Think that in order to succeed in business, individuals need their own 'brand equity' or what some like to call a 'personal brand'? Not so.
As fans of F Scott Fitzgerald's book will know, Gatsby tried this and crashed. He didn’t see that the reputation of an individual depends on his relationships with other people. If you treat a person like a product, you are playing a dangerous game.
Products don’t think or feel and don’t have goals. Products are easy. You can create a luxury brand identity like Gatsby did, but not for Gatsby the person, but Gatsby the product, and the people who know Gatsby won’t give a damn about Gatsby the product.
Personal branding comes in three categories. The first is the Jay-Z / Beyoncé type of branding where the product is some representation of you that provides a reputational advantage for your product. This comes with inherent risks, principally confusing the product with the self and making a Michael Jackson mess of it. One would hope that Beyoncé calls Jay-Z 'Shawn' at home.
The second category is Gatsby’s routine. You brand yourself around what you have – in this case, money and a certain 'meretricious beauty' (Fitzgerald’s phrase) – and use this brand not to sell a product but to sell yourself for something you want. Gatsby wants the girl, the girl is impressed by money, Gatsby shows off a lavish lifestyle to prove he has the money… And so on.