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Personal Branding Lessons from the Late King of Pop


This is a guest post by Chris Perry. Chris is a Gen Y Brand and Marketing Generator, a Career Search and Personal Branding Expert and the Founder of Career Rocketeer, the Career Search and Personal Branding Blog.

Being an avid fan of Michael Jackson, his music, his moves and his effect on the evolution of music itself, I was truly sorry to hear of his death on June 25th.

However, all of the recent media attention and tributes to his life and his music career made me realize how effective his personal branding efforts were throughout his career and how powerful his personal brand has become as a result.

While personal branding did not exist in its now-better-defined form when Michael first started to shine in the Jackson 5, Michael, like all musicians, did encounter the need to build up and protect his reputation in order to continue to rise to greater levels of fame and success.

Michael Jackson was a personal branding genius with respect to music and dance.  He never ceased to push the limits with his look, his dress and his new moves and dance routines, and he continued to produce hit after hit in the height of his career, thereby totally revolutionizing the industry.

Despite multiple factors that detracted from his overall personal brand, including his eccentricities and the legal allegations against him, his natural strengths and promotional efforts in music and dance were so overwhelmingly powerful that they have almost overridden any negative memories of him.  Regardless of whatever personal problems he grappled with, I have respect for his personal brand and the unique and differentiating value he brought to the table throughout his life.

What are some lessons you can learn from the late King of Pop about personal branding?

  1. Establish your own personal brand by identifying your true strengths, values and goals and by combining them into one-or-two-word personal brand and supporting brand pitch or statement. Remember, Michael Jackson was the self-proclaimed King of Pop; however, because he always reinforced that claim with his unique strengths, hit songs and musical and dance performances, that′s how he will always be remembered.
  2. Make yourself present and be heard on each and every stage on which you play a role.  No one had any doubt when Michael Jackson entered the stage, because he made himself known and promoted himself and his personal brand through his performances.  Make yourself, your strengths and your personal brand known whenever you enter "the stage" through your performance and actions.
  3. Be consistent in all of your personal branding efforts both online and offline and both professionally and socially.  This includes your one-or-two-word personal brand, your appearance, the look of your online social networking profiles, your performance on the job, your contributions at and outside of work and more.  MJ′s peculiarities and the legal allegations against him unfortunately weakened the social side of his overall personal brand; however, his professional side was so strong that it frequently compensated for the personal.  Imagine how powerful your personal brand could be even on a more local scale if you remain consistent across all of the spheres in which you choose to exist and be active, both publicly and privately.  Declare yourself, and then be what you declare.

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