as someone who has worked in public relations and marketing for almost a decade, i’m more than familiar with “branding.” everyone wants a brand; from huge public companies to smaller entrepreneurs, everyone wants to be recognized for a signature “something.”
with the rise of entrepreneurship and small businesses (a trend i happen to love), the brand of the CEO/founder and that of his or her company tend to be somewhat inextricable. the ubiquity of social media and the role it plays in word of mouth virility have ensured that anyone who encounters a personality will inevitably discover the company and brand behind the person. it used to be (i think) that you could have a professional life and a private life. i even created a separate facebook page for my work life, naively assuming my ability to maintain the division.
but the fact is, like it or not, everyone’s private life is a lot more public. whether you are a disciple of instagram, twitter, facebook or twitter, your tastes, closest friends and family, dogs, cats, activities and sources of distaste have become a matter of public record. an amalgamation of all these impressions you leave all make up your brand. but it doesn’t end there.
what you wear, how grammatically correct your emails are, how you treat others, your publicly voiced priorities all mash together to create the perception others have of you. and now … it’s permanently recorded online. you wore pajamas to the airport in a fleeting moment of laziness, but the picture on instagram or facebook that captured the moment makes it everlasting. you shot off a poorly worded and mildly impolite email to a colleague, and it mysteriously ends up on a blog for all to see from now until forever.
it’s true; all this means that so much information is being transmitted about every individual on a moment to moment basis that small mistakes are more easily forgotten and erased – lost in the volume. but you know what happens when you have a lot of something … you’re way more careless with each individual component. ie: i have 300 toothpicks, so if i drop one on the ground, it’s no big deal. i’ll just throw it out and get a new one.
all i’m suggesting is that we all stop and think a little more about our brand. how we want people to see us via every interaction we initiate, whether it’s in person or online. in this constantly evolving world of freelancers, consultants, fledgling startups and never-ending opportunities, you just never know who might be watching and listening.