“Have You Ever Noticed That You Never Think About Your Toes?” A Brand Identity Crisis Parable

By Posted in - Uncategorized on July 31st, 2014 0 Comments

It’s never been easier to become a “celebrity.”

Our agency develops and designs brand identity for some of the top brands in healthcare. We even represent some “celebrities.” We’re not coaches, certainly not psychologists, rather we’re specialists hired to help practices communicate creatively and clearly how they are uniquely different and may be the best choice for certain people. What we do is branding.

When all is said and done in working with healthcare providers for more than 25 years we’ve realized we can’t fix the identity crisis of some of our clients if they don’t know who they are and what they stand for. It’s not exactly conversation or a pre-qualifier in our line of work to confirm our clients can define their version of success and significance in their lives and profession.

In this post, we’re going to explore if success has more to do with public image and the appearance of success than it does with the quality of our work and our character.

Seduced by the machine.

Former Congressional Librarian Daniel Boorstin coined the “graphic revolution” to describe our present cultural information revolution. He describes how it started with photography, then evolved to television, and eventually the internet including social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Boorstin points out that the graphic revolution has created a new kind of power – the power to make even average people doing average things “famous.” So much so, he says, that we have now become a culture focused intensely on celebrity.

What does it say about us if we are the first culture in history to define itself by achieving and performing in the workplace?

Boorstin’s principle concern for modern society is that we are becoming more image conscious and less quality conscious. In the past, fame was primarily an honor earned by making significant contributions to the welfare of a community. Compare how people are considered famous today.

Boorstin does not seem to be saying the graphic revolution has changed our legitimate desires to be success and to contribute to society – rather, the problem he confronts us with is the standards and measures of what we constitute success have changed.

The problem is not the accomplishment of success. It’s a problem when no matter how much one accomplishes, one does not believe one is successful unless others know about it.

 “Have you noticed that you never think about your toes?”

Tim Keller has a great illustration pointing out how hard it is for us to resolve the crisis of identity and recognition. He points out how we never notice our toes until something goes wrong with them. He goes on to say, “when toes function as toes are meant to function, you just don’t pay attention to them at all.”

Keller gives us a creative example showing how something must be terribly wrong with our identity because we seem to always focus on it.

How does my identity affect me in the eyes of others?

What will people think of me and will I win their approval?

The ego is constantly drawing attention to itself. If your identity was healthy, like your toes, you would never notice it. ~ Tim Keller.

To resolve our brand identity crisis within the context of our profession, maybe we should start with the origin on which we’ve anchored our identity and decide if something is fundamentally wrong with our approach to life.

You want to remembered for what, exactly?

Source Credit: The True Measure of a Man by Richard Simmons III