A Fine Line:’Personal Brand’ Vs. Personal Achievement
If St. Patrick was standing on the streets of Dublin, Ireland or New York amidst the recent Paddy’s day celebrations, what would he have thought of his personal brand? Something tells me that legions of inebriated people running loose on the streets as giant garish floats pass by would not necessarily resonate with his visions of personal achievement. This got me thinking generally about the term ‘personal brand’ and how it has been thrown around for the past number of years.
I recently read Gary Vaynerchuck‘s best-selling book ‘Crush It‘ . In it he talks about the era of personal brand and that you must fight to be known for something amongst the noise. He describes that thousands and potentially millions of dollars can be made by ‘cashing in on your passion’. A prime example he uses is Perez Hilton and how he has ‘crushed it’ through his celebrity gossip blog and encourages the readers that they too can do this. As a Vaynerchuck fan it pains me to say this – I hate how some people have interpreted this.
What is your personal brand’s value?
Here’s why – what actual value are some people, so-called masters of the personal brand, bringing to the table? Rather than creating a great service or product; excelling through innovation and questioning the status quo and societal assumptions; or indeed just creating a business that doesn’t involve ‘me’, people should ask themselves “What can I do using my talents to improve an industry, evolve a product or create a market through a profitable (or non-profit) and sustainable company.” That to me is ‘crushing it’.
Here’s the question: if personal brand is so important, how many of us are actually evaluating what our name is associated with? Equally, have you identified what you want your name to be associated with? Kids do – when I grow up I want to be a _____’.
I think we can all name dozens of people that are everywhere on the web etc. without knowing what they actually contribute. This is their absolute entitlement – but one has to ask: are you more worried about how well-known you are or for what reason you have a reputation albeit large or small.
I love Vaynerchuck himself as he hustled to build up a wine company to a multi-million dollar business and leveraged this to impart information to budding entrepreneurs thus inflating his personal brand – great! Much like the master of personal brand, Bono, has a serious backing of unbelievable achievement. Take others like Eric Ries or Seth Godin – there are thousands of people out there cashing in on their personal brand while making massive contributions to their discipline using all the talents and channels available.
The Big Question:
My view is pretty simple– I feel ‘personal brand’ has become objectified as an achievement in itself regardless of what backs it and that we’re being pushed to believe that how well known we are is an achievement in itself, not why. A prime example would be footballer George Best vs. socialite son Calum Best.
Do you agree that over focusing on personal brand itself can cover achievement? Do you think we have lost sight of why we spend time following, focusing on and engaging with big names?