Lindsay in 2004
To kick off the month, we examine Lindsay Lohan’s rocky public persona as she attempts to make a valiant comeback to underscore whether crumbling personal brands can be revitalized. We’d love to hear your feedback!
When Lindsay Lohan starred in the hilarious and smart Mean Girls, she’d managed to do what most child stars dream of doing: She’d managed to make a clean break from her squeaky Disney image with nary a nip slip nor awards show debacle in sight. She was sexy without trying, she was grounded but not boring, and to top it off she could actually act. Oscar winner Meryl Streep described Lohan as “in command of the art form.”
Cut to 2006 and Lindsay’s public image has taken a nosedive. She’s getting a reputation in Hollywood for being difficult and unreliable on set, and is battling DUI charges. She opts out of several movies and enters her first rehabilitation center, while her messy home life is splashed across tabloids.
Though Lindsay has been in and out of court and treatment centers for the past few years, she’s made it clear that she is ready to make a comeback. Rebranding the image that you’ve worked so hard to create can be tricky; in a matter of years Lohan went from a household name to a punchline. However it isn’t impossible to change your public image. Robert Downey Jr. is an example of great rebranding; after years of arrests, substance abuse, and relapse, he’s managed to return to the A-list and restart his successful career.
When attempting to change or repair your image, honesty is key. If you’ve made a mistake, take responsibility for it. Attempting to blame others or to deflect attention comes off as childish and stubborn. No matter how difficult it may be, saying “It was an oversight on my behalf, I am sorry, and it won’t happen again,” is one of the most respectable things that you can do. At the cusp of his comeback Robert Downey Jr. had a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, admitting his mistakes and referring to his previous self as “a wreck.” The details were bleak, but his honesty propelled him back to success shortly after. Lindsday Lohan has also made a recent appearance on Oprah’s network, during which she discussed her previous drug use. While it isn’t necessary to admit your faults on national television, truthfulness goes a long way when overturning your image. Humans make mistakes and they evolve, and the public can empathize with this.
Lindsay guest hosted Chelsea Lately this month
Robert and Lindsay’s comebacks are working for them because in addition to their honesty and genuine desire to improve, they’re likeable people. They both seem grounded and give off a personable vibe that many celebrities don’t. It’s crucial to try your best to leave a positive impression and not to burn any bridges in your field. Everyone makes mistakes.
For those of us who don’t live under constant public scrutiny and paparazzi surveillance, it may be easier to come back from a negative brand identity. However, with the boom of social media, most career fields are intimate with small degrees of separation. It’s harder to hide missteps even when we are not in the public eye. You’re often just a few clicks away from a nightmarish former boss on LinkedIn, or from someone with your dream position.
Lindsay marked the start of her comeback with a guest-hosting stint on Chelsea Lately, during which she interviewed guests and even cracked a few jokes at her own expense. She looked happy and healthy, and her appearance was generally well-received. Although she’s had a rough time in the limelight, the public seems to be rooting for her. We at Elan Image Management are as well.
So, yes, you can re-brand yourself even after the worst of public humiliations. Take ego out of the equation and just let your humanity do the talking.
Carina Drakes for Elan Image Management.
If you find yourself struggling with how to craft and build a strong personal brand, Contact Us to explore how we can help you with one of our personal branding services. Be sure to visit Elan Image Management’s blog for style tips and more. Get even more tips, inspiration and guidance on our Facebook page!