Think of an outstanding personal brand. What comes to mind? Often, our minds tend to wander to well-known celebrities, like larger-than-life athletes, CEOs, and rockstar musicians. These individuals are classic extroverts. They are always front and center, with a coolly confident demeanor and bold personalities. So, naturally, those are the only kinds of people who have killer brands… Right?
A few years ago, a simple Tumblr blog created by then-law student Shana Knizhnik helped remind us that powerful brands come in all shapes and sizes. She did this by turning a five-foot-one, soft-spoken grandmother from Brooklyn into a powerful, cultural icon.
Of course, we’re talking about none other than Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993 and has tirelessly championed women’s rights for decades. It’s only in recent years that she has become a celebrated feminist firebrand. Her newfound celebrity is in part thanks to Shana Knizhnik’s blog post, The post cast Justice Ginsburg as the Notorious R.B.G. – an homage to a famous rapper known as The Notorious B.I.G, also known as Biggie Smalls. While the juxtaposition of a quiet, elderly justice with that of a braggadocious 300-pound rapper may be humorous, it helped spotlight Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a juggernaut in her own right.
Ruth was already awesome before given her knew street cred acronym. She raised a toddler while attending Harvard Law School and was the first female member of the Harvard Law Review. She also kicked ass and took names at the American Civil Liberties Union during the 70s, and doesn’t back down when it’s time to deliver straight dissenting from the bench. Trust me, this list doesn’t even begin to do her accomplishments justice (and yes, I plead guilty to unnecessary pun usage).
The power of her story has always been there. So, why hadn’t we heard about it until recently? If it weren’t for the invocation of a famous rap star, would thousands of young girls across the country know of and admire our beloved Notorious R.B.G?
While Ruth “Notorious R.B.G.” Ginsburg had some help from social media to propel her rock-star status, it doesn’t work for everyone. Beneath all the t-shirts, books, swag, and blog posts, there’s an authentic story that just needed the right lighting. It goes to show a good story alone isn’t enough, and a little branding can go a long way.
At the end of the day, a good brand doesn’t have to do with shyness, age, gender, or occupation, It all boils down to authenticity and finding the right way to communicate who you are. Sure, other people told Justice Ginsburg’s story for her, but ideally you don’t want other people to establish what your brand is.
Now that I’ve made my case, you should take a shot at this brand survey and see if your brand is as on point as the Notorious R.B.G.