In case you thought Pageant Branding was dead (or just for contestants in the Miss America system), think again.
Last weekend, Miss USA crowned Deshauna Barber, a 26 year old commander for the 988th quartermaster detachment unit at Fort Meade, Maryland, just outside Washington DC. She’s also an IT analyst, and gave arguably, one of the most memorable on-stage answers in recent pageant history.
And here’s the interesting thing… If I asked you to tell me something ABOUT each of the Top 5 contestants (not just DC), chances are, you’d remember a thing or two about them… If not, here’s a few reminders…
– Hawaii played collegiate volleyball and got the tough question
– California’s dad was Rico Suave and she was people’s choice
– Georgia has a racially diverse and supportive family
– Alabama is a small town country girl with a lot of pets!
Even members of the Top 15/Top 10 – had some pretty memorable stories behind them as well…
– Virginia teaches at Hampton University, has her doctorate, and is CRAZY FIT
– Arizona overcame anxiety and is an advocate for mental health
– Connecticut is a trauma nurse (and her dad taught her to change the oil in her car)
– Missouri is an impressive athlete, and is headed to law school
– South Dakota has an international perspective after traveling to Africa to help young girls (and a super awesome/memorable evening gown)
And while you may think that’s just “stuff for television” – I’m here to tell you, it’s more than that.
It’s Pageant Branding.
And you know what? Based on the results I saw on Sunday night, Miss USA is now on the Branding Bandwagon.
Think about it… Based on my social media feed – A LOT of people had Hawaii as their winner going into the Top 5. She was stunning, styled beautifully, had a super strong ‘presence’ about her, and many people thought she looked like someone who should be walking on the Miss Universe stage.
But along came Deshauna.
You know what? Deshauna was getting a few nods here and there because of her story – She wast completely off the radar so to speak. But, it wasn’t until she opened her mouth and started speaking that she began to surge to the front as a top candidate for Miss USA. Why?
Because once Deshauna spoke – Everyone realized that she knew her brand. Plus – she was able to refer to her brand not once, but TWICE on the Miss USA stage.
Did it turn a few pageant fans off (hearing her talk about her military background in both answers)? YES. But did she win???
You bet your bottom dollar she did!
And in my opinion, Deshauna came from behind to win – I would guess she was in the middle of the pack going into finals night. But if there’s two things I know America tends to love – it’s (1) an underdog and (2) a strong woman who knows who she is.
Deshauna displayed both of those qualities on Sunday night – and IMHO, she snatched the crown away from the frontrunner (Hawaii) – all because when push came to shove, she reminded the judges of her unique Pageant Brand.
If you think Pageant Branding is only for Miss America contestants… Or, if you think Pageant Branding doesn’t matter – Think Again.
If Deshauna is any indication of the direction Miss USA is going, you better understand your pageant brand. Miss USA is under new ownership (IMG and William Morris Entertainment), and they produced an extremely classy pageant that felt more like the Oscars than a Reality Show. Now they have a winner with a killer brand.
“As a woman in the United States Army, I think it was an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate into every branch of the military… We are just as tough as men. As a commander of my unit, I’m powerful, I am dedicated and it is important that we recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States.”
Are you still trying to be all things to all people? Are you still trying to please everyone without grounding yourself in who you are? Are you afraid of developing a strong brand because you’re afraid it might excluding someone?
Stop. Don’t give in to that kind of mammy-pamby thinking.
Instead – Embrace. Your. Brand.
Embrace the qualities that make you who you are! Those are the same qualities that allow people to remember you for your uniqueness!
Because here’s the thing… When you embrace who you are, pageant judges don’t think about how you’re excluding others… They only see how GREAT you are at attracting others! As humans, we’re drawn to people who have confidence in themselves! And in 99% of the pageants I’ve seen, judges want to crown strong women who know where they’re going, what they stand for, and how they plan to make their mark in the world!
Yes – Those of us who are die-hard Miss America fans finally got the chance to see the pageant we’ve been waiting for… Miss USA just crowned a strong, articulate, beautiful winner who will be remembered for who she was BEFORE the crown –
Is the beautiful? Yes. Is she fit? Yes. Was she elegant on stage? Absolutely. But for the most part, so were 51 other ladies on that stage.
What separated Deshauna from the pack? Her unique and laser focused pageant brand.
So here’s the deal… Based on what I’ve seen from Miss America, other pageant systems, and now Miss USA, it doesn’t look like pageant branding is going away anytime soon! If anything, I’d say it’s now more important than ever – regardless of whatever pageant system you’re in!
Therefore, given this new understanding of how branding applies to all pageant contestants, I am going to work on an even greater and more comprehensive branding system than we’ve ever done before.
If you want to be one of the first to know what we develop, then please join our email list by filling out the box below. That way you won’t miss any special offers – Plus, you’ll also have the information before anyone else does. 🙂
Once again, just sign up for our email list in the box below and we look forward to hearing from you!
If you’d like to see more Thursday blog posts like this one, just click here…
Carrie Lakey is kind of obsessed with Miss America…
So are 16,000 of her closest friends.
As an avid fan of the Miss America Organization, Carrie began
publicly predicting pageant winners over 10 years ago.
Now, she’s galvanizing an online movement of fans
known as “Pageant Junkies”.
Learn more about the Junkie Nation
by clicking here.