I’m starting to think that branding is developing a brand. Suddenly it’s everywhere. I yearn for the good old days when a brand meant what kind of cola you drank and comparisons between “big brands” and “supermarket brands” warranted half page spreads in women’s magazines.
Employer branding I get. We need a consistent message to tell people what we’re about and attract them to work for us. But the rise of the “personal brand” is a mystery to me. Sorry but where I’m from we call that personality.
I guess it fits with the fakery and gimmickry of the digital age. Online we can be a traffic cone or a unicorn if we want to (yes both of these really followed me on twitter). The pressure to present ourselves as a witty super human in just 140 characters is immense. If only so when our former boyfriend/boss/partner stalks us online they’re gutted they let us go.
Advice about developing a personal brand is readily available on the Internet, and is all contradictory nonsense. “Be consistent” yet also “be authentic”. “Let people know your personality”, “let people see you” and “be good at something”. Really? And my personal favourite “it’s not just enough to know that you know what you know – others have to know you know it”.
Sounds to me like describing to a complete outsider what it means to be human. Except not quite. It’s too formulaic. Too stale. A poor reflection of itself. If I know anything about branding, it’s this. If that’s what it’s become, then it’s time to change.