Branding is a term that has its roots in the heyday of the American West. A brand was burnt into the hyde of an animal so that, after the snows were gone, a rancher could figure out whose animal belonged to whom. A brand signified that this cow was owned by that guy.
Brands were idiosyncratic icons that could be easily recognized. Applied with red hot steel in the iconic shape, clear differences between brands were essential. Cattle rustlers and horse thieves were treated to severe consequences so ownership had to be brutally clear.
The cows never had the benefit of anesthesia.
You’ve certainly heard about personal branding. It’s the idea that the entire world needs to be able to distinguish you from all of the other people who are pretending to be you, or competing with you for a job. While a hot branding iron is not required in order to brand oneself, extraordinary attention to differentiation is.
The business of personal branding, which resembles the behavior of young children preening in front of a mirror, is a new form of narcissism. It is rooted in the notion that celebrity can be a key to career success. Nothing is further from the truth.
Bosses and coworkers hate prima donnas. The more you practice personal branding, the more they are going to want to sear your behind with a red hot personal avatar. Workplace associates prefer those who pitch in to those who kiss up.