Don’t Build a Personal Brand – Just Be a Good Person
The concept of personal branding has become big, but frankly it confuses me. This push to brand oneself like a corporation seems dehumanizing. When did it become mainstream to be a box of soap?
I think many people have been overwhelmed by all the marketing messages out there, and they are being sucked into believing that a good personal tagline is what we need to succeed.
Yet there are millions of individuals and business owners who are quietly successful without ever “branding” themselves. They do so by focusing on the basics: working hard, working smart, and staying true to their values.
Our country was built on the basics; including honesty, frankness, kindness, hard work, creativity, joy, and humility. Just adhering to these principles in your career and business interactions will do more for your success than any branding campaign.
Take the example of 14 year old Zach Nash, a teen golfer from Wisconsin. Zach won a tournament but found out that he violated an obscure rule of golf by accident. He notified the organizers and disqualified himself. As a result, Zach was written about on the front page of Yahoo. That one act of honesty will do more for Zach’s career than any branding someone could create for him.
Branding means nothing if you don’t have the goods to back it up.
In fact, branding hurts you if it projects a different image than who you really are.
One place where personal branding has gone fantastically wrong is on Twitter. This social media tool has done much to destroy the credibility of many professionals. How many of us have looked at someone’s Twitter activities and labeled them as a marketer, shill, scam artist, annoyance or a fake.
Because Twitter is a new tool, many professionals end up depending upon various “experts” to show the way. The problem is that the experts themselves are figuring it out along the way. From what I’ve seen, Twitter can be a direct line into one’s communication style and “thoughts”. As such, perhaps it’s better for you to figure out what works for you on your own; instead of copying someone else’s style.
If someone is trying to brand themselves as a small business expert by sending out information copied from someone else, the truth will eventually come out. Similarly If someone proclaims to be accessible and approachable as a person but then uses automated messages and never read anyone else’s tweets, it will also soon become apparent.
Life is so much easier and more fun if you just be who you are. Market to the people who will appreciate you, warts and all. Embrace your weaknesses. Know what they are so you can work on improving them but be frank about it.
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