Grab a drink cause this is gonna be a long, hard ride.
The biggest fallacy of personal branding is the one I stand against. "I am a brand." It's a fallacy because it's making entrepreneurs think like employees. It's a statement for one, not many. That fits for someone climbing the corporate ladder. It does not fit for someone looking to impact on a larger scale. Let's get into this a bit more.
I'm a fan of words and their meanings. For instance, the word "minority" is used by folx the world over. It's a classist word that is subtly used to describe discrimination in some shape, form, or fashion. I'm a black female in America, they label me a minority. I'm a black female who smokes cigars. That's a smaller minority. I'm a black female who smokes cigars and drinks bourbon. Smaller still. I'm a black female personal branding consultant who smokes cigars and drinks bourbon.
Narrowing down that minority still isn't small enough or expansive enough for personal branding. So what do I do to make it small and expansive? Well here you go.
I'm a black female personal branding consultant who smokes cigars and drinks bourbon called the Ghetto Country Brandmother®.
GCB is a minority of one youniquely positioned to stand against being a brand. It makes room for me to not only tap into a target audience, I can expand into cigars, bourbons, and hats. It also makes room for others to discriminate against me. They can get past the blackness, the cigar, etc. But how dare I say you're not a brand. How dare I say folx like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, or Elon Musk are not brands and that they have no personal brands. Unlike Oprah, Morgan Stanley, or Jorgensen, these men's names are sole and separate from the brands they built. They are rich men with money, means, and management.
The reason I'm so adamant about this is because I use the original intent of branding. It was a symbol of ownership burned into flesh. Later it was a symbol of ownership placed own packaging. Once advertising came along it became about separating from others in the industry. Hopefully, you get the picture because I'm get'n on my own nerves with this. But when did people decide that they were brands?
Let's take it back to Tom Peters and his writing about, The Brand Called You. The whole premise of what he wrote was about employment. Check this out.
Almost every professional services firm works with the same business model. They have almost no hard assets — my guess is that most probably go so far as to rent or lease every tangible item they possibly can to keep from having to own anything. They have lots of soft assets — more conventionally known as people, preferably smart, motivated, talented people.
And from there it goes into thinking of yourself as a brand. But then he writes things this:
It’s influence power.
It’s being known for making the most significant contribution in your particular area.
It’s the same in the workplace. There are power trips that are worth taking — and that you can take without appearing to be a self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing megalomaniacal jerk. You can do it in small, slow, and subtle ways.
Saying, I am a brand, is the personal branding behavior with an employee mind-set. Personal branding for entrepreneurs who want to grow and scale has to hit different. The mindset of a founder and/or business owners has to shift to one of leadership. A brand is a business asset with value. People hold a different type of value. To be referred to as a brand reduces the value of a person.
Some of you may be thinking, "It's not that serious." It is to me because it's true that I don't like everyone, but it's also true that I value everyone. And it's not a matter of reciprocity. If you're still with me, keep reading.
The "I am the Brand" Fallacy:
Folx make personal branding personal. For some folx it's TMI personal for the sake of "authenticity." This is the leading cause of misconception that you are your brand. Because you make it personal you're afraid of judgement. Because you make it personal you make it finite. If your brand hinges solely on you being the brand, it has built-in limitations and anxiety. That means it's not scalable and lacks future value.
The "Here and Now" Trap:
Being the brand means you don't see the growth potential of a personal brand. You limit it to the here and now. Eventually, you end up being a brand of the past. Approaching personal branding solely based on who you are right now lacks direction. This is why strategic branding often gets misunderstood. Focusing exclusively on your current stance limits your potential and leads to constant rebranding.
The "Imitation of Equity" Eclipse:
The equity of a brand depends on its future value. If you treat a personal brand as an asset instead of being a brand, its can increase in equity. And even though brand equity is an intangible, it is visible on the bottom. Being the brand makes you a product instead of an asset with equity. Think about Pepsi: a liter costs $2, but the brand itself is worth over 18 billion! Its value has been built over time.
It's Not About "Me," It's About "We":
By letting go of the "I am the brand" mentality, you can build something bigger than yourself. The "We" is leaving the Ghetto Country Brandmother® to my daughter. She can capitalize on it through licensing and whatever else. The "We" is Brandma's House being a nurturing space of embracing individuality for personal branding that is scalable. The "We" is Branded Youniversity being a 1:1 support of legacy building.
None of this amounts to sacrificing your personality, catering to an audience, or compromising your values; it simply means focusing on the future you want to create and the impact you want to have in/with your life, brand, and business. Don't be afraid to take that scalable step.
Think beyond the present: Personal branding is about building an asset with future value.
Don't fall into the "me" trap: Your personal brand is the parent brand scalable sub-brands.
Leverage the synergy: Using your personal to endorse your business brand maximizes impact.
Focus on your legacy: If you wanna build a scalable brand, don't make your personal brand personal.
Remember, you're an entrepreneur who wants to leave the world better than what you found it. So don't make your personal brand just about you. By embracing the power of both branding on the personal and business level, you can create a legacy that truly matters.
And always remember brandbabies...
5. Bullshit happens, so suck it up
4. Your voice is important, so speak up
3. You make the world a more beautiful place, so show up
2. Life is good, so buck up
1. I love you and ain't a damn thing you can do about it, so shut the fuck up.