Is Your Personal Brand Hurting Your Career?

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Your Personal Brand may be doing much more harm than good… to others. This is becoming a more common occurrence that I am seeing and feeling in business. I see more and more people embracing the Social Media channels – they are Blogging, Podcasting, linking up on Twitter and leveraging an online social network like Facebook to grow their connections, and it’s really hurting their careers.

Who would have thought this to be possible?

The sad reality is that most of us work within the confines of a big and/or traditional corporation. These types of corporations – typically – do not embrace and encourage the individual. Most companies look towards either the main corporate brand or the CEO/President as the focal point for all attention, so when someone starts to rise through the popularity of a Blog, it is often not only frowned upon by senior management, but also talked about in the corridors by co-workers.

I wish this were not the case. I wish all companies (and co-workers) could see the value and opportunity, but the harsh reality is that when someone who sits beneath others on an org chart starts getting recognition, others start feeling threatened.

I’m lucky. First off, I am one of the co-owners of Twist Image and Blogging, Podcasting and taking part in as many social and digital channels as possible is not only part of our strategy to communicate and connect, but it’s embraced and encouraged by all. Second, it’s part of our corporate culture, and we do encourage others to take part as well (as long as they are being smart about it and it’s not in the way of getting our client work done).

In the past short while, I’ve seen minor people within cool organizations take on major roles due to their visibility in the social media channels (some companies do embrace it – Twist Image is not the only one). That being said, I’ve seen many more people forced to leave and take on positions in other companies because their activities in these social channels may have bolstered their personal brands, but in doing so became a CLM (Career Limiting Move). I’ve seen many people stuck in their current role with little chance to advance, and many others give up on taking part in these channels because the company they work for either doesn’t see the value or the individual realizes how limiting it has become for them.

In a way, this Blog posting is simply a cautionary tale to say that "yes, everybody should take part in these digital channels and connect," but be forewarned that most people are just "doing their jobs" and lack the same level of passion that you are displaying. Most simply see your actions either as a threat to the way things have always been or as another example of how brown ones nose can be.


  1. A bit off-topic, but who else at Twist Image blogs? Microblogs? Podcasts? Assuming there are people doing all of the above, how come I’ve never heard anything about them on your blog, the Twist Image blog? What’s up with that, Mitch?

  2. Great question Chris.
    There are only a few that Blog about marketing – like Mario (who used to do Happy Pixels but now has StrategicText. He also Blogs over at One Degree). There’s also Dave who Blogs on the CMA Blog – Canadian Marketing Blog.
    For the most part, the majority of ones I have seen are all about their personal passions – from programming and family life to fashion, art, music and beyond.
    Most of them are on Facebook, and I’d say about 10 are on twitter.
    I don’t think any of them Podcast (at least none that I know of), though people like Lesley have done video podcasting stuff over at WatchMojo.
    The main reason we call it Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Blog is for Search Engine Optimization, and to keep those two brands closely linked. We also kept that “Twist Image” part because we only switched over to the name Six Pixels of Separation a few years ago, as I called it the Twist Image Blog for years prior to that and did not want to loose any equity (or links) on that name.
    A while back we had a group/company/community Blog called Current ( which was stuff we were following, reading, etc… but it never really took off, so we’ve shut it down.
    That being said, we also use wikis, social bookmarking and more internally to share, collaborate and grow.

  3. I picked up a new book recently by Lucas Conley, called “Obsessive Branding Disorder” and it’s a very interesting read. Not only does it talk about how people like Procter and Gamble work the branding machine, so to speak, but it differentiates between what is simply a branding change and what is a substantive change in a product or company.
    I think it’s a must read for all of those who think they understand the concept of personal branding. We need to differentiate between growing one’s own product (the value they can offer to others) and just being more connected to people who can take advantage of that value add.
    At the heart of any great marketing is a product or person worth time and attention. That way, the marketing, in many ways, is so much easier- you are promoting something that’s easy to talk about, not something you need to dress up in spin.
    And that should be the goal, I hope, with building your personal brand. Being found is important, but also asking yourself the question about whether this adds value to you or subtracts, before posting, should be considered. I am thinking here about people tweeting about more sophomoric or stupid behavior- does your brand or your company’s brand need this sort of thing? And should you be surprised if some of this stuff comes back to haunt you?

  4. “…do not embrace and encourage the individual.”
    That makes me feel sad. A cog in the machine. Hopefully when Gen X and Y take over the corporate structure this will start to change because I don’t think these generations buy into that crap. At least I hope so.

  5. There’s two parts to this. First, people should be mindful of the image they portray on-line, particularly since the memory of on-line actions can be infinite. If someone is going to post information that could put their job in jeopardy (for valid reasons) they do so at their own risk. The second part assumes the individual is participating in social media without any intentional harm to their professional endeavors. For them I think the bigger question is whether or not they want to continue working for a company that doesn’t embrace, or at the very least accept their individuality and/or ideals. If you’re a blogger and your company asks you to stop, or you feel it’s hindering your job growth with that company then are you really at the right company? It’s a sad day when we have to give up our passions to pacify our bosses.

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