Nudity

It’s been a whole year since Maria Grazia Chiuri took the reins at Dior. During that period, the fashion house has undergone branding on a very subtle level. Firstly, the brand has worked to become more relevant, speaking to a youthful generation which, in turn, has served to make it more commercial. Of course, the re-orientation towards a new target market is not always easy for an established brand but there are some keys to success. Read on to learn how to undertake a successful rebranding.

What Is Rebranding?

Branding is essentially all the elements that people think of when they think of your brand. This includes your messages, logos, visual, slogans – anything that is used to get customers to understand your messages and brand philosophies. If you are contemplating a new branding, what is important is a consistent new message and the communication of a new idea that is totally clear to your customer.

Know When It’s Time

Dior’s rebranding coincided with the appointing of a new Creative Director, and it’s often new management who usher in a new direction. However, rebranding need not always wait for new faces. On the contrary, a change can also come when a business is seriously underperforming or failing to attract the key demographic. For Dior, the challenge lay in the pressure for the fashion house to provide cutting-edge design marred with what women actually want to wear. The solution; slogan t-shirts (a basic coveted item in everyone women’s wardrobe) accessorised with shoes and bags. The new product proposition was billed as “new products at Christian Dior” and accounted for 17% increase in sales.

Make A Plan

Once you have figured out what is wrong with the current brand proposition, it’s time to take the steps to change it. Start by setting a time frame and be specific about what has to happen when. Also, set a time-line for results as this will help you later evaluate whether the rebrand helped or not.  After this, it’s important to let your employees know about the change and why. Your staff forms part of both your brand’s image and message and it’s important they not only embrace but help communicate the change.

Commit

Commit to the change, put the new branding out there on everything – including stores, website, social media channels. It’s important to be consistent – embrace your new brand and don’t look back.

Clearing Out

Of course, we appreciate that stock costs money which is why you don’t need to embrace rebranding of your product as all or nothing. Perhaps, some of your current product still fits with your forward vision and you can incorporate it side-by-side with new product. For things that no longer fit with your new message, offer them up in sales and don’t be tempted to squeeze them into a space with your new product.

If You Do Fail

Sometimes, rebranding just doesn’t go as planned despite the planning. If this happens, know you are in good company. Remember Gap’s new logo back in 2010? Probably not, after all it lasted a whole week before they regretted it. Also, back in 1980 Coca-Cola tried to rebrand as “New Coke”. It never caught on and classic Coke, as we know it today, was back on the shelf in just months. If anything, a rebrand served to show the consumer just how much they lovethe original.

 

If you are a fashion brand, considering re-branding – get in touch with Think Positive to learn how we can help!

 

To arrange a free consultation with Think Positive call us now on 0044 (0)20 8678 7378

Revive and Rebrand!

Clothes on Rack

The purpose of visual merchandising is to enhance the aesthetics of a product with the purpose of generating sales. When it comes to enhancing a product’s appeal, visual merchandising plays an important role in the culture of a brand as well as the feel and the total look. Done well and it can draw customers into the store or can make them close a sale. If you are a brand looking to learn more about the importance of visual merchandising, read on to learn more.

 

Success Factors

The key success factors of visual merchandising start at the front of house. This includes the store’s appearance including signage, lighting and window displays. Going into the store visual merchandising (also known as VM) encompasses staff uniforms, point of sales (any displays positioned right at the cash desk), ticketing and instore displays. When done correctly, all these elements should come together to showcase a brand with a unique identity. So much so, that when the customer enters the store – they are immersed in an experience that is totally unique to that brand.

Brand Experience

When it comes to VM, it’s important to make the customer secure in their experience. This means that the visual components that showcase your product must in some way be related. This will ensure that the correct demographic is drawn into the brand but that the brand values remain loyal. Of course, this is not to dispute the success of brands who manage to constantly challenge perceptions of retail design. For years, Selfridges has earned a reputation for being the owners of London’s most inspiring window displays – charging artists and designers alike with creating pop-up windows that serve to provoke. And yet, dig deeper into what is seemingly a work of contemporary art and you’ll see that every window is geared to one particular product whose brand identity gels just perfectly with the window setting – which leads on to the importance of themes.

Themes

Brands can better execute a VM strategy if it’s set up as part of a theme which can then remain loyal to throughout the store. Themes are what is used to tell a story and ways of sharing the story is through colours, fonts, design, photos, pictures and even new layouts. One current trend is the raise of the “pop-up” collection, a store within a store. In pop-ups, the customer is immersed in a stand-alone experience – almost like they walked into another store. Strong in its own identity, even in a shared space. With more and more bands fighting for space in department stores, the importance of VM to a brand grows and grows. The fact is, a customer no longer just wants to buy a brand’s product, they want to feel a brand’s presence.

 

Tonality

Tonality is your brand’s consistency of message in all marketing materials. It also refers to your brand’s tone of voice, as well as the feel, look and overall completeness of your brand. To achieve tonality, all VM elements have to come together not just instore but also online. This also includes any third-party spaces (including online and offline) which can proof more difficult to control and which is why many brands are stringent with their brand guidelines.

To arrange a free consultation with Think Positive call us now on 0044 (0)20 8678 7378 

The Importance of Visual Merchandising

Jungle Chic

The media are continually reporting on the state of ‘fast fashion’ but designer brands also come under pressure to invest in sustainable methods of production as consumers become more and more aware of their footprint on the planet. While designer brands aren’t manufacturing mass volumes in such a speedy state, there is always a reason to look at ways to design, source and manufacture clothes in a way that benefits both people and communities whilst reducing the impact on the environment.

What is Ethical Fashion?

According to the Ethical Fashion Forum, the ways to produce ethical fashion falls into three categories. These are commercial, environment and social and an intention to specifically tackle the following issues:

  • Countering fast, cheap fashion and damaging patterns of fashion consumption

  • Defending fair wages, working conditions and workers’ rights, and supporting sustainable livelihoods

  • Addressing toxic pesticide and chemical use, using and/or developing eco- friendly fabrics and components

  • Minimising water use

  • Recycling and addressing energy efficiency and waste

  • Developing or promoting sustainability standards for fashion

  • Providing resources, training and/or awareness raising initiatives

  • Protecting animal rights

Best Ethical Fashion Brands

Stella McCartney

Ethical fashion is higher than ever on the agenda for luxury brands. Stella McCartney is credited with spearheading the movement, with her AW17 campaign which she described as a way to ‘to portray who we want to be and how we carry ourselves; our attitude and collective path. Our man-made constructed environments are disconnected and unaware of other life and the planet which is why there is waste.’

A committed vegetarian, Stella never uses fur or leather in her designs which makes her a leader in sustainable fashion. As a spokesperson for PETA, Stella has also said  ‘we address… ethical or ecological… questions in every other part of our lives except fashion. Mind-sets are changing, though, which is encouraging.’

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood has built her whole brand around a theme of rebellion and her current rebellion comes in denouncing fast fashion and joining forces with the Ethical Fashion Initiative. One of her slogans, as part of the ongoing campaign is,  ‘This is not charity, this is work’ – blending the idea of social work and fashion into a t-shirt.

Christopher Raeburn

Not a typical mainstream designer fashion brand, Christopher Raeburn have earned their designer stripes through innovative signature which is based on the waste created by the fashion industry.  They offer bespoke products, which is essentially what luxury designer fashion is.

These ethical fashion brands offer just a few promising examples of an emerging harmony that is developing between social-problem solving and design thinking and social-problem solving. This is here to stay, it is not a trend. If you are a designer fashion brand it’s imperative that you address your ethical policies and corporate social responsibilities. Consumers are now demanding more and more transparency and are increasingly aware of the negatives of mass-produced clothes. Get in touch with Think Positive for more information and learn how to enable your customers to make responsible choices.

To arrange a free consultation with Think Positive call us now on 0044 (0)20 8678 7378

All You Need to Know About the Ethical Designer Fashion Movement

Runway

In case you didn’t know, we’re currently in the throes of fashion weeks, having just bid adieu to New York and a big hello to London. Not only are the Fashion Weeks an opportunity for designers to unveil new collections but they also form a mighty powerhouse with a huge economic impact. No doubt about it, any fashion brand worth their clout wants to be part of a Fashion Week –  but how much would it really cost you to put on a show?

 

Admittance

Fashion Weeks in Milan, London, Paris, and New York are open to all. This means that any designer that wants to put on a show can do so. However, the challenge is to gain official recognition on the organiser’s calendar and brands need to apply two months in advance to secure a calendar listing.

Costs

While acceptance into the inner sanctum is straight-forward, the main obstacle is cost. According to a report by Fashionista, a brand can organise a fashion show for around $200,000. This includes the production, models, PR, stylists, and venue. The fact is, putting on a successful show is costly and can be significant for those who are working on a small budget. The most basic show costs £ 100,000 but the budget increases the bigger the brand often approaching the £1 million mark. Of course, the budget is determined by your venue and the models booked – both of which are considered an important sales and marketing tool.

 

Venue

The determining factor of venue is always cost. In London, small venues can be rented for £10,000 while larger venues can be rented for upwards of £50,000.  The budget will determine where your show is set, bearing in mind that some venues are listed and protected buildings which means they are extremely expensive. On top of this, some buildings don’t allow any modifications in the interior so your theme has to be in tune with the building (and not the other way around). It’s also worth noting that the venue can determine the number of guests you can invite, so ensure you can fill a big venue before booking it.

Models

 

A model can be booked for up to 20 shows in any given Fashion Week. While it might seem like they are only on the catwalk for a few minutes, you have to remember that additional hours are clocked up in fitting, hair, makeup and other relevant appointments.  Generally, castings for Fashion Weeks are only done a couple of weeks before the shoot – with everyone from stylists to makeup artists joining in and having a deciding vote.

 

Guests

 

The bigger fashion houses employ an agency to take care of their guest list. The ideal guest list includes famous buyers, potential customers, brand ambassadors, celebrities, and the media. All of these guests will be seated in the first rows (FROWS). It’s worth noting that the reported RSVP return rate is only 50%, so out of 100 invited guests – only 50 turn up. The savvy fashion brand counters this by planning, over inviting to avoid any empty seats.

To arrange a free consultation with Think Positive call us now on 0044 (0)20 8678 7378 

The Real Cost of Fashion Weeks

Fashion Rail

Whether you’re a multi-national company or a newbie designer crafting from your living-room, the path to success is the same. However, not every multi-national will stand the test of time, nor will every designer flourish to become a house-hold name because not every brand knows the secrets to real, long-lasting success in the fashion game. That’s not to suggest that there is a secret formula, or an elixir of longevity in the fashion business. On the contrary, the fashion world is fickle and breaking into (and staying in) it takes hard-work and resilience, yet there are some things that successful fashion brands do better than their rivals, as retail fashion business consultants, we know these secrets and break them down in five steps:

 

Successful Fashion Brands Know That Detail Is King

Even as small-fry, it’s important that you behave like a champ when it comes to detail. Do not overlook detail in favour of racing ahead, hoping that one day you can revert back to it. Now is the time to nail the fine-print, start as you mean to go on and begin first with your branding. Even before they achieved worldwide domination, Nike were savvy enough to know that one day consumers would identify the brand by a simply ‘swoosh’. Imagine that conversation back in a small boardroom, it would almost seem arrogant, but it highlights the importance of detail even from the start-line.

 

Successful Fashion Brands Hook The Customer With Colour

Once you commit to the detail it’s important to be aware of the bigger picture in which fashion retailers exist.  Successful fashion brands do not commit to logos, fonts, or product ranges just because they simply ‘like’ them – they do it because they understand the science behind everything and that rings especially true with colour. Colour is used as a selling tool in logos, advertising, packaging and even in the fitting of stores, and successful fashion brands know what colour evokes a positive purchasing decision. You can read more about the science of colour here but know that green symbolises growth, freshness, and fertility (think of Starbucks), orange represents joy, sunshine, attraction and success (think of Hermès) and red evokes feelings of passion and assertiveness (think of H&M and Rayban).

 

Successful Fashion Brands Don’t Try To Please Everyone

If you look at successful fashion brands, you will see that they don’t try to target everyone (at least not until they have a multi-brand portfolio the size of Burberry). Instead, they identify a niche and gun for them, staying true to the values that the core target market invests in. Every fashion brand consultant will insist that, as you build a business, you try to stay true to your end customer but apply this focused ethos to your total journey – you cannot be everyone’s friend, this goes for suppliers and employees. Do not take on the mission to convert everyone, focus on pleasing your niche and please them well.

Successful Fashion Brands Ask For Advice

When the CEO of Boden started his empire he famously called the CEO of Tesco and asked him out for lunch. During that date, Johnnie Boden is said to have picked Terry Leahy’s brains on all the steps (and pitfalls) to success. Successful fashion brands know that no man is an island and a lot can be learned by speaking to people in similar industries. You don’t need to have the ear of the CEO of Tesco (although great if you do), but network in the right circles and you won’t knocked off kilter by any industry changes.

Successful Fashion Brands Believe In Themselves (Long Before Their Customer Did)

Finally, BELIEVE –  if you don’t have sheer belief in the potential of your fashion brand throughout any hardship, why should you expect your customer to?

To arrange a free consultation with Think Positive call us now on 0044 (0)20 8678 7378

5 Secrets Behind Successful Fashion Brands

Girl on the Rocks

We cannot control the weather, but we can control our reaction to it by responding early and positively impacting our businesses. Fact is, in retail, the weather can have an all-compassing effect – influencing everything from what retailers have on the shelves, to impacting price, operations, marketing, sales and merchandising operations. In fact, savvy retailers know that the weather is a magical layer in the retail mix which serves, in some way, to predict how consumers feel.

 

Minor

It’s been proven that even minor changes in weather can have big impacts on retail sales. Cold spells can drive retailers into the store for extra layers, sun sees a search for shorter sleeve lengths and a real change in mind-set which sees consumers ditching layers. Therefore, it’s important that retailers are reactive to weather patterns and armed with weather information at key decision points.  However, when it comes to fashion, the lead-times are far longer than the MET office’s insight and, so, retailers are often predicting weather predictions armed little more than last year’s sales.

 

No year is the same

The problem with predicting turnover based on last year’s sales, is that no two summers are the same in terms of weather (certainly not in the UK). Follow any retail reporting and you’ll find reports of exceptionally wet summers single-handedly contributing to the loss of sales. Instead, savvier retailers are taking seasonal data and opting to honour a percentage of it only with long-term production (anything from 50%-80%). This means building a collection that leaves room for a quick response channel that can be much more reactive to weather conditions.

Quick response

Summer is one season to keep things closer to home! While there is a price advantage to sourcing 100% of apparel collections from Asia, the advantage to sourcing in Europe is that lead-times are reduced and the supply chain is much more reactive. Not only this, but couple it with the possibility to buy finished goods and you have a supply chain model that gets goods into store in a matter of days.  While finished European goods will be derivative to less margin, failing to have goods in store when your consumer demands them will be conducive to no sales at all.

 

Over-planned

On the other hand, optimistic future summer planning coupled with bad weather will leave retailers with excess summer stock that makes its way into mark-down come sale time. While there isn’t a magic formula reducing mark-downs, some retailers play it safe with broad investment in basics which can be turned around to the next year. This includes colours which are generally neutral and shapes which are considered classical and don’t succumb to trend influences.

The fact is, the great British weather has varying effects on consumers’ lifestyles, the economy, and retail – the best we can do is remain reactive!

To arrange a free consultation with Think Positive call us now on 0044 (0)20 8678 7378

How Retail Weathers Summer

Girl Band

Whether it’s Nicole Kidman for Chanel, Lara Stone and Justin Bieber for Calvin Klein or George Clooney sipping Nespresso, there is no denying that the status of a celebrity can propel the awareness of any brand. Fact is, people idolise celebrities, so when famous people are seen in adverts with a new product, target consumers are prompted (subliminally or directly) to buy that product. Simply put, the right celebrity face can widen your business, but this special partnership has to be carefully managed and planned. But how do you start?

 

Pick carefully

It seems obvious, but the first step is to hunt for a celebrity who fits with your band. This means identifying an ambassador who has an interest or a direct link in the message you want to communicate. For example, if your brand is child-friendly, don’t link up with a celebrity who is frequently papped falling home at 5am. Consumers are getting savvier and it is no longer enough to endorse a celebrity to read a script, so stay true to the vision of who you would like to represent your brand and do not sacrifice on it.

 

Reaching out

Ok, you’ve identified your perfect celebrity fit but how do you go about reaching out? We suggest making this process as organic as possible. Send the celeb your product and ask for a quote – if the celebrity likes (and believes) in the product, you are already half way there. The most common way to get your product into the hands of celebrities is through their agent, who can usually be found simply by Googling.

 

Introducing yourself

 

Send the agent an email with all the information you have about your brand, detailing which celebrity you are considering (bearing in mind that agents often represent more than one client) and explaining the commitment you require (including brand advertisement, radio interview etc.). The agent will be able to inform you of the celebrity’s interest and give you a price.

 

Leveraging the potential

If the celebrity agrees to partner, and the legal contracts are locked down, it’s time to understand how to get the best bang for your buck. Our advice is to recruit public relations experts to leverage the full potential that comes with a well-known face. Their objective is to nail down as much press exposure as possible, which also means briefing the celebrity fully on the brand so they are equipped for any media questions. This also means giving your celebrity full access to the brand value proposition so that they can photograph them for their social media platforms.

 

Measure the success

 

It’s worth asking your PR company to keep all the cuttings from media coverage and then corresponding these to sales during the weeks following. Further ways to measure success includes larger brand awareness in target consumer groups (which can be measured through focus groups) and the raising awareness in a wider category (thus, opening sales opportunities up to a wider audience).

To arrange a free consultation with Think Positive call us now on 0044 (0)20 8678 7378

The Brand Power of Celebrities

Zero Waste Store

Antonio Marsocci we’ve met so many people who’ve fallen victim to lost opportunities. From fashion designers, to boutique owners to luxury shoe-makers.  Our inner circle has seen ambitious and inspired entrepreneurs stay imprisoned in their 9-to-5s because they never knew when it was time seize the opportunity. This wasted skillset and opportunity goes on to manifest itself in burnouts and a future spent agonising over unfilled potential.

Of course, this is not to belittle the bravery that comes with leaving a steady (albeit unpredictable) job. But if you have been fostering a flourishing luxury ‘side-line’ for a while now, and wonder when it’s time to promote it to business, read on;

  1. Time is stopping you scale If you’ve brought your potential new business to life by working weekends and evenings, then a big bravo! However, it’s going to reach a critical point when this limited time is simply not going to offer the opportunity to scale a business. Business building goes way beyond the simple act of doing and encompasses creating long-term sustainability.If you have reached a point where time has become a constraint to your vision, it’s likely you are ready to start letting go of those apron strings

  2. You have enough cash to survive Of course, we’d all love to jump ship when our new business is widely profitable but it’s more realistic to know that you have enough cash flow to survive your new vision in its infancy. Take stock of your current situation and make some projections on what you need to survive until you can start to pay yourself a liveable salary. Be careful to not compare this to your current full-time take home pay, we’re talking about you in maintenance mode, the most streamline you can be.Of course, money shouldn’t hinder your dreams but it’s important to be realistic to avoid a trail of debt in a year’s time and no idea how it happened.If you believe that you have a pot that can sustain the cross-over, it’s probably time to make the leap

  3. You just know There never really is ‘the right time’ to produce an offspring and this also holds true when the baby is a business. The idea of everything falling into place is a myth. It’s up to you to create conditions that make you feel totally at ease with reaching for the next step.With that in mind, think about what you need to take your business to the next step. Once you determine the real factors that have to come together, make yourself accountable. Create a timeline and set a deadline – then jump, whether you really feel ready or not!It’s always going to be a difficult decision to leave stability for a volatile cash-flow and hours that look more, well, 9-midnight but if you know in your gut that you want to get your venture of the ground, it’s probably already time to make that happen.

To arrange a free consultation with Think Positive call us now on 0044 (0)20 8678 7378

Know When It’s Time To Launch Your Own Business

Mingling

There may be times when you feel stuck. Sometimes you’re missing a vital piece of the puzzle. Sometimes you’re just having a bad day and need a little help. Well think positive; that’s what your network is for.

So what is it? Put simply, your network is everyone you know: friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, clients, neighbours, and so on. With some, the connection is strong and reinforced every day; with others, you may not have spoken for years but the connection (however tenuous) can still be there.

It’s a cliché – but true – that everybody is different and everyone in your network will have a different set of skills and knowledge and attitudes. When you need something that you can’t provide for yourself, someone in your network might be able to help. Likewise, when they need something, you might be able to help them (a true network is two-way; symbiotic not parasitic.) Also, everyone in your network has a network of their own. So even if no-one has what you need, they may know someone that does and be willing to connect the two of you. This has the double benefit of you getting what you need and also expanding your network.

Your network can provide you with advice, feedback, support and encouragement, new skills, contacts and opportunities. Although it is worth remembering that not everyone you know will be helpful in every circumstance. Some members of your network may waste your time, reduce your confidence, criticise you or resent you. So part of the art of active and conscious networking is to make decisions about who you keep in your network and to whom you reach out (whether to ask for or to offer help.)

So how do you extend your network? Making new friends, joining classes, clubs or professional associations through your work; all these can bring you into contact with potentially like-minded people. The more people in your network, the more options you have. But don’t forget that your connections require maintenance. It is much more difficult to ask favours of (or offer help to) somebody if you haven’t communicated with them for years. A good network has connections that are strengthened by frequent contact.

The internet, of course, contains many ways of creating contact: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr are well-known, but how about LinkedIn for business networking or Delicious for bookmark sharing? Why not start a blog or a YouTube channel and share your expertise – whatever it may be – with the world? There is plenty of online advice and articles on how to use these sites and services for your benefit; either personal or business.

Finally, don’t forget that for everyone you know, you are part of their network too and you will find that the more you think positive then the more valued a network member you are.

To arrange a free consultation with Think Positive call us now on 0044 (0)20 8678 7378

Your Network

Modern Office

Stress at work appears to be one of those issues that never quite goes away. A Health & Safety Executive (HSE) survey states that in 2008/09 up to 415,000 people believed they were experiencing workplace stress at a level that was making them ill. With this in mind, it is likely that stress may be an issue for you or your teams at some point. From a profitability point of view, the figures also suggest that stress costs UK businesses up to £700 million per year. So let’s think positive about this negative topic.

What is stress? The HSE’s website states that stress “…arises where work demands of various types and combinations exceed the person’s capacity and capability to cope.” It is important to note that this definition avoids blame. It does not say that the “work demands” are unfair or that the person is inadequate. Of course, both those situations are possible, but the essence of the definition is that there is a mismatch between the work and the worker.

Although symptoms are always specific to the individual, the following may indicate a stressed condition:

  1. feeling unable to take decisions

  2. reduced concentration

  3. problems with sleeping

  4. increased alcohol or caffeine intake

  5. chest palpitations

  6. over time, a lack of self-esteem

So, first of all, assess yourself. Do any of those feel familiar? If so, then it’s worth examining your situation with the following six questions:

  1. Are my work patterns and environment healthy?

  2. Do I have what I need to do the job?

  3. Do I know when I’m doing a good job?

  4. Do I feel my job is important?

  5. Am I recognised as an individual?

  6. Am I learning and developing?

If you can’t answer “yes” to any of them then that gives you a clue as to where some stress might be coming from. A good manager or executive will also ask themselves these questions about their teams and – where necessary – raise the subject with individuals. Most large organisations these days will have HR policies around stress and work-life balance which give a platform for such discussion.

The obvious question is: what to do about it? Options fall into two categories: quick fixes for when you (or another) are feeling stressed ‘in the moment’ and longer term solutions for ongoing situations.

‘In the moment’ – take a short walk (physical activity changes the focus and removes you temporarily from the stressful environment); find something to laugh at (release those endorphins); drink some water (if our body is dehydrated it is operating below its best) or herbal tea (less caffeine, remember!); or if circumstances allow, take a quick nap (20 minutes’ sleep can significantly reduce stress levels.)

Longer term – self-awareness (learn what your stress indicators are and then pay attention to them); discuss workload with a manager (it may be an issue of quantity or it may just need re-structuring); talk to a GP (particularly if physical symptoms are experienced); learn to say “no” assertively (it is easy to fall into the trap of taking on too much at work); and ultimately, a change of job or role may be indicated.

Most of us experience workplace stress at some point in our lives and careers. Perhaps we should see it as a positive sign, letting us know that we need to look after ourselves a little better. The important thing is not to ignore it but to take notice and take action.

Workplace Stress

Businessman in Suit

The corporate environment tells us that performance is important. We have performance targets, performance reviews and performance-related pay. However, performance is not all there is, there are also unwritten rules in every organisation. Whether you like it or not, people judge you based on what they observe. It’s human nature; we all do it, often without even realising it. In the workplace this means that judgements about you are based on all sorts of factors; not just your productivity. Even more potentially worrying, these workplace judgements can influence our pay, projects and promotions.

Still, think positive: if you are aware of the unspoken rules as well as the spoken then you can play the corporate ‘game’ with more confidence.

In his 1996 book, “Empowering Yourself: the Organizational Game Revealed”, the American business consultant, Harvey Coleman outlined the three factors influencing advancement and success in the workplace.

Performance – what you actually do; the quality and volume of the work that you produce; the clarity or otherwise of your decisions, your strategy, planning, etc. This is the factor that tends to be openly acknowledged.

Image – your appearance; how you dress; how well you appear to ‘fit in’ with your colleagues. First impressions count and this is the first visual impression that you make on those around you. Do you appear to be a ‘team player’ or a ‘loose cannon’?

Exposure – your visibility within the organisation; how well your name is known; your reputation. Doing superb work while never leaving your office or desk will not on its own help you advance. You not only have to be good, you have to be seen to be good.

So far, you are probably reading this and thinking, “That makes sense.”, maybe even “That’s reasonable.” but Coleman’s research went further. He identified a percentage split between the three factors showing to what extent each influenced advancement: as follows:

Performance = 10%;
Image = 30%;
Exposure = 60%.

The chances are that this still feels familiar to you, but it probably doesn’t feel fair. Well, to think positive, at least you know now and can make your choices in light of that knowledge. This research does not necessarily mean that you have to who you are in order to progress. You may, for example, choose to continue focusing on good work (performance) while doing more to bring it to the attention of others (exposure) and not change your appearance (image) because it feels important to you. But at least now that would be a conscious choice, made from a position of awareness.

Ultimately, whether you wholly agree with Coleman’s findings or not, they do provide food for thought. Ask yourself: “What is my reputation with my colleagues and how might that impact on me at work?”

To arrange a free consultation with Think Positive call us now on 0044 (0)20 8678 7378

Image Management

Production Team Meeting

Workplace conflict is common. With the increasing complexity of projects, products, marketing, strategy, policy, leadership, etc. it is inevitable that people will have differences of attitude, view, belief, opinion, value or need. This is often seen as a bad thing but wait… good decisions are those that take into account a number of perspectives. Without conflict we lose richness and our decisions lack depth. The more views taken into account in the decision-making, the less chance that the course of action will fail later on. Your art as a leader, lies in thinking positively about conflict and seeing it for the valuable phenomenon it is.

So how do you navigate the conflict and resolve it as quickly and efficiently as possible without losing the benefits? Here is a model which may help.

Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann’s research during the 1970s identified five basic modes of approaching conflict based on the levels of importance you attach to your own needs and to the needs of the other person:

Competing – your needs are paramount – you stand up for what you think is right or, perhaps, simply try to win. It may be that you see achieving your objective as more important than preserving the relationship. Good for quick decisions but it may come across as harsh.

Accommodating – the opposite of Competing – perhaps you don’t care about the issue or maybe harmony is more important. Unlikely to lead to the best decision, but you may be able to demand a favour in return later.

Avoiding – attaching no importance to either your needs or theirs – sidestepping the conflict; it may buy you time, but it does not resolve the differences. Only really appropriate where the issue is trivial and everybody’s attention should be on more important matters.

Collaborating – the opposite of Avoiding – a genuine attempt to satisfy everybody’s needs. Sometimes time-intensive, but if parties are committed, it can lead to new and original solutions. The only true ‘win-win’ approach. Good for situations in which a good quality decision is essential; where quality is more important than speed.

Compromising – all needs are important but it is acknowledged that not all needs can be met – agreement is reached but nobody gets everything that they want; it is democratic but not always satisfying. Useful where a deadline may be looming or where any solution is better than none.

Ultimately, the ‘correct’ approach depends on the situation, how much time you have and the relative roles of the people involved (politics is always a powerful factor.)

Next time you are faced with managing a conflict with or among your people, why not take a moment to think about which of the five approaches is the most positive to take?

Conflict Management