Brand repair and the unkind brand of the unemployed
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
28 June 2013
What goes into a brand repair
Every facet of our lives touches our personal brand. Think about your personal brand as if it were a reputation known to those that do not know you all that well. I am not talking about your close friends and relatives, those whose opinion of your character is based upon personal experience. I am talking about that personal brand in broader, more public terms. And how brand repair may figure into it.
All of us have these brands. Many have emotional peaks that allow others to relate to it. Categories like parent, pastor or pedophile all elicit an emotional response that permits others to place you into a set of expectations within their lives.
“When a brand has an issue and the company wishes to repair it, it has a double problem. Before the brand can assign a positive and desired value to the brand, it needs to reduce the current association.”
In those terms, let’s think about the words we attached to personal brands. Words matter. Unemployed (or, “redundant,” in the vernacular of Europe) has its own brand association and it’s a negative one. Even though, because of our recent recession, we have all potentially softened the negative association, it’s still there.
In that case, brand repair is needed, which is a difficult endeavor. When a brand has an issue and the company wishes to repair it, it has a double problem. Before the brand can assign a positive and desired value to the brand, it needs to reduce the current association.
This is much more difficult than creating a new brand. This is because brand, just like stereotyping, serves a practical purpose. It simplifies our lives by allowing us to place the brand in an ordered way so that we can make sense out of our lives and not have to revisit the personal importance the brand has for us.
When Apple comes up with a new phone for example, its highly cultivated brand value of high design, product simplicity and innovation makes it important to even those who use Android. Everyone notices to see what’s up and knows where to place Apple.
Sometimes, the vernacular we use in association with a brand helps define it. This seems to be true when I think about the brand of the unemployed. Even the European term — redundant — says that you are no longer needed and without value. Think about a term the unemployed might use themselves when they find that they are out of money. Broke. Did you ever think about what that small word means out of context? It means not in workable order, requiring brand repair or worse.
Like it or not, these associations are real. In a society where many of the unemployed are highly skilled and/or motivated workers, it is high time we consider brand repair. After all, it could easily be you we speak of.
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