A lot can be learned about personal branding from Winnie the Pooh & Friends:
Many years ago we had a family friend who believed she was able to simplify anyone she encountered into a character from Winnie the Pooh & Friends. He’s a real Tigger, so impulsive. She’s a Piglet, such a worry-wort. He’s so Rabbit, a regular self-proclaimed know-it-all. She is so curiously Roo! What a hard-working Gopher! She is as loyal a friend as Pooh. Could he be any more gloomy? Such an Eeyore! And on and on. By the way, as you may have guessed, she was a real Tigger, bouncy, impulsive, and more than a bit annoying, at times. Honestly, I don’t recall who she pegged me to be.
Anyway, I had totally forgotten these memories until I recently agreed to speak about Personal Branding and Trademarks at an Annual Paralegal Convention, where the overall convention theme was “Maximize Your Marketability,” and for some reason, they came rushing back to me.
Why? I suppose, because Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Roo, and Eeyore are not only copyrighted fictional characters, but they also are protectable trademarks (and at least Pooh, Tigger, and Roo are the subject of a pending trademark opposition proceeding between Disney and Stephen Slesinger, Inc.), and perhaps most importantly, they all represent personal branding caricatures too.
Now, I’m not one to believe in the existence of single-dimension people. Near as I can tell, most of us share multiple characteristics from multiple Pooh & Friends characters among many others. Having said that, for what its worth, my two cents on the subject of Personal Branding is that if you’re not careful, thoughtful, and intentional about building and cultivating a multi-dimensional personal brand, you run the risk of being unfairly reduced to a one-dimensional caricature with no reach or respect beyond your most dominant skill or personality trait.
In other words, if your sky is always falling with Piglet-style worries that never come true, it will be hard for anyone to take your concerns seriously, even when they are Christopher Robin legitimate. Perhaps Chicken Little is a distant Disney cousin and The Boy Who Cried Wolf a distant Aesop cousin of “a very small animal” named Piglet.