Monday, September 20, 2010

Branding Is a Double Edged Sword

Anything in life that has a huge reward also has the potential to be a huge risk or liability as well. If you do something that could be perceived as a great achievement, keep in mind that if you don’t succeed, that could be viewed negatively.

Don’t let that completely deter you from trying to build your brand since a failure could also be presented as a learning experience. As I heard on Star Trek one time, “…it was a mistake, and there’s not anyone among us that’s not been young enough to make one.”

Sometimes there’s something you do that could be perceived as both at the same time, depending on the person’s point of view. That happened to me recently, and it was a good learning experience.

In my career I’ve been outspoken at times, espousing opinions and thoughts that can be controversial. That has worked well for me since many people have enjoyed my writing and it causes them to think, or even inspires them to do something. That’s the sharp side of the sword that is my virtual pen.

However expressing strong opinions also offends some people. It upsets them, and they can take it personally. That’s the other edge of my virtual pen, and it’s just as sharp.

I was attempting to obtain a new position awhile back and a number of people had to approve my application. They didn’t, expressing the idea that I might not work well with others since I am such a strong personality.

In this case my “brand” held me back, and it was a little painful. However it made me go back and re-examine who I am. I looked at how I present my opinions, what I’ve written, and how I deal with people. I came to the conclusion that I can be a bit overbearing at times, and maybe write with too much emotion, a little too “raw” at times with my thoughts.

However that’s who I am, and I am comfortable with that.  People have come to trust me because I tend to call things as I see them. I don’t write for effect, I don’t put forth opinions to get a reaction, but I write what I really think and feel.

I can temper some of my language and the way I write, and I will look to be more careful, but ultimately I learned something about myself, and I learned that I have to live with the consequences of that.

Branding is still a good idea, in my opinion, since the benefits outweigh the negatives. You’ll never please everyone, and you should not get too upset if someone doesn’t like your brand. The idea is that you want more positive impressions from your brand than negative ones.

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