Today’s guest writer is Jo Anne Simson (J.A.V. Simson), a retired biomedical scientist whose unique passions are writing and travel. She is the author of two books, with her latest being Korea: Are You at Peace? Jo Anne blogs at joannevalentinesimson and Solo Women at Home and Abroad. You can contact with Jo Anne on Facebook or on Twitter at @javsimson. #5 in an 8-part series.
Different or Unique?
How would you label yourself? Oops, I should have asked, “How would you brand yourself?”
I have to confess, I have become a tad annoyed with the whole “branding” theme, which has taken over virtually every approach to making ourselves visible in an ever more crowded internet world.
O.K., I get it that we can’t appeal to everyone. Giving ourselves taglines may entice those who share our interests to follow us and, if we’re writers, maybe even persuade some to read our work.
But shouldn’t we—who share the human condition—also try to broaden our interests, enlarge our horizons, and explore other parts of reality that are unfamiliar?
And what if our writing (or our personality) doesn’t fit into a box with a label on it?
Currently, we’re in the midst of months and days dedicated to an appreciation of people by category: Black History Month, Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day. And soon, according to my (environmentally oriented)) desk calendar, we will have Earth Day and Mother’s Day and World Turtle Day and Memorial Day and World Oceans Day and Father’s Day… You get what I’m saying.
How do we honor someone or something without putting them in a box?
We all have traits that are similar to those of others, and we all have traits that make us unique. Our brain continuously tries to sort out similarities and differences in any setting we experience and in every acquaintance we make.
So it’s hard not to “label” someone if we don’t really know them. First impressions focus on characteristics a person shares with others we already know—or know about. So how do we go about appreciating someone we don’t know as a special person?
The better I know a person, the less likely I am to define her by traits she shares with others. The more often I interact with someone, the more likely I am to see what makes him unique and (usually) likeable. With familiarity, labels fall away and are replaced with feelings about someone—admiration for her curiosity and intellect, gratitude for his generosity, amazement at her unflagging willingness to care for others, amusement at his quirkiness.
How can we best honor one another without having to resort to labels or brands?
Can we honor uniqueness?
Is uniqueness something that would sell? Ultimately, I think uniqueness is the real trait that is memorable. It IS what “sells.” And those copycat efforts—from genre writing to fast food chains—never quite live up to the unique item that may have started a given trend. Still, they may be profitable, at least for a while.
But do you want your brand to be a copycat?
Perhaps it’s time we got over the whole idea of branding. We should take our understanding of reality away from the Ad Men.
How could we go from valuing brands to honoring uniqueness?
What do you think makes YOU unique?