Can a Personal Brand Cross Cultures?


mapsWhy is it that some personal brands are universally admired while others are despised? What can we learn from high-profile figures who are able to transcend cultures and garner brand loyalty from New York to Timbuktu?

I took a moment to think about the traits of a personal brand that in my mind are embraced anywhere you go.  Traits that enable a personal brand to cross cultures.

(Beware: These traits and examples are solely based on my personal view and are not grounded in any actual statistical research!)

1. ‘Heartful’ Brands

Strong personal brands put 100% of their heart into what they do. They literally exude passion in whatever it is that drives them and this is contagious. Loyal brand followers tout these personal brands because they feel this love, passion, and joy themselves. The important thing to note here is that “heartful” personal brands do not brag about who they are or what they do.

Examples: Martin Luther King, Tony Robbins, Mother Teresa

2. ‘Mindful’ Brands 

A well grounded personal brand is one that most people in any culture can easily relate to. “Mindful” personal brands stay in the moment and actually pull us into this moment with them. They embrace the value of silence and reflection. They focus on those around them and not on themselves. In most cases, such brands only need to smile and we feel at ease.

Examples: Gandhi, The Dali Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi

3. ‘Truthful’ Brands

Honesty, integrity, and transparency are attributes of personal brands that garner immediate brand loyalty. When a brand promises something and then continually delivers this promise we have immediate trust. We tend to regard truthfulness as a universal human quality. When trust is broken it is the death of any brand, or worse yet when a brand pretends to be one thing and is actually something else we feel betrayed. (Does Lance Armstrong come to mind?)

Examples: Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Betty Ford

4.  ‘Successful’ Brands

Yes, success is a relative term and how it is defined across context and cultures varies. Yet however we define it, we naturally respect people who have earned their success through hard work, AND are humble about it. The stories of people who came from modest means, struggled to survive, and changed the world are the stories we want to share with our children. The “successful” personal brand motivates us to go that extra mile to create our own success no matter how great or small.

Examples: Steve Jobs, Jeremy Lin, Oprah Winfrey

Heartful, mindful, truthful, and successful are just 4 of many other attributes that define personal brands we respect. I would love to hear your thoughts and example of world-class personal brands. Share your ideas below.

About the author

Peter Sterlacci Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer.” In a country where fitting-in is the norm, Peter’s mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. An avid cyclist, he combines cycling imagery with personal branding strategy to empower his clients to shift gears and sprint to career success. Follow Peter on Google+