Monday, June 11, 2007

Two words: Brand Me

Words that Work is due back at the library tomorrow and I've got to the last chapter (for me - I read out of order) on the process of crafting a message. Instead of cleaning up my condo for a brief inspection by visitors before the drinking and dining commences tomorrow, I'm thinking about what words define my style personally, and which define my design style and whether or not they are the same words. I'll share some of my attempts at the end but I'm hoping for ideas and input from the webiverse.

There was a great article in the May07 Domino magazine which a friend passed on to me called "phone date with (style) destiny". It's about a service by that comes up with a descriptive 2 word "style statement" for you. The gurus C&D call it pattern matching. Says author C. Kling, "In a nutshell, it's instant personal branding." Being a fan of pattern matching and frequently awed by the overwhelming response of people to good branding, I was ready to phone them with my $500 before I was halfway through the article.

I want my own style statement because it is not only descriptive, but proscriptive. It allows you (read: me) to refine not only what you already have and do, but what you want to achieve. And to do so in some way that is harmonious to the self. The two word phrase is even more refined upon: an 80/20 ratio of dominance. The second word primarily mitigating negative connotations from the first and extending the reach a little. Examples given are
  • Creative Wonder (too much wonder = wacky)
  • Creative Natural (not too much granola)
  • Classic Genuine (hired musicians instead of a DJ for party)

Now that's all well and good but they don't resonate with me because they don't describe me or my friends. For instance, the friend who lent me the magazine would be "Elegant Punk" or "Modish Retro", if she'll forgive me for saying so. I also like "Cherry Bombs" for fans of co-authors Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer. And Suzealots for intensely focused Suz Brockmann fans, although those are more straight branding than style mantras.

There are more reasons this concept resonates with me. One, one of my favorite designers on HGTV, Karen McAloon, always starts her design ReMix by "shopping" through the homeowner's stuff, and choosing a 2 word design description: Hawaiian retreat, modern eclectic, country contemporary. (I made those up, though.) The biggest reason is that knowing what TO do/get allows me also what NOT TO do/get. I had a friend come do something similar to this for me at the Boston pad. She picked out my dominant colors and themes. From that point on, I was able to simplify by taking out the non-dominant colors and themes and tying together the rest. I was tempted, but not seduced, by red throw pillows for my orange/green/purple color scheme. I was able to say no and feel good about it.

My problem now is that I need that kind of advice again. I'm sitting in a chaotic mess (of mostly paper) and in order to move on the right path I'd like some more insight. But when I tell people I'd like an "Island colonial" design, they say "huh?" Same with "tropical traditional". What this means to me is:
  • bold colors (burnt orange, the lime green of the blog, warm ivory and bright white)
  • in big geometric areas and prints
  • with traditional/antique medium-dark wood furniture
  • bamboo accents
  • and some matte metal or black accents (I'm leaning toward "antiqued matte metal")
  • dotted with eclectic, artistic pieces I've gathered over the years.
But now that I think about it, I'm not really an "island tropical" kind of spirit (yet). Southern California might want to lean that way, and I love the lush, soothing, breezy, yet vibrant feeling, but I don't feel it on the inside. And I want my space to be like a haiku - uncluttered but full of substance. I'm a great judge of haiku, but not a great author of it due to wordiness issues, so it makes living one a challenge. Even so, maybe I need my personal style haiku instead:
Very many books.
Favorite things on display.
Welcome to my home.

As a call to my blog readers, I'd like you to comment or email with your personal style statement or haiku. (I spend too much time in my own head; let me in yours. If I have time later, and you have the desire, I'll dive in the thesaurus for you too.) Then if you have some notion of how to describe me, please toss me a word or two I could use in a personal statement. In the meantime, I'm going to do a blitzkrieg pickup and burn a CD. I hope.


Anonymous said...

What about "tropical modern" for yours. Bright but uncluttered. Having been to your place in Boston I knew exactly what you were talking about. I was there when you bought the bamboo poles.

You want ME?? To write a poem... Runs away laughing hysterically.... :)

So... I'm still thinking of mine. I like a lot of wood, winter colours (navy, dark green, and hot pink etc) and I can't stand clutter and I don't like "country" as you see it in magazines or on the shows... "Traditional" ...???


Up My Mind said...

Whoo, boy. Not even going to attempt the haiku. [g] Have you seen the old "British Classics" TV commercial from Ethan Allen? It sounds exactly like what you're describing. I've also heard it called British Colonial or British West Indies style. Love that look myself.

I'm kind of a mix between that and Arts & Crafts. But really simple arts & crafts, with a balance on the wood tones. Too much wood drives me batty. (As in walls, ceiling, floors, furniture all wood. Nope, no way.)

I like an open, airy, clean lined look, natural palettes and no geometric or really busy patterns. Don't do flowers. Or country. Or contemporary.

Really, Arts & Crafts. ;)

andrea said...

Here is my home decoration scheme:

Love traditional
No money for what I want
Kids decor instead

Heh, and frightfully honest too!