Personal Branding

Personal branding isn’t a new thing.  It’s as old as sales and marketing.  But right now it’s hot.  The current fascination with personal branding seems to have begun when Fast Company magazine published an article titled "The Brand Called You", by Tom Peters in August, 1997.   So, why is PB the current hot topic?  What’s different in 2007?  That’s easy.  You don’t have to spend a ton of money today to establish your personal brand.

To sum up Peters’ article, one question stands out; "What makes you different?"  That’s really your personal brand.  It’s your particular set of qualities and personality traits that makes people want to be around you; that makes them want to do business with you.  Or, conversely, it could be the traits that make people want to avoid you like the plague. 

For example, Abraham Lincoln had a personal brand; "Honest Abe".  Whether you agreed with him or not, you knew that Lincoln would never lie to you.  Al Capone also had a personal brand.  It was very different.   The thing is that both men cultivated that branding.  Capone was just as proud of his brand as Lincoln was of his, maybe more.

Pitchman
Personal branding took a giant step in the 1950’s when Americans started buying a new gadget called the television.  This new medium gave birth to a new breed of salesman called the "pitch man".  Every town had at least one.  They were usually in the car business or the furniture and appliance business.  They latched onto television as a way to draw customers into their stores, usually by acting as goofy as humanly possible for the camera.  They became local celebrities.  Some even became legends.

Here in St. Louis Steve Mizerany became famous for wearing roller skates in his store and on his TV commercials and for once setting a TV station on fire during a live spot.  It cost him a lot of money to establish his personal brand.  In reality, Mizerany was a shrewd business man and philanthropist who’s true personality was very different from the "brand" he created for himself.  Earl "Madman" Muntz and "Crazy" Eddie

The thing that makes personal branding so different today is the ease of establishing your brand in the markets you desire.  The Internet has made it possible for someone with little or no money to promote their brand to their target audience.  Emails, blogs, podcasts, YouTube, and other social media make it simple and inexpensive to establish your brand.

To commemorate the tenth anniversary of "The Brand Called You", a unique event was held recently.  It was called "A Brand You World".  It featured twenty-four one hour presentations on personal branding presented by experts from all around the world.  The programs ran on two separate tracks, making it impossible to listen live to all twenty-four.  But all of the sessions were recorded and are available on-line.

Some of the topics include writing a business blog (Yes, your humble blogger did listen to that one); how to help your employees develop a personal brand; three steps to a winning brand; podcasting; and many others.  Phil Gerbyshak’s program, "Identity You", is especially good.  There’s also a very interesting interview with Richard Nelson Bolles, the author of "What Color is Your Parachute."  The story of how he went from being fired to developing one of the most famous brands in the world without really trying is very interesting.

You can listen to the programs directly through your computer.  You can also download them onto your mp3 player or you can use iTunes to load them on your iPod. 

You’re probably not going to be interested in all of the programs, especially since several of them are on the topic of job hunting, but you’re sure to find something that interests you.  Best of all?  They’re free.

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One Response

  1. I spoke at the last session. It’s definitely worth a listen, especially because it’s the future of recruitment and career management.

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