It’s very okay when you’re a dog walker!
When I read Corey Kilgannon’s article, “Dressed to Lead the Pack,” in the New York Times this week, I recognized a hugely successful branding story.
It’s Precious Costello Caldwell’s story, a dog walker who sets a unique sartorial tone for himself, his employees and even his dogs. Mr. Caldwell was 67 years old and contemplating a career change when he got the inspiration for his new business. Sitting on a park bench in New York City, he noticed the dog walkers looked rather shabby compared to the well-groomed pets in their care.
He realized that the same owners, who valued the image of their pampered pets, would also value a unique image for their dog walkers and he set about creating a professional brand dog owners could trust.
“Mr. Caldwell,” says Kilgannon, “is always impeccably turned out in an outfit that seems to borrow equally from Ralph Lauren, Indiana Jones and the Marlboro Man: boots, rugged canvas pants, an olive green sweater and a matching vest bearing a self-drawn logo for his dog-walking company, Royal Wolves. He provides the same outfit to his staff of other dog walkers. The pups themselves he accessorizes with real leather leashes and a yellow neckerchief, custom printed with the dog’s name.”
Caldwell says, “We are such eye catchers, everyone asks us for a business card.”
Caldwell exemplified these 3 classic branding techniques as he took his brand to the dogs – and success:
1. Establishing His Character, Originality and Authenticity. Too many brands are packaged, programmed, and plastic. You won’t get very far if you try to be something you’re not. Rather, your personal brand is about figuring out who you really are and what you do best, and then living that brand out. It’s the essence of authenticity.
2. Identifying and Showcasing His Skills and Talents. Caldwell had grown up living next door to a kennel where he helped walk the dogs, and years later the skills and his affection for dogs still came naturally to him.
3. Letting His Voice Be Heard and Seen. In this multimedia world you need to create a spoken, written, and visual message, which is relevant and consistent. Caldwell says, “I stand out. I’m a walking advertisement. People see me and they tell their friends.”
As we said in an earlier blog post, you have the power to Be Like Matisse and Reinvent Your Life as a Work of Art, or, as in Precious Caldwell’s case, as the leader of a pack – of dogs of course!