Anyone who knew my grandpa (former County Press editor Jim Fitzgerald) knew he was a wise man. He was a talented editor and columnist and a pretty well-liked guy. But the more I think about some of the things he said to me over the years, the more I realize he was also a brand expert.
Long a slave to fashion, I have gone through lots of fashion phases in which it was cool to wear a shirt or other items of clothing featuring a brand like Nike, Esprit, Gap, Abercrombie and many more. These branded items of clothing were open game when it came to teasing from my grandpa. He’d ask, “So, when does your check from Nike arrive?” Because I was only 9 years old, I had no clue what he was talking about. He’d continue. “Well, you’re doing them a huge favor by walking around, promoting them like that on your T-shirt, so they better pay you.” Insert 9-year old, and later, 15-year-old, and later, 25-year-old eye roll here. “Oh, Grandpa … It’s cool to wear this shirt. I paid them!” I’d say. This response led him to shriek or gasp or feign falling out of his chair, all while doing his own signature eye roll. (He was a really fun grandpa, if you couldn’t tell.).
The truth is, he was right. I was (and still am on occasion) doing brands a huge favor by wearing their name and logo on my clothing. I was reminded of our conversation when I read a recent inc.com article by Geoffery James on the topic. He writes: “… it drives me crazy when I go to a conference (or anyplace that entrepreneurs gather) and see otherwise sensible businesspeople wearing hats, shirts, jackets and backpacks emblazoned with brands that don’t belong to them … I’ve seen entrepreneurs wearing consumer brands, vacation brands, sports brands, and even brands belonging to their competitors … Why in the name of Sam Hill would any sane entrepreneur willingly provide free advertising for anything other than his or her own company or (if you’re a one-person shop) his or her own personal brand?”
James, my grandpa agrees. I do too. Our publisher Wes Smith agrees so much that he believes the rule should expand beyond entrepreneurs. For that reason, I’ve spent time this past week researching the best branded clothing pieces for our team.
Many of our team members, by nature of their profession, spend hours outside of our four walls working. Our reporters, especially our sports team, are terrific brand ambassadors for us, spending night after night on the football field, in high school gyms and more. Our general reporters are the same, photographing parades, family-fun events and more almost daily. Even if a team member heads to an office or a coffee shop to conduct an interview, it’s a great idea to have them wear the View Newspaper Group logo on nice, neat, useful pieces of clothing. Will the pieces I’ve ordered be right for every occasion? Certainly not, but for most of the work we do, they will be great.
I’ve written before in this space how much I believe in dressing for success. You don’t have to be obsessed with shopping and fashion or have three closets (like I do) to benefit from the many rewards that dressing for success can offer.
Whether you’re wearing items branded with your name and logo or you’re taking an extra 10 minutes to ensure your outfit is right for your career, your day ahead and so on, it all plays a vital role in branding — both that of your personal brand and that of the organization you work for. From James’ inc.com article, “ … the physical manifestations of your brand — your name and (if you have them) your logo and tag line — are also important, because they can and should trigger and reinforce the positive emotions that you’ve worked so hard to create.” Wearing these items on clothing you’d be wearing anyway, is a great way to strengthen your brand.
The way you dress should do exactly the same — branded or not. People come to me for creative solutions, so it’s only natural that my wardrobe is a bit creative. Entrepreneur.com contributor Tareq Samara takes it one step further, saying, “In my opinion, a man who knows how to rock a v-neck shirt paired with a chain also knows how to cope well with changing trends in business.” That’s an interesting take. It also gives me a business related excuse to refresh my wardrobe more often. (Insert Grandpa’s eye roll here.)
What’s your take on wearing branded items? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Caswell is the brand manager for the View Group of companies.