Wednesday, February 13, 2013

As Others See Us

I put this together for my company blog, so I thought I'd post it here as well.

Every day we wake up, rub the sleep out of our eyes, and make a decision about...what to wear. Some of us plan ahead and lay out the clothes the night before in order to avoid that last-minute rush that can end up surprisingly agonizing (and time-wasting): Khakis or cords? Dress or pants? Why is it that the ONE SHIRT I want has disappeared from my closet?!? Don't even get me started on shoes.

Some simply throw on whatever's right at hand and...cleanish. But for others, that choice can inform the entire day. We base it on weather, mood, places to go that day (meeting? yoga? lazy Sunday?), who we'll see. Clothing is an extension of how we view ourselves and how we want others to view us. More than once I have looked at strangers walking by and wondered, "What process did he use to put that exact outfit together? What went through his mind?" This question arises for choices that range all the way from gorgeous to spectacularly bizarre.

I have just entered the world of advertising and marketing as an insider and not merely a consumer. Yet I realize that I've asked those same kinds of questions of certain ads I've seen, although it often goes along the lines of, "If they chose this ad, what on earth did they leave on the cutting room floor?" That, combined with the sheer volume and quality of work my colleagues put in to make sure their clients get exactly what they want, makes me realize anew just how much stock we put in perception. Whether it's choosing the color of one's socks or what font to make a tagline in an advertising campaign, each resembles a specific choice made by someone (or many someones) to promote a certain look. With clothing, sometimes we only focus on how we perceive ourselves; with marketing, a firm creates something for an entire, often very specific audience. 

As a proofreader and editor, I have the privilege of fine-tuning what my colleagues have successfully created, going over not just grammar and copy but also graphics and style so the vision--the desired perception--matches what the client wants. It's both exciting and daunting, as I often have the final say before it goes out into the world. So whether it's my own shoes or a new campaign for the Bills, I get to have a tiny bit of control over how others see that. And that's pretty amazing to me.

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