Personal Branding?

“Personal Branding” has been hotly debated recently in my circles. “Do I have a personal brand?” “Does personal branding exist?” “Am I a brand or a person?”

Part of the reason this is discussed so often is that people tend to define a personal brand in terms that don’t mean anything. By using terms for PEOPLE that are used to categorize COMPANIES, people are turned off to the concept or fail to understand the true meaning of the term.

Does personal branding exist? Yes. Do *YOU* have one? Maybe.

Basically, a “personal brand” is what people EXPECT when you come to mind. Period. Some people have this and some people don’t.

A personal brand is achieved through ACTIONS which people come to associate with your name or face. If you never DO anything that people perceive, you do not have a personal brand, IMO. This is because your name doesn’t “ring bells” and doesn’t alter anyone’s perception of a situation when they find out that you’re involved. This does NOT mean that you aren’t important… It merely means people don’t KNOW who you are and/or what you do.

For instance, if you google Emmy Award Editor I’m #1. Actually, I’m #1 AND #2, because the youtube version of the collab I did with Indy Mogul is in the second slot, with 11,240 views. People hit my resume page or my “about” page every single day, so lots of people have associated the name Bill Cammack with quality videotape editorial. This is what they EXPECT when they find out I worked on a project… Quality.

So what about Ian Jenkins?

“Who?” πŸ˜€

Ian Jenkins is a friend of mine who edits and works A HELL OF A LOT HARDER than I do. πŸ™‚ Ian edits a show for Next New Networks called “Fast Lane Daily”, which just won a 2008 Webby Award.

J-Rad, Ian Jenkins & Alan Kaufman

That’s Ian in the white FLD shirt and headphones. Also pictured are a couple of other NNN friends of mine, J-Rad & Alan Kaufman.

Now… If I had a project I wanted to get done, Ian Jenkins would be one of the top guys I’d want working with me. That’s because I happen to know his work ethic and the skill and dedication he brings to the table. I know this because I’ve spoken to him, I’ve seen his work and I know people that work WITH him. Does he broadcast this himself? No. Not that I know of. Is he crafting a personal brand? Not that I know of. He’s doing what he does. IS “Ian Jenkins” a brand? HELL YES! πŸ˜€ That’s because when *I* hear his name, I EXPECT certain things from a project Ian worked on.

So who’s the better editor? Bill Cammack or Ian Jenkins?…. Unfortunately, editing is highly subjective. The only thing that matters is whether the job gets done WELL and ON TIME. So I say NEITHER of us is better as a editor. My personal brand is more recognized, because I spend hours every day working on it and Ian doesn’t give a damn. πŸ™‚ Ian meets deadlines every. single. day. while I play SOCOM. I’m freelance, so I’ve worked for a ton of shows, companies and people for advertising, corporate and broadcast productions. Ian’s a staffer, so he works on one show, and it runs on the internet, but he probably produces 15 videos for every one that I output. Ian shoots video as well. So do I, but I’d rather edit, and Ian’s probably better at shooting, because he does it infinitely more than I do.

Bill Cammack

My point is… You can’t tell JACK from how well someone uses the internet to publicize themselves. I’m not going to tell you to google Video Editor Resume (I’m #3) to figure out who’s GOOD or who can make it happen. That’s just a list of people that know how to use tags, or even worse, actually PAID PEOPLE to get them better rankings on google. :/ Doesn’t mean they’re any good at what they do AT ALL. Doesn’t mean their name “rings bells” IRL. What matters is what people know or perceive about you, which IS your personal brand, whether you LIKE that or not and whether you EMBRACE that or not.

Regardless of whether you brand YOURSELF, people are going to brand YOU. I started telling people to Google “Bill” (I’m currently #9 of 541,000,000 pages for “Bill”) because I don’t carry business cards, and it’s really the easiest way for people to get in touch with me. Next thing I know, hahaha this is how I’m being introduced to people at parties. πŸ™‚ This wasn’t MY idea, but people get a kick out of that and it spreads from person to person.

Actually… And I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about this… πŸ˜€ Neither my professional accomplishments nor my stellar search engine rankings (e.g. women dating nyc #3) are what most people that I meet “know me for”. It’s always “….. YOU’RE that guy that’s in all those pictures with all those women! :D”.

Alana, Jill, Chrissie, Flo, Bill, Michelle & Whitney

Grace, Christine, Bill, Kathryn & Annie

Chrissie, Flo, Bill & Leora

Michelle, Marissa, Bill & Lindsey

So, BESIDES not overshadowing your BUSINESS brand with your SOCIAL brand, πŸ™‚ the moral of our story is… Do you have a personal brand? Maybe. It depends first of all on whether you actually DO ANYTHING, and second on whether you’re letting people KNOW that you do these things or whether other people are publicizing you. If people think differently of something because you’re involved with it, that’s your PERSONAL BRAND at work. This does NOT only have to do with business either. We’ll get into that another time. You might have a personal brand when it comes to dating. The fact that you can be trusted in general and your word actually MEANS SOMETHING is potentially part of your personal brand.

There’s also NEGATIVE personal branding, such as when a client refuses to pay you for several months for work you did for them and you’re getting ready to blast their name and company all over the WORLD WIDE WEB for not living up to their agreements EVERY SINGLE DAY until you get satisfaction, which would amount to receiving PAYMENT IN FULL for services rendered. But that’s a story for another day. πŸ˜€

So that’s what I think about personal branding. If you’re in the “public” eye (as ‘public’ as our small Echo Chamber gets) brand yourself or other people will do it for you. Whatever opinions come to mind when people hear your name or see your face, that’s YOUR brand. Even if NO opinions come to people’s minds or they’ve never heard of you, that doesn’t matter as long as YOU know what you’re bringing to the table. “The Fame Game” isn’t for everybody. Not everybody CAN do it, not everybody SHOULD do it and not everybody does it WELL.

So.. Does ‘Personal Branding’ exist, or am I talking about vaporware? πŸ˜€

What do you think?

~Bill

15 thoughts on “Personal Branding?”

  1. Yeah, personal branding exists. Even for a small company doing bitpart work but also building up the social grid/graph. I call it me being sociable with my media (social media) i’m sharing my media – allowing myself to look at me and see what i stand for through what i create and people do come to identify that. It’s sometimes easy to attach reputation with “personal brand” – when i hear it i think of someone trying to brand themselves in the same way companies operate with logos, slogans and catchy oneliners.

    For me, what makes a good person to work with and me remember them was not the personal brand but how that person makes me feel when i meet them connected and balanced with the media of them i have seen online. Because if i can get on with the person and also trust that person, doing business with them just comes naturally. πŸ™‚

    Nice Post (as always) πŸ™‚

  2. Excellent analysis of branding yourself online.

    When I think of Bill Cammack I think of someone who is an Emmy award winning video editor and also someone who is hilarious for all of the humorous tweets you have shared online that always left me in stitches.

    But on another note, I have realized how you have taken time to speak and network with a range of people than just limiting yourself to one industry to do video work in. That is why I gravitated toward your work for I see you do not put limits on yourself but I know if you were in a position like Ian Jenkins that you would put 1000% behind everything you do because your NAME is associated with it. Freelancing is different from a staff position. I know that from my own industry too!

    I know for myself on Twitter how people see me as a connector but then I have other identities online that I wanted to separate from my twitter life only to give me the freedom to to move freely in and out of some social communities without some assuming I will *connect* them because of my twitter reputation.

    Thanks again for the thoughtful post!

  3. @Phil: Yes. Definitely. Your live/recorded shows have been great personal branding for yourself, because you’ve given to the community with reviews or opinions about net, video or tech stuff while at the same time informing them about what your hobbies are and what you’re bringing to the table as a businessman. Also, in what we both do, just putting things “on the air” is a demonstration of our capabilities and proficiencies.

    Your point about how a person makes you feel is very important. Like I was saying about editing, there’s only a certain level of skill where you can separate one editor from another one. It all comes down to hitting deadlines and doing quality work in that amount of time. The reason I don’t carry business cards is I get my business through word of mouth. I don’t go to social media events to do business. I go to hang out with my friends, enjoy GREAT times and take millions of pictures. πŸ™‚ I get callbacks because my clients know that we’re going to get the job done AND enjoy ourselves all day while we’re doing it.

  4. @TheJennTaFur: Thanks! πŸ˜€

    Yes. I started to get into that towards the end of the post, but your personal brand is made up of ALL aspects of your interactions with people. This is where a lot of people get thrown off / turned off. They think that to have a personal brand, it means you’re trying to do business with people or publicize yourself in some odd fashion. πŸ™‚ Your brand is your brand. You mentioned Twitter. A people post to Twitter, you get the flavor of what they like to talk about and whether their opinions are generally valid and whether they post useful links. That’s all part of your brand. I post about things that are interesting to me, dating, social media, video production and post-production. My typical day is made up of too many things for my self-expression on the net to be one-dimensional.

    For instance, I dropped this on Sunday afternoon, when a lot of guys are watching football. πŸ™‚ That adds to my brand. Except for two pictures that I can recall at this time, all the women in my pictures are actually friends of mine. That’s part of my brand. I’m not documenting that I was in one place, one time, with people I don’t have any form of relationship to.

    I think that whatever it is that you do and people know that you do and form an opinion of adds to (or, I guess we can say, in the case of negative issues like non-payment for services rendered, subtracts from) your personal brand, and whether you consider yourself a business or not, as Phil mentioned, you still have a REPUTATION, which as you know is very important as far as business AND socialization.

  5. @BillCammack wow, thank you again. You make some really great points but there is something else though that I think a lot of FEMALES fail to realize on the net.

    As a female there are some interesting individuals who will find you in all social networks who you maybe involved with. This is another method to my insanity for I am trying to avoid those who tend to harass you online and even stalk you online. I cannot even go into the racism I have experienced which is more than just being a female. I took the risk of sharing pictures but then again some of these racists are a head trip.

    I have gone through being stalked online and I am still being *watched* by this idiot and I have let them know KINDLY to leave me alone but that is why I am careful of always sharing my whereabouts of where I am nor do I share my entire name in fear of that nimrod looking me up in the phone directory and harassing me.

    My entire reason on the net has been to observe and watch trends in Intellectual Property issues involving multimedia. I am trained as a lawyer. I do not broadcast this only because I am not practicing law and further I do not appreciate people thinking I am going to give them a quick legal answer when they should retain me and pay me for my services. I’ve already had that happen a few times and I have had to kindly ask some people to find another lawyer to work with because it seems some people don’t want to pay (which usually is MOST of the time).

    Just another side to think about for some females who are creating a brand. It’s better to be safe than to be sorry in the end!

    Again, thanks for a well thought out post.

  6. @Jenn: It’s absolutely a tougher situation on the internet for women than it is for men. Absolutely. In fact, unless I’m aware that a gal is advertising herself on the web, using her Gub’mint name, I’ll only post her first name if she’s in a pic with me, and sometimes, not post her name at all or even not post the PICTURE at all.

    Also, I’ve untagged some pictures and taken down some pictures at females’ requests. Of course I still have them, because they’re *my* pictures, but I make a choice to post media to the internet and I want them to have that same choice.

    In the context of this post about personal branding, there’s definitely added ‘pressure’ on women to appear socially vague… by which I mean to not give the appearance that they’re dating anybody. There are several gals who actively HIDE their boyfriends… not guys they’re messing with, but guys they are heavily involved with or even live with. The perception is that they would be less effective in what they’re trying to do with their careers if guys knew they were ‘spoken for’.

    This is another one of those “don’t know whether to laugh or cry” situations, because on the one hand, it indicates that they’re trying to be slick and on the other hand it indicates that there are valid reasons that they can’t afford for guys to think they’re not going to get the chance to have sex with her because she’s already giving it to some guy.

    Attractiveness is a tricky and potent commodity when it comes to the internet. Some women play themselves UP and some play themselves DOWN, depending on what they’re trying to do and the image they’re trying to portray. Either way, it’s in y’all’s best interest to be careful how much personal information you’re putting out there, for sure.

  7. Hey Steve. Thanks for the comment. πŸ™‚

    That’s the way I see it. People will either think SOMETHING when they hear your name, or they’ll think NOTHING when they hear your name. Thinking NOTHING is better than them thinking something extremely NEGATIVE, but I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to attempt to assess what reputation they have or are cultivating with people and then determine whether to remain on that path or do something that’s more along the lines of their best interests.

  8. Very interesting piece here Bill. Here is my take:

    Everyone has a brand because we are always selling ourselves to others, including our managers, friends and love interests. Also, people are constantly judging us, as you pointed out.

    When it comes to web 2.0 or, as my book is called “Me 2.0,” there are many opportunities gain personal visibility, while at the same time, helping your company. Social media has allowed us to stand in front of our corporate brands, not behind (like web 1.0).

  9. Thanks for the comment, Dan. πŸ™‚

    Personal Visibility is a great term. Actually, I’d say that might sum up the reason I got involved in internet video in 2006.

    When you do something for broadcast television, once it airs, you only see it again in scheduled reruns or if you taped/DVR’d it. When you do something for the net, it basically sits there “forever”. People can access it whenever they want and from wherever they want as long as they can google you from that location and find what they’re looking for.

    Personal visibility is what allows those of us who do what we do to be our own public relations agency. If you want to do a show on television, you have to go through AUDITIONS. If you want to be featured on Entertainment Tonight, you have to be a CELEBRITY. At this point, we can feature ourselves on our own fansites and we can cast ourselves in our own shows, create our own music, give our own opinions, and the opportunity’s there to have interactions with people around the world who tune in to what we have to say… just like how I’m responding to your response right now.

    I think your point about standing in front of your corporate brand is valid also. One of the most valuable things about blip.tv is that if there’s a problem, Mike Hudack (the CEO) might make his cell number available to anyone who feels like calling him and discussing it. Blip has also done a fantastic job of being involved with the community and listening to what we want and need from video hosts. Similar to what you mentioned, the value of blip.tv lies FIRST in it’s personnel and SECOND in the features it offers to content creators.

    In most cases, the products and services are what speak for a company and the management and the rest of the team is walled off, so you might be able to see pictures of them, but you never actually have any interaction with them. What’s going to make the difference when the services offered aren’t enough to make the decision on? The personal brand of the PEOPLE who make it all happen.

  10. Well thank you Bill… great article, way too much flattery there πŸ™‚

    You obviously know that you’re the most popular Bill on the internet, so cheers to that. I’ll give you a more educated reply when I can, I’m in the middle of editing FLD this very moment… hooray!

    Actually I’ve finally moved on from editing the show, minus this week. I was working on rebuilding the graphics, designed the whole new widescreen graphics package for the show. Next time you check out the site, let me know what you think.

  11. Personal Branding is just a re-terming of “Who do I want others to think I am?” but with a hint of advertising spin. Hence having to come up with a BS term for something that has existed since the dawn of two people in conflict or trying to cooperate. I say it’s just BS language reinvention and I’m throwing down a harumph(!) as well ’cause that’s how I roll.
    To restate, I think selling yourself has always been the first part of any cooperative relationship whether conscious or not (some sell themselves as low on the food chain, fer’ instance)the point of which is to get something in return (more abuse)… I could go on but I think you get it. πŸ™‚

  12. @Steve: I agree that it’s just basic “selling yourself”. In that context, I’d say that there are people who just don’t sell themselves at all. They just allow people to have ZERO opinion of them, and that’s the way they enjoy their lives.

    Dan made the point, above, that “everyone has a brand”. I can agree with that, but I would still say that not everyone has a GOOD brand or an EFFECTIVE brand, and not everyone CULTIVATES their brand. Some people try and fail. Some people don’t care, so they don’t try. Some people try and succeed.

    The bottom line, for me, still comes down to whether or not someone’s opinion about a situation will be affected by finding out that you’re involved with it. If not, your brand isn’t “ringing any bells”. There’s nothing wrong with that, but people who are trying to be KNOWN for something, whether that’s in the realm of business or pleasure, need to get on top of their game and make sure they’re projecting the right image(s) to match their agenda(s).

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