The concept of a personal brand is quite popular today. Lately, it has been bringing some questions to my mind that I can’t completely resolve.
Some background first. I am a big proponent of small groups. These can be book clubs, accountability groups, growth groups, Bible studies, prayer groups… any sort of small group of people that you trust. I believe that growth happens best when in a supportive and honest environment- such as these groups.
Now, with that as a backdrop in my mind, I met up with an entrepreneur friend the other day. She is amazing and owns an equally amazing drink company.
A juxtaposition in relationships became apparent to me. My friend was talking about getting together with other women in business at a networking event to promote her brand. She brought the drink, passed it out to all her friends at the networking event, and asked them all to post to social media about it. In passing, she mentioned that she used to work for Nestle, and laughed that in those days, she would normally never bring Nestle products to a social engagement. If she did it certainly wasn’t to promote Nestle, but just just because she had extra Nestle products lying around and needed somewhere to get rid of them. But now, when she brings HER product to this she is hoping for the publicity of it.
Interesting. How I see it, as more and more people leave their office or corporate jobs- where they feel less of an identity pull to that- and go to having more of a “personal brand”, this type of dynamic is going to escalate.
Another example. More recently, I was at a wonderful social event for “mommy bloggers”. I know, I am not a mommy, but I went with a dear friend who is in that world. The event was amazing and swanky and felt supportive and fun. All these mommy bloggers were, you know, very authentically connecting with each other. But throughout the event, you could not escape hearing “Hey, tweet at me” or “hey, tag my shop on your Instagram”. No one was obnoxiously pushy in this, but it was everywhere and felt, well, normal. But it got me thinking about the line where interaction, personal interaction, becomes a promotion of brand too.
Is there a difference in personal growth groups and networking engagements? Are all social engagements or group engagements going to become about helping each other promote our projects. But when ME and my personal brand come to something like a small group, to help support other people- and the other people bring along their “personal brands”, where is the distinction between me and my brand? Where is the distinction between my friend and her drink company? In the market place, maybe there isn’t a distinction. But at some point does her drink outshine her? And who is caring for the person and who is simply trying to promote the brand. Are all authentic relationships going to change to authentically helping that person’s brand? But someone has to still care about the PERSON.
I want to know, and care, about the PERSON.