Instant Branding

michele-bachmannMichele Bachmann got photographed with crazy eyes on the cover of Newsweek. She also revealed she is a “submissive wife” to a “godly husband.”

Those “gotcha” moments can brand you in an instant. Although, apparently not always in a deleterious way, at least in Iowa if you’re running for president of the United States. Bachmann won the first contest among Republican candidates there last week.

Iowa is the state where they deep fry butter in batter and call it a snack at the county fair. They also grow a lot of corn. I think we know what’s going on in the arteries of Iowans.

Who else can we brand in an instant? Step right on up.

Just kidding. Nothing could be less accurate than knowing a few facts, and branding someone for life. Michele Bachmann and Iowa aren’t the little that we know about them.

Even you can’t brand yourself in an instant

You have to answer a whole lot of questions, delve into your most life-forming experiences and sift through your body of work. And, that’s really just to get a running start on the authentic you. It doesn’t begin to work on what your target market needs, and why they would want it from you.

This weekend, I spoke to another group of Hollywood screenwriters about creating their personal brands. I knew they wanted me to do some version of a carnival act, where I guessed their brand on sight. At most, they wanted to answer a question or two, and have their branding expel from their mouths or mine.

It just doesn’t work that way.  The kind of impression you get or give in an instant is probably closer to the distorted reflection of a funhouse mirrors than real branding that reflects the highest and best use of you. Of course, once you have your branding nailed down, you do communicate instantly because you are doing it intentionally.

Until now, you may have relied on our impression of you to define your life and work. For example, employers post jobs. Then, you turn your resume inside out to match the description of the ideal candidate.  Or, you launch a new business based on an article that calls out: “Ten new business ideas you can start with no money from your couch!” Why that’s me, you think. I have no money! I have a couch!

A more strategic approach with long term benefits would be to set aside some time to understand 1) who you are, and 2) what meaning you want to have in our lives. Then, use your online and on-ground appearance and behavior to clearly, consistently and compellingly show us exactly what your brand is.

Here are some navel-gazing questions to get you started on your personal branding. When you were younger – before we all started to tell you who you were:

  1. What did you want to do when you grew up?
  2. Where did you want to go?
  3. Who were your role-models?
  4. What was your favorite way to spend time?
  5. What was the saddest thing that happened?
  6. What events gave you the most joy?
  7. If you were a super-hero, what super powers would you have?

This is how I start out most of my personal branding intensives, along with 93 other questions.

You see there is no instant branding. At least none worth living out and about, for the rest of your life.

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