Even Claude the Albino Alligator needs to manage his Brand

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April 13, 2011
ClaudeAhh, Spring Break – that time of year to pack up the family and go. This year my boys and I took a trip to Sacramento CA with a stop in San Francisco to spend some time with two of my sisters. My baby sister (and I can say this because she was born when I was 18) lives in San Francisco and works at the California Academy of Sciences. We were fortunate to be able to visit Meg there and get the VIP tour which included a visit to meet Claude the Albino Alligator. Now, Claude is not just another resident at the Cal Academy. He is also a key part of the organization’s marketing through the use of his personal brand. Everywhere you go you see Claude hats, T-shirts, stuffed animals and postcards. There is a Claude mascot who wanders around and mesmerizes the small children. Claude is known to all in the local area and is showcased in his own giant habitat on the first floor. "Beyond his albinism, which adds interest, Claude is pretty cool," said Brian Freiermuth, a biologist and one of Claude’s handlers. "He’s a quick study."

Of course, I could not go on vacation and get completely away from thinking about blogging, because it is during your downtime that the best ideas come up. I immediately sat down and my computer after this visit and created the title for my next blog post. That is where I stopped and did not come back to it again until today. Back at work and ready to resume my social media efforts for That’s Good HR, I have been researching current news about hiring trends, staffing industry metrics and Indianapolis job openings. I noticed a trend in articles and blog posts about personal branding and one in particular was spot on with what I was thinking when I met Claude the albino alligator.  I posted a blog on this topic back in February and it is interesting to note, I referred to Dan Schawbel in that post and that is who I will refer to again – he is an expert in personal branding after all. I think this topic is important enough to mention on a regular basis.

Dan’s most recent blog post, 5 Reasons Why Your Online Presence Will Replace Your Resume in 10 years is just a little scary…but I think he is onto something here. In this post, he states: "We’re seeing more and more recruiters use the web as a place to search for talent and conduct employment background searches. This trend is set to increase year over year and I’ve been predicting that an “online presence search” will become as common as a drug test since 2007." Yikes…better get out there and do some proactive searching on your online brand and get to work making sure that you own it and manage it appropriately.

Now, Claude has in his court the fact that he is unique and that is what makes him stand out. He has many other qualities that others work hard to communicate for him and therefore his brand is properly managed by others – which is especially important because he cannot type. I encourage you not to rely on others to manage your brand – other than supplying you with glowing recommendations for others to see. Don’t just take my word for it- in his post, Dan says "By claiming your web presence, you’re protected from other people, with the same name, claiming it before you. You also gain control over how you’re perceived online, and thus what employers find out about you when they conduct their search." 

If you do not know how to manage your own online brand, find some one competent who you can trust to help you get started. Finding someone like Claude did, who has a vested interest in your brand is even better. What you cannot rely on others to do for you, however, is to figure out what your brand is. What makes your skills unique and desired and not just like everyone else’s? What do you bring to the table that would provide an employer with a sustainable competitive advantage just by hiring you? What important information do you have to share with the world that you could contribute online? 

Get going, and if you need some help building experience on your resume or identifying what creates your personal brand, come and see us at That’s Good HR for some advice. If you happen to be in San Francisco anytime soon, I encourage you to get some advice from Claude at the California Academy of Sciences – it will be time well spent.