LOVE ME! (Goddamn it)
There have been multiple articles and books written on "Personal Branding" during the last decades, and for some reason they seem to have increased in numbers lately? Perhaps it would be easy to explain it with the digitization and the spread of Internet and Smartphones, but that might be a wrong and too shallow analysis?
"A Brand" is the total reputation of a product, company, organization, person or phenomena, as others perceive it. It means that the same "Brand" can mean totally different things to different people. When companies, journalists and even lawyers (?) claim companies owning "Brands", they really refer to "registered Trademarks". These are often protected by registered "words" and/or "figurative"/"visual elements". But the "Brands" only exist in the minds of the consumers/people! What companies normally do is that they are striving for an as clear and similar Brand Position as possible, in as many people's minds as possible. That is, what they spontaneously say and think about a brand.
Now, that also goes for "Brands" linked to individual persons. Your Personal Brand will in the same way consist of the total reputation you have, and the perception other people have of you. It is not about how you look, how you behave, how you talk, what you do, or what values you represent, BUT it is the sum of all these things, at all times, in all occasions and everywhere! As with any product brand, all kinds of inconsistency and double standards, will cause confusion and weaken your Personal Brand!
It's not that strange when you think about it - Just go to yourself! Isn't it so that you also change personality, behavior, mood or whatever, partly depending on whom you are together with, in which context and at what time? It's rather human actually! Many people have slightly different personalities at work, compared with at home with family and friends. Many people behave in a certain way when they are with their parents and grandparents, and perhaps slightly different when they are watching a football game with some friends, and yet a third way when bringing up their own teenage kids?
The way we talk, the whey we walk, the way we dress, the way we look, the way we act and the way we write and participate in society, in social media or even by ourselves – It all has a dramatic impact on the Personal Brand that other people perceive us having! And as with product brands, the same people often mean different things to different perceivers! Look at some famous personal brands here below:
Different adjectives tend to be obvious to some of them, such as “grace”, “Royalty”, “billionaire”, “007 Boss”, “Mega Star”, “Legend”, “Dignity”. They are all rather positive and some of them could apply on several of the persons. But if looking from a negative angle, adjectives such as “overrated”, “relic”, “ancient”, “arrogant”, “idiot”, “obsolete”, “weird”, “overexposed” and “spoiled”, might also appear together with some of these celebrities.
Perhaps some of them are predominately positive and well respected (strong brands)?
Perhaps some of them are predominately negative and disrespected (weak brands)
Regardless, our perception of all these famous people, their Brand Position in our minds, are the sum of lots of news, statements, articles, TV-programs, films, records, perhaps even live shows, interviews, music and dance performances, business reports, awards etc. Their appearances over the years have built their reputation/brand with each and every one of us. If we really like them, we might love and forgive almost anything they do (!). If the opposite, we will dislike and disrespect almost anything they do.
When it comes to "Personal Branding", it isn’t any new phenomena at all, and it was as present before the Internet or digital media, as it is today! It’s just that the reach, speed and therefore time it takes, have changed substantially. We have all been taught to always appear clean and tidy, open doors for elderly people and ladies, keep quiet when our parents or other adults were talking, show respect to teachers and other authorities! What were this, if not a number of brand building activities?
Consequently, we also learned early on in life, that one could be perceived as “well behaved and polite”, vs. “naughty and bad mannered”. We saw how the “market” and its different “segments” were clustered already home at our streets, as well as in school and in various media. Without realizing the term, we actually started to be aware about our own Brand Position in the minds of our parents, peers and their parents, teachers and headmasters, team-coaches etc. Looking back, it seems obvious that some of us were really conscious and aware of our appearance and how it influenced everything from pocket money, and mood at the dining table, to perhaps whispering in the school corridors and even headlines in the local paper! All those guys that you can’t remember, they had weak brands, but not necessarily bad ones! And all those guys you do remember from childhood, they had strong brands, but not necessarily good ones ;)
In modern society, anything can reach many more and much faster – For good and bad! But your first impression and its consequences remains the same challenge! A good sales person in the 1950’s, would polish his shoes, comb his hair and fix the tie before knocking on the door. Are we sure that we do the same today, metaphorically, before we write and post something on facebook? It used to take years of door knocking to build ones brand those days, meaning that you had many chances to adjust and improve during the journey! Today you might reach the entire city in 24 hours with your one posting on social media! No chance to adjust or improve for that first impression!
All we want is to be LOVED of course :) To make a good and favorable impression, and that other people shall like us, and wanting to be with us. It doesn’t matter if we are students in the school corridor, new neighbors in the building, or colleagues or customers at our work places.
Just see me, love me and give me some Goddamn recognition! Is that too much to ask? :)
Like in life in general, acting smart and well behaved is not that difficult. It usually takes care of itself for most people. But the issue with Brands and Branding, is that only one bad day with only one wrong word or action, will almost always be the first impression of you for somebody else. And in the digital world it might be thousands of first impressions at any given day!
So perhaps we should teach our children, and repeat to ourselves, the importance of those 30 extra seconds, when we brush of our shoes, comb our hair and fix our attire, before we make our next first impression somewhere?
CMO - Chief Marketing Officer