Flipping channels through daytime programming recently, I happened across a talk show hosted by reality television personality Bethanny (Real Housewives of NYC), whose guest was another reality television personality, Omarosa (The Apprentice). The two of them were arguing, noisily and cattily, about their "personal brands" - whose was stronger and better. It was a disgusting display of ego and rudeness and...desperation. They were both losers in that exchange.
Now imagine any of these memorable people sitting on a talk show sofa promoting their "personal brand": Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor. No. Just no. Even with current day personalities, have you heard the phrase "personal brand" coming from the mouths of accomplished people such as Bill Gates, Condoleezza Rice, or Warren Buffett? No.
I am not adverse to branding. During my career, I worked to create a brand for Hilton's technology. The project was exciting and turned out to be successful. Our team gathered several prestigious awards and Hilton benefitted from the recognition. Branding is an important part of business. Branding sells products and services, attracts investors, and helps build a loyal following.
Lately, I am hearing more and more nonsensical yammering about personal branding. Too much of it is coming from the people who are trying to create a brand for themselves. Themselves - not a product or a business. Let me give them some advice:
1. You aren't a brand just because you say you are.
2. You need a good reputation, not a brand.
3. Do some soul-searching about your identity, what you stand for, and how you want to be perceived by others.
4. Stop talking about it, consistently walk the walk, and earn it.
The phrase "Personal Brand" should be banished. Are you with me?