an exercise in branding

What’s it look like? What’s it called? What’s the tone? What’s the colors? How’s it received? Who’s your target? What’s their impression?

These are all questions to ask when branding something. As a “professional corporate marketer” by day, I’ve named things; I’ve given them a look and a persona; I’ve set the tone and the voice. I’ve hidden behind a mirror eating M&Ms while someone asked customers what they think of “it.” I’ve spent millions of dollars advertising “it.” I’ve looked at web metrics, direct mail response rates and sales metrics.

I’ve done it all.

Then I tried to brand myself.

What started out as a joke in the halls of said corporate marketing job, became a nickname. Then it became a license plate (no joke). Then it became a website.

ott mama

This past weekend, at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, we talked a lot about brand vs. voice. While I went in understanding both, I never truly took a step back and looked hard at myself.

  • What’s it look like? Sometimes with a unibrow, often needing a shower.
  • What’s it called? Last name’s ott. I have children. ott mama. Anything else I’ve been called is not fit for print.
  • What’s the tone? Snarky, sarcastic, sharp. May be confused for a sailor or a trucker.
  • What’s the colors? Pasty white. For the life of me, I can’t remember the PMS code though. (PMS = Pantone® Matching System Color Chart. For those of you stuck on pre-menstrual syndrome.)
  • How’s it received? Depends on who you ask and what day of the week.
  • Who’s your target? The people.
  • What’s their impression? See answer to How’s it received?

So there ya go. Just box that up and I’ve been branded. Not so easy, right?!!

Let’s examine where I’m currently at:

OTT – I am not from Ottawa. While I love Canadians, I don’t want any misconceptions of me trying to be something glamorous that I am not.

MAMA – I am more than a mother and more often than not I am not writing about the Scholastic Book Fair, MarketDay or Homeschooling. If I am writing about it, I’m guessing it’s not in a positive light.

OTTMAMA – not to be confused with an ottoman.

So there in lies my possible branding dilemma.

I am confident in my voice. I have a sharp tongue that may, at times, seem snarky and sarcastic. We will call it a sharp tongue for now as saying snarky or sarcastic is like yelling FIRE in a movie theater. Everyone seems to run from those descriptions. I hold them tight.

Having left the conference, I feel a heavy period of introspection (fancy suburban word) needing to occur. Who am I? What do I want you to think of me at a glance? What do I look like? What do I want you to call me?

Aww, shit. I just got deep on you.  Sorry.

So here’s the deal. I’m gonna make a list of things. I will invite you someplace. I will hide behind a mirror, eat M&Ms, have a stranger ask you random questions (yes, there will be wrong answers!) and I will write down what you say. At least those things I agree with.

You in? Good. Keep your eyes peeled for invitation. Aww hell, just throw your comments at me now. I’ll be sitting here. Eating M&Ms. Watching you. From behind that mirror.

Oh and if you come to ottmama.com some day soon and it’s called “hereshernewbrand.com” and everything is pink & green a la Lily Pulitzer (cause I’ve decided I’m light, airy and pastely), just roll with it and keep reading. I promise the snark will still be there.

Cheers!

3 thoughts on “an exercise in branding

  1. It has just been pointed out to me that octomom is another possible confusion. Thank you panty girl for pointing that out. (GOD I LOVE THE PEOPLE I MET THIS WEEKEND!!!) People, my people.

  2. M&Ms! What’s your preference? Plain or peanut? Or those fancy holiday minty ones? I’ve been running your name (Ottmama) through my head, thinking about other ottions (ha ha) for you. Nothing good yet. Maybe after a few more M&M’s

    • I’m watching you from behind that mirror. Hi! Over here. Keep thinking. thinking, thinking. Journal & mind map it! Thanks

      Peanut M&Ms for everyone! Flavor of your choice for the really good ideas

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