Your life, your brand

Over the holidays I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the umpteenth time along with varying versions of Charles Dickon’s “A Christmas Carol” (my new fave is the one featuring Vanessa Williams as a diva rock star).

Underlying theme? What’s your life about? What impact do you have (or want to have) on the world? What is your brand?!

So, with that in mind, I took a recent look at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s “Exit Stage Left” article – yep, it is about the celebs who died in 2007. A bit morbid to think about over the holidays, yes? NO.

Here’s why: When you read an obit, it captures the essence of the person. What impact they had on the world. At least the celeb ones do. And it boils it down into a very succinct package.

Here are some examples excerpted from the article:

Liz Claiborne: “Claiborne spent years discouraged by her former employer’s vision for working women. She wanted an alternative to the business suit and imagined a collection with mix-and-match skirts, tunics, vests, sweaters, shirt jackets, and culottes that could go from the office to a casual night out. She told an interviewer that becuase ‘every working woman wasn’t ending up in the boardroom or aspiring to that’ she would ‘dress the women who didn’t have to wear suits – the teachers, the doctors, the women working in Southern California or Florida, the women in the fashion industry itself,’ according to The Washington Post. Claiborne used personal savings to start Liz Claiborne in 1976 along with her husband… Liz Claiborne Inc. went public in 1981; four years later it was the first company founded by a woman to be listed in the Fortune 500.”

Is that cool or what? See how this obit captures the Claiborne brand? Her vision for the world? Her target market? Her brand attributes? And her accomplishments?

Marcel Marceau: “… Marceau spoke five languages but was at his most eloquent practicing l’art du silence. His grace, his sorrowful face, spoke of loss and triumph, of folly and truth, of his father dying at Auschwitz and of himself, rebellious and canny, spiriting Jewish children into Switzerland under the very eyes of the Gestapo. … In lesser hands, mime was an easy punch line, but no one who saw Marceau perform would say it was anything less than a beautiful expression of art.”

Wow, I had no idea, until this obit. Sure I had heard of Marcel Marceau as being the most famous mime in the world and yep, I saw that episode of Mork and Mindy back in the early ’80’s. But the impact during World War II?

Again, an amazing brand.

Tom Snyder: “While Milwaukee native Tom Snyder traved far from the town where his broadcasting career began, he never forgot the folks who launched him on the road to becoming a TV talk show host …. ” The obit lists his talk show credits and also provides a story about how Snyder contacted the Journal when his college professor died – to share what a positive impact this professor had on his career.

Again a clear brand: talk show host. Ah, but have you spotted the attributes? Certainly this man was a relator, a caring person who really connected with people. Great attributes for a talk show host.

So, for 2008, what contribution to want to make to the world? What’s your vision? Your brand? What steps can you take this year to make your vision for the world happen?

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