Do you know who this is? (image at left). Do you recognize her name? Right. I used to collect this doll. She is one of many products of Mattel Toys, a competitor of Hasbro. My very first Barbie doll was the first one with “bendable legs” to come out on the market and I followed her like any true fan.
We have been talking about personal branding and unpacking exactly what that is in regard to the job hunt. As you well know by now, my motto is: let’s get to the bottom of this. First, let’s define the word, “reputation”: “n. good standing; the opinion or regard in which one is generally held, as he has a reputation for honor.”- New Concise Webster’s Dictionary. Now, let’s define the word, “fame”:n. public reputation; wide renoun”-New Concise Webster’s Dictionary Consider that a corporation with full knowledge and intent does things to make its name widely known– “famous”. It even does whatever it must through law to preserve the uniqueness of that name. Behind that name stands a reputation in the marketplace. “Borrowing” another’s name/brand without permission in order to build one’s own name/brand is tantamount to identity theft.
Think for a moment. What is Barbie known for? Say, “Barbie” and it means glamor to one mom and glorification of sexuality to another. During the time I actively participated in the Women’s movement, I denounced Mattel’s Barbie doll because it presented to young girls a negative, unrealistic image of women.
What is a consumer buying when she buys or receives one of these dolls? Let us look at someone who seems to me to have been the ancestor of Barbie.
Recognize the icon of 1950’s womanhood in the picture at left? What did a consumer who went to see her movies then or buys merchandise with her picture on it today expect? Just say the name, “Marilyn” and it conjures up a certain kind of mental image; everybody seems to know who the topic of the conversation is. Let us fast forward to the 1980’s incarnation of the 1950’s “glam” theme. Recognize the woman in the golden corsette? (bottom) Say, “Madonna” and you are more likely to envision this performer than Mary, the mother of Jesus. Barbie…Marilyn…Madonna: that, friends, is fame.
So, what is a product brand? A name that identifies a carefully crafted construction created solely to satisfy something in the consumer who,convinced of the benefits of that product, is willing to exchange money for the shampoo, the hairspray, the toys, the movie tickets, or the concert tickets.
“Barbie” is the name of a product. “Marilyn” is the name of a product. “Madonna” is the name of a product. The product is what you experience when you see, hear and feel the results of their applied talent (in Barbie’s case, the work of hundreds of Mattel employees). You, the job seeker are not the product. What you produce, the end result of your talent and skill is the product. You are a person.
Presented with many choices, consumers will buy a familiar name. Potential employers will bet on a familiar look; a familiar attitude. Companies look like they acquire personalities because of their tendency to hire a familiar type of people. Most job seekers do not have fame. This is why achieving distinction among others becomes important. This is why the questionable pictures on Facebook should cause concern. Anything that mars a good reputation gains negative attention (infamy!).
The carefully crafted economic constructions we make famous with our patronage do not merely sell us tickets or toys, they sell us an experience (back to a comment from one of my readers).
You do realize, then, that the current wisdom on job hunting is pointing job seekers toward thinking and behaving the way a publicist in promoting a client/talent does? Over and over again I am reading in columns and hearing in seminars that potential employers are looking for “rock stars” to fill the positions they have available.
In effect, the interview is morphing into an audition where interviewers seem to be asking applicants, “what about you has “star quality?” What kind of experience should the company expect when you become a part of the team here?