As branding has mainstreamed, more and more misinformed dissenting voices scream out across Twitter, blogs, and other social media warning us not to fall for it.
In their rush to deride and dismiss branding, they’re confusing the whole concept of branding – digging deep to identify one’s ROI value and differentiating points, and then creating brand messaging and a communications plan designed to resonate with one’s target audience – with the way some people promote and exploit their brands.
Some object to the implication that personal branding is like cattle branding –”People aren’t cattle!”, or they confuse it with product branding – “People are not inanimate products!”
Some think branding is pigeonholing – “I don’t want to be known for only one thing!” – “A personal brand is too limiting!” – “How can I have one brand my whole life?”
Some say personal branding is contrived, self-promotion – people throw together uncharacteristic, lofty statements about themselves that they can never live up to, and spread the word about themselves incessantly. This is certainly true of some people who haven’t done the necessary work and don’t get what branding is really all about.
Walter Akana, a colleague and fellow Reach Personal Branding Strategist, wrote in an excellent recent post:
“Why do people insist on creating this artificial entity that is labeled ‘my brand’ and then proceed to promote it endlessly? And that’s not to mention suffering the endless “me” messages.”
I concurred in my post 14 Reasons I Won’t Follow You On Twitter with my #7 turnoff :
“[I won’t follow you if …] Your tweets consistently pound me with self-promoting blog posts and information. If you have to talk about yourself all the time, you’re probably not that great.”
Would the confusion and disdain cease, and the concept be more readily embraced if it had a different name?
Jason Alba, another colleague and fellow Reach Personal Branding Strategist commented in his recent provocative post:
“I use that term because it’s the most acceptable term, and I think it’s here to stick. I don’t care as much about the term, though, as the concept behind it.
You are known for something. Some people have a personal brand that is ‘on purpose’. That is, they strategically work on it and know how to define it, and help others understand what it is based on what they’ve thought about.”
Although it’s unlikely “personal (or career) branding” will go by another name, what if it was described as a “value proposition message” or “value promise” or your “ROI value differentiation”? Would any of these terms, or something else compelling, draw more people to the concept?
No question that the branding process is a critical first-step in building a career and job search marketing campaign.
In job search, especially at the c-suite and senior executive level, branding is required, not optional.
- Defining their brand helps job seekers understand what sets them apart.
- Knowing their brand helps them communicate their value prop, ROI, and good fit qualities better, network better, and interview better.
- Knowing a job candidate’s brand generates interest from hiring authorities and helps them assess good fit better.
Some of the objections to branding are fueled by the heavily followed, self-professed “personal branding experts” who entice with blog posts on how to make more money, or sell more products, or become a celebrity with personal branding. They mispeak the true value of branding.
When “experts” constantly bombard us with wrong-thinking ideas and self-promotion, it’s no wonder people get the wrong message.
What do you think? Does the problem lie in the name “personal branding” or the misinformation and misunderstandings surrounding it?