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The Branding Lesson We Can Learn from Pam Oliver’s Hair Fiasco

The Branding Lesson We Can Learn from Pam Oliver’s Hair Fiasco


Last week my Twitter feed was full commentary on the football games. Bets lost. People lamenting or celebrating on the fate of potential Super Bowl bound teams. But there was another twitter feed happening that was indirectly related to football. A picture kept popping up on my various social media timelines…


Men and women were critical, confused and upset at the “state” of FOX correspondent Pam Oliver’s hair during the AFC game. People compared her to Chewbacca from the Star Wars films (I am not posting that meme because that is NOT the point of this post).

However you feel about her hair, I think there is a branding lesson that we can learn from this. No matter what your brand is (product or service), image matters. I know there are some of you that believe her appearance should have nothing to do with her ability as a reporter. And in theory, I completely agree. But let me ask you this…do you remember what she said while the above picture was taken? The blogs and social media postings said nothing about what she said. She very well could have been giving the formula for youth or the secret formula for Coke–we wouldn’t know. And the reason for that is because her message was lost in the “messiness” of her appearance.

You will think I’m a bit of a hypocrite for this next statement, but I am of the school of thought that, as a society, we place too much value on having a CERTAIN TYPE of appearance. However, I also grew up with a mom, aunts and a grandmother who believed in looking your best when appearing in public. The women in my life grew up in an era where even going to a football game usually called for this kind of attire.

Young black women at outdoor sports event

style-quoteI get it though–we’re not back in the stone age. But I do believe in an effort to so distance ourselves from the pain of the past (slavery, Jim Crow, civil rights), we have allowed some standards of appearance to go away. At almost 38 years old, my mom still asks (if I leave the house with no makeup), “Are you going to run a makeup sponge across your face?” LOL Sometimes it annoys me, but I get it. Helena Rubinstein says, “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.” Just like everyone, there are times that I am too tired, too stressed and even too lazy to take the time to get gussied up. But I also know the “risk” I take by not doing so and PRAY the entire time I’m out that I don’t see anyone I don’t want seeing me looking less than my best (smile).

Ok, so what does all this commentary have to do with branding? Brand curator and image consultant, Darcey Howard, says, “If you are your own brand, then your wardrobe is your logo.”

Many of you have amazing messages and products that need and should be shared with the WORLD. You can increase the receptivity of your message and products when your appearance compliments your message. Many of us would never go to a hairstylist whose own hair was always unkept. The same goes for your brand. People buy from and support who they trust. And part of that trust is based on whether or not you “look” trustworthy. I recently read a statistic that said, People generally retain or remember 4% of the content of any presentation, speech or talk, but they always remember 100% of how they felt about it. And part of that “feeling” comes from our appearance.

There are 5 rules I tend to live by when it comes to presenting my brand image through my personal appearance:

  1. Dress according to your role. I attended an event for the first time and I wasn’t really familiar with the event organizer. When I was introduced to the person, I add to dial back my surprise. Some of the event attendees were dressed better than the event organizer was. If you’re the head honcho, dress the part. I understand that at events we are often running around making sure everything is perfect, but make sure to stand out among the crowd of the fabulous people at your event–beyond just a nametag.
  2. When in doubt, dress one step above what you think the event attire should be. If the event calls for casual, you go business casual. It is ok to be slightly overdressed; but never ok to be under dressed.
  3. When pressed for time or lacking ideas, have an outfit formula. My outfit formula is jacket, shirt (graphic tee, tank, other shirt) and pants (or skirt). Photo Nov 16, 10 02 07 AM
  4. Have a hair plan. Then have a backup plan. Ever had an event and your went left when you wanted it to go right? You should have a style in mind when you have to work or you have an event. And you should have backup plan. The backup could be an updo, a puff or a wig/half-wig. In the picture above, I am wearing my trusty pal, Drew by Beshe.
  5. Do 360 mirror checks up until show time. It is important to check your appearance before the start of an event, your presentation, or before you take the stage. Make sure things are well and nothing about your look distracts from the task at hand–“wowing” people with your event, presentation or capabilities.

pinterst page


I have over 100 boards on Pinterest that are divided almost by garment type. Go over to my page and follow my boards for style inspiration!

Question for your commenting: Do you think appearance enhances or distracts from a person’s job, message or brand?

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