I am constantly exhorting friends, family, colleagues, clients, etc. to build a successful public brand. But whoever came up with the phrase “There’s no bad publicity” didn’t know the right way to go about building a brand! Sadly, we need look no further than the headlines swirling around a suddenly famous public official to see how damaging building a negative brand can be.

Unless you live in Illinois, you probably never heard of Governor Rod Blagojevich until allegations that he attempted to sell the vacant Senate seat of President-Elect Obama became public last month. Now his interestingly-coiffed visage is all over the nightly news and everyone in America knows his name. He has a level of national visibility and name recognition most politicians would kill for. And it’s destroying his career.

I will not judge Gov. Blagojevich’s guilt or innocence in this matter; that is for a court to decide. But I will judge rather harshly his arrogant and defiant response to these very serious charges. Instead of humbly stating his innocence and perhaps taking a leave of absence so the controversy surrounding him does not bring Illinois state affairs to a standstill (which has apparently happened), he has taken a hostile approach.

The governor is making it clear his opponents are in for a brutal, ugly, drawn-out brawl. This attitude may have served him well growing up on the tough streets of Chicago, but there is no place for it in the halls of government or the court of public opinion. However this scandal gets resolved, you can be sure that the name “Blagojevich” will be synonymous with “corruption” long after it’s over. What kind of results will building a brand like that create?

Get a Brand or Die a Generic ®