Your own name plays a huge part of your personal brand, but how many of us really get to determine that element and as an adult actually go through with it? Apparently, if you’re in a gang in Baltimore and likely elsewhere, you get that chance, and sometimes it can backfire!
According to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun, gangbangers all have nicknames, ones that are so ubiquitous, that they are actually used in court filings! Unfortunately, the thought given to what that nickname is might be a bit lacking and can come back to haunt them when they get into the “System”.
Imagine being the defense lawyer trying to convince a jury of your client’s innocence on a murder or assault charge when the young man sitting at your side has “Murder” tattooed on his neck for all to see, or is questioned by the prosecution and addressed by his nickname,”Bloody Dog” multiple times into the court record and read back repeatedly. Good luck with that . . .
In their world, picking a scary sounding nickname gives you a certain amount of street credibility, and often tells something about you, just as any brand should. Unfortunately, that brand is designed for a very specific audience, and has a negative impact on those outside that audience. We’ll call these two-way brands, like a two-way mirror. One side reflects the owner’s identity, the other side is seen right through to the person underneath.
Some commercial brands are two-ways as well, and this is usually a result of faulty or lack of consumer research when crafting the original identity. Brands that reflect too much of an “inside” perspective are built for insiders and those “outside” the circle just don’t “Get it”. Not a very good way to attract new customers, or even to spark curiosity – once you investigate the odd name that doesn’t resonate, discover it has nothing to do with anything you’re interested in, you ignore it, discount it, or avoid it altogether.
One that comes to mind is “Go Daddy”. They created that brand from an internal meeting of some kind and simply forced recognition through effective creative advertising on a huge scale. But if you just mentioned the name prior to that, it certainly doesn’t sound like a domain name registration company – there are no reliable attributes that the words “Go Daddy” together evoke. Certainly they don’t bring to mind orderliness, convenience, permanence, cooperation, creativity, or any of a number of other characteristics that by definition such a company would embody. Yet, it’s a fast-growing company with high financial performance and a good chunk of market share – not bad for an upstart with a quirky brand . . .
Your personal brand reflects the characteristics you want the public to see, regardless of who that public is. Every adult has the opportunity to create their own brand, and can have their name legally changed with a simple hearing by a judge and some basic paperwork – as long as the reason has nothing to do with your need to evade the law or debt of any kind, have at it. Entertainers do it all the time – would you tune in to watch Larry Zeiger interview celebrities? But before retirement, Larry King pulled in the occasional viewer on a regular basis. Go figure.
Some internal reflection is in order when choosing your personal brand. Give it some thought, understand that it has to be viewed by the world at large and have some meaning, then back up the moniker with the attributes you hold in highest regard, consistently. Now you’re talking branding . . .
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