Selma is a superstar
So — much like the kid in the Sixth Sense who “sees dead people” everywhere (a kid with whom I already over-identify as it is) — I’m seeing ducks everywhere.
It does make sense that this would happen. After all, I live with a duck.
I figured it was that Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon (the whole “whoah, I just learned some obscure tidbit and all of a sudden it’s everywhere” thing). Or the related and less sexy “your friend buys a blue Honda Civic and all of a sudden the streets are full of ’em” thing.
You know, patterns. Which the brain likes to pounce upon and celebrate. All normal and good.
But this week I realized that there’s another neat thing going on here.
Why, I believe that’s my duck in your bathroom
The place I stay in Berlin is owned by a couple who are friends/students of mine. One of them (Andreas) is a designer for a small firm that specializes in eco-friendly natural-resources green-ey companies.
And in the bathroom is a poster his firm created, celebrating a company producing natural gas as the power source of the future. Featured are fields of flowers, herds of happy cows, and lots of smiling people riding bikes and doing yoga (though not at the same time).
Plus a flock of ducks in a pond, one of which is not a duck-duck but the kind of duck that Selma is.
(Yes, sweetie, I know you’re a duck-duck too, but I need a word for the kind that aren’t you).
Anyway, there’s a chirpy-lookin’ hot-yellow squeaky-duck in there among the other ducks and she’s looking fiiiiiiiiiiiiine, is all I’m saying.
I cornered Andreas and got him to admit that he’s fetishizing my duck (actually he’s not really, but he was very polite about the whole thing), and he said something very interesting. Which was: “I see Selma everywhere.”
Oh, it’s so great when it’s not just me who’s crazy
Of course you do, said I. She is everywhere. People love them some squeaky toy ducks.
The point Andreas was making, though, was this: It seems like no matter where he goes or what he does, at some point a duck will pop up — and then he thinks of me. “Smart branding”, he said, since it’s like life handing you a little reminder to plug into wacky Fluent Self techniques.
Of course it’s not branding at all, at least not in an intentional sense, and I can tell you the story of how Selma came to own my company some other time.
The point is that I’d never realized that when people see ducks, they (the people, not the ducks) make a mental snick! association with useful things they’ve learned from me.
And that is awesome. It’s like a regular spontaneous reminder to keep working on your stuff. Whenever a duck shows up. Which, as it turns out, they do.
Food for thought: bite #1 (snack time!)
Small business owners (the just-you-and-a-computer kind of small business, not the 500 employees in an office kind) often say things to me like, “Hey, I’d like you to give me feedback on my new fancy logo that I just paid way too much for.”
And then I feel awkward because if they’d asked me beforehand I would have told them they don’t need a logo. A “look and feel”, yes. A typeface that loves them, yes. A nice clean type-based logo (or logotype), yes. Paying money to someone who designs stuff professionally, abso-hell-yes-lutely.
But a logo-logo? That’s worse than a duck-duck.
In the vast majority of cases it’s just not necessary. If you’re not a bank on every corner or the kind of company that buys Superbowl ads, you don’t need to engrave some image on people’s brains through repetitively boring repetition.
And even if you wanted to, you don’t have the 7-digit finances to make that approach work.
This, on the other hand, is interesting. Because maybe there is something you can use (ahem, do not take my duck or Selma and I will mess you up) that can give people that sense of ding! which reminds them of how totally happy your work makes them feel.
In which case, ignore all my “don’t get a logo” ranting and go get yerself a mascot.
Food for thought: bite #2 (snack time!)
Having something to notice — or giving people something to notice, as the case may be — is powerful stuff. It introduces a “Where’s Waldo” element that is fun and kinda flirty too.
It’s a bit like unexpectedly catching a glimpse of that person you always smile at on the bus, or noticing your favorite shade of green. Or using a word that doubles as an in-joke with a friend.
All of which reminds me of a great self-work technique that’s so much more powerful than it could ever sound. What you do is you choose a color when you wake up and then every time you notice something of that color, you smile to yourself and think hey, there’s my color.
It introduces a bit of child-like glee to your day, which everyone can use an extra dose of anyway, but it’s also great for practicing the whole present-moment awareness thing (which is also useful for noticing when you’re defaulting into auto-pilot patterns).
Every time you bring your attention to the color and to your focal point for the day, you’re bringing yourself back into the noticing-and-remembering process. By smiling, you’re breaking up automatic patterns and moving the pieces around. More fun than it sounds!
And the point is?
Uh, that’s it. When in doubt, duck!