We’ve spent June and will continue in July talking about personal branding.
But personal branding is a controversial subject in the social space – some people believe in it, and some people most definitely don’t – and we would be remiss if we didn’t explore that side of the coin.
Personal Branding – Real or Perceived?
Take Olivier Blanchard for example. If you don’t know and follow him already – you most definitely should.
As “The Brand Builder”, Olivier is an accomplished marketer and public speaker who “…helps companies develop, build, integrate, manage and measure social media programs, manage their reputation online and offline, and develop sustainable brands in an increasingly complex media landscape.”
In other words, he’s whip crack smart, and his blog posts always generate fiery debate and scads of comments.
Olivier stands firmly and quite publicly in the camp of “personal branding is a whole lot of hogwash.”
As he wrote in a post on this subject back in January:
People are people. They aren’t brands. When people become “brands,” they stop being people and become one of three things: vessels for cultural archetypes, characters in a narrative, or products.
He goes on to list a number of ways you can avoid falling into the trap of “personal branding” and instead ensure that you’re a real, honest, human being. Here are his top three:
1. Talk less, do more (let your work speak for you)
2. Be relevant, not just popular (give back, do good for the community)
3. Reputation is more important than image (be who and what you say you are)
While I am grossly oversimplifying his eloquent and thought provoking post, which you must go and read by the way, I don’t entirely agree with his argument.
Personal Branding as a Reality
I stand in the “…can’t one work on their ‘personal brand’ and still be a good, honest, transparent and relevant person?” camp. I believe you can be, and that it ultimately boils down to the individual and their inherent personality traits.
Are you a tool in real life and/or in business? Chances are you’re going to be one in your ‘personal brand’ life as well.
I don’t consider myself a “brand”, as Olivier describes one, by any stretch of the imagination, but as I wrote awhile back, I found it helpful when I was changing up my life to focus on ‘the brand that is me’. Who was I? What did I stand for? What did I want to achieve?
Perhaps we shouldn’t even label such things as ‘personal branding’, etc., and instead just talk about ways to engage online as the person you would want to be engaging with yourself. ‘Do unto others’ and all that dross.
Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Have empathy for others. Produce great work. Give back. Respect the space. Respect other people. Ultimately, you’ll be creating a positive and powerful “personal brand” – even if you want to call it something totally different.
Now, as I mentioned above, get yourself over to Olivier’s site.
Read his posts and definitely read his comments stream. One thing I love most about social media is the myriad brilliant minds I follow who are producing content that make me stop, think, and then rethink.
Healthy debate makes the social world go ‘round – and the more contrary the views, the more round the world.