Costumes, uniforms, and appropriate dress rules are important to most in our society. We expect doctors with stethoscopes, scientists in white lab coats, police in uniform wearing a badge.
We’re all susceptible. I would really struggle with my expectations at a fancy restaurant if the head chef came out in a grimy t-shirt and shorts. Even if it was Thomas Keller.
We like to think we’re above it all.
We’d like not to judge a book by its cover or the importance of a Nobel laureate that doesn’t fit the mental image society has ascribed to them.
And yet, we struggle with that.
I am reminded that some folks look at our group of amazing engineers in their everyday clothing choices—shorts, t-shirts, jeans—and perhaps don’t give them as much credibility as a marketing picture of other high-end audio companies with engineers prancing around in white lab coats. Which, of course, we all intellectually understand is silliness and yet…
Years ago, my friend Matt Polk of Polk Audio was hornswoggled by the company’s then marketing and sales director, my dear friend Sandy Gross (and other suspects), to sport a white lab coat and let him be branded as a genius. Matt struggled with it but eventually capitulated and it formed one of our industry’s most successful marketing campaigns.
Back in those days, we somehow acquired a lifesize cardboard cutout of Matt in his lab coat and at lunch used it as a dartboard. All in good fun.
That was a long time ago, but I doubt our tendency to judge others by their outward appearance hasn’t diminished at all.