One of my many guilty pleasures (in addition to Star Trek – see an earlier blog posting) is watching America’s Next Top Model. For the uninitiated, ANTM features very beautiful people doing beautiful things and taking beautiful pictures in beautiful places. This season, the models are developing a “brand” beyond simply being beautiful. These brands are generally associated with one word, like “free” or “classy.”
How does this relate to advocacy? I promise it does, just stick with me here. I’ve noticed that some of the models are much better than others at finding a brand that really reflects their personality. One of them, for example, is “fun” – and she’s certainly fun (maybe not my definition of fun, but fun none-the-less). Another is “creepy.” She’s creepy. Really creepy. There are vampires involved. These models tend to win branding-oriented challenges because they are crystal clear on who they are and what they’re about.
The least successful models, on the other hand, have picked brands that really don’t reflect their personalities. The model who chose “free” for example, is one of the most rigid people I’ve seen (and I’m getting that through a television screen, so it must be pretty bad).
This rule about being clear about who you are and what you want applies to advocacy as well. In order to succeed, you must be perfectly honest with yourself about the strengths and weaknesses of your advocacy argument and how you want to present it to others. In addition, you must feel an authentic enthusiasm for your cause. It must fit you like a glove or, using our analogy, a couture dress