create a fascinating personal brand: lessons from Kate Moss
What I said, more or less:
A “hostile brand” is a brand that doesn’t bend over backwards trying to be accessible or “mainstream”. It plays up its differences as advantages and has an edgy, challenging quality. People tend to love or hate them. People also use them as identity markers: to engage with this brand makes a specific statement about who you are, or who you want to be.
Kate Moss is a cool example of this and someone we can take some lessons from.
#1. Cultivate your differences.
When Moss emerged on the modeling scene in the early 90s, she was beautiful — and different. Too short, too skinny, crooked legs, crooked tooth. In a sea of Glamazon sameness, your eye went to her. Because she was different. Because she intrigued. Because her very presence was a rebellion against that Glamazon ideal we were getting so tired of.
Moss also cultivated a very different sense of style, which she would become famous for. So:
#2. Cultivate your distinct voice.
Your ‘voice’ is your worldview, personality, the collective way you express yourself to the world. Kate speaks to the world through her sense of style, which has been hugely influential and widely imitated. Kate’s style seems effortless, like she was born with it, but over the years a lot of thought and work went into its very deliberate development.
#3. Rebel against something.
Kate brought in the era of heroin chic, which in many ways was a rebellion against the excess and materialism of the ’80s. Find something that offends you, pisses you off, and see how you can develop your brand against that, so that you represent something bigger than yourself. (For example — and I forgot to include this in the video clip — Mini Coopers aren’t just these cute funny cars, but a statement against gas-guzzling SUV culture. The brand deliberately positioned itself as such.)
Kate’s style has changed over the years, which has kept her fresh and interesting. She takes risks, pushes boundaries, remains interesting. But she never violated rule #5….
5. Always remember who you really are.
Through Kate’s evolution of style, she has remained “recognizably Kate”: she has stayed true to her “brand DNA”, those essential defining characteristics, that ‘voice’, that uniqueness. Give up your uniqueness, you give up your identity. She has never tried to whitewash herself for the masses.
6. Be authentic.
Ah, that word again! But yes, be authentic. Kate got away with a major cocaine scandal a few years ago because she has always been authentic. She has always been edgy, a bit transgressive, a bad girl; she never presented herself as pure and virginal, a role model. She was a just a model, period. We were willing to overlook her flaws because she never pretended not to have them, and her career bounced back stronger than ever.
7. Find your fascination triggers.
Sally Hogshead wrote a really cool book called Fascinate in which she identifies the seven qualities we are hardwired to respond to: lust, mystique, vice, alarm, power, prestige, trust. At some point in her career, Kate Moss has triggered all of them. Love her or hate her, you know who she is. She fascinates.
Everyone naturally gravitates to two of these ‘fascination’ traits in the way that they relate to the world, and grab attention. Find yours, and learn how to take advantage of them.
8. Be comfortable with controversy.
Hostile brands are strong, unapologetic, and controversial: people tend to love or hate them. In her book, Hogshead makes the point that the more fascinating a brand or person is, the more controversial they tend to be. (Which also means that if everybody likes you…you’re probably not that fascinating.) These are the brands that challenge our worldview in some way, that provoke us, that get under our skin. Even if we can’t stand them (Donald Trump, anyone?), we can’t help but pay attention.
So don’t be afraid to be who you are. Turn up the volume. Stand for something. Say, “love me or leave me.”
Just be sure that you do it with style.
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