Are we really still talking about a picture of Anthony Weiner’s weiner? Of course we are because we are all ten-year-olds at heart.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

If you’re reading this on your smart phone, click over to http://surveyswipe.com/download and download either the iPhone or the Android application. After the download, open the app and you’ll see a poll called “Weiner’s weiner” that you can take. It’s a relatively new technology that will allow you to give your feedback and see how others have voted as well.

You Have a Personal Brand to Manage Whether You Want to or Not

Some of us who have strange names that drew puns and jeers are remembering what those days were like in school and are secretly glad it isn’t us. Then there are the rest of us who just can’t help but have the Bevis and Butthead reaction of “uuuuuugh, uuuuuugh, uuuuuugh this guy’s name is Weiner we’re all talking about a picture of a weiner!” It’s just irresistible on so many levels.

It’s these core reactions to an event that show us that it’s actually our primitive brain that runs the show and not that frontal lobe we’re so fond of. Not only that, but that our name and the brand we’ve established for that name can have a life of it’s own, if we’re not conscious of the fact that we have to manage it.

Primitive Brains are Branding Machines

What happened to Anthony Weiner happens every day on playgrounds everywhere. Kids are given nicknames based on how they “occur” to those around them. It’s really a magic combination between the person’s natural way of being combined with an external element that somehow connects with their name and BAM! abrand is born. When all these elements are in sync; the outside appears to match the inside and the name just fits — it becomes virtually impossible to shed the name. And a lot of times, it just doesn’t happen.

Sometimes it’s a good fit and doesn’t do any harm. But sometimes this “Playground Branding” doesn’t bode well for future ambitions or careers and so the person works extremely hard to re-create themselves so that whatever element drives the brand is minimized and other, more desirable elements are enhanced.

How to Protect Your Personal Brand

The beauty of stories, videos and all things that go viral is that it’s really unpredictable. We can only analyze it and see why it has gone viral. But at the same time, from a personal branding level, we can also know our own brands and protect them from the branding trifecta that hit Anthony Weiner.

  1. Be realistic with how you OCCUR to people. This can be rather difficult and unpleasant to do, but it’s critical for understanding how your personal brand appears out in the world. How do people perceive you? Be especially wary about the potentially negative ways that you can occur to people. Can you be perceived as squirlly, flighty, overbearing? Being open to the negative ways in which you can occur to people is critical to managing and controlling your personal brand.
  2. Control the use of your name. Does your name have “play”? ?This can go either way. If you have an unusual name like “Oprah” you get to control how it’s perceived in the world. Likewise, if you have a name like “Weiner” you have to accept the reality that in the US, you’re wide open for flack. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you’re on. The fact is that your name is a crucial element of your brand and it’s the verbal representation of the package. So control and protect it.
  3. Your brand owns your behavior. The first two elements coupled with your ambitions will ultimately guide your behavior. This is the step that most public figures forget. Your behavior initially drives your brand and then once your brand is ?established, your brand will drive your behavior.

If we’re going to be talking about this kind of silliness in the news, then the least we can do is learn from it. What lessons did you get from this event?