The Public Servant Brand

Mar 25th, 2015


First word that comes to mind putting public servant and brand in the same sentence.

Can public servants & personal brand co-exist?


Here’s how.

In the pre-Internet dark ages, having your own brand as a professional public servant was anathema.

The only ‘brand’ that existed was the ‘faceless public servant’.

Unseen, unheard.

But there was a good rationale.

Neutrality was paramount to the sound operation of a democratic, and in Canada’s case, parliamentary government.

A neutral public service was entrusted to ensure transition from governments to governments to government took place in an orderly, predictable and consistent manner.

And in the process providing neutral and evidenced-based advice.

That’s why we don’t have kleptocracies, dictatorships or civil wars.

In the post-Internet world, neutrality remains equally important.

But here’s the thing.

The digital world has completely shifted the power relationship between the public service or better yet, public servants, as homogeneous, faceless entities with the real world.

Today, the public servant can choose to create their own digital brand – a real, social persona with a professional voice oozing unique personality and perspective on their own terms – while still maintaining neutrality.

Clearly this brave new world brings tension.

You the public servant can be a brand, if you choose. (By the way, age, gender or any of those differentiated strata have absolutely nothing to do with this decision.)

But under what terms?

That depends on your ability to risk manage your brand.

Risk management is a big thing in governments across the globe.

But when you scale to the individual public servant, it becomes real simple.

Who are you? What do you stand for? What is your authentic voice?

And just make sure it doesn’t impact on your employer.

It’s a tricky world we live in.

So, how do branded digital innovators in public service thrive?

Here are three tips.

  1. Figure out who you are.

Policy wonk? Operations guru? Political advisor?

Define your space and own it.

That means pick your social platform (e.g., Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc), stick to your messaging and make sure you say who and what you are.

  1. Be authentic.

Speak truth to power.

Reinforced by former Governor General, Fisheries Minister and journalist Romeo LeBlanc at Carleton University’s School of Public Administration.

In today’s digital world, it translates into being authentic in the physical and digital workspace.

While this space is evergreen and murky, you don’t need to be.

Your voice is yours.

Just keep it clean, consistent and current.

3 Finally, seize your creative space and drive it.

Art, music, dance, coding, writing, running, cooking, building, singing, and whatever makes you, you and contributes to you being the best public servant you can be to make a difference for your country.

Don’t be afraid to add personality and creativity to your platform.

You will stand out from the crowd.

And maybe be heard.

Faceless public servants are a thing of the past.

And frankly, Canada is better for it.


vision | voice | visuals mine