The word Brand has its origin in an Old Norse word ‘Brandr’ meaning ‘to burn’. And the meaning sure rang true on the night of June 15 when our beloved Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in Game 7! In the nightmare that followed, cars were burned, property damaged and looted! Hundreds of personal brands were destroyed and reputations tarnished, it was a night many would like to forget. But forgetting doesn’t come easy, not in this age of networked journalism!

Caught on camera = irreparable damage! Nothing else testifies more to this fact than the faces in the riots following Game 7. Hundreds of handheld devices caught live footage and broadcasted the Vancouver riots to a worldwide audience. Conversations erupted on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and Youtube with enthusiasts working hard to organize this mayhem. It was disheartening to watch groups of people destroy beautiful Vancouver and pose in front of burning cars and shattered windows.

Photo by Mike Carlson, Reuters

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then video is priceless! The Images, videos and conversations of that fateful night will live on the web forever. And so will the faces that were caught on camera! Facial recognition technology is not new, the only reason why giants like Google and Facebook hesitate to make it available across the board is the fear of a social privacy backlash. But for how long?

History shows that despite the vulnerability of Personal Brands, they can survive turbulence! Easier said than done, the process requires a lot of courage and determination. Facing the music, owning up, accepting responsibility for actions and apology is just the beginning. Brands are built on emotions and admission of guilt and accepting consequences send out a strong message influencing perception and opinion. This is first and the most important step in resuscitating a personal brand.

When a Personal Brand gets caught in a storm of this magnitude, its strongest opponent is public opinion. It must do everything to openly convince the public that it regrets actions. The emphasis is on the word ‘do’, good work is essential in shifting public opinion.

A great example of a Personal Brand rebounding is that of domestic entertainment goddess, Martha Stewart. She served 5 months jail time in 2004 for her participation in a stock trading scandal. People wrote her off saying that her Personal Brand was beyond repair and that her company would go down. Martha proved them wrong and from the moment she stepped out of the prison wearing a crocheted poncho gifted to her by an inmate, she modelled success. She admitted her wrongdoing, paid the price and was hungry to prove her critics wrong. It took a lot of determination and ego management, but in the end she emerged the winner.

Personal Branding is about managing perceptions and our new age demands we exercise extreme care. With recording and sharing devices in every palm, we must take full responsibility for our actions. Or else pay the price!

Teg Brar