The speaker was a nationally recognized branding expert, being promoted by a national business magazine. The room was packed. It was standing room only. And the start was inauspicious.
"Here's a warning," the speaker said, "If you're offended by foul language you should leave."
In a few minutes it became clear. Branding gal's schtick was to be as offensive as possible. She dropped more F-bombs than a gansta rapper. She wasn't branding gal, she was effing branding gal.
Effing branding gal berated the audience for the stupidity of making a status update by phone while she was speaking (and this was after she opened by stressing that she wanted people to use her hash tag when tweeting). Effing branding gal picked case studies that appeared designed to offend (e.g., a travel website pushing lesbianism, a sex toy company, etc.).
Effing branding gal wasn't just offensive, she was arrogantly offensive. Branding gal told us that she "had it all figured out." None of us did despite, as she noted, spending decades on the job. Only effing branding gal had it all figured out.
I considered the presentation unprofessional. It tainted my view of the publication sponsoring the conference (and no, it's not a publication I write for). Nevertheless, I stayed in the room hoping to learn something, though I confess that after a few minutes I was only half-listening. I was more absorbed reading football blogs on the iPad. Gotta love, "Out Kick The Coverage."
Eventually, I had enough and walked out. Surprisingly (to me), I wasn't part of an exodus. Everyone else stayed. Everyone else seemed to be entertained. I didn't get it. Effing branding gal didn't have much of substance to offer. In fact, if she wasn't offensive she wouldn't have had anything at all.
That was it. Effing branding gal didn't have much to offer, but what she did was unique, different. In a world of sameness, different sells, even if different isn't very good. Think how powerful your company brand could become if you were both good and different?
How are you going to be different?
(c) 2013 Matt Michel