Should Rachel Ray work at KFC?

Not another picture of Rachel RayToby and I have been chatting quite a bit about “personal brand” as of late. About its value to both you and your organization. But I’ve been struggling for a way to describe the value of personal brand in a tangible way.

I’m still not sure that I’ve found it, but I’m getting closer.

Should Rachel Ray work at KFC?

I can hear you. “What kind of stupid question is…?”

Whoa, tiger. Stick with me a second.

That question, in our overly saturated, Rachel-Ray-staring-at-you-from-every-last-form-of-media world, may seem inane. But that’s my very point:

Would Rachel Ray get value out of working at KFC? Would KFC get value out of Rachel Ray?

Let’s take a look at the positives:

  • They have complementary brands: quickly prepared food, targeted at busy families, accessible
  • The Queen of Quick + the Colonel of Crispy = Magic
  • Rachel certainly knows her way around the kitchen
  • KFC would be yet another venue to showcase Rachel’s talent
  • Rachel could draw others into the KFC family, maybe Emeril or Mario or somebody
  • KFC would have a well-known chef

Still doesn’t make any sense, does it?

Why would Rachel Ray, you ask (or I’ll pretend you’re asking), subsume her brand under the brand of seemingly complementary, but clearly off-target, corporation?

She shouldn’t right? Doesn’t make sense.

But what about 10 years ago, did make sense to do it then? It might have. What about 10 years from now? Again, it might.

Now let’s take the brand names off of this one: Should you subsume your brand under the brand of a corporation? What do each of you stand to gain?

Hmm. Interesting. Now, I think we’re getting closer to my point.

And that point is?

Personal brand and corporation brand should always strive to be symbiotic. Never lecherous.

Every time you choose a new employer, you need to seriously consider this balance. It’s always a matter of balance.

What is the corporation getting out me? What am I getting out of the corporation? Is it fair and equal? Is one giving a bit more in the short term to gain more in the long term? Do I feel as if I’m being sucked dry? Do I feel as if I’m a fraud?

But that doesn’t mean at every single second of the day. There are times of non-balance. Like when you’re learning the ropes. Or that time that the organization needs to send you to a tradeshow to speak. Or maybe the company is investing money in your education to make you a more valuable employee.

There are times that are unbalanced. But it shouldn’t be lopsided or continual. It should be mutually beneficial. Give and take. Find the balance.

Every career relationship should move both parties forward. If it doesn’t, it’s wrong.

And that balance may be short-term balance.

The benefit for each party may only last for 6 months or a year. So what?

Know that going into the relationship.

This is just a step along the path of building your brand.

And your brand needs careful consideration. Don’t ruin your long-term brand equity for short-term gain.

About Rick Turoczy

More than mildly obsessed with the Portland startup community. Editor at Silicon Florist. Cofounder and general manager at PIE. Follow me on Twitter: @turoczy
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