When you read the words “personal brand” what comes to mind for you? Dan Schawbel? Social media? Perhaps you think of Tom Peter’s 2007 Fast Company article entitled The Brand Called You which is often credited for popularizing the term. I know someone who lived and breathed the personal branding message decades ago.
Victor loved words and was keenly aware of their power. He could stun the most learned with the breadth of his vocabulary. He loved to orate – but mostly he enjoyed making connections between things that others might find totally unrelated. His views were not always popular, but they were principled.
In July 1982 his workshop burned down.
He stared past the machinery coated with soot and ashes, and said he wasn’t about to give up. “No, I’m still a young man,” said the 78-year-old Branford resident as he watched firefighters douse smoldering rafters and toss aside the blackened back door to his shop. The Journal-Courier – July 9, 1982
He handed the journalist covering the fire his business card; on it was the motto: “Where skill is law and honesty the creed“. Each time I pick up the yellowed news page and read that branding line I think about the many hours he would have labored over choosing just the right words. Not the content – that would have come easily. But Victor would have pored over a dictionary full of words in order to convey just the right meaning with as few words as possible. And I can imagine him reciting the possible word combinations out loud to see how they sounded.
This week I’m attending a seminar on marketing. I’ll be thinking about Victor Hofrichter, my grandfather, the man who taught me branding.