Stop branding like a dating profile

billboard bachelor

Amir was tired of being lonely, and his friends-of-friends network was tapped out. It was time… for the Dating Sites. (Dun dun dunnnnn.)

So Amir wrote his profile:

I’m an early 30s professional, attractive and well-dressed, with money in the bank and a good future.

I’ve been focused on my career for a few years, but now I’ve realised it’s time to find someone special to share it all with. Is that you?

In three days he received a dozen invitations. Four of the women sounded really fascinating, and drinks were scheduled. Amir polished his shoes and counted the days.

First there was Hannah.

According to her profile, Hannah was a “vivacious architect who loved barefoot running and old Westerns”. She arrived, dark curls bobbing, and ended the date within seven minutes.

First she said hello.

Then she agreed that the weather had turned very nice, the slight chill in the air was rather pleasant.

Then she asked, “So what profession are you in?” and Amir, entranced by her eyes, replied, “Oh, I’m a physiotherapist.”

Staring at her as he was, it was impossible to miss the tiny recoil and the aggrieved forehead. She said, “But you said you were a professional! Not a… health care practitioner.”

Amir explained that it was a profession, and then Hannah said she had somewhere else she needed to be, and that was that.

Then there was Lin.

Lin was “an old-fashioned girl. I love to cook Szechuan – I enjoy the spices!” They were to meet at the botanical gardens, and Amir found himself there far too early.

So he was sitting down, watching the ducks demonstrate their mastery of social engineering, when Lin arrived. He bounded up, said, “Hi there, you must be Lin!” and instantly he knew the date was over.

Clearly Lin had described herself accurately when she said she was an old-fashioned girl, at least in the sense that old-fashioned girls like to have the man they’re with be considerably taller than they are. Lin was a modest 5’3, and was visibly shocked that Amir was only two inches taller.

They went for a walk, they fed the ducks, but it never went anywhere.

So then there was Katy.

Katy was “ambitious, in love with quality, and a huge console gaming fan”. She was charming and upbeat, and the date had gotten to the second course before it foundered on the rocks.

It started with Katy saying, “Oh, by the way, I LOVE your car. That blue always does it for me.”

Amir looked confused. “My car is white. Oh, you mean Mike’s car! Yeah, I liked that picture.”

Over the salmon, it became clear that in his profile Amir had used a photo of himself in front of his friend’s Mercedes Benz C-Class, and that Amir himself drove a white Commodore.

It became clear also that Amir’s definition of “money in the bank” did not match Katy’s definition of “money in the bank”.

Amir ate the dessert by himself.

And then there was Sandra.

Sandra thought that the name Amir and the words “good future” and “well-dressed” were code for “Saudi oil prince”.

Sandra was just crazy, so she’s not really relevant to the story.

Clearly, this profile didn’t work.

So Amir wrote and rewrote and ended up with this:

Do you want someone who will look you right in the eye?
I will. Because I respect women as equals,
but mostly because I’m not much taller than you – I’m 5’5.
(Maybe I’m shorter than you? I’m okay with that if you are.)

I’m a hard-working and successful physio who is resisting making a good-with-his hands joke.
My sisters say I’m not bad looking.
I’m looking for a partner and a friend, someone to laugh with. Is that you?

This time Amir only got four responses – and one of them was from Sandra.

But the third answer was completely intriguing…

So finally there was Tessa.

Tessa was “a vet by day, crimefighter by night, looking for love without crazy drama” and they decided to meet at the bowling alley.

He looked at her. She looked at him. They both grinned goofily.

In the lane-supplied flat shoes she was still slightly taller than Amir, but neither of them minded. They bowled three sets, ate horribly undercooked fries, and talked about everything.

The wedding’s in June and Tessa will be wearing heels. Amir is joking that he’ll be wearing a milk-crate on his feet.

It would be nauseating if they weren’t so charming.

The moral of the story

When you’re deciding on your brand, it’s tempting to make yourself look as good as possible – that’s the way to attract people, right?

There’s a couple of major problems with the SHINY SHINY EVERYTHING IS PERFECT approach:

  1. Pretty much everyone will call bullshit on you and you won’t stand out.
  2. You set yourself up to be a disappointment.

The first is not as big a problem because it’s pretty universal: almost everyone lies their ass off in their dating profiles, and almost everyone puts Vaseline on the lens of their brand. It’s standard to put yourself in the best possible light in situations like this.

But the second problem is a killer. If you say that you are 100% punctual, then you are screwed if you’re thirty seconds late for anything, ever.

If you claim to be a hilarious raconteur when you’re more of an occasional wit, you’ll be a let-down.

If you talk like a premium service but deliver good service, expect enraged customers.

If you expand a passing interest into a core value, oh lordy are you riding for a fall.

This is all about expectations.

Set them too high and you will always, always be a disappointment. Even if you are super-duper-amazingsauce, I was expecting super-duper-amazingsauce and am unimpressed.

But if you brand yourself as competent, professional and interesting, then you give the impression of real and believable. And when you deliver super-duper-amazingsauce you will blow me the hell away.

Since you don’t want to be completely unimpressive, here’s a recipe:

  • talk up the things you can do amazingly well every time
  • admit to a few (non-dealbreaker) flaws
  • leave at least one ace up your sleeve to dazzle with

Bonus tip: keep a sense of humour about the whole thing. No-one likes someone who clearly takes themselves too seriously.

Is your brand as authentic as a dating profile? If you’re ready to get real, DIY Magnificence can help you break out of airbrushed and unsatisfying fiction into attractive and exciting reality.

Creative Commons License photo credit: numberstumper

10 thoughts on “Stop branding like a dating profile

  1. Hi Catherine! πŸ™‚

    What a great analogy – loved this story! πŸ™‚ I really like the idea of leaving one ace up my sleeve to wow them with… Great tip! πŸ˜‰

  2. I’m only mildly alarmed by that fact that my namesake got hitched, haha! Love the story you told here- I think the secret to good branding is actually writing lots of dating profiles πŸ˜‰

  3. Sandra reminds me of all the crazy online dating stories my brother always tells me…I had a sweet laugh when you introduced her. But yeah, I get it and this story will definitely stick w/ me.

  4. Hey Catherine,

    This is a cool reminder: we should always underpromize, in order to overdeliver, and ultimately be true to ourselves and to others. The result is it makes our custommers super happy and loyal. And it’s exactly valid in real life, and particularily in any possible relationship, not just in dating: parents to their children, children to their parents, a starting solopreneur to his potnetial reader, a prospect to a vendor etc.
    Well, guilty as I am, I should apply it more and more, because to be sincere, I don’t always underpromise, to say the least : ) but sometimes intentions are so big they aren’t always consciously controllable, then risks remain simply natural risks in a context of empathic and genuine positive intentions…

    About unintentional expectations…
    Sometimes, even when you don’t promise anything at all, people put enormous expectations on you just because of your inadvertant “too good” looks and near perfect behaviour (professionally and personally.) You know, just like in those cool Spring days where you feel really great, when you’re at the top of your arts and styles, when the sun seems to shine just to promote your awesomeness, when you are so handsome people need to keep looking at you some extra secounds more than usual in the street, then suddenly:
    You are shocked to see that your very newest collegue is shocked to see that you are shocked because she was shocked that you didn’t Even Have A FUCKING CAR!…!LOL!
    This happened to me when I invited a bunch of collegues to lunch to celebrate the new coming of three new collegues in our small team at work. That new female collegue was clearly disappointed, because she expected that I was relatively perfect in every way possible, and when she asked me I just told her and it turned on the Jazz music : ) (fortunately that moment of “shock” was very short) but at the end lunch was wonderful, and that day was awesome, we had very cool times later too, I miss them : )

    And well, it’s far better being at your best and taking the risk of setting up unintentional expectations, than intentionally overpromizing then underdelivering and braking some hearts… I should practice more underpromizing, and more overdelivering, especially online, outcomes can be extremely fulfilling.

    What a cool reminder Catherine, even though I wrote about this subject in my drafts recently, you remembered me of a lot of fun moments : ) thank you, and keep up your tremendous awesomeness : )


  5. Haha, this article somehow made me both laugh and tear up. You are a wonderful writer and I’m really loving the bright, positive energy of your website. Apparently I get the pleasure of chatting with you in exchange for signing up for you newsletter earlier. Totally looking forward to that! New blogger here, ready to shine brighter πŸ™‚

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