The concept of Personal Branding has lost it’s way. It’s becoming less and less personal.
Personal Branding seemed to be something unique and powerful because of the advent of the Internet and the Social Media channels. Suddenly, any one individual could express themselves (in text, images, audio and video) instantly (and free) to the world. The smartest people could now be heard. The shy people could now connect to others who were like them. Those interested in Digital Marketing suddenly had all of this great content being published by their peers that they could add to, connect to and build a community around. We didn’t need the permission or acceptance of the mass media channels to get coverage or ink. Suddenly, we could build our own media channels and get the word out about who we are and what we have to say.
Those that were doing it well, were doing it authentically and with true passion.
While there’s nothing wrong with having a media channel that allows anyone and everyone to have a publishing platform, the concept of Personal Branding has evolved along with it. Instead of people really digging deep, opening up and living passionately, we’re moving ever-closer to the point where most individuals are expressing their Personal Brands in ways that make them look more like sterile and plastic TV news anchors than original thinkers. It’s not everyone (there are still many who are using these channels to really highlight and explore their unique personalities), but there is an ever-growing group of those who come off as fake, insincere, and simply out for their own personal gain. In short, they seem and feel like plastic and taste like vanilla.
The good news is that you can ignore them or not follow them.
The bad news is that if everyone treats Social Media like it’s mass media, and attempts to be everything to everybody, it’s going to come off as fake and inauthentic. Does this mean that we have to forgo social norms to be authentic? Nope (unless that’s your thing). Does this mean that we have to be provocative, irreverent and nasty? Nope (unless that’s your thing). What is missing (and what is direly needed) is for all us to take a step back and remember the real power here: to express ourselves in an authentic and passionate way (not in a drone-like corporate way).
Loosen it up.
To truly bring personal branding back from the brink of a world where everyone is not being themselves, but rather trying to create a fake persona of the person who they think others want them to be must stop. We have to encourage everybody to be themselves. In the great words of Oscar Wilde, "be you because others are already taken."
Has the concept of Personal Branding lost its way? Has Personal Branding become to close to bad corporate branding? What do you think?