You are your brand, says Kathy Ireland at ASDS 2014

Nov 06, 2014, 5:00am

Supermodel-turned-super mogul, Kathy Ireland, urged attendees at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery to think of themselves as brands that must be promoted. She offered takeaways on what it means to be a brand and how to successfully manage your brand.

Kathy Ireland, the supermodel-turned-super mogul who oversees a $2 billion retail empire, urged attendees at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery to think of themselves as brands that must be promoted. 

READ: More coverage of the ASDS 2014 Annual Meeting

Brand management is easier than you might think. Building a brand can be as simple as developing connections with individuals, Ms. Ireland says. “People oftentimes remember more about how we make them feel than what we say," she told attendees. "As we connect with others, we can gain advocates that are more powerful than ad dollars could ever be. People invest where they have that trusted relationship.”

Ms. Ireland, who gave the ASDS annual meeting’s keynote address, reminded the crowd that “we are our own brand.”

“Some of you might be thinking, ‘She’s nuts. I’m a surgeon, I’m not a brand,’” she says. “Everyone, whether we like it or not, is a brand, and every experience with us is a lasting brand experience. The question is what kind of brand are we? Do we bring value and creativity, do we anticipate what our clients, our customers, are needing? Or are we cranky and complicated, bringing our drama with us wherever we go?”

Keys to branding success include a commitment to quality, she says. “Branding is powerful, but will a brand succeed if the product or service is inferior? Absolutely not.” 

A presence in social media is crucial too, she says. “Our silence speaks volumes,” she says. “One dishonest person can damage our brand and our careers. We need to be connected and communicating.”

Ireland urges dermatologic surgeons to push past boundaries. “When you first declare that you are going to be a physician, you’ll hear the comments: You’re not smart enough, you’re too old, you’re too young, you’re not the right gender, you’re not the right size,” she says. “I encourage you to please don’t let anyone else’s opinion of you or your circumstances define or destroy you. Don’t let anyone put you in a box. If we had listened to the naysayers early on, our business would have never gotten off the ground.”

And, she says, it’s important to remain positive even when the answer is no. “One of the greatest gifts of my long-ago modeling career was all the rejections. When people slam doors in our faces, they say no, but at least now we’re talking. I’ll come back tomorrow. Maybe your circumstances will have changed, maybe you’ll be in a better mood.”