In 1990 Canon released a fantastic advertising campaign built around the slogan "Image is Everything" that featured tennis player Andre Agassi. It was an extremely successful campaign and a brilliant play on the word "image". There was a point in time when we, as individuals and businesses, talked about protecting our image and reputations because it was our most valuable commodity. The use of "image" (and reputation) in this context is, in my opinion, correct for explaining to people that our actions matter and have consequences in our professional lives.
Somewhere along the line, the notion that each of us as individuals is a "brand" came along and seemed replace the importance of image. Maybe I'm an old curmudgeon, but can we please stop telling individuals that they are a brand? Our businesses are our brands, and we as individuals have an image and reputation to uphold. I feel as though this is the business equivalent to everyone getting a participation trophy in little league.
Creating a brand is bigger than any single person. Apple is synonymous with Steve Jobs - but read any of his biographies and you quickly realize that consumers do not love the brand of Steve Jobs (though many admire him); they love the Brand that he and many others built. Job was not the nicest person, consumer were not buying who he was. They bought the creations of his company.
When meeting someone, I would never tell them what I am as a brand - because I'm not a brand. I'm the Publisher of a directory of law firms that specialize in all aspect of Creditors Rights' law, and proud of it. We're all more successful in delivering our message when we tell people what it is that we actually do for them, rather than describing ourselves as something abstract.
I hope everyone had a wonderful summer and is ready to get back to the grind - I know I am!