Tuesday, March 07, 2006

On becoming your own adjective

What do Quentin Tarentino, Bob Dylan and Seth Godin have in common?

They’ve all become their own adjective. Think about it:

  • When you hear any folk song recorded after 1970, there’s always that faint trace of Bob Dylan’s influence in between the notes. And you think, “Hmm…this song has a Dylan-esque sound.”

  • When you watch a movie that has noticeably strange, slow dialogue and a non-linear plot structure, you comment, “Ah yes, very Tarentino-like.”

  • And when you see an advertisement, website or idea that’s so incredibly remarkable, so cool and so word-of-mouth-worthy, you smile and say, “Ha! That’s such a Seth Godin thing to do!”

    These individuals have become their own adjective because, over a period of years, their uniqueness, artistry, school of thought, talents, style, visibility, expertise and consistency have become so recognizable, so memorable and so prevalent in their respective industries that people actually begin to use their NAMES as adjectives which describe other things IN that industry.

    This is a fascinating personal branding phenomenon. The roots of the idea actually date back several decades ago when certain brands that were the first of their kind experienced something called genericide.

    Genericide is defined by WordSpy as, “The process by which a brand name becomes a generic name for an entire product category.”


    Take Trampoline, for example. Originally, it was the actual brand name for a fun, spring-like toy on which people could bounce up and down. But as its popularity grew, and as more and more companies created copycat products with different brand names; customers still referred to any other toy in the same category as a “trampoline.”

    And ultimately, the success of the product was the difference between Trampoline, the proper noun that was the brand name; and trampoline, the adjective of a certain kind of toy.

    One letter made all the difference. God I love the English language!

    Now, the list of brands associated with this phenomenon goes on and on. And while the topic of genericide has been researched in detail through notable products such as Kleenex, Scotch Tape and Rollerblade; the personal branding movement has slightly altered this concept.

    Because now, since YOU are the brand, since YOU are the company - YOU need to become your own adjective.

    Andrea O’Neill, Brand Strategist and Executive Marketing Coach, strongly believes in the power of becoming your own adjective. “It means you live your values, talents, tastes or style so passionately and openly that others know exactly what you stand for without needing to ask you,” says O’Neill, “...and if you express your passions honestly in your every day actions, those around you will know exactly where you stand.”

    Adjectivity first exists in the minds of the people you know best. O’Neill uses the example of clothing. “Have you ever walked through a department store, saw an outfit on display and said, ‘Oh, that dress is SO Mary’?”

    That’s because, in someone’s mind, “Mary” has become her own adjective.

    But we’re not talking about clothes. This is about marketing. It’s about top of mind awareness. Therefore, adjectivity must next exist in the minds of your customers, prospects and fans. So, as it relates to the 6 tenants of professional approachability; that is, MAGNETIZING more business to YOU, think of adjectivity in this way:

    Becoming your own adjective is like word ownership...raised to the 10th power.
    You don’t just own the word, you ARE the word.

    Becoming your own adjective is like being that guy...on marketing vitamins.
    You aren’t just that guy, you’re the STRONGEST guy.

    Becoming your own adjective is like telling your story...on the FRONT PAGE of the New York Times.
    And everyone’s reading it.

    Becoming your own adjective is like doing something cool...that instantly becomes the HOTTEST new trend.
    But it doesn't fade away.

    Becoming your own adjective is like creating fans, not customers...who love your work SO much, they’d move heaven and earth to support you.
    Then they’d tell all their friends how great you are.

    But of course, this only happens when you market yourself daily. When you constantly put yourself, your ideas and your business out there for the world to see, all of which must be consistent with who you are, what you do and how you do it.

    That’s how you become your own adjective.

    In closing, I’d like to share a line from David McNally’s book, Be Your Own Brand:

    “Don’t STAND out, SHINE out. Don’t MEET the standard, SET the standard.”

    Yeah, I know. Closing an article with a quotation is such a “Tony Robbins” thing to do...(*wink*)

    LET ME ASK YA THIS...

    Do you know anyone who is his or her own adjective?

    * * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
    www.hellomynameisscott.com

  •