How much would a penny be worth if it doubled every day for 30 straight days? Most of of us would guess between 60 cents and up to $100,000. Obviously, this is quite a ways off from the actual answer of $10,737,418. This simple illustration highlights the power of compounding, which can take a relatively insignificant penny and turn it into an astronomical amount of money. The same can be said about your personal brand; it is compounding, good or bad, each and every single day!
The Definition of a Brand
Wikipedia defines a brand as the “identity of a specific product, service, or business.” We identify with and purchase various products from well-known companies based on the associated benefits of their underlying brand. We even graciously advertise their products for free! Let’s take Nike for an example. In your household right now, the chances of finding Nike shirts, shoes, or shorts is pretty high. Not only is Nike synonymous with elite competition and training, but the company is also known for creating dependable and reliable products that enhance brand loyalty. Most of us can positively describe Nike in one word based on our feelings, attitudes, and experiences with the firm’s iconic brand. Can the same be said by you, or by others in your inner circle, when describing your personal brand?
Do You Have a Bankable Personal Brand?One of the best ways to judge a brand is by the product’s or service’s financial impact to attract and retain customers.
Personal branding and company branding are very similar. They both take into account “outside” perceptions, or what others think about you or a company’s brand. Although not true in every instance, but how others perceive us speaks volumes about our personal brand. Do others see you as a hard worker, emotionally stable, smart, reliable, and/or respectful? Or do they see you as lazy, moody, educationally and economically challenged, unreliable, and/or inconsiderate? All of us have favorable and unfavorable qualities to our individual brands. Keep in mind that the way you work, the way you dress, the way you talk, and even the way you walk, communicates to others the identity (and future direction) of your personal brand. This may not be entirely fair – making judgments without having a personal relationship with you – but it is what it is. That’s why it is so important to protect your personal brand, today and in the future!
Boxing legend George Foreman’s personal brand has undergone an amazing transformation through the years. Early in his boxing career, he was distant with the media, menacing, and angry. His tough guy image didn’t grant him a lot of money-making marketing moments (now that’s a mouthful!), particularly when compared to his arch rival Muhammad Ali. Foreman’s personal brand was too risky at the time. Companies just didn’t want to take a chance with him pitching their products or services to consumers. Fast forward several decades into the future and we witness an entirely different brand image. Now he is approachable by the media (as well as his adoring fans), colorful, and engaging. Even with a contrived smile as an infomercial star, who doesn’t like him!
George Foreman’s brand reconstruction is nothing short of phenomenal. This has translated into a brand people can relate to and trust. To date, well over 100 million George Forman Grills have been sold and still counting. Who doesn’t have one in the home?! (We have three.) He has made over $250 million selling products, triple what he made as a boxer. On one occasion he received a check for $137 million to use his signature name for endorsement purposes, which was the largest check ever written to any pro athlete. Not even Michael Jordan can boast such a claim. The George Foreman story, which is still unfolding today, shows the power behind a bankable brand.
The Fallout Behind a Controversial Personal Brand
Are you advertising a good brand image today?
The implications of having a controversial personal brand are enormous. I can speak from personal experience. As a top five high school prospect, my basketball future looked incredibly bright. Success at the college and NBA level appeared to be guaranteed. However, appearance and reality can at times be two entirely different things. In a span of one year, I was dismissed from my high school team for mouthing off to the coach and quit the Indiana University basketball team my freshman year after coaching legend Bobby Knight kicked me out of practice for lackluster play. I was 18 years old at the time, and my immaturity clearly showed.
I transferred to The Ohio State University and excelled in the classroom as a deans list student while earning All Big Ten honors three years in a row. My past problems on the basketball court were behind me, or so I thought. When it came time for the NBA draft, the head-case questions surfaced once again. One NBA executive told me personally, “You have lottery talent, but you’re too risky of a pick to draft that high.” My brand simply couldn’t be trusted. Subsequently, I was drafted late in the second round with the 51st pick by the Sacramento Kings, one of three power forwards taken by the team that year. (Brian Grant and Michael Smith were drafted ahead of me by the Kings.) As a result, I humbly made the trek overseas, where I played three years before I ever got a legitimate shot in the NBA. Even in a different arena now as a life coach and financial planner, the repercussions are stilling being felt decades later while coming in contact with people who remember the lanky kid full of potential with a checkered past.
Check Your Brand!
If I had to do it all over again, I would have protected my brand better. No doubt about it. Stop right now and check your brand. Can your spouse, children, colleagues, or employer trust your personal brand? How about your future soulmate and offspring? Remember, people are watching everything you do, taking mental notes in regard to your attitudes and actions as you go through the day. Your personal brand is in the spotlight. You are auditioning right now for a successful future and brand legacy. Just do it!