I’ve been thinking a lot about visibility and branding and have come to the conclusion that your mark of highest visibility is what you will be known for. For instance, if you star in a blockbuster movie, or you’re latest album went platinum or you’re the CEO of a major company, or your blog becomes the pinnacle of your industry, that visibility will stick, over everything else. The exception is if your next project or position (singer, CEO, blogger, actor/actress, etc), is bigger than the last. When your brand is associated with an object, person or company of high visibility, it sticks with you.
The case of Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson is best known for his album Thriller, which was the highest grossing album of all time, at 110 million copies strong. Attached to that success is his success is the visibility he had as an artist on tour, as well as the media. Despite his weird habits, allegations of child abuse and his shifting physical appearance, which drew negative attention to his brand, his album and music career remain the mark of highest visibility. All the negative attention wouldn’t have been internationally known, if he wasn’t already famous.
The case of Emma Watson
Emma Watson is best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. She’s 19-years-old and is extremely famous, due to the films popularity across the world (and due to the book’s originally fan base). I was reading an interview with her in Paste Magazine, which inspired this post originally. She was asked about attending Brown University and if her fellow students would recognize her. This is her response:
“That’s inevitable, I suppose, some of them must have seen the films over the years. But I do hope that it will be only a short time before I am known as ‘the student from the U.K.‘ rather than ‘Emma Watson who starred in those Harry Potter films‘.”
Do you think Emma will be known for being a student over the Harry Potter series? I believe that it’s impossible. It’s also highly unlikely that she’ll ever be able to stand out from the Harry Potter brand because it’s rare, even though she’s young, to associate yourself with something bigger than a worldwide phenomenon. Of course she’ll receive special treatment and attention when she starts attending school at Brown and there’s nothing she can do about it.
What does this all mean for you?
You need to take a good look at yourself, your current situation and the destination you want to reach in life. Ask yourself, “what do I want to be known for”? Is it being an executive/CEO of my company in the future, a blog you’re tryin to grow, a book you just published, etc? Now if you work very hard to promote that, you will end up being most known for it. Do it consistently and across a variety of media, and it will achieve the highest level of visibility, relative to other distinctions in your career.