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How Your Business is Like Barbie
September 5, 2012 | Ingrid Cliff
Is your business hiding behind a normal face, so you will blend into your industry? Find how and why you should be standing out from the pack.
On 9 March 1959, Barbie was launched on an unsuspecting world. By 2006, Mattel claimed that there were three Barbie’s sold every second around the world. Barbie is one of the most well known brands around the world, and yet many businesses are identical to Barbie. How can that be?
Barbie’s shape essentially doesn’t change, but her clothing does. This is the same for most businesses. If you undress the marketing of the business’s name, colour and pictures, you would not be able to tell businesses apart.
Barbie is plastic and has no heart. Most businesses struggle with letting the heart of their business shine through. They feel safer looking and feeling the same as everyone else, rather than showing their unique human qualities.
Barbie is essentially unbendable. Most businesses find change hard – they are slow to take on new ideas or challenge how they have been doing things.
Is this a problem? By trying to be something you are not, you are ignoring the pieces inside you and your business that have the greatest potential to make you wildly successful.
So how can you kill Barbie in your business?
- Decide that you are no longer willing to be plastic. Share your unique voice and your expertise with the people around you. Rewrite your marketing material to showcase the real people in your business and what makes you unique.
- Be open to mistakes. Humans make mistakes & life isn’t perfect. At the first hurdle, don’t retreat to Barbie land – find ways to improve your feedback and complaints process. Review all of your standard letters you send after mistakes – are they human or plastic?
- Have those hard conversations. Most hard conversations are avoided not because you are protecting the feelings of the person on the receiving end, but because you are afraid of your own ‘stuff’. Ask for feedback, and then take action.
- Uncover the other hidden Barbie’s in your business. If your marketing has more than a nod to Barbie, you can guarantee other parts of your business have Barbie elements as well. Which parts of your manager’s approaches, systems and processes need to be humanised?
- Find your own brand and voice, and don’t be afraid to change. Allow who you are to naturally change and develop over time – who your business served three years ago may be different today. Change your voice and branding to match your new direction.
I am not saying Barbie is bad – she is great for what she is … a doll for kids to play with. But, in business, if you truly want to be successful, then you need to make your business a Barbie free zone.