My Personal Brand Part II (Live by the sword, die by the sword)

“My Personal Brand Part II – Live by the sword, die by the sword”… or do you?

When Marketers, Public Relations Professionals, and the entertainment and sales industry in general speak about brand, they speak about the image of any one entity. Don’t they?  Yes, yes they do – much as I described in Part I.  There are many things that go into building a brand, and actions of that entity is one of them.  Media, be it internet, television, print, or even word of mouth, is an major avenue – a super highway – for communicating actions to the public. Talent aside (and in many cases not even needed) for those in the entertainment industry, the media is also the vehicle to success.

When you use a vehicle to get to work, and you are dependent on that vehicle to get you there – aren’t you also responsible for the maintenance and less glorified aspects of vehicle ownership?  Are you exempt from the oil changes?  Getting Gas?  Getting it washed?  What about getting a flat tire – as inconvenient as it might be, do you not still have to change it or call a tow?  Of course, we have to – it’s our vehicle to well-being, allows up to put food on the table and gets us to where we need to be in order to do our job successfully.  Does anyone ever look down on you for taking care of your vehicle?  Are you less successful because you had a flat tire?  I’ve never heard someone lose credibility for taking care of their vehicle.  I’ve never heard of anyone losing credibility because they had to take on the expenses of their vehicle for the sake of the benefits.  I have however seen people lose credibility because they felt they should be exempt for the expenses and deserved to still have the benefits.  If you stop putting oil in your car’s engine – no matter how great you are at your job, your vehicle will stop, and will not get you to work.

Case in point: Beyoncé.  She is an entertainer; media is her vehicle to success.  Media is not her job, rather singing and dancing is.  Through media, her vehicle, she has developed a brand which has allowed her to do additional branding and expand her brand and credibility.  She can definitely sing, and I haven’t heard an argument that could prove otherwise.

Round 1. – At the inauguration, she lip-synced the national anthem.  Be the circumstances what they were, I am not arguing whether that was smart or not.  However, when she chose not to address the allegations, and initially tried to pull it off allowing others to assume she sang live – she was neglecting her vehicle.  Had she tended to her vehicle immediately, it would not have been nearly the story.  But she didn’t, and like a tire low on air, it only gets worse.  She finally addressed it, but by the time she did, it was like changing a tire on the side of the road, when all she would have needed if done promptly, was put air in the tire.

Round 2. – Beyonce put on a great show at the Super Bowl half-time show.  After the Super Bowl was done and passed, a rather unflattering photo of her started to grow presence on the internet.  Again, Media, being her vehicle to success was in need of maintenance.  It’s fair to say, anyone who is in entertainment has had less than flattering pictures published, and they continue on. Especially of entertainers in the midst of a performance – it happens.  And there is nothing wrong with it.  It is a cost of maintaining the vehicle.  In this instance, Beyoncé (as has been rumored to happen in the past) went on a PR campaign to ask and persuade any website from hosting the picture.  In this, Beyoncé did not feel she was subject to the same costs of her vehicle, and that she shouldn’t have to bare it. She wanted someone else to do it. She wanted those who use the internet and ratings to take a hit on THEIR behalf for the sake of her benefit.  Sure, we’ve all asked for a ride from friends to get to work.  But how does it look when you have to ask for a colleague to drive you to work and drive out of their way – just because you don’t want to drive your car in the rain?

If you expect to reap the benefits of something, you have to accept the costs and responsibilities.  The moment you feel that you should be exempt from those responsibilities – you will start a slow deterioration of your brand – er… vehicle.  I think it would have come off better if Beyonce just made fun of her own picture – much the way Gov. Chris Christie ate a jelly filled donut on Letterman’s show.  Do I think her asking to have the picture taken down makes her any less talented? No.  But do I think it showed neglect and disrespect for her vehicle – same vehicle that has allowed her become the brand she has? Absolutely.

Know your brand, and respect the vehicles that have built it for you.  As soon as you lose respect for the vehicles you travel in, and the paths you’ve had to travel them on, you will lose credibility in your brand – don’t leave you brand counting on the jump-start of a passer-by.



Stay tuned next week for Part III – Veterans transitioning; From a Brand You are Given, to a Brand You Will Name)

Why Starbucks, Macy’s, Dunkin’ Donuts & More Are Missing Out

A Sense of Community – Opportunity Missed.

Starbucks, Macy’s, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Party City, Game Stop, Modell’s Sporting Goods, New York & Co, Motherhood Maternity, Dress Barn, Payless Shoes – All could stand to learn a lesson from Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart has been trying to establish its brand within New York City since 2005 – and has yet to gain a foothold.  Its opposition has been at the conglomerate of unions, citizens and local businesses through-out the city.  While the major retailer and largest private employer in the nation’s existence within NYC is controversial, I am not going to take one side or the other.  However, I do believe Wal-Mart, as even one of the largest retailers in the world understands how important it is to be a part of, and accepted by the communities that generate each location’s revenues. (New York Times: 2012)

I took my kids trick-or-treating in the Parkchester region of the Bronx, NY.  The neighborhood is quite diverse, and knowing which house is celebrating, or if the building is even a house, or just a single front door with many apartment doors behind it is a bit of a guessing game.  With that being the norm, it has been tradition that all the trick-or-treaters go business-to-business, versus house-to-house.  I was able to pick up a bit of a mildly surprising, and disappointing trend.

Nearly ALL of the “Mom & Pap” type shops were active and involved in the festivities, anxious to hand out candy and participate in the excitement of the kids and adolescents involved!  That is not the disappointing part.  What was disappointing was that the majority of big brands and major retailers did not participate (all mentioned at the opening of this article), and simply hung “No Candy” or “No More Candy” signs (We were out from 4:30-5:30pm).

Why does this bother me?  As a Dad, I want to see my kids enjoy the festivities and be as excited and involved by a huge community event!  It is not often we get to see so many of the youth of our community out for a common cause, and I wanted them to have the best time with it!  As a marketer, I feel like these major brands missed what would normally be a good opportunity, but under current conditions, was a HUGE opportunity.

NYC was just hit by what may be the WORST environment and economically damaging natural disaster in its history, Tropical Super Storm Sandy!  Halloween, 31 October 2012, was the first day that retailers had a chance to show to the members of their communities that they were a PART OF THE COMMUNITY, to be there and understand the hardships, struggles, and perserverence to move forward with everyone in the community. The gesture would have been possible with the simple gesture of partaking in the festivities at an EXTREMELY low cost (and likely a great marketing opportunity to include a leaflet or flyer; isn’t black Friday just right around the corner???).  I could continue, but I really feel like the brands missed the mark on this one.  Was it the brand and the big wigs behind the big names, or was it a failure at decentralized leadership at the ground level?  Likely a combination of both.


What’s your take?