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The Power of Personal Branding: 3 Lessons from North Korea’s Dear Leaders
Jan 23, 2015

Legends never die. They also don’t arise out of thin air. Instead, legends of old and new are created through powerful techniques of personal branding. When applied to the digital age, these three historical lessons are crucial towards developing your personal brand, and ensuring legendary immortality.

Disclaimer: this article in no way supports the atrocious acts these men have committed to the people of North Korea. Rather, It is an examination of the powerful branding/brainwashing employed by North Korea's royal family that has enabled them to rule by force for over 50 years. 

1. Construct a Narrative

The son of “The Great Leader” Kim ll-sung, Kim Jong-il (KJI for shot, sorry KJP for the similar title) was destined for greatness. According to his official biography, KJI was born in a secret military camp and welcomed to the world by a glorious double rainbow that  stretched across the heavens.

After the light show faded, KJI quickly got to work, learning to walk in just three weeks (typically this takes babies 9-12 months).  In 1982, he assumed the title of “Dear Leader” after he was made a member of the Seventh Supreme People's Assembly. With the aid of the established propaganda machine, the North Korean government began to construct a cult of personality around the Dear Leader’s sensational abilities and intellect.

To cement his image as more than a mere mortal, KJI knew actions spoke louder than words. So he did what any reasonable dictator would, and created a list of accomplishments more absurd than the fake sign language interpreter who was on stage during Nelson Mandela’s funeral service. A consummate sportsman, in 1994 KJI shattered golf’s record books and with 11 holes-in-one shot a total score of 38, take that Tiger.

 2. Implement a Dress Code

Close your eyes and imagine a powerful leader, what are they wearing? Certainly not a beige anorak and blacked out designer sunglasses. Ok, maybe they are wearing badass sunnies. But KJI’s casual parka look was known to North Koreans and foreign diplomats alike. He rocked this look 24-7 / 365. So much so that in 2013, the huge bronze statue in Pyongyang honoring KJI was recast, replacing his previous choice of outerwear with the "threadbare and discoloured parka as a symbol of revolution.” Yes that is a legitimate quote. 

He chose a parka and Steve Jobs a black turtleneck. Thinking outside the box, maybe it’s time for someone to reclaim the Jim Tressel sweater vest?

3. Shoot to Kill: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Mankind’s narcissistic nature evolved long before the selfie stick, and for good reason. Statues, murals, and portraits have long been a tool of personal branding for the well to do. Technology has revolutionized the use of photography, enabling anyone with a smart phone and one arm to shoot, edit, and share a flattering picture.

In older times, leaders relied on manmade statues and structures to immortalize their faces and embellish their accomplishments. Unlike his father’s statues, Kim Jung-un has changed with the times, and embraces photo shoots as tools that allow him to demonstrate the military might and economic prowess of his nation.

Your nation may be the few hundred follows you have Instagram. Regardless, remember this the next time you update your profile picture or choose a more professional look for that Linked In close up… 

The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text and 90 percent of the information transmitted to the brain is visual.

Pictures matter, see below. (Images courtesy of The Telegraph)

Now, how do we get @FearlessLeader on Instagram?

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