Frankenbranding and Personal Branding

Frankenbranding” is a term most often used to describe corporate co-branding attempts: the cobbling together of two different brands in order to gain wider appeal to varied target markets.

In his 2011 Wired Magazine article, Awesomely Awful Frankenbrands,” David Kushner describes some of the outcomes of these attempts, when smashing different brands together results in Frankenstein-like, stitched-together monstrosities that dilute and damage the individual brands.

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There’s the team-up of game-makers Hasbro with pet food manufacturer Pedigree in Monopoly Pedigree Dog Lover’s Edition. Kushner says that you can choose the fire hydrant or the water bowl for your playing piece and kennels replace the hotels.

Kellogg’s teamed up with farm equipment manufacturers John Deere to create “farm fun” fruit flavored snacks, including lemon-flavored 4×4 utility vehicles, cherry-flavored barns and grape-flavored pigs.

Kushner found the collaboration between 3M and Nickelodeon especially disturbing: a Spongebob Squarepants musical digital thermometer, for use orally or rectally.

You can find plenty of examples of these mish-mash branding failures: Hello Kitty hard disks, Sylvester Stallone pudding and a Harley-Davidson cake-decorating kit.

But Frankenbranding doesn’t just occur between huge corporations and well-established brands: it’s easy to create a Frankenbrand when you’re working on your personal brand. This happens when you try to be too many things to too many people. You won’t deliver well on any of them, never mind be considered an expert. You won’t be able to articulate your brand very clearly or strongly and you’ll likely be all over the place in terms of your target market and target goals.

A successful brand is an authentic one and an authentic brand delivers a unique and compelling offering to a well-defined target market. The bulk of the work you do on your personal brand is determining what your unique value proposition (UVP) is and researching what your target market is.

Avoid trying to reach everyone. Avoid using every single medium to reach them. Determine what is most valuable about you. Determine who is most likely to value you. And then determine the most effective channels to communicate your branding message.

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