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Kim Kardashian, Holly Madison & Mel B. "S...

Image by Kaloozer via Flickr

Relationships are businesses. I can’t stress this enough. There are many business principles and concepts I apply to relationships in this blog–liabilities, investments, and profit margins to name a few. Here’s another business principle to add to the list: Branding.

Regular people are becoming more and more aware of the importance of branding themselves. To see the importance of having your own personal brand, you don’t have to look far. People that are famous for no reason that we can fathom other than because they are themselves abound in our present day culture. Can you tell me what natural talents Kim Kardashian has (that we should all be aware of)? That’s not a diss of her; it’s a testament to how well she has branded her self. She is able to get contracts to sell everything from Sketchers and perfume to Quick Trim and workout DVDs on the strength of nothing more than name recognition. When people see her name associated with a product, they know what to expect: something fun, sexy, flirty, bootylicious, and appealing to males–or at least, this is what they expect because of the brand image she has.

Everyone has a brand and some brand recognition, even if their influence isn’t worth millions. We all project a certain image to the world, and get associated with certain “products” because of that image. For example, many of us are labled angry Black women because we are never caught smiling, seem only to frown, be angry, be loud, snap our fingers and roll our necks. Many get labeled a dumb blonde because the most visible blonde were bubbly, giggly, less than intelligent beings. Many fight against these stereotypes and are able to successfully rebrand themselves. Others seem to feed them no matter how they struggle against them, simply because people are looking for any evidence that you meet their expectations and no evidence that you are different. Hence why branding is so important: it sets expectations.

I’ve always been branded a certain way since I was of dating age. I’m known to be Christian, known to be intelligent, known as someone who doesn’t play games in relationships, as a serious person. I’m also known as someone who is always happy, always smiling. I’m levelheaded. I give good advice. I am good at keeping people’s business to myself. I’m “marriage material” (we’ll come back to this later). Many men avoid me because they don’t have themselves together (their words), they aren’t ready to settle down, they don’t want to corrupt me, or they don’t feel like they’re on my level. Other men pursue me because the opposite is true. They like my intelligence, happy go lucky attitude, Christianity, etc. Either way, it’s easy for them to decide if I’m the type of woman they are looking for.

Have you ever heard the phrase “game recognize game?” I prefer “brand recognition.” Remember how I told you that you need to start the way you mean to continue? This is true even before the first hello. You need to establish your brand–the type of person you are and what you’re looking for–so thoroughly that you don’t have to open your mouth for someone to know what you’re about. The truth is, most women shouting about being independent, too strong for most men, flaunting their intelligence, and calling themselves wifey material are guilty of protesting too much at worst, and poor branding at best. People stopped believing the boy that cried wolf; the same goes for the woman who cried perfection.

So how do you brand yourself? How do you demand respect and ladylike treatment without being overbearing and seen as angry, bitter, hen pecking, or the dreaded b-word?

To be continued…