How to integrate quirks into a brand

I am uncomfortable with my relationship to pink.

This week, I had a moment of clarity while writing in my journal about wanting my ideas to be taken seriously. It was one of those zoom-out, oh crap! moments, where you stop everything you’re doing and feel utterly doomed.

I write in cursive in a pink journal. With a pink pen. In pink ink. And my nails are painted pink.

The business ideas that I get in my journal are sometimes so serious that my editor/husband, Gabriel, reads the blog posts that I get out of them and says, “It’s just too academic.” Which is code word for boring, which means no one wants to read that stuff!

Yet they come out in an environment that is basically designed to make a five year old girl happy. And I love writing them.

I allowed myself to create an environment that I like, and it ended being really, really pink.

I didn’t even realize how much I loved pink until I allowed myself to do what I like. Now, I am a little frightened by how much stuff around me is pink, because the discouraging truth is that things that are feminine and imaginative can be discounted based on appearance, and I do not want my ideas to be discounted. 

People don’t always judge things based on their intrinsic merit. I see this all the time on Twitter. Who is saying something matters so much more than what exactly is being said. At times, people follow leaders without thinking very much, like lemmings jumping off a cliff. It's much easier to accept things based on appearances rather than question them with intention. Like thinking that something is for women just because it's pink.

I know that branding has to be honest. If I want to be taken seriously, but also want to be myself, my task is to reconcile the authority of my ideas with a culturally hyper-feminine aspect of my brand.

The truth is that I need things to be happy so that I can be productive. Oddly enough, the end product is sometimes so unpalatable in its seriousness that what I really need to aim for is somewhere more towards the middle. That’s what I’m working on right now -- and I think that this post is a good example of when I’m hitting closer to the mark.

During this process, I came up with an awesome strategy to deal with potentially dangerous aspects of your brand: Integrate quirks as “costly signaling”.

Costly signalling is the concept that in some circumstances, when people display risky behavior, it is socially beneficial to them because viewers perceive that the person has excess resources to burn.

Think male peacock spreading its feathers, making it much more attractive to potential female mates, while also making it much more visible to predators. He is not only increasing his visibility to potential mates, but also signalling that he has the strength to increase his own risk of being consumed. Or Steve Jobs zipping around in a Mercedes without a license plate. Mark Zuckerberg wearing a hoodie to formal events.

They can afford to not conform because they are that great.

I’m not suggesting that you adopt risky behavior in order to give the appearance of strength. That would not be truthful, and people can tell when things are put on like that. What I am suggesting is that if something about you is incongruous, you might consider that instead of changing yourself to fit the mold, you can consider appreciating your quirk and wielding it as a strength.

I imagine that some people who take themselves very seriously might not agree. Well, I’m not a politician-type of person. I’m more of an artistic type. I like people who have the courage to try something different and not follow the herd.

Does your brand have any quirks that you might be able to accept and use as a strength?