Tuesday, February 28, 2012

10 People Who Take Personal Branding Too Far

Personal branding is a valuable tool that many people are embracing these days, whether you’re a college student or CEO. But celebrities have been doing it for decades, and while some have expertly proven to be masters of their personal brand, others have let their own image get away from themselves. We’ve highlighted 10 celebrities who have experienced personal branding failures, some from getting a bit too full of their own brand, and others for endorsing questionable products. Whatever the reason, just about anyone can learn a lesson from these personal branding failures, and learn how to develop a personal brand without letting things go too far.

  1. LeBron James

    Basketball star LeBron James has been called out for taking his personal branding way too far, establishing himself as the self-proclaimed “King” and announcing his move to Miami in a highly choreographed TV event. James’ “media extravaganza” was not appreciated by fans or sportswriters, and has been written off as a “televised marketing charade,” turning him into less of a person, and more of a company. James is a clear example of letting personal branding get carried away, to the point of losing the respect of those who follow you.

  2. Beyonce and Jay-Z

    Beyonce and Jay-Z are a much beloved power couple, and for the most part, they have done a very tasteful job when it comes to their own personal branding. But it does seem that they’re going a bit too far when it comes to their infant daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. It was recently announced that the pair has moved to trademark Blue Ivy’s name, preparing her for a licensing empire that may include baby clothes, books, and more. We don’t question that this is a smart financial and legal move for the proud parents, but laying the foundation for a future in licensing for your child before she can even speak does strike us as extremely tasteless.

  3. Lady Gaga

    Lady Gaga is a controversial entry on this list, as some believe that her personal branding is actually just right for her. But the fact remains that so many people are in the “too far” camp for Lady Gaga, who has a penchant for being a polarizing figure in dresses made of meat. And although Gaga is beloved for her seemingly ridiculous antics, she is at the same time criticized for taking advantage of her army of Little Monsters. Yahoo! Music took a look at Gaga’s use of product placement in her music videos, calling her Telephone video “practically a 10-minute infomercial for Miracle Whip, Polaroid, and Diet Coke.”

  4. Donald Trump

    While some may find Lady Gaga’s personal branding to be charming, Donald Trump has found a way to brand himself right into the realm of ridiculous. Hints of a presidential campaign, high-profile celebrity feuds with Rosie O’Donnell, Trump University, and even The Apprentice all seem to focus on Trump’s apparent dominance of everything he can get his hands on. The public has even embraced Trump’s legion of personal brands, including a modeling agency, clothing line, and casino resorts. But many have grown tired of seeing The Donald everywhere and on everything, with some of his ventures producing plenty of eye-rolling, including his extension into steaks, which puts him in dangerous territory for branding overload.

  5. Suze Orman

    Suze Orman is a trusted financial guru, helping millions with her advice on personal finance. But some think she has overextended the trust that she has built with a branded prepaid debit card that has questionable fees. The card is designed to help support a healthy financial lifestyle, with text message alerts and reminders that card users must be able to afford any purchases that they make, but at the same time, it has been harshly criticized for its army of small fees that add up quickly. Orman invested $1 million into the deal, and is widely believed to be using her influence to fleece fans at her financial talks. We appreciate what Orman is trying to do with the card, but at the same time think that in this case, she is overstepping the boundaries of personal branding.

  6. Montel Williams

    Like Suze Orman, Montel Williams has seemed to sully his great personal brand by supporting questionable products and allowing his show to fall from grace. Once a great talk show host and Emmy Award-winning TV personality, The Montel Williams Show ventured into Jerry Springer territory before finally being cancelled, famous for slinging pseudoscience and superstition, with frequent appearances by spiritual medium (and convicted fraud) Sylvia Browne. Williams has seemed to embrace this new hokey brand with his endorsements, which range from an infomercial juicer and an MLM-based poker instruction website to MoneyMutual payday loans that are believed by many to be a scam. It’s clear that Williams is spending all of the goodwill he earned as a respected TV personality in the 90s and 2000s to peddle questionable products today.

  7. Kim Kardashian

    It’s pretty clear that Kim Kardashian has seen her personal brand blow up in her face. While Kim and the entire Kardashian family enjoyed the fame and fortune that came along with a reality show and an incredible number of endorsements and product lines, the star has gotten into brand saturation territory. Followed up by her controversial marriage and divorce from Kris Humphries, Kardashian is now believed to have gone too far with her media attention, supposedly making millions off her highly publicized “sham wedding.”

  8. Hulk Hogan

    Beloved wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan seems to be the king of goofy celebrity endorsements. It all started in 1995, when Hogan opened Pastamania, a pasta restaurant in the Mall of America, heavily hyped by World Championship Wrestling, and was quickly followed by a blender branded as the Hulk Hogan Thunder Mixer. The madness continued into the 2000s, when the Hogan family got its own reality show, Hogan Knows Best, in which the public followed along as Hogan unveiled the Hogan Energy drink, and the failure of his longtime marriage. These days, Hogan is most often seen starring with Troy Aikman in commercials for Rent-A-Center.

  9. Charlie Sheen

    Thanks to Charlie Sheen, it’s hard to hear the word “winning” without immediately thinking of Tiger Blood and wild partying. Sheen has recently been lauded as the poster child for personal branding, and he does rightly deserve that title; although we’ve all been witness to his act of self-destruction, it actually follows quite consistently with his personal brand. But that doesn’t change the fact that Sheen’s branding is of an insane variety, going over the top and turning into a train wreck that the public has relished in watching.

  10. Jeff Foxworthy

    Comedian Jeff Foxworthy rose to fame with his “You Might Be a Redneck” bit, pointing out the unmistakable signs of redneck life. And with his own line of beef jerky, it seems that he’s playing to the attention of rednecks at grocery and convenience stores as well, enticing shoppers with his face on a package of “big tender taste.” But it’s clear that Foxworthy’s brand has gone too far, as this goofy product almost seems as if meat processors have killed and dried Jeff Foxworthy’s flesh into a tasty treat. Whatever the origin of the meat, consumers do not seem to be impressed by Foxworthy’s endorsement or the jerky itself, earning one product a sad 2 1/2 star review on Amazon.

Taken From Online MBA


  1. ...and what do they all have in common? Perhaps hedonistic greed, I believe. The troubling thing about this society is that people never know how much is enough. These people are motivated by their clinically obese egos.

  2. Unfortunately many of us indulge them.

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