Are people brands, too?

There are two aspects that come to the mind when I try and think of people as brands.

Scenario 1— When people are trying to become brands (Personal Branding)

If you google for courses in Personal Branding, you will find so many platforms like Coursera, Udemy, Simplilearn offering many of them.

Typing personal branding on google gives around 10 million results.

If you go one step further and search on Google Trends for the terms ‘personal branding’ and ‘branding’, these are the results —

BRANDING
PERSONAL BRANDING

It seems branding of an individual is quickly becoming even more important than branding of an enterprise.

Todays Times Trends section of The Times Of India had a piece about Universities in China offering courses to help millennials cash in by building an internet stardom. They teach skills like make up, dressing fashionably, performing on camera while talking about various luxury brands.

What the fuck is happening?

I believe, in all this hullaballoo, the real voice, the authenticity we identify humanity with, is lost. The ironic part is, in most cases people trying to be a brand are the ones that never end up becoming one.

In fact, the ones we consider a brand in themselves, have always carried an aura of authenticity and genuineness around them. They are the same people in front of and behind the camera.

Yes, it is possible to strategically and carefully build yourself into a brand. So many are doing it these days. If you are trying too, you can search for these courses offered online.

But I think, this is a difficult route with probability of failure more than success. Instead, you could unapologetically be what you are and maybe become a brand in the process.

So, if you are a make up artist even when the camera is off, do it in front of one. If you love dressing yourself and people up, blog about it, sure. Just, do not do it for the sake of it just because you saw someone doing it and thought you could, hence you must do it too. Chances are that either you will not stand out or get too bored too quickly while being someone else.

I recently read an article (link below), where Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) talked about why people do not need a personal brand. Give it a read.

Scenario 2 — When people are treated as brands by others around them

Brands essentially have an image and a value attached to them. While their image is what comes to the mind of their audience when they think of them, their value is how often people choose, the expectations, memories, stories and relationships of that brand over the alternatives.

Consider your parents, relatives, siblings or friends and ask yourself this — do they not invoke a certain mental image in your mind when you think of them? Isn’t it true that you will choose memories, stories, relationships of one friend/brand over the other?

I think it is quite natural for us to have images and perceived values of people around us in our minds. In fact, that is how we understand them, related to them and develop deeper bonds with them.

For instance, I have a friend, who has an image of being the most easy going person and hence is quite valuable when you want to have fun at a party or hangout with. There is another who argues with everything (sometimes with himself too) and that is the image he sends out which people carry in their minds about him.

Now, brands are supposed to serve at the mercy of their audience. They are supposed to please us to be more valuable and have larger influence on the market. At the same time, they are supposed to adhere to their core positioning and innovate/change carefully while being mindful of their overall image and value.

People are not!

What if, these friends of mine, tomorrow want to be something they are not today? What if they want to re-brand? Will I still understand them? Should my loyalty/love for them come into question like it does for brands, when this change occurs?

When brands do not act according to their positioning in the mind of the audience, it creates friction. We do not know what to think of them anymore.

On the other hand, humans are synonymous with change and evolution. They are random, never supposed to stay the same. They are like that messy painting in art exhibitions which is abstract but a masterpiece.

As we grow, we become resistant to change and prefer an order of things. Unfortunately, this transcends into our expectations of people too. When they do not act as the image we have of them in our minds, we sometimes even feel like abandoning them, like they were some product like an iPhone whose new edition we did not like.

I think it is important to love the person and not his/her image as people inherently are random and hence authentic. They have no image. They just are, and always valuable.

So, if someone around you is not acting like they did a couple of years back, try and understand this new refreshed human and get to know the new them, love them.


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