Building a Personal Brand vs. an Iconic Brand

Gary Vaynerchuk or McDonaldsYou are in the midst of setting up your brand, do you setup an iconic brand or a personal brand? Do you want people to remember you for something you stand for, or remember your brand for something bigger?

All of these decisions are eventually faced in the lifetime of an entrepreneur, often many times during their life. The same idea holds true for bloggers, podcasters, and every other new media vocation.

Why don’t we take a look at two popular brands and break them down. Perhaps it will help you in the decision making process…


McDonald’s is known for its many fast food hamburger chains scattered across the globe. The initial idea was developed by Dick and Mac McDonald. They wanted to provide a way to give meals to people as quickly as possible. Their equity was purchased by Ray Kroc who then set out to expand it to the four corners of the earth. The result is that McDonald’s is now a worldwide brand worth many billions of dollars. Every kid from Generation Y to the present has McDonald’s branded permanently in their mind because of the mass marketing effort of McDonald’s. Can’t tell me it didn’t pay off well… 😉

What is McDonald’s known for?

  • Big Mac – This one product continues to pull in massive sales in part because of a well executed marketing plan.
  • Marketing to the younger generation- You get new plastic toys! (Who doesn’t want one when you are little?) Consequently, when you are older you just walk in there out of habit.
  • Food tastes good. Yup, nothing like sprinkling sugar on the fries to make them taste better and a soda, juicy burger, and the occasional salad or other goody. Hence why America is now plump as well.
  • Affordability. How many times do you walk into McDonalds to find you are dead broke and can’t buy anything? Unless you are dumb enough to forget your wallet when you go in…
  • Speedy Service. That was coined by the original owners and still holds true to this day. I’d like to see a system like that somewhere else on the world that is as efficient about what they do than McDonald’s. Personal Opinion Note: If I am short on time, I will go into McDonald’s to buy something fast.

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary is one of a kind. He is a fireball of energy and strives to answer every question that is thrown at him. He grew up in New Jersey and was always fascinated with business. He started cutting grass, selling flowers, and then selling baseball cards. He was good at it too. Baseball card sales in his high school years amounted to “three thousand bones a weekend“! He then became interested in wine and read every magazine on the subject. He worked as a clerk in a wine shop, then created his own brand, opening a wine shop and then expanding it to unheard of heights. His tactics, as crazy as they were, are what pushed him into the position he holds now. When he stumbled upon new media/social media, he bit into it like a bull dog and refused to let go. Wine Library TV came out of that. Out of all the people I know in this space, Gary defines how New Media and Social Media should looks like.

He is now an accomplished author, video blogger, brand consultant, and speaker. That and he still holds his position at Wine Library. Contrary to what you may think, Gary actually does alot more for his wine company marketing-wise whenever he is interviewed. He has become associated with the wine world.

What is Gary known for?

  • One line sayings. Gotta admit I love hearing the “legacy is greater than currency” and “CRUSH IT” quotes he throws out from time to time.
  • Explosive Introductions. Yup, Gary is never without one. It turns alot of people off when he hollers his introduction to the video camera, but the rest become excited and engaged in a snap.
  • Wine. Gary bleeds wine. It is all he ever talks about, and he knows what he is talking about. His opinion on wine undercuts the rest and brings a new light to it.
  • New York Jets. You can’t go long without him speak on the Jets. If is blood is wine, his heart is the New York Jets. He knows everything about them too. He has to if he is to fulfill his dream of buying them.
  • Passion. Not a day goes buy that he doesn’t portray it. He loves what he does and wouldn’t trade anything in the world for it.
  • Authenticity. Gary is 100% real. Unedited and uncut, every vlog post and winelibrarytv show he has done in one take.
  • Personal Branding. Gary epitomizes how personal branding should be done.

What can McDonald’s or Gary teach you about branding?

  1. The brand is your defining point. Everything is built off of it.
  2. Have a unique story. No one likes the same old bland status quo.
  3. Personal brands depend on the person, iconic brands depend on the decisions of the company.
  4. If the person dies, their brand will continue on in a solidified state. If the icon dies, so does the company.
  5. Icons are remembered for all time, so is a person.
  6. Iconic brands become an authority symbol, personal brands become a person.
  7. People tend to trust iconic brands as they mature, same with a personal brand. With the personal brand however, a trust level is built with that person.

Hope that helps you out. I for one am enjoying building a personal brand. 😉

Am I missing anything? Am I totally wrong? Is there something you’d like to share? I’ve pulled the soapbox over, would love to hear your two cents.


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