The personal side of brand democratization

This is a work in progress so please tell me what you think about these points and add your own.

We all know that the rules have changed with branding lately. Brands are being democratized
by people amplifying their voice using blogs and social networking sites. Some throw stones in glass houses and others spread the good word like a new gospel.

But these disruptive technologies cut both ways. As these tools get further entwined in our lives, more and more of us will get up close and personal with ‘truthiness’ and transparency. Just like the companies that embrace this and prosper, WE will be OK if we handle ourselves with integrity. If we try to mislead, manipulate, and lie we’ll be outed – unmercilessly. These are the new rules and they apply to you and me, the individual brand.

These are some of the developing rules of your personal brand.

  1. Be yourself
  2. When you Jerry Maguire yourself you could score a touch down or you could get fired (or worse)
  3. Be open and honest
  4. Let go of control or get the hell out of the way of yourself
  5. The company you keep tells of who you are as well
  6. Find an editor for ‘you’
  7. Don’t rush to judgment
  8. Break all of these rules (and more) when it really matters.

1) Be yourself. This should be easy but it’s often not because we don’t think we’re cool or edgy enough. Why else did we wear bell bottom jeans or hip huggers – comfort? Being cool is about being comfortable with yourself even if your jeans aren’t in style.

2) Jerry Maguire. Jerry taught us that idealistic behavior is inspiring and sometimes ill advised when it’s a major departure from the ‘normal’ you. if you’re like Jerry all the time, then being a Jerry Maguire should be OK because your friends and your boss all accept you as such. But when you take on Jerry’s character in a moment of inspiration you may want to ask your best friends about your next online blockbuster before you hit the publish button. See rule number 6.

3) Be open and honest. Tell it like you see it. See rule number 6 and number 8.

4) Let go of control or get the hell out of the way of yourself. It’s easy for us to see another person’s blind spots, or our company’s weaknesses. It’s like falling off a log. We say things like ‘boy, that
was stupid,’ but it is much harder to do that with ourselves. Ever watch yourself on video? Does it make you squirm? This rule is about applying rule three (be open and honest) in a way that allows for the possibility that there’s another (perhaps even better) way to do or say something. Ask questions, seek understanding, put aside your personal beliefs and bias and try being someone else for a minute. Heck, give yourself a vacation from ‘you’ for a day and see where it gets you.

5) The company you keep tells of who you are as well. Who do work for? Who do you link to? What books are you reading and what music you are listening to? These are all common points of reference on blogs or MySpace pages. What do these choices say to your public about you?

6) Find an editor for ‘you’. Sometimes it’s Mom or Dad or your best friend. Your friends and family are the ultimate 360-degree feedback loop. Before you hit the publish button on something that is likely to be controversial ask a friend to read it over. Get some feedback and ask yourself if the ideas you are expressing are WHO you really are?

7) Don’t rush to judgment. How much stock should we put in a single blog post? Is it a singular definition and sum of your life, viewpoints and beliefs? I doubt it. Before you roast someone or something online in front of the world, maybe you should do some more research? Is the virtual you, really YOU?

8) Break all of these rules (and more) when it really matters. But don’t fall on your sword over matters of frivolity and be prepared to pay the price when you do. Enough said.

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