I have had a few postgraduate students ask me questions about branding, as usual, but one was slightly outside the norm. She wanted to know about celebrity management and how one could be a personal brand. (I did refer her to Thomas Gad and Anette Rosencreutz’s Managing Brand Me as well—they have an excellent personal-branding model in there.)
One question was a bit too hard to respond to in a short space, but I thought my answer was worth publishing here. (I had better not post the question to preserve her methodology, in case she is competing with other students.)
This may be too numerous to list here, but one unusual factor would be to communicate to the celebrity that they have to subscribe to certain aspects of the vision and strategy [that is set for him or her]. This is not as odd as it seems, nor is it a case of restricting one’s freedom.
Remember, that in an ideal situation, the desired image the celebrity wishes to have is an “improved” version of themselves. A personal branding régime can be thought of as self-improvement for the personal image, just as exercise is self-improvement for the physical body. Thus, keeping a celebrity on the “straight and narrow” is akin to being a personal life coach, but done with the additional aspect of how (more) external audiences perceive that person.
But as we found out last week with the Mel Gibson situation, this is not always an easy task, for celebrities are only people. Then, too, so are corporations—they are legal persons—and humans within them will stray, even with the best branding programmes.
The tricky thing, as I see it, is having someone deal with managing the changing images of the client, in the age of Web 2·0. For a company, I would advise that they be fed back and acted on rapidly, because for an organization, the brand can no longer be an immovable block. It is ﬂuid and organic, in order to demonstrate responsiveness; visions need to be relatively loose to enable the organization to take advantage of new opportunities. This is why so many start-ups and small companies innovate so well and rapidly, and is the cornerstone of a good R&D process.
Conversely, personal brands may need to become more rigid, if they are part of a celebrity-management programme. Too much change and ﬂuidity can negatively impact one’s authenticity. They often harm the celebrity and make him or her seem clueless—and the last two Democratic presidential campaigns are testament to taking these ideas too far. Both Al Gore and John Kerry had campaigns that were reactive, while George W. Bush went for a more consistent approach.
Vision has to stay reasonably constant, and that that should drive the personal brand. An understanding on how to shift audience impressions toward the desired image is important, and that should be the main aim of personal brand management, if it is being done by an outside party.
The bottom line is that branding strategies and techniques can be used to manage celebrity images. The process is the same, and the way communications reach audiences is the same. One is merely trying to sell a persona—which brings us neatly back to the comment on Johnnie Moore’s blog last week—with differences in the intensity of the approach.
Del.icio.us tags: personal branding branding personal brand brand management brand strategy celebrity image personal image Posted by Jack Yan, 12:35
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