In My Own Image: Branding 3

Mardi-Gras harlequin eye mask

Is job hunting a masked ball?

Drawing back the bowstring in preparation for this week’s shot, let us define our terms again:

Brand: the name (and any form of that name) of a human being (personal brand); the name (and any of the variations of that name) of a product created by a corporation (product brand)

Reputation: The public body of common knowledge–positive and negative– built over time about a certain institution, product, or person.

Fame: Widespread familiarity with a person  or product beyond the local circle of influence (family and neighborhood–where everybody knows your real name before you changed it to “Snowe Wyte”).

Finally, we come to


Oye! I said before I was a third grade teacher in an earlier career incarnation and that I have always loved words. I hate to see my good friends abused.  Also, remember that running under my journalism major is a “little specialty” in advertising and PR (yeah, I watch the Super Bowl ads every year…). This is why I care when I see or hear the words, “brand” and “image” used interchangeably in discussions about personal branding.

I say using “brand” when you mean “image”  is a trap because in the midst of developing a personal brand, some job seekers may come to the erroneous conclusion that the only work of personal branding is wearing “winner” clothes, having a toothpaste ad-perfect smile, a firm handshake, and having no gray hair. Not so. If you held your shoulders back and your belly in until two-thousand no-mo’ it would not  scratch the  surface of the meaning of personal branding. However, observing the personal physical presentation and other representatives of you (resume, CV, etc.) do impact whether or not your public–the people who count in your life–will be encouraged to have the desired positive perception of you.

Get this: product brand  image is the perception an audience has of a certain brand name.  Producers want the public to perceive their creation a certain way so they do things that cast their product in the light they want it to be seen and remembered. Say, “Sunsweet Prunes”. Now say, “Sunsweet Dried Plums”. A “grandmother” would buy “prunes”, but a younger baby boomer would buy “dried plums”.  Now, what do you think of the “Sunsweet” brand name dried plums?  Trendy?

You got it. Boomers associate prunes with aging. Any brand name that appears above the words, “prunes” is visualized to be a brand identified with 80-year-old mum and dad. My classmates will studiously avoid buying anything that suggests advanced age and infirmity.  What we have just described is the effect of a brand name’s image.

What does “image” mean in the lexicon of job-hunting terminology?

We speak of personal brand image. Behind a person’s name is a reputation built through all kinds of interpersonal exchanges over time. Perhaps in the “dream time”, people could see each others’ souls and read each others’ minds, but sure enough in the world we live in, they cannot. People draw their conclusions and form their opinions about others from what is immediately visible. The total of one’s public visual presentation is called, “personal image”.  Job seekers do things to create and support positive image.

Like it or not the United States is becoming more and more a visual-oriented society. Pictures are becoming the primary mode of transmitting information. Image matters. In this new world it is what it seems. Some of the visible aspects of people draw negative opinions from others for many reasons including, but not limited to, cultural biases, racism, and personal preferences. This means some people will find it more difficult to be perceived positively for reasons beyond their personal control. How to mollify the effects of negative perception or “negative type casting” is another day’s work.

Next time, we will move on to the anatomy of internal and external image as related to the job seeker. Until then, watch this video and tell me if your perception of the city mentioned changed. By the way, you will encounter some stereotypical opinions–negative public images.