Beards as Branding

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Posted At: September 27, 2013 9:30 a.m.
by Brian C. Hoff

Disclaimer: While this article may seem misogynistic because of consistent references to male facial hair and the qualities it represents, it is important to note that the author thinks women are highly capable of being perceived as strong, wise, experienced and powerful. This article is simply aimed toward men because men typically grow more facial hair than women – we hope.

Have you ever experienced the phenomenon where once you have something new or different you instantly start to notice other people with the same thing? I had this experience when I bought my Honda Accord and when I started wearing glasses more often, but never on a scale such as when I grew my first beard.

If you haven’t paid much attention to men’s style lately, beards are back and are EVERYWHERE. Even those unfortunate enough to have only a small amount of scruff are trying their hand at it. A full, well-groomed beard is even acceptable in some corporate offices.

Facial hair isn’t just a fashion statement anymore. Beards are becoming a branding technique – a piece of identity in the public eye. Every beard is different, meaning that every man is capable of a distinct brand right on his face.

What do you think of when you read the words “duck dynasty”? I’m sure you think of the show, but what distinguishes that reality show from another are the beards of the men who are featured in it. Think about Chuck Norris. There are plenty of jokes out there about Norris, but what makes his appearance memorable? His beard. How about Ernest Hemingway? The man was a spectacular writer but also the wearer of an excellent beard. These men are seen as strong, intelligent, capable leaders. What do they share physically? Beards.

Historically, beards have been a symbol of strength, wisdom, power, experience and respect. Beards signify a leader – a man worth listening to. So what does this mean when branding yourself? It means that with every inch of hair you grow on that chin, the more people start to attribute these characteristics to you. It’s a public statement of who you are and what you stand for – just like the clothes you wear.

Take, for example, my own logo.

Copyright 2013 Do not reproduce without permission.
Copyright 2013
Do not reproduce without permission.

The logo allows the audience to fill in where my mouth and nose are. It’s not wholly original, but it is different. No other beard and haircut match exactly what I have, and my glasses help to set it apart even more.

Now take the beard away.

Copyright 2013 Do not reproduce without permission.
Copyright 2013
Do not reproduce without permission.

The positive characteristics that my beard represent to future employers are lost. Also, the ability to frame my facial features is gone. No longer do I have a strong appearance that sets me apart from the thousands of baby-faced men in the job market. Quite literally, I lose my brand identity.

Having a beard not only says something along the lines of “I mean what I say when I say it,” but you can even make money now for having a fantastically long beard.

Thanks to a relatively new company called Beardvertising, bearded men can sell space for companies to place a miniature billboard in their beard. Personally, I don’t think I’ll become a part of this company’s movement. It takes away a man’s identity in his beard and sells it off to a corporation. On the other hand, maybe this creative idea deserves a little more attention because of how strange it is.

From Norris to Duck Dynasty to Hoff, our beards are part of our brand identity to the world and ought to be respected and accepted as such. I’m not saying bearded men do not have equal rights – that’s crazy talk – but the next time you take one of those $5 ultra-thin razor heads to your face, think about what you’re missing out on and how others perceive you. Maybe it is time for a change.

Pro tip: Beards, when properly grown and managed, can create the illusion of a strong jawline. And no, chin-strap beards don’t help hide that double chin.

One Comment

  1. Jonae Shaw

    Although I’m a female and thankfully can’t relate to having a beard, this was a great read and really made me think about personal brand identity. Before reading this article, I don’t believe I would have given beards much thought. Yet now that I have, I can agree that when I see a man with a beard, it gives me a different feel for who that individual may be or what traits he encompasses compared to a gentlemen without a beard. Now even if I agreed that the thought of a man with a beard is stronger and more capable of leading, I would never grow one and quite frankly due to my genetics, don’t think I could. However, where I really connected to your thoughts was through your ideals on the importance and significance of the brand technique [of growing a beard]. Your sixth paragraph mentions how the symbol of one can represent such strong qualities for a man, regardless if the observer actually knows the man with the beard. This stood out to me because I feel it IS true that a simple alter of appearance can change others perception of you. There are fixed characteristics that others attribute to the simplest of things, from how one does their hair to the type of clothing they wear. You really can build a public statement of who you are and what you would like to represent before you ever say a word or act according to it. I don’t feel like you’re encouraging your readers, who are capable of growing a beard, to grow one just to conform to what will compel others to think of them in a more powerful, respectful manner. I think you’re encouraging readers to take note of their brand identity and how important it can be to them. I think it’s important! Plus who knows — winter’s just around the corner, so maybe there will be a number of confident, strong men walking around with beards. Personally I find a beard, suitable groomed of course, to be quite attractive.

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