or vodka with soda and a lot of lemons. It keeps me thin(ish).
My friends will often order a vodka and soda “the way Chris likes it” if they want extra lemons. They often do this when they decide to take a break from beer, wine or sugary mixed drinks in order to shed a few pounds.
Here is an estimated pie chart of where I eat, drink and get coffee:
4. Things I Love.
I love music. Everyone who knows me knows this. I appreciate all types of music, but I am partial to songs and genres people typically refer to as melancholy, mellow, depressing, introspective, slow, folky, and deep. Among close friends, this type of music is sometimes referred to as “the type of music Chris listens to.”
I don’t only listen to music. I make it with a band and a duo I play with. I produce it and promote it in a singer-songwriter concert series I have created in an old chapel in the middle of a cemetery. And I work with musicians I believe in to help market and promote their brands.
I volunteer a lot of time. This isn’t because I’m a particularly nice guy, it’s because I find a lot of the things I do for “free” make me happiest. I work in the local community to plan festivals and events, and I serve on the board of directors for the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce.
I like to be busy.
I can go on with this list explaining why I am “predictable” or “a creature of habit” as I am often described, but I think you get the picture.
I am so consistent that I have become synonymous with the things I enjoy. This is not a coincidence.
The fact of the matter is that I am a brand. I have a personality. People know what they are getting when it comes to me.
When we work with clients, we tell them there should be three main objectives to your brand strategy initiative:
1. Clarity - make sure people understand your brand and what you offer.
2. Simplification - don’t overcomplicate who you are.
3. Distinctiveness - be unique.
Of course, it is also important to be authentic. Don’t fabricate who you are, but be consistent. Personal branding will help you with your personal and professional relationships, it will help you in your career, and, often times, it will help you to simplify your life.
Thinking about a giant corporate brand can be daunting. Before you take on your next corporate branding challenge, think about your personal brand and ask yourself the following questions:
Who am I?
What do I offer to those around me?
What do I want to leave behind?
Finally, don’t be afraid to evolve. Sometimes even I wear a grey v-neck tee shirt.