My grandparents had strong personalities. In every aspect of their lives, you knew where you stood with them. People of that generation allowed their personality to be ingrained in every part of their brand.
Technology and especially the Internet has certainly slowed that type of brazen persona. What we say and do today can be communicated to the world within moments. Our generation is accountable for what we think, do, and create. Just ask Rosie O’Donnell, Britney Spears, or anybody else who has gotten torched in recent memory.
On one hand, this type of accountability is great. It makes each of us strive to produce quality work and be nicer people.(lest people in our social networks spread the message) Mike Lally over at Diligentia argues that we don’t have one brand, but many brands, each managed by the different people we deal with on a regular basis. While that’s certainly true, I think that’s still old-school thinking. In an age where social-networks and blogs tell the world who we’re connected and who we work with, our brand is converging not splitting.
My grandparents had many brands. The people they dealt with had no easy way to communicate their experiences to the greater community. That has changed today. If I have a terrible experience with a person or a brand, I can let others know. This is called word-of-mouth. Check out Andy Sernovitz’s blog for his experiences and thoughts on word-of-mouth as it relates to companies.
On the negative side of our connected world, it’s much harder these days to state your true opinions and let your personality out. People fear getting reamed in blogs, the media, and in social networks. No one wants to be abused. However, this type of accountability has led people to become boring. People are creating brands that lack personality, yet we are still people. If we want to create a NAME brand, we need to be people.
John Kerry and Al Gore hid their personalities behind their brand while Bush rode his entire campaign on his personality. Who had greater success at creating a following?