Branding Anonymity

Being anonymous has some challenges. As I’ve been blogging regularly since the beginning of 2017 I figured I’d better turn my attention to creating a ‘brand’ which starts, I guess, with the logo I use for my profile picture. I originally chose what (I thought) was obviously an automatically opening door signifying my approachability and availability as an SBM to support. Maybe it was too subtle and it certainly makes for a dull picture. 

So, where do I start? For a recent MAT branding at work we used experts in brand design. They were excellent at teasing out what we were about, what our vision was and where we were planning to take the MAT so it makes sense to go back to basics and think about characters that inspire me as a woman and an SBM. (Clearly there are real people that inspire me too but I can’t use them – that pesky anonymity issue!)

So, in a traditional ‘Strictly’ no particular order style, here they are;

Wonder Woman. One of the few brunette female superheroes, DC’s WW has been part of the British consciousness for a lot longer than most of the other comic book characters.  Everyone secretly wants to be a superhero and as a child, I enjoyed the American television series with Lynda Carter. Her ‘Lasso of Truth’ is particularly relevant to an SBM. I was pleased to see that the awful pants have been replaced with a skirt for the 2017 movie.Lucy Van Pelt. I love the bossy boots older sister from Charlie Brown and she is inspiring because she is so assertive. I like her use of the word ‘crabby’ (something I can often relate to) and that she has very high opinions of her opinions. She is also very supportive (as long as things are done her way – see brackets above).Pocahontas. My favourite Disney Princess, Pocahontas is free, alive, outdoors and understands that not everything can be bought. I always thought she was way too good for John Smith so in my head he sails back to England and she gets on with her life, becomes the Chief of her village and leads her people on a continuing journey of connection with the natural world and complete absence of capitalism. (I know, I know what really happened, both in the movie sequel and real life!)Elizabeth Bennett, even at her age, is a modern, no nonsense kind of woman. Forthright, says what she thinks, defends her family, doesn’t tolerate injustice and doesn’t roll over at the first time of asking, (even though she quite likes him).Ellen Ripley. Of course Ripley has got to be in here. She’s a fighter, protective and proactive, but still manages (to my mind – I was very much a tomboy as a kid) to be feminine. She is the strongest female sci-fi character because she takes the lead and successfully completes the mission, albeit that she is the only one left standing!Elizabeth McCord. I’ve spent time considering whether Olivia Pope was a more accurate character likeness than Madam Secretary but, what can I say? I want it all. I want to be the power behind the sword and have the happy family life. McCord is the only blonde on the list so couldn’t accurately represent me in a photo but I channel her calm authority, her fabulous dress sense and her ability to always say the right thing (not a forte of mine – ok I’m nothing like this character but I’d like to be!)So, if we could merge all these characters together into one strong, kick-ass, compassionate, kind of woman who leads with authority and understanding, who doesn’t lay waste to the environment (particularly nasty aliens excepting), who appreciates that she is part of a team, and who doesn’t fall at the feet of the first man she encounters but who has her wellbeing in a settled family life…Then that is what I’d call inspiring and that would be my brand vision. 

Please use the comments box to let me know who inspires you (they can be real or fictitious) and I’ll put a wider list together for a future blog. 

What are you like? – The personality traits of an SBM

I think it is usually straightforward to match a person to their job. Given a room of people and a few minutes to talk to each of them, I reckon I could probably identify the doctor, firefighter, soldier, accountant, shopkeeper, chef…teacher.

However, I think a strategic SBM has a unique set of personality traits that might make them more difficult to recognise. Here they are in me-form, you might recognise them in you.

1. Focused – I’m the woman who got to Candy Crush level 1840 and WordBrain Scientist level 12 before losing interest. I played 2048 until I completed it because someone told me I wouldn’t be able to. I accept that when I’m focused on something I find it very difficult to put it down until it is either complete, not taking me anywhere (or the Boss tells me to)!

2. Resilient – There’s that rhino skin again. I think I recover quite readily from the nonsense that is thrown at me on a daily basis and I know a good chunk of my role necessitates the ability to bounce easily.

3. Accepting (of conflicting demands) – Yes, I can stop to read that email you’ve sent me while I’m in the middle of my Budget return and yes I’ll just do a quick duty shift in the Dining Hall before meeting with planning officers about our new building, no problem. And yes, the fire alarm will always go off when i’m in the middle of proof-reading prospectus copy (and i’ve got my highest heels on). I really think the term “Sod’s law” was (or should have been) coined by an SBM!

4. Tenacious – My skin might be rhino but my brain is all elephant. I’ve always said that if my memory starts to fail me I shall hang up my SBM boots. I don’t need to keep it exercised with brain training. My role does that with constant questions; How much are we still expecting in income from teacher training? How much is left in the Biology budget? Who did we order that floor cleaner from last year? What’s our company number? Total Recall – that’s me. Please God, could I keep my marbles for as long as possible?

5. Empathic – Understanding the feelings of others is vital for an SBM. On a good day I can do this no problem. If I’m frazzled and under pressure, I recognise that this is the first thing I fall down on. I should have a badge to wear at times like these that says; “Could you ask me that when I’m not in the middle of doing this?”

6. Honest – I would always want to be told if there is something I’m involved in that isn’t going right. Give me the opportunity to defend it or correct it. Do not grumble behind my back. Also, I don’t do sarcasm. If I say “how fabulous, well done” that is what I mean.

7. Optimistic – If you tell me you’ve found a new job, I’m excited for you and excited for the changes it is going to mean for me. Of course it is going to mean a spike of work for us all (and I’ll miss you) but change keeps us all moving forward.

Of course, overall SBMs have to be confident individuals, not only in their own ability but in that of their teams. They may come in many shapes, sizes and outlooks but I would argue that their personality needs to include a healthy dose of each of these traits in order to keep the support function in a school turning effectively

So sometimes, on a Friday evening, glass of wine in hand, I think back on the week and I’m amazed at what I’ve achieved (sometimes if only in just holding it all together) but that, I guess, is the point of my role. I’ll do this – you get on with the teaching, learning and assessment. We make a fabulous team.