The uniqueness of people is a myth. Otherwise, people visiting museums would not find their doppelgängers there in portraits made centuries ago; there would be no programs that match one’s resemblance to celebrities, and the actors would not have stunt doubles. No matter how diverse nature is, however, there is a limited variety of shapes of the nose, eyes, face, and combination of all these characteristics. Therefore, considering the number of possible combinations on the scale of the entire history of humankind, it’s highly probable that the set of features similar to yours was multiplied often enough to save it as a template, categorize it, connect it with a specific behavioral script and imprint it in the culture for the next generation.
People choose scenario of interaction based on the first impression
People, without noticing it, use strategies of interaction with other people, that were laid by our distant ancestors. They choose a behavioral scenario of interaction, based on an impression received during the first few minutes of a meeting. In these few minutes, your new acquaintances will recognize in you a certain template and will categorize you. How do they do it? The fact is that your body reveals information about you, even if you do not say anything. First, external characteristics are read – facial features, body type, dress, and then these characteristics are compared with other information conveyed by your body language, facial expressions, posture, and gestures. Speech and voice are the last sources of information about you.
Some time ago there was an information about university study conducted by Michael Solomon, Ph.D., Psychologist, Chairman, Marketing Department Graduate School of Business, NYU. According to the results of the study, so-called seven-eleven rule, people make eleven decisions about us in the first seven seconds of contact. These eleven assumptions include such considerations about us as:
- Education Level
- Economic Level
- Perceived Credibility, Believability, Competence and Honesty
- Level of Sophistication
- Sex-Role Identification
- Level of Success
- Political Background
- Religious Background
- Ethnic Background
- Social/ Professional / Sexual Desirability.
Nevertheless, the existence of this study was refuted with the reference to Michael Solomon.
It’s human nature to gather, analyze, sort, and categorize uncertainties. The main purpose of this process is recognizing danger. This is how our ancestors survived. Repetitive behavioral patterns were recognized, collected and archived in humanity’s collective unconsciousness. We inherited that knowledge, and we use it day by day without noticing. The history of humankind is full of these examples of attempts to categorize humanity in different ways, for example, astrology or Tarot cards.
Due to your interactions with other people, your actions become the next criterion that they use to evaluate you. All you do will be interpreted through the prism of experience and benefit the evaluator. Do you know the expression “the first impression last”? It is true because the first impression actually is an instinctive recognition, based on the knowledge that was laid in the collective unconsciousness. On the other hand, we can also use our personal experience to evaluate someone’s actions.
Society assigns a social role to you and treats you accordingly to it. The social role = fate.
The most interesting thing is that other people, not connected in any way – from different cultures, from different countries and different generations, categorize you similarly. Thus, your appearance somehow predetermines the attitude of society towards you, and the attitude of society forces you to act in accordance with the script assigned to your profiling. Society is not interested in knowing that deep in your bones you are a little delicate mermaid, but not Ursula the witch.
Of course, there are exceptions, when individuals can overcome the pressure of society and make it perceive them as they want. As a rule, these are very charismatic people, with a strong personal brand. However, charisma and brand are different things. What is the difference between charisma and a personal brand? Charisma is the energy emanating from a person you may know nothing about, and which forces you to change the interaction strategy in the process of communication to benefit that person.
Personal branding as a strategy of resistance to fate
You’ve probably already heard something about people with a strong personal brand. Therefore, when you meet them, you already have certain expectations based on their brand promises, and interact accordingly. Note, that you will interact with a person bearing a personal brand accordingly to your expectations based on the brand’s promise, but not according to your first impression.
That is, a charismatic personal brand is a way you can oppose the role and behavioral scenario imposed on you by society and the established stereotypes. In a more global sense it is a resistance to fate.
In fact, there are more than two sides in this confrontation, as it’s not only “how society sees me” and “who I really am”. “Who I really am” quite often represents a set of conflicting parties such as “How I see myself”, “What I would like to be”, “What I like about myself, but others do not like”, “What I do not like, but others like about me”, and so on. One of the primary and most complex tasks of personal branding is the harmonization of these contradictions. Without the integrity of the “I”, there can be no question of any personal branding. Though, if you are completely satisfied with the role assigned to you by the society, you may well be a fatalist, using stereotypes to build your own brand.
So, returning to the importance of personal branding and summarizing the above, a personal brand is a story that people tell about you, a reputation that precedes you and forms the perception of you in the mind of your future acquaintances. Also, it is the only way to avoid the social role imposed by society, which is based on human stereotypes that were formed in our unconsciousness throughout evolution.