Something is affecting businesses and business professionals alike, everywhere. It’s insidious. It’s dangerous.
We’re going to call it stock photo syndrome.
It’s the horror of one of those overly staged photos that top the search results and often come with a light grey watermark to make things look extra professional.
They all look the same. No personality. No hint of humanity. Just awkwardness.
Somehow when it comes to our professional lives, whether individually or as an entire brand or organization, we’ve acquired the syndrome. We take a title or role and write, speak and act like the stock photo version.
Truthfully, stock photo syndrome is safe. Being same o’ is easy. There’s little to no risk involved and there’s a slim chance for backlash. It’s a nice cozy blanket to stay wrapped in.
But the problem is that it’s bland. Using the same tone, same language, same actions has absolutely zero authenticity.
Take Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. These two guys don’t fit what the stereotypical definition of a politician is. They don’t follow the script. They don’t even look the part. But that’s the point.
Sanders and Trump are popular because of how they stand out. People perceive them to be more truthful because they aren’t prototypes of everyone else.
Fret not, here’s the secret: SHOW SOME SKIN. Personality sells. Personality works. Personality cuts through the clutter in this world of dwindling attention spans and limited minutes.
Ultimately it leads to believability. Think about it: would you rather buy from someone who reads you a script in deadpan or someone who relates to you and shows you value? (The latter we hope).
The antidote is to be comfortable with imperfections. Imperfections are ultimately what make us unique.
It’s just like that shabby chic interior design craze that people love so much. Beyond being trendy, a scratch here and a bump there shows some history.
When it comes to an organization, personality shines through in the form of corporate culture.
Oh, but when it comes to a business there are some things that are just too serious. No, not really.
Take pre-flight safety demonstrations. They’re so boring that NO ONE LISTENS. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the point of a safety demonstration?
WestJet knows how to fix that.
We’ll bet you everyone in that Boeing 767 followed along with their safety cards.
There is a word of caution however: don’t have personality for the sake of personality. Once again, that strays off into the area of phoniness. Just pick the right personality.
Here’s a funny spot by Kmart. Too bad Kmart isn’t this cool.
Really, this is all kind of simple. Just don't be afraid to get personal. It’s awesome, it leads to believability and it’s a strength that’s too often underestimated.
Work it. Wear it. Shout it out loud and proud. In the end, you’ll end up crawling out of all the white noise that consumers just don't have the time to put up with anymore.