Bet you never thought you’d see those two names in a blog post title together, huh?
Bet you also never thought the two had a lot in common? I mean besides being insightful, intelligent people.
Both the Dalai Lama and Hannibal Lecter are brands. Obviously they are personal brands. Somebody mentions the Dalai Lama and you see him, his face probably, in your mind’s eye. That’s immediate and first for most people. Give yourself a moment and you might think “Tibet” or “Buddhist”. Few people will think “Buddhism“. It would take someone with a little bit of knowledge to think “Lhamo Dhondup”, his birth name. You may have a sense or a feeling of peace, kindness, gentleness, charity. You may know his laugh and sense of humor or hear his voice.
As a personal brand. Wow. As a spokesperson and brand for his country and beliefs. Wow.
Now what about Hannibal Lecter. Depending which movie you watched, your thoughts might go towards “ghoul”, “psychopath”, “sociopath” or “party, dude!”. How many can name the books he’s in? Most people will work to get three out of four (I came up with four, but I knew Han before he became fashionable). Do you know the author’s name? Easy one coming up; who played Hannibal Lecter in three out of four of his screen appearances? Tough one coming up; what venerable, incredible Scottish actor played Han The Man in his first screen appearance?
Again, the brand is personal and so indelibly etched in our psyches (no offence to Dr. Lecter) that it extends and touches things far beyond the person themselves.
Notice my glib reference to Hannibal Lecter as “Han” above? You’d never call him that, right? Not to his face anyway. Not if you wanted to keep yours. And what about the Dalai Lama? His first name is “the”, isn’t it? Nobody calls him “Dal” or even “Dalai”.
And you’ve never get them confused, right? Imagine just for a moment the Dalai Lama’s personality demonstrated through Hannibal Lecter’s mannerisms. It’s tough (for me, anyway) but doable. It takes some work and it’s doable. Now do the reverse, Hannibal Lecter’s personality demonstrated through the Dalai Lama’s mannerisms. That one I can’t do. I can get it started then I have to shake it off.
That’s how strong those brands are. Your mind has so strongly associated them with their being that you can’t shift it out into someone else. Most people can’t interchange Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. They’re two more examples of personal brands etched upon our psyches (for those of us who can remember Saturday morning cartoons, anyway).
Three Steps to Becoming a Brand
First, Public Recognition. The Dalai Lama became a brand organically. He wasn’t an overnight sensation. Or that night was about thirty or forty years long. Hannibal Lecter, interesting enough, also wasn’t an overnight sensation. He was around in books and movies for better than 16 years before becoming an household name. However, the Hannibal Lecter we know and love was a marketing marvel and was (pretty much) an overnight sensation. Enough so that two sequels were made featuring him. Now that’s a brand; to go from supporting actor to lead. Whoa!. The Dal? There have been lots of movies and most westerners probably won’t even remember Martin Scorsese’s Kundun.
So whether through time on in time, public recognition is crucial to becoming a brand.
Next comes Emotional Connectivity. Also crucial and something both Hannibal Lecter and the Dalai Lama share is that people equate them with strong emotional connections; the latter to injustice, freedom, peace and the other to a good chianti. People may feel good (the Dalai Lama) or bad (Hannibal Lecter) when they think of you and very few will be indifferent to you.
Third and last, Behavior Befitting the Brand. Extremely important is that you demonstrate through your behavior what your brand is all about, what it means for others to accept your brand, to take part in your brand and to promote your brand.
The Dalai Lama and Hannibal Lecter. Need I say more?
What’s most interesting about these three steps is how interconnected they are.
- Your behavior creates your brand so be careful. One slip out of your brand character and your brand is destroyed (Think “Hey, dude! You’re getting a Dell!” and Mr. “Sham Wow”).
- Create strong emotional connectivity and you’ll be virally transported into rapid public recognition but remember that most people don’t know how to control a viral message well enough to duplicate it on demand…or stop it when it goes out of control.
- Public recognition means you’ll be increasingly under the microscope, meaning there’s more opportunity to betray your branding behavior.
Definitely brand yourself and use yourself to promote your brand. Just be careful and do it right.
Please contact NextStage for information regarding presentations and trainings on this and other topics.
- The 4th Annual SNCR Research Symposium & Awards Gala at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, 5-6 Nov 09
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