Category Archives: branding

For Men Only: Online Dating? Hire an Editor

Freelancers are always looking for new markets to conquer, and today I discovered a new one: online dating profiles.

If you’re familiar with online dating, then you’ve come to expect a little embellishment here and a little downplaying there. That drool-worthy photo of Mr. Right? You know it was probably taken 5 years and 20 pounds ago in spectacular lighting. You’ve stretched the truth yourself, and you’re not going to knock someone else for playing to their strengths.

But there’s one thing women can’t forgive in an online dating profile: poor spelling. That’s right, guys: Forget about your visible nose hair (actually, please don’t) and the weak chin you inherited from your mother’s side of the family. If you “love chidren and puppys, to” or “beleive in remembering important dates like anniverseries,” you may be missing out on connecting with that special someone.

But what’s good for the goose isn’t so good for the gander: According to the article in the above link, men don’t discriminate against women for the same offence. Women can forget the spell-checker altogether, and men don’t mind. No real surprise there, hence the time and money spent instead on hair, makeup, wardrobe, and glam shots.

Sigh. Showing you know “i before e except after c” would be a whole lot quicker, easier, and cheaper, eh, ladies?

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Filed under branding, content creation, editing and writing, freelancing, spelling, writing

What’s Your Word?

According to the Toronto Sun, this is PwC’s personal brand week. (I have no idea what “PwC” stands for — even their website left me wondering. I guess their brand is so strong that their name doesn’t matter, heh. ) On their website, PwC offers this tool to help job hunters understand how they’re perceived in online searches. Armed with this knowledge, job hunters can then work to correct any inconsistencies.

To get the gig they want, job hunters and freelancers should be clear about what they have to offer a company — in other words, they should be clear about their brand. Recently a branding exercise has been making its way through the media: Choose one word that represents you.

Although I’d love my word to be innovative, daring, or brilliant, there’s no denying that my word is persistent. That, along with confident, is how others often describe me. I know I can do anything if I put in the time. From learning a new skill to getting the job contract I want, it comes down to daily habits performed with drive and consistency. Obstacles are nothing to me:  With persistence I find ways (hey, there’s some innovation for you!) to accomplish my own goals and those of the people and organizations that I’m fortunate to be involved with.

Once you’ve identified your word, you’re on your way to creating your brand. It’s a matter of making sure your brand is loud and clear — online, on your resumé, in person — to employers. Because your brand is unique, it sets you apart from the pack and makes finding the right fit easier for both you and prospective employers.

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Filed under authenticity, branding, freelancing, job-hunting, online life, work issues

Time to Edit Edit

WordPress won’t allow me to manipulate the words in a title. What I want the above title to express is “Time to Edit Edit,” where the second edit refers to the word itself.

Confused? Allow me to explain.

As an editor, I choose  short Anglo-Saxon words over longer Romance language words (spread not proliferate), I omit jargon and needless words (the fact of the matter is), and I favour concrete words over abstract words (“hit” not “laid hands on”).

But I just discovered a new term for editing that is nothing short of genius: quality control. I don’t care how you spell it: Quality Control, quality control, QR, or qr. Heck, shout it out: QUALITY CONTROL. Before you question my sanity, see this post.

(It may work wonders on an invoice, but I still wouldn’t allow it in a document!)

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Filed under branding, editing and writing, freelancing, usage

The Most Important Edit You’ll Do All Year

Happy New Year! I hope, like me, you’re psyched for 2014.

One of the most important things I’ve done in the last couple of years is write (and edit and edit and edit) my personal mission statement. When I’m depressed or scared or plain old grumpy, I recite my mission statement to ground myself and to remind myself of what’s important. Every time I recite it, my statement humbles, inspires, centres, and entertains me (yup, the last part of my mission statement makes me laugh every single time). It changes my course and calls me to positive action. Having a mission statement has been so effective for achieving my goals, I encourage everyone to write one.

Take some time to identify what’s important to you. My statement includes gratitude, fearlessness, freedom, identification of possibilities, and fun — and passing these things on to others, too. My statement explains how I’m going to practise these things, and I’ve also identified my most negative emotions and listed concrete steps to overcome them.

Writing your statement requires not only time but also self-awareness. Months of editing were required before my mission statement was perfected so that it reflected my true self. Then, when the statement was fresh, I often forgot to recite it during negative moments. But once I mastered the habit of reciting it, I found success turning my negative moments into ones of reflection and action. Although my mission statement is several paragraphs long, I have memorized it from regular recitation.

I also have two short axioms that I live by:

Accept myself and expect more from myself.

~Gretchen Rubin

Expect resistance. Resistance doesn’t mean this won’t work; it simply means that I’ve started. And starting won’t last long, so neither will resistance.

~paraphrased from Mistress Krista

Remember this: Your mission statement or personal axioms won’t be effective unless they speak to your true self. When you identify your values and issues and codify them — and practise them regularly —  you’re gonna be in for a great 2014.

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Filed under authenticity, branding, writing

A Hot Debate

Ever since the days of Elaine Bennis’s employment with J. Peterman, I’ve thought it would be fun to write/edit copy for lifestyle brands. When reading product copy, I’ve often wondered, “Who came up with this schlock!” — in a charmed way, of course.

We’ve all sat at the breakfast table slurping milk and cereal and reading the cereal box copy that sits in front of our noses, and who hasn’t perused a beer bottle label while gathering up the courage to chat up the cute guy or gal at the bar? Product labels get read by consumers, who subsequently form impressions of the brand based on what they’ve read.

Recently I met an editor who worked on  soup can copy. I knew there had to be someone out there doing this work.

Well, someone has dropped the ball, because there’s a grammatical error on my beloved Frank’s RedHot Sauce. (For copy editing mistakes galore, check out Terribly Write.) Nobody uses more Frank’s than me. I’m like the old lady in the ad: “I put that sh*t on everything.” So I’m pretty familiar with the bottle and the label. Here’s what the label says:

FRANK’S Original REDHOT Sauce is made with a premium blend of aged Cayenne peppers that add a kick of heat and a whole lot of flavour to your favourite foods.

Hot sauce 005

(Yeah, the pic is blurry, but if you look closely you’ll see that I’m quoting the first sentence on the label.)

What we have here is a mistake of subject-verb agreement. The subject is blend, which is singular, so a singular verb form should be used: the blend adds a kick.

But wait. In The Copyeditor’s Handbook, Amy Einsohn explains that there are three principles of subject-verb agreement: formal agreement, as I’ve demonstrated above; notional accord; and attraction or proximity. Formal agreement is rule-based, notional accord is concerned with meaning over grammar, and attraction or proximity is based on a certain construction sounding right to the ear.

With the sentence above, I think a combo of notional accord and proximity holds, so I’m not going to halt production at Reckitt Benckiser (the company that makes Frank’s) any time soon.

Now, don’t get me started on whether or not Cayenne should be captitalized. (The Canadian Oxford says it shouldn’t be.)

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Filed under branding, subject-verb agreement

Lean In and Tune Out

CBC Radio’s arts and culture program Q with Jian Ghomeshi aired an interview with Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg this morning. Sandberg’s new book, Lean In, advises women to embrace self-confidence. She says more women are needed in roles of power in the workplace so that women can make systemic changes. But to get there, women need to overcome internalized gender stereotypes. She admits to wishing when she was younger that she had the confidence she observed in her brother.

Although Sandberg is receiving lots of criticism for putting the focus on women themselves instead of on the institutions and society in which they find themselves, I find little to argue with here. Maybe I’m getting old and cynical, but more than anything I found the Sandberg interview to be rather bland – another avenue to put her brand forward. (Was it just yesterday that I was embracing branding?) At the conclusion of the interview, Sandberg said she loved her job at Facebook, where millions (or is it billions?) are brought together to share “their authentic selves” (ha, ha, ha, ha, ha), and she actually ended the interview using the phrase “lean in.” Groan.

Self-confidence has never been an issue for me. But I couldn’t find a way to “lean in” when I was a young mother. I’m a GenX sequencer: I do one thing at a time to the best of my ability. I don’t find balance, I don’t multi-task, I don’t do busy-busy-busy ’cause I’m so important-important-important. And I admire the millennial women I know who are doing things their own way with the seemingly carefree disregard for the empty status and prestige that the workplace can confer on a lucky few.

Lean in to the workplace? Of course, as you need, desire, and are able to. But more than anything, tune out to what everyone says, and find out what you’re saying to yourself in the stillness of your depths.

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Filed under branding, women and work

What’s Your Brand?

I initially felt rather cynical about attending the career workshops on offer at Ryerson University, but it turns out I’ve found them very helpful. My big take-away (for you pedants: the way I just used take-away is not correct according to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary): creating my own personal brand is a requirement. Yup, just the kind of thing I typically despise. But I learned that I need to be very clear about what my story is: what I have to offer, how I can communicate to others what I have to offer, and what I want and value in a job. So what if it’s called branding? If I’m not clear on these things, there’s no sense in looking for employment.

(Incidentally, this personal branding stuff has been particularly helpful to me because, according to the Enneagram, I’m a three, and we threes can be mighty unclear about who we are and what we want because we’re so adept at molding ourselves to what others deem desirable.)

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Filed under branding, job-hunting