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His Name Is Ken

Ken_doll Maybe it was a byproduct of too much togetherness over Christmas break.  Perhaps it was caused by a decade of being outnumbered by the fairer gender around home.  Could have been too much eggnog.  Who knows?

My younger daughter got a new Barbie dollhouse from Santa.  So of course, every Barbie had to come and inhabit this new abode.  It was like big plastic sorority (complete with all of the requisite drama whenever that many Barbies get together).  And - oh yeah - there was one Ken doll amid all of them.  All was well.  The girls were playing together.  They were having fun.  They were using their imaginations.  And then the fateful event occurred:  my older daughter asked my younger daughter for the Ken doll:  "Abby, would you please pass me the boy Barbie?"

I snapped.

"Excuse me?" I started.  "Did you just call him a 'boy Barbie'?  His... name... is... KEN!  Yes, he may be the ONLY boy in a sea of plastic estrogen... BUT HE HAS A NAME!!!  HE HAS AN IDENTITY!!  He is NOT a boy Barbie.  He has NOT been sucked into the vortex of pink."

I found three pairs of eyes staring at me in shock at my tirade.  I shrugged and went back to my little cubbie of testosterone, my small corner of maleness.

In a sea of consistency and sameness, we all have a little bit of Ken in us, don't we?  We all have a personal brand just waiting to get out, but everybody else wants us to wear their personal brand.  We want to convert our gray cubicles into a tropical rainforest.  We want to wear brightly colored polka-dots in a sea of navy blue pinstripes.  We long to be different, to be significant, to be noticed.  In short, we cringe at the thought of being called a "boy Barbie."

So what are YOU going to do in 2010 to brand yourself?  Or are you just another boy Barbie?


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Mark True | Brand Warrior


I don't think it's necessarily others placing their brands on us...it's often the value that our culture places on fitting in. Particularly as Iowans - generally modest, quiet, conservative, introverted Iowans - we're scared to stand up and stand out, planting our flag on our own piece of ground.

The first element of a dirty brand is being different enough to get noticed. For many of us, that's the scariest part, being noticed. I believe that the majority of us aren't longing to be different, but are longing to just not get noticed.

It's safer that way. There's nothing to be accountable to. There are no expectations. And you generally can't fail. Why? Because nobody's paying attention to you.

Those of us that work our personal brands - you, me and most of the people we hang out with - take risks every day. We're not afraid to be held accountable because we know it will pay off.

I don't know Ken very well. He seems a little stiff to me, so I'm guessing that he's perfectly comfortable being a boy Barbie, as long as he has a roof over his head.


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