We all have one 😉 And no I’m not talking about a brain, a heart, a nose or even rude bits – I’m referring to a personal brand. The big difference is some of us are masters in the art of turning our personal brand into a household name and others are not.

Week after week we continue to see examples of the power of personal brands and how they can weather a storm, even gale force winds like the ones that have been pummeling Victoria the past few weeks. Recently we’ve seen the Kyle and Jackie O franchise weather the storm of the great lie detector, we’ve seen Michael Jackson’s brand continue to build after his death and we’ve seen Kylie become Australia’s number one brand.

So what got me thinking about the power of personal brands?? No, it wasn’t just because everyone is writing or speaking about it. For me it was thanks to the Colonel (& @girlbug’s blog last week about Mad Men). She made a reference to Colonel Sanders and in my post blog reading/googling I began thinking about how powerful some personal brands are… in fact some are household names. In the case of the man with the original recipe, some people would choke on their ‘finger lickn’ good’ chicken at the mere thought of him being a real person – but yes he was.

The Colonel
The Colonel

So how did a high school drop-out like Colonel Sanders become a household name? Well first, it was his seven herbs and spices. But seriously it’s a mix of his personality, business savvy and self-promotion. Sanders chose to call himself “Colonel” and dress like a “Southern gentleman” as self promotion once he was given an honorary title of “Kentucky Colonel” in 1935. KFC and in particular The Colonel has morphed into a global brand with a passion for product that has translated into a multi-billion dollar business.

If passion was something you could measure with measuring cup, there wouldn’t be enough in the world to measure the doyen of domesticity Martha Stewart. She’s made a name for herself by providing loyal viewers, listeners and readers with advice on everything from the perfect Christmas ham to starting your own business – she’s the expert of experts. But it hasn’t all been “a good thing” for this self-made household brand.

A few years ago when she got caught up in some legal troubles and spent some time behind bars, she proved just how strong her brand was. Throughout her confinement the company continued to produce quality content but Martha took a back seat, focusing instead on re-establishing her personal brand through a blog about her experiences and a response to the thousands of messages flooding in from fans.

Domestic Goddess
Domestic Goddess

There’s no denying her personal brand did take a battering and there was even talk of distancing the company and the brand from the person. Both her public support and her share price have both bounced back and Martha is back at the table. A few years on and Martha has a hit TV show, a series of critically acclaimed lifestyle magazines, a killer website and a traffic hogging blog. She’s also made the move from K-mart to Macy’s and has demonstrated that the Martha brand will live on long after Martha – something she spoke about in a recent interview with Business Week. But watch out Martha, we hear Gwyneth Paltrow may be following in your footsteps.

And closer to home, according to details of the Talent Inc! Personal Brand survey published in the Courier Mail earlier this week, Kylie Minogue is Australia’s most powerful brand. Following closely behind is The Body – need we mention her name or just let her brand speak for itself. Between them, their brands encompass perfumes, calendars, lingerie lines.. and that’s just what we can rattle off.

Kylie launches her Darling perfume
Kylie launches her Darling perfume

Now we’ve all googled our names but it wasn’t until I read this interesting article about personal brands for journalism students that I thought about the need to lock down your own domain. Unfortunately jack.com and jack.com.au are taken – how will people find me? Oh no!! The horror, the horror!! *deep breaths*

Social media, particularly the proliferation of tools such as twitter, has seen a major change in the way personal brands are formed and how they evolve. Everyone’s personal brand is only a key stroke away. This is evident by the number of bloggers  making an income or furthering their careers through their blogs. Something that was solely a passion project has turned in to either full time work (check out ProBlogger) or even fashionistas like Rumi from Fashion Toast who now model, collaborate on clothing lines and are invited to private showing by major designers. Gala Darling is now fashion curator for Chinashop magazine but predominantly makes her income through her blog and her unique personal brand.

Someone who respected the value of the personal brand was Andy Warhol. I wonder if Warhol’s famous statement about fifteen minutes of fame would need to be changed to fifteen tweets of fame or something similar?

But with new personalities popping up every day whether they are tweeting, creating YouTube series or amassing thousands of followers on Facebook, it has never been more important to know what makes you stand out and take every step to use that to your advantage.

Anyone, with the right sass, knowledge and experience, can be the next Martha, Kylie or dare we say it Kyle. The tools are there to be used and ready for the taking. However whilst your tweeting, blogging and flickr-ing away, don’t forget the most important thing required for others to connect with you and your personal brand, authenticity!

Since we were on the topic of Kylie, we couldn’t help but celebrate her achievement by shaking our thang to our fave teeny-tiny pop princess.

Celebrate your weekend,

the c word