Let's face it, who wouldn't want to be a super hero? Have super powers, secret identities and save countless innocents? In the past few decades popular culture has done a grand job of selling us on the idea, but sadly super heroes don't really exist. Or do they??
A SUPER IMAGE
Working on my own brand image, I decided early on that I wanted to be known as fresh and colourful, and that standing out among an already established scene of fellow web designers and branding agencies would only work buy adding that little extra je ne sais quois. A plan was hatched to design a mascot for the business which would up our recognisability factor.
Given to a handful of nerds, the mascot quickly turned into a design super hero - Apricity Girl was born. I designed her outfit around company colours, her hair around my own, and committed her to paper. And because I'm never one to cop out of a challenge, I decided to actually make a costume to premier at the Salisbury Big Business Event 2017.
THE MAKING OF
Realising the plan was another matter, not least since my rudimentary sewing skills haven't been put to much use since home ec back in the 90s. Procuring materials was another problem. The colours had to be right, and based on the aforementioned sewing prowess (or lack thereof) the construction had to be as simple as possible. I decided that the top half of a full body suit and the lower half of a dress, if combined correctly, would do the job credibly. Add some craft foam details covered in gold fabric, and voila! Instant super hero. So much for the theory.
It quickly transpired that search terms such as "cat suit" or "full body leotard" weren't getting me where I needed to be, and it was only after several excursions into a somewhat shadier world involving latex and full face masks that I was able to purchase the correct spandex suit for the job. Such are the sacrifices we make for our business.
Many hours, several youtube video tutorials, countless sticks of hot glue and a few sore fingers later, the costume finally came together, and I am pleased to say it fits really well! (Having now worn it for two days at SBBE17, I can also report that it is indeed quite comfortable, and so far nothing has broken!). Massive thanks to Kirstie for lending her expertise and sewing machine to the task!
And here I am, in all my glory (and my fleece lined granny pants which were unfortunately necessitated by the weather going arctic on us at short notice).
All in all, it was a very successful stunt. Here's why:
In a public space where everybody is vying for attention, having a stand-out look is valuable. Not everybody "got" it, but attracted a lot of attention among all the suits. Plenty of people did double takes, then looked at the rest of my presentation for more clues. Interest caught - that's half a conversation started already.
Wherever I went, people spotted me, and many came looking for me later at my stall to see what the outfit was all about. It's a great conversation starter and ice breaker, as long as you don't feel embarrassed wearing it!
Whether it's your cup of tea or not, I can guarantee that if you see five different designers at an event, I will be the one you'll remember in three month's time. And if you took the time to speak to me and ask me about the reasoning behind the costume/stunt, it'll be even more memorable, because it's not just loud for the sake of it, it actually makes sense.
WORD OF MOUTH
This is a factor which is not so measurable, at least not outright. Scientifically, one reason why people tell other people about someone or something is because it's remarkable or different. This is called social currency (Jonah Berger, "Contagious: How to build word of mouth in the digital age" - or have a look at our book review here). Telling somebody about something interesting makes us look interesting in return - and we all like doing things that make us look good. So I've been giving people social currency in the hope they'll spread the word. I won't know for a while how well it worked, but I got interviewed, photographed and tweeted about during the event, so the signs are good!
Public events are not about the hard sell, they're about getting yourself out there, getting yourself noticed and generating some interest. If I was to compare all the items that made up our overall presentation (the business cards, flyers, giveaways, stall presentation, portfolio powerpoint... and of course, costume), I can confidently say that I wouldn't have had half the conversations had I just worn something ordinary.
It was also really cheap. Aside from the time spent making it (which was quite good fun), the overall material cost came to less than £50 (this included buying a dress to salvage). In value for money terms, that's really good! And it's reusable, so I'll be wearing it to networking events (just for giggles) and other public business days, to give even more people something to talk about.
Apricity Girl is generating social currency wherever she goes!