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Personal Development Lessons from Branding?

Personal Development Lessons from Branding?

Personal Development Lessons from Branding?

    The Story of the $800 Jeans

    Jeans Isolated With clipping path

      I recently watched a presentation given by a journalist (Benjamin Wallace) who had taken an extensive look at the way people shop; what they buy, why they buy, how much they spend and why some people are prepared to part with obscene amounts of money for the supposed ‘top shelf’ versions of every day items (jeans, wine, olive oil, beds, coffee).

      His talk was essentially an exploration into the psychology of shopping. I laughed as he (the journalist) expressed his disappointment at test-driving a pair of $800 jeans which looked, felt and ‘performed’ the same as his $50 jeans. Not only was there no discernible difference (to him), but over an entire week of wearing his new expensive duds, not one person complimented him on how amazing he (or they) looked. “Then, what’s the point?”, he asked.

      I know the Feeling

      I identified with this story because I was given an expensive pair of jeans for a birthday a few years back. While I appreciated the gift and wore them gratefully, I had no idea that they were expensive until someone (some months later) saw the label and complimented me on owning a pair of that particular brand of jeans. I nearly fell over. Of all the things to be complimented on, the brand of my jeans wasn’t high on my list. I was amazed that they could be impressive to someone. To me, they were simply one of the five (or so) pairs that I owned. No better or worse than any of my other ($50) jeans.

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      What Logic?

      I was extremely interested in Wallace’s study and subsequent report as I have a fascination in this area; the value we place on labels. Having worked with a broad socio-economic cross-section of people over the last two and a half decades has given me a great opportunity to observe ‘shopping behaviour’ and the rationale behind those purchases first hand.

      Like my client who would never buy a pair of shoes unless they cost at least a thousand dollars because “they couldn’t be any good otherwise”. Or the forty-something guy who bought himself a high-powered Ducati motorbike even though he was a complete novice with no riding experience or skills. When I (an experienced motorcyclist) advised him to buy a different (cheaper, safer, slower, more appropriate, learner-friendly) bike, he didn’t want to hear about it. He was only interested in the look and the label of the bike; he wanted to be a Ducati owner no matter what.

      300 Kilometres Later…

      When he got the bike it absolutely scared the crap out of him (because he couldn’t ride it); as I knew it would. I had to ride it home from the dealership for him. He rode it three times (in a year), put 300 kilometres (180 miles) on the clock and then sold it for $9,000 less than the purchase price. He was in love with the ‘theory’ of a Ducati but not the practical reality. He had bought an image, an idea, a brand. A delusion. And as so many of us do from time to time, he let his ego run the show, dictate his behaviours and waste his money. He wanted to be a Ducati owner and rider so much that his emotion (need to be cool, popular, desirable, respected, tough, macho) temporarily over-shadowed his intelligence, common sense, fear and his obvious lack of riding ability.

      Label Lunacy

      People who shop for particular labels and brands rather than individual products which will suit a purpose or meet a need, have always intrigued me. It’s no revelation to hear that some people are devoted to, if not completed addicted to, owning certain brands and labels – and not because of the actual product but because of the perceived prestige (acceptance, approval, recognition, popularity) that comes from owning, wearing, drinking, driving that particular label or brand. Don’t believe me? Hang out with some teenagers for a while and see what it means to own the right shoes, jeans, jacket, MP3 player, phone, etc.

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      A Hypothetical:

      Red Sports Car

        Imagine if you and I took the latest, never-seen-before, $100,000 BMW coupe and we re-branded it as a Hyundai for its launch into the market place. Not only do we re-brand it as a Hyundai but we also reduce the price by forty percent, so now we have a $100,000 BMW selling for $60,000 in Hyundai clothing – so to speak. So the exact same car (motor, technology, interior, exterior, performance, quality) which would have sold strongly as an expensive BMW is now being offered to the same potential buyers at just over half the price – as a less prestigious and less desirable brand. Of course we can’t say for sure what would happen, but I’ll take an educated guess and let me know if you concur…

        1. Most ‘BMW shoppers’ won’t even consider the new ‘Hyundai’ product – even if it comes highly recommended. They will let their feelings get in the way of the facts; the fact that it’s actually a BMW in every way except for the badge on the front. Their bias against ‘less prestigious’ brands won’t allow them to even walk into a Hyundai showroom and their ego won’t allow them to save $40,000. They would rather pay $100,000 for the SAME product, so long as they can be seen driving a Beemer. The ego is a very powerful thing and haven’t the marketing folk made that fact work for them over the years?

        2. Most general new-car shoppers won’t consider the new $60,000 two-door Hyundai because they perceive it to be too expensive for that brand. No matter how good the actual product (car) is. As a result, the re-badged BMW doesn’t sell strongly and dies a sad and lonely death within two years of its launch. Never to be seen again. Consequently, a generation of car drivers will miss out on the automotive luxury bargain of the decade because of brand bias, stupidity and ego.

        Emotional Shoppers

        Of course, it’s no revelation for me to tell you that when it comes to how and where we spend our money, we are often emotional and irrational beings. And yes, the marketing and branding gurus have been benefiting from, and maximising this knowledge for years. It’s their goal to evoke an emotional response (feeling, reaction, decision) from you and I so that we will buy, no matter how much we don’t need, or can’t really afford, whatever it is they’re selling. To them, common sense is the enemy; that’s why they always tell us that we ‘deserve’ their product. Of course we don’t actually need a four hundred inch flat screen television, but as they quite rightly point out, you and I have worked incredibly hard lately and why shouldn’t we reward ourselves with a ridiculously large TV? Imagine how much better our lives will be when we get that bad boy up on the wall. Just look at the couple in the advertisement… they seem very happy.

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        Back to the Presentation…

        During his presentation, Wallace spoke of a study that was conducted at Stanford University in early 2008, where a group of subjects sampled two different wines; a cheaper wine ($20 bottle) and a more expensive wine (over $100). They then reported their feedback to the researchers. For this study the participants knew the value of each of the wines and as you might expect, the vast majority scored the expensive wine highest, in terms of taste and pleasure, and the cheap wine at the other end of the scale. In order to make the study even more scientifically valid and objective, the researchers conducted MRIs on the participants to see if their perceived enjoyment (of each wine) correlated with what was happening physiologically in their brain. And guess what? It did. The wine which they perceived to taste the best and give them the most pleasure actually created a comparable pleasure response in their brain. And of course, the cheap wine showed the opposite; a lower level pleasure response. Now, all those results are interesting but what’s totally fascinating is that the two wines (the cheap and the expensive) were actually…. the same wine! There was no cheaper or more expensive version; they were both a relatively cheap wine.

        Doh!!

        That’s right, not only do we have the capacity to create our own pleasure and pain but we also have the ability (via our thoughts, beliefs and expectations) to actually create significant bio-chemical changes in our brain. In other words, we can think ourselves to pleasure. Or misery. Literally. Our beliefs create our reality – even when it comes to the pleasure a cheap wine can give us.

        My Budget Wardrobe

        A few weeks ago I did one of my regular TV gigs for the show I work on. For the segment, I wore some jeans, a pair of boots and a new short-sleeved shirt. A friend of mine who is a self-confessed clothes snob and fashion aficionado informed me that “I looked great.” Here’s a snapshot of the conversation we had:

        Friend (F): “Hey, saw you on TV this morning, you looked great. Gorgeous shirt, that colour really suits you. Is it new?” (I was still wearing the same clothes)
        CH: “Thanks. Yep, new shirt. Bought it all by myself!”
        F: “Well done, where did you get it?” (trying to get an idea of its cost and whether or not she should like it!)
        CH: “Some shop in the city.” (I actually bought it at Target)
        F: “Was it expensive?” (knew that was coming)
        CH: “Not too bad; it was reduced from $150.00 to $90.00.” (complete lie, it cost $25.00!)
        F: (now with a look of approval on her face) “Wow, that’s cheap for a nice shirt like that. Good shopping by you. It makes such a difference when you wear quality clothes. And the jeans, they’re nice…”(searching for some more info)
        CH: “Yeah, picked them up when I was in the States earlier this year. They were on special for a hundred and forty bucks.”
        F: “Wow, that’s good value for nice jeans like those.”
        CH: “Now, do you want the bad news?”
        F: “What?”
        CH: “The shirt cost me twenty five bucks at Target.”
        F: “Did not.”
        CH: “Yep, it did and my expensive jeans actually cost me forty five bucks at the same store and my boots were a freebie from the good folk at ‘Caterpillar’; I did a gig for them recently. So my entire outfit, including socks and jocks, cost me less than eighty bucks.”
        F: (look of disbelief on face)

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        Needless to say, the revelation of the cost and origin of my ensemble changed the dynamics and the tone of the conversation instantly. When I pointed out the obvious fact that she had been sucked into the mindset of ‘dearer always equals better’, she didn’t want to hear about it. I was informed that I “just don’t get it”. All of a sudden my “gorgeous shirt” wasn’t nearly as appealing. And of course we all know you can’t buy “gorgeous” for twenty five bucks.

        So why do (some) people do it?

        Most of us have a preference for certain labels or brands because of positive experiences we’ve had with particular products over the years – that’s understandable (intelligent even) and not what I’m talking about today. No, I’m talking about people who have an unhealthy and irrational desire to own certain labels no matter what. I’m talking about people who won’t even consider another less-expensive label – even if that label is of comparable or identical quality to the more desirable label. I’m talking about people who love to be seen drinking the expensive wine, even when it tastes like crap. And I’m talking about the person who puts him or her self under huge financial pressure to buy the car that they really can’t afford and definitely don’t need.

        On some level, Label Shoppers believe that ownership of a particular product will meet some kind of need in them. And they’re right. For a day. Because that’s about how long it will be before they will need to shop again. Amazingly, those $800 jeans won’t lead to life-long nirvana or universal approval or acceptance. Who’da thought? By the way, the need they have is emotional, not practical. Nobody needs thousand dollar (plus) shoes, but people want to be associated with certain labels because somewhere along their journey they’ve learned that ownership of said labels will equate to attention, approval and acceptance; what they’re really after.

        The Why Behind the What

        So again, it comes back to the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. What they want is the label, but why they want it is the key to this puzzle. Consciously or not, many (many) people don’t believe that they’re good enough – that is, smart enough, pretty enough, desirable enough, lean enough or interesting enough. And as a consequence they will endeavour to make up for their perceived shortcomings with desirable accessories and assets; stuff to impress their peers. “They’ll like me more if I’m driving this car, wearing these clothes, living in that house or owning that gadget.”

        As for me, thankfully most of my friends love me unconditionally – even in my twenty five dollar Target shirt, my very cheap jeans and the boots I didn’t pay for.

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        Published on November 14, 2018

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

        For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

        In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

        Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

        Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

        It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

        For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

        Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

        Symptoms of Fatigue

        Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

        • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
        • mental blocks
        • lack of motivation
        • headache
        • dizziness
        • muscle weakness
        • slowed reflexes and responses
        • impaired decision-making and judgement
        • moodiness, such as irritability
        • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
        • reduced immune system function
        • blurry vision
        • short-term memory problems
        • poor concentration
        • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

        Causes of Fatigue

        The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

        • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
        • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
        • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
        • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

        Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

        Medical Causes of Fatigue

        If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

        Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

        Anemia

        Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

        Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

        There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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        This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

        Diabetes

        Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

        Sleep Apnea

        Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

        Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

        Thyroid disease

        An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

        Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

        • Lack of sleep
        • Too much sleep 
        • Alcohol and drugs 
        • Sleep disturbances 
        • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
        • Poor diet 

        Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

        • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
        • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
        • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
        • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

        Psychological Causes of Fatigue

        Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

        • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
        • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
        • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

        How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

        Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

        1. Tell The Truth

        Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

        To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

        Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

        The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

        One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

        • How you feel
        • What time of day it is
        • What may have contributed to your fatigue
        • How your mind and body reacts

        This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

        2. Reduce Your Commitments

        When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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        If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

        When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

        Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

        3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

        If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

        Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

        If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

        Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

        Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

        4. Express More Gratitude

        Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

        It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

        Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

        5. Focus On Yourself

        Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

        There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

        But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

        We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

        6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

        Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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        Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

        The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

        Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

        7. Take a Power Nap

        When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

        Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

        This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

        8. Take More Exercise

        The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

        Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

        The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

        You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

        9. Get More Quality Sleep

        To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

        Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

        My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

        10. Improve Your Diet

        Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

        Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

        On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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        To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

        Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

        Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

        11. Manage Your Stress Levels

        Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

        When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

        Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

        My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

        12. Get Hydrated

        Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

        Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

        If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

        The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

        The Bottom Line

        These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

        If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

        Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
        [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
        [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
        [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
        [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
        [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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