Back in the 1960s, Pepsi burst onto the scene by announcing to the youth of decade that they were the Pepsi Generation (they didn’t have a choice). Then, in the 1980s, Pepsi became “The Choice of a New Generation.” And finally, in the late 1990s, Pepsi hitched their trailer to the surely-to-never-go-out-of-style Spice
The “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson, is earning big money even after his death. To protect this income and value of his brand, a week ago, Michael Jackson’s estate brought suit in California against his mother’s business partner, alleging infringement of the valuable rights to Michael Jackson’s likeness, image, copyrights, trademarks (See Dan Kelly’s post on…
Dan blogged last Friday about obtaining a trademark for Michael Jackson’s famous glove. Another famous person who died that day was iconic Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett. Should or could Farrah have trademarked her famous hairstyle? Women across the world rushed to their hairdressers to obtain the “Farrah Do” or “Farrah Hair.”
Twenty years after Farrah’s famous hairstyle, Jennifer Aniston, as Rachel on Friends, also had women rushing to their hairdressers to emulate her Rachel bob.
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.
–Dan Kelly, Attorney
In light of the news of Michael Jackson’s passing (may he rest in peace), and as we ready for the likely months-long parade of tributes, allow me to make mine early, and then be done.
Despite the corpus of undeniably catchy pop music, standard-setting music videos, and well-recognized dance moves, I submit…