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What Your Image Will Do For You

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You cannot develop a personality with physics alone, the rest of life must be worked in. Richard Feynman

You cannot develop a personality with physics alone, the rest of life must be worked in. Richard Feynman

I’ve only ever been to the United States once in my life – that was towards the end of 1988 and I was 21 years of age.

I must admit, I loved it.

There was a group of us friends, four of us, and we first stayed in Orlando for one week and then Miami for the next.

Orlando was a nice place where you couldn’t find a speck of dirt in the streets if you went looking for it.

In fact, I did go looking, just to see if I could find at least a sweet wrapper or cigarette butt.

Nothing.

Not finding a cigaretter butt was no surprise as there was no smoking allowed in public as far as I could see.

I also visited Sea World and watched the dolphins swim, dive and jump around.

That was before they thanked us for the fish and left for good (If you’re puzzled about that one watch Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy).

Orlando was generally peaceful at night…

Except for the night I decided to take a walk to the shop across the road from the hotel.

On the way back a police car pulled up, a woman officer got out, hand on holster and told me to take my hands out of my pockets (hey, I was relaxed and out on a stroll).

I did as told (I wasn’t about to argue with a police officer – especially one with a gun).

She asked me who I was and what I was doing.

I told her I was a tourist and was staying at the hotel across the road and showed her my keys.

After she relaxed, she told me not to be fooled by the perceived peace of the place and that anyone could pull up to me, shoot me and walk off.

That was nice… not!

That certainly left a bitter taste in my mouth about Orlando.

Shattered any illusions I had.

Miami was (also?) nice, except for the time we accidentally drove downtown and realised the gang culture was for real.

We got out of their pronto.

There was the time we visited the Grand Bahamas for a day.

If you’ve never been to the Bahamas I highly recommend it… or at least I do if it’s still the same.

The ocean was clear.

I mean literally – if there were any fishes you would be able to see them right down to the bottom.

What was intriguing about that day, however, was when we got back to Miami.

I was carrying a case with the video equipment one of the other lads had – he had his hands full with other things.

Now, picture this – I’m Asian (Bangladeshi), I was a pretty muscular guy, had on a T-shirt with the sleeves cut off (hey I was young and it was HOT).

I also had a straw hat and a deep sun tan… and maybe a straw in my mouth.

(Picture a stereo-typical Cuban drug baron’s bodyguard – yep, you get the picture.)

Now, I hadn’t noticed, but Miami vice just happened to be there (the real dudes, not from TV).

One of the guys with me told me afterward that one of these had motioned toward me.

My three companions had gone ahead, bags in hand, but I was stopped.

They had me open up the case and, after searching it thoroughly and not being able to find the drugs they were obviously looking for, sent me on my way.

You had to be there, as they say, to witness the drama.

Unless you have a vivid imagination, of course.

Amazing, isn’t it, how we can be perceived based on the way we dress and the way our bodies look (would I have been stopped if I was a fat stodgy looking guy?  Who knows).

And how about the guys in downtown Miami?

Are they really how they’re portrayed in the movies.

Don’t hold this against me, but I’m inclined to believe they are.

You see, society labels us in certain ways based on how we look and how we behave.

Sometimes society gets it right (downtown Miami) and sometimes not (me dressed like a Cuban hitman with a high-powered rifle in a brief case).

What do you suppose would be people’s impression of an advert on a billboard, or a TV commercial, or a print copy in a newspaper, if there’s gunman staring straight out at you, or a bikini-clad woman simply smiling?

It would really depend on what it is you’re selling and what the image is you’re trying to portray.

You could get it right and rake in the dosh.

You could fool people by dressing up a wolf in a sheep’s clothing, in which case you’ll have a lot to answer for, from both your customers and the law.

You could get it wrong and you’ll have wasted your money and your time.

What can you do to ensure you get it right?

You could hire the right people and pay them what they want, which could be a load of cash.

Or, you could learn how to do it yourself.

The choice, as the man said, is yours.

Best,
Marko

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Steve is a copyrighter working for several international advertising agencies and has an immense range of experience in marketing, digital advertising, and creating new branding concepts.