I read a blog post last week via twitter on the growing subject of the ‘personal brand’, discussing yet another recent ‘survey’ that puts at 70% the number of employers using social media profiles to check up on, or screen out, candidates in the recruitment process. Simon Lewis, the author, was ‘astounded’ at how many job seekers were not taking their ‘personal brand’ seriously enough in the light of this research.
Having reflected on it somewhat I have come to the conclusion that the whole notion of a personal brand is a bit of a nonsense and serves only to create another bit of jargon around which some ‘instant guru’ (numbers of which are increasing at an alarming rate, especially on Twitter!) can build a consulting proposition that preys on the insecurities of others.
You see we are not really comparing apples with apples here. Brands are largely static. Brands don’t rationalise their actions. Brands don’t change their behaviour or opinion after life changing events or after reflecting on some new piece of evidence. Brands don’t offer humility in the face of arrogance. Brands don’t eat humble pie when they got it wrong and then share that experience over social media.
I am not a Twix, or a packet of Walkers smokey bacon crisps or a pint of Guinness. I like them all very much and may have consumed large quantities of each at certain times but, ultimately, none of the above am I.
And then there is the question of authenticity. Brands are strong, stand for something and carve out their definitive position in their relevant consumer space. They don’t try and water down their personality or message on the basis someone might not buy them if they don’t.
How much have you read lately about the importance of authenticity in the employer brand message? Employers have come in for a lot of stick lately for hiding behind an employer ‘brand’, attempting to claim they are something they are not, to potential new hires, through promotion of a set of values or principles that, at best, are purely aspirational. Just as we criticise employers for doing this is it not then a bit hypocritical to encourage individuals to do the same?
I am the sum of a number of profiles, opinions and conversation online, nothing more. These do not constitute a brand. Yes, I should definitely keep out any potentially offensive content. But water down my online and offline personality or manipulate it to present myself as something other than who I really am? Most definitely not.
A Twix tomorrow will be the same as the one I had today. So will the pint of Guinness hopefully! It’s what I expect from a brand. I, however, am a human being and I fully expect to be different tomorrow, having learnt from my experiences today.
I am not a brand. I am a human being.
I am me.