Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Becoming Iconic

Personal branding is one thing, but becoming an icon, well, that's for someone else.

Or is it?

On the WebDesignerDepot website is a curious list of the 100 most iconic people of all time. That's a list with personalities like Winston Churchill, Muhammad Ali and Jesus Christ. A pretty weighty list to be sure. But one thing struck me as I scrolled down the list to see who they had selected for their list... almost ALL of them could be identified by a visual characteristic - the very core of any good brand identity.

It's not that you have to be beautiful - you just have to work with what you've got.

Let me run down the list a bit, and you identify a brand image... if I said Albert Einstein, you'd say the big mustache and the crazy white hair. Try some others:

Woody Allen
Louie Armstrong
Ludwig van Beethoven
Napoleon Bonaparte'
Curt Cobain
Fidel Castro
Charlie Chaplin

I didn't even get to Salvadore Dali yet!

Woody Allen (glasses)
Louie Armstrong (giant smile)
Ludwig van Beethoven (brooding looks and wild hair)
Napoleon Bonaparte' (short stature and the hand in his coat)
Bono (tinted glasses and trademark scruff)
Curt Cobain (unkempt hair)
Fidel Castro (military hat, cigar & beard)
Charlie Chaplin (derby, mustache and walking cane)

What's the point?

If you consciously make the choice to focus on a part of your physical feature, your sense of style or anything else that sets you apart, people will remember. Like a brand that selects a specific color, type font or celebrity endorser - over time, that feature will stick in the minds of those who come in contact with you. "Top of mind awareness." Isn't that the old school slogan? It may be old school, but it works. For personal branding, nothing gets more personal - but few things are as difficult for us to do, than to focus so much of our attention to a single positive and impressionable feature we possess.

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