Personal Brand. Is it important or is it not? Some say it is super valuable and is the doorway to other opportunities. Still others say that personal brand is a waste of time and a distraction from the core mission of a company. Which of these sentiments seem most important to you?
The United States Olympic Committee took a black eye today when pictures of a 14-time gold medal winner smoking a bong emerged on the internet.
Speedo, concerned about fallout from recent photos of a spokesman smoking marijuana at a college house party, considered yanking his endorsement contract.
Michael Phelps, America’s swimming legend, who has secured a record 14 gold medals is in danger of losing endorsement contracts and be banned from competing in the 2012 London Olympics.
If you are thinking about this the same way I am, you recognize that the most damaging sentiment to the greater public is the third. Sure, Speedo investors might be concerned about a hit to the reputation of the Speedo gear, but probably not. I mean, really? The USOC is used to being rocked by scandal, so that brand is already pretty worthless.
But Mike Phelps? He’s an icon. He makes girls swoon and guys try to be like him. He’s a legend in his own time, possibly eclipsing Lance Armstrong or even Tiger Woods.
And he has a history of getting in trouble with substance abuse. Four years ago, at the illegal drinking age of 19, he was arrested for DUI. He made mends, so we thought, and did good by the community by making frequent visits to high schools and preaching the sins of alcohol abuse. He was reformed and America wanted to buy into his brand. His personal brand.
Then the news of him being a 23 year old and doing the college party scene, hitting the booze hard and then happily accepting a bong in, what some observers called, a well-practiced hit. (Click the link to see the incriminating photo which, Phelps now admits is real).
Coming full circle, I respectfully submit, that personal brand might be one of the most important aspects to any business. How you are perceived directly impacts your company. Just as my friendship with Shashi, creates positive karma for Network Solutions, or President Obama’s personal brand has transformed Democratic politics.
Personal brand is not dead. It is very much alive.
Photo Credit: [MarcoPako via Flickr]