When done properly, personal branding serves to push individuals from relative obscurity to some degree of notoriety in his or her professional field. Effective personal branders move with the tides of the job market and are masters at reinvention.
Some noteworthy examples of such transformations are evident in no stranger a place than reality television, the boundary between real life and pop culture where regular people are elevated to the level of superstardom seemingly overnight.
The Nicole Polizzi (AKA “Snooki”) Experience
Enter Snooki. One of the controversial stars of MTV’s reality mega-hit “The Jersey Shore.” From episode, her drunken antics, animal-print accouterments, fuzzy slipper obsession, quarrels with housemates and adherence to the gym-tan-laundry (GTL) lifestyle garnered her much attention from the media and public at large. Despite negative commentary, Snooki capitalized on her role in the show’s success, making countless public appearances and creating a product line named after her signature hairstyle, Poof Nation. Offerings included Snooki-approved products such as house slippers and over-sized sunglasses.
Critics of the Snooki way of life who thought an end to her 15 minutes of fame was long overdue had a field day when photos of a publicly intoxicated Snooki emerged. The public at large and even her own father urged that she enter a rehab facility.
News of the one who seemed to have built a reputation around being an outrageous, pint-sized party girl being paid an exorbitant dividend for delivering a commencement speech to Rutger’s University graduating class of 2011 spread like wildfire. She seemed to be an inescapable force: Snooki and a female Jersey Shore castmate announced that they’d be starring in an MTV spinoff, then the blogosphere went into overdrive when Snooki confirmed reports that she was indeed pregnant with her first child.
Then a metamorphosis occurred. Almost overnight, the once loud and opinionated mom-to-be took on a calmer, family friendly persona.
Snooki’s transformation from club hopper to mother was not an easy one and has implications for professionals in every career field who could benefit from a personal brand overhaul.
Take It From Snooki: Three Tips For Revamping Your Personal Brand
No matter how public your career, your reputation precedes you. Having a well-crafted personal brand could mean the difference between landing the job of your dreams and being caught in a rut. Yet even the most notable of brands must evolve eventually. If Snooki’s example has taught us anything, it’s that anyone can build a brand around the unique offerings they bring to the table. More importantly, it’s not impossible to reinvent yourself before a career change or after a public faux pas.
1. Don’t Start From Scratch
When revamping your personal brand, only eliminate those elements that no longer align with your objectives. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Keep the aspects of your personal brand that have gotten you positive feedback in the past in tact.
2. Live in the Present
Past career-related failures are actually great places to start when you’re trying to decide how to reconfigure your personal brand, but don’t get so caught up in the mistakes of the past that you start to disbelieve in your own ability to change.
3. “Study Hard, Party Harder.” – Snooki
Never forget to celebrate your own successes. You’ve worked hard to create a cohesive and recognizable personal brand and it’s important that you confidently announce the arrival of the improved version of your professional self so that others take note as well.
The key lesson from Snooki that can be applied to navigating and surviving a personal brand is to play to your own strengths, experience, and personality traits and focus your energy on incorporating shifts in career objective and skill level into the mix.
What other personal branding lessons can we learn from Snooki and other celebrities?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.