Friday, May 1, 2009

Charisma & The Creating of Icons

The notion of icons is deeply imbedded within the psyche of most cultures. People often look for identification greater than their individual existence. These icons generally take on religious or mythological forms. The ideas behind Santa Clause, the Bogey Man and the Tooth Fairy have iconic impressions that serve to impact behavior. In short, icons serve not only as belief systems, but a means of altering or maintaining specific behavior.

Inherently, most products and services strive to become icons. No one really wants to spend the rest of his or her life attempting to convince individuals of the merit surrounding an idea. Detergent X is better for clothes because it not only gets the dirt out, it restores clothing to its original luster. If Detergent X can take on iconic or mythic meaning, than Detergent B does not stand a chance. Detergent B is not only challenging a product, but a way of life. Imagine you or your product being a way of life. Most people, products or services never become icons because there are certain criteria necessary to graduate to this level. The same notion is applied for graduating from Star to Superstar to Megastar to Legend.

Legendary status qualifies for becoming an icon. Becoming an icon is a process requiring a concerted effort with relentless determination. Establishing icon status requires certain steps to be achieved, which require:

Revolutionizing/changing the thinking of a particular idea, product or service-- It isn't the "me-too" mentality that brings about revolutions, but the "never been done before" mentality. If you see voids within your industry that experts say are necessary, you have just embarked on an opportunity for innovation. What opportunities exist to expand worldviews or differentiate a product or service being offered? Answers to this question, brings forth watershed events. It is much more challenging to revolutionize an industry than it is to follow the status quo. Largely, complacency and mediocrity are the nemesis to becoming an icon.

Capturing imaginations through constant and consistent imagery--Quite often, you may capture the imagination of individuals through graphic depiction or acute profundity. In other words, you get their attention through the pictures you create from the words you utter! Once the mind has been elevated, it creates perceptions from stimuli that stretches and ultimately influences thought and behavior. If you can spark the imagination of others to see the world from your viewpoint, you can impact behavior, which enhances iconic status.

Maintaining innovation over a long period of time--Longevity is the hallmark for becoming an icon. "Quick buck artists" and "Overnight sensations" are not the model for icons. It is a long, arduous process that withstands the test of time. While there is no set time, icons usually span two or more generations. Each generation is influenced differently, because the icon evolves to reflect the relevancy of that age group. While the icon may curtail its innovation, its track record is sufficient to draw on for an indeterminate amount of time. An icon often has enough reserves to continue to influence generations to come.

Creating stories and fables around exploits-- Icons take on mythological forms by the aura created around them. Fables are created out of real life triumphs that become bigger than life when sparked by the imagination. Many great stories are based on some truth that becomes legendary though exaggerated repetition. What was once a simple act of perseverance takes on epic proportions of insurmountable feats. Every icon has a story of trial, defeat and final triumph that encapsulates the human spirit.

At the height of frenzy, become elusive and inaccessible--Humans as icons often stay in the limelight too long. The iconic idea is that of a good performance--always leave audiences wanting more! An icon preserves a memory as he or she preserves an image. It is essential to exit or become elusive while still on top. Once you stay too long and human frailties emerge, the icon diminishes. By becoming elusive and inaccessible, the crowd craves you more when all that's left are the innovations, images and stories.

Becoming an icon requires a concerted effort steeped in relentless determination. The scarcity of icons is not because of its impossibility. The scarcity exists due to the time, dedication and energy needed to excel to such a level. A life committed to an undying desire to achieve the ultimate within an industry is open to all.

Related: Charisma

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