What a sad and tragic week! The deaths of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson last week shocked and saddened us all, leaving us short of a few unique individuals who made their mark on the world. This also got me thinking about personal branding, as each of these people had worked so hard to crave out a one-of-a-kind niche and reputation that will live on for years to come.
I was saddened by Ed McMahon’s death because he’d been around for so long and had a reputation of being such a good person. I’ll always remember him saying, “Here’s Johnny!” He was known to help anyone and everyone who needed help. That may be why he had financial troubles a few years ago. He never thought of himself, and always wanted others to have what they needed. His role as the amiable, trustworthy sidekick served him well as he embarked on a new career of commercial endorsements—you just trusted that he would one day show up at your door with a giant check!
It’s hard to believe Farrah Fawcett was on “Charlie’s Angels” full-time for only one year. She was the epitome of the beautiful girl next door in the ‘70s. We all had her red swimsuit poster, which was the best-selling pin-up poster of all time! Not only was she a beautiful woman, but she was a good actress who didn’t mind making challenging movies where she wasn’t portrayed as a typical young and gorgeous creature. Though her roles were varied, Farrah established herself as a natural beauty with a gorgeous smile, a sunny warmth, and a willingness to try new things.
Michael Jackson was a household name, an icon, and a brand. Who doesn’t remember watching the moonwalk during Motown’s 25th Anniversary Special in 1983? Even if you were not there to watch it, you’ve seen that performance, which became one of the most memorable moments in television history, just like the Beatles appearing on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in the early ‘60s.
He was consistent in his work, always working to give the best of himself. You knew that if you went to a Michael Jackson concert, you would get the very best. You knew that if you purchased one of his albums, you would get your money’s worth—even if you didn’t know any of the songs that would be on that album. That’s what personal branding is all about: consistency, authenticity, and always giving the public what they expect from you.
As we reflect on these icons now lost, I wonder what each of our personal legacies will be. For me, personal branding is something that shapes not just our careers—it shapes how people view us, and how are we remembered after we’re gone. I’m in the process of creating a new seminar and webinar on personal branding, so I hope to soon be helping you all make your unique mark!