Lessons from George “Why No T-Bone?” Costanza
During one of the funniest episodes of Seinfeld’s final season, George tells Jerry he’s tired of his name and wants to find a nickname that makes people light up.
“I’m thinking T-Bone,” says George.
“But there’s no T in your name!” exclaims Jerry.
Not surprisingly, when George tries to get his co-workers to call him “T-bone” by ordering a t-bone steak for lunch, which he’s never done before, it doesn’t stick. And in typical Costanza-fashion, the “T-bone” nickname gets co-opted by another colleague and George ends up with an unflattering alternative.
Watch the 60-second clip below to find out what it is:
George tried to improve his personal brand with a cool nickname, but as his colleague said, “You’re not a T-bone; you’re the perfect George.”
Why do some personal brands stick while others don’t?
Here are three elements that can make a difference:
1) Congruency. A lasting personal brand, like a nickname, often arises out of the things you do that other people notice. Reggie Jackson was dubbed Mr. October because of his legendary performances in the post-season. In contrast, Ryan in “The Office” became known as “Fire Guy” when he left his cheese pita in the toaster oven and set off the fire alarm. What positive, visible actions can you take to support your personal brand?
2) Consistency. Ordering a t-bone steak once wasn’t enough for George to break out of the gravitational pull of his existing brand, but had he done it regularly, he might have eventually broken free. In real life, we need to work diligently to keep our message at the forefront of our audience, not with interruption advertising, but with value. Writing articles, blogging, speaking, networking online and off. What can you do on a regular basis to show that you’re walking your talk?
3) Clarity. If it takes too much explanation, it won’t stick. In Hollywood, producers love “high concept” ideas, stories that can be explained in just a few words. An example would be “Snakes on a Plane” where the title tells you everything you need to know, or movies that connect familiar ideas in new ways, such as “Jaws” in space (“Alien”) or “Die Hard” on a bus (“Speed”). What can you do to sharpen and hone your brand so that it becomes even more clear and differentiated?
Getting traction for your personal brand requires more than desire. It takes work, patience, and sometimes a little bit of luck. I mean, not everyone can hit three home runs in a single World Series game no matter how talented they are!
The more congruency, consistency and clarity you can incorporate into developing and communicating your brand, the more of an asset your brand will be in the success of your career.
[By the way, if you’d like to see the full Seinfeld episode, you can watch it here: Episode 19: The Maid]
Liz Lynch is founder of the Center for Networking Excellence and author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online (McGraw-Hill, 2008). She writes, speaks and consults to experienced professionals on how to seamlessly integrate social media and traditional networking to save time and accelerate results.