If you were asked to name some brands off the top of your head, your answers would likely include Apple, Google and Nestle. The instant association you would make is not just with their products, but also their specific designs, symbols and distinguishing features. At its core, a brand is a gut feeling the audience has about something. What most people do not realize however is that branding does not apply just to companies. Knowingly or unknowingly people establish a personal brand for themselves over time.
Personal branding is an extension of who you are. It is your presentation of yourself to the world. Often conscious effort is put into it however if neglected it can also build up on its own. Laymen are often not conscious of their branding, yet it exists. It is prevalent right from the student level. In certain professions such as politics, personal branding is of the essence. But not all those in the spotlight consciously cultivate their brand.
When JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter, she unwittingly created for herself a brand that established her as a talented, fearless, passionate and genuine author. This is a brand and an image that she will not be able to shake as long as she lives. In writing Harry Potter, she created not one but two legacies- the Harry Potter franchise and her brand as an author.
In some cases, her personal branding works to her advantage. When establishing Lumos, her charity dedicated to helping children in orphanages, her personal brand was a great asset. Her established credibility made people trust in her charity and its cause. The connection and warmth Harry Potter fans felt towards her extended to the charity leading to them making more donations and offering more help. Nothing breeds success quite like success.
The same personal brand also has negative aspects. When writing her new mystery series, Rowling felt tremendous pressure to live up to Harry Potter’s success, which is borderline impossible. As an artist, her priority remained the quality of her writing rather than profits. Her established brand forced her to adopt a pen name, Robert Galbraith to “work without hype or expectation and to receive unvarnished feedback”. Her brand had an undesired effect in that it put pressure on her to live up to nearly unachievable standards.
Branding extends to people as personal branding which is a process whereby people and their careers are marketed as brands. It is not always consciously cultivated but it still prevails for all individuals. Whether you choose to nurture it or not is up to you.
This article was inspired from "The Branding Journal : What is branding?"- Marion, "The Christian Science Monitor: J.K Rowling reveals more about her reasons for writing with a pseudonym for Cuckoo's Calling" - Molly Driscoll and "The Management Center- Making an Impact Creating a Personal Brand that works for you."