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I’ve been wondering about the sudden uptick in people describing themselves as visionaries lately. I suspect, culturally, and societally, it has something to do with Steve Jobs’ passing, and the fact that everyone describes him as a visionary. (I often notice that when words appear in the media, people start adopting them for their branding…)

Anyway, the focus of this post is really an exploration of whether you can self-declare your visionary status. Now, of course, I understand that it’s a free country and everyone has the complete right to define themselves as they wish. And, with that, I also understand the importance of image shaping and image management; the idea that you might have to tell people how they should see you.

The place where this falls down for me is around people who describe themselves as visionary. How do they know?

What if they’re wrong?

And, just as crucially, how is this helping them with their branding?

I am, as you are, seeing a shift in how people are engaging and interacting with brands. More of the time, individuals want to experience a brand for themselves. They want to have their own set of adjectives and their own experience. Sure, they may look to collective wisdom to help them find these brands, but the nature of social media is lowering the barriers to engagement, meaning that every individual can have his or her own experience of brand. In turn, this means that they can also describe or interpret any brand or company in their own way.

Given that branding, anyway, is in the experience of the consumer; it seems strange to me that people would be describing themselves as visionaries. If they truly were, shouldn’t this be a moniker given to them by their satisfied clients? I mean, did Steve Jobs ever go around declaring himself a visionary?

Or did he just do really amazing things, and let other people describe him that way?

As the marketing and promotion landscape continues to shift, I think how we describe ourselves will continue to diminish in scope and importance. We can say whatever we want about ourselves, but the truest measure is- and will be- how our clients perceive and experience us.

What if we each just focused on our really great work, and let our clients describe us as visionary. Wouldn’t that make much more sense?