Thursday, August 20th, 2009
If leadership branding is the ‘passport to influence’, how are our political leaders tracking?

Jon-Michail, CEO of Image Group International, has studied the different approaches taken by Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard to each position themselves as a particular brand of leader.

But first, what is personal branding all about? “It’s having the courage to express who you are,” says Jon-Michail whose clients include ANZ, Hewlett-Packard, Qantas, BHP, AFL footballers, politicians and executives.

“It is about sharing with the world your point of difference and taking responsibility for your boldness and actions. It is your passport to influence.”

So how are Kevin and Julia using personal branding to benefit their careers? And how do they compare?

“They are both using a range of techniques to make their leadership statement. Kevin Rudd is making great use of the digital space – he has a personal website and, much to the joy of comedians, uses Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and FlickR,” said Jon-Michail.

In contrast, Julia Gillard has no personal website and uses only YouTube and Twitter with any regularity. “Julia is playing it safe in most instances. Unlike Kevin Rudd, who posed with Bruno – very unusual for an Australian PM and quite a gutsy move.”

The other difference between the two Labor leaders is the image and look of their partners. “While Kevin hasn’t had a visual makeover apart from freshening up his wardrobe, there are great visual changes coming from his wife, Therese Rein. She has new clothing, new hair, new body and seems happy to be high profile.

“Julia Gillard’s partner, on the other hand, is very much in the background.”

What other traits make up the brand that we are seeing, hearing and using to base our impressions and judgements of these people?

“They have each positioned their background and upbringing in similar ways to create part of the brand message. Both are known to have had a hard upbringing, be academically strong and well qualified.

“The differences include Kevin as family man: Julia as career woman. She was a tomboy growing up and it’s clear her career is her number one priority.

“To appear more family-oriented, Julia has involved her niece and nephew in media interviews.”

So what lessons can Malcolm Turnbull learn from Kevin and Julia on this subject?

“He would be more down to earth if he, loosened up, was humble – fat chance!” says Jon-Michail. “Transformation can only come if the need and want is large enough. In Turnbull’s case he is overtly arrogant, politically inexperienced and his motivation does not seem to be as significant as Rudd or Gillard in leading.

“Malcolm is in trouble, in my professional opinion he’s gone. It is too late to transform himself because he has not only Rudd to contend with but also Gillard. Having said that, it is politics and the unexpected has been done before.

“On a positive note, Turnbull’s website is great, very professional.”

There is always room for improvement and in some areas they are both working on it. As everyone has noticed, Rudd has started speaking in a more casual, relaxed and at times ‘Aussie’ manner designed to endear him to common people. According to Jon-Michail it is still irritating, as is Julia Gillard’s speaking voice which he suggests requires additional voice training.

Jon-Michail also notes that, visually, Kevin Rudd is middle of the road. “His clothes are not overly special – I’d give him around 6/10-7/10 max.

“External visual improvements are easy to action and often the first area for new leaders to address. Julia Gillard has had a makeover that brings out her feminine strengths – she’s improved her hair, makeup and wardrobe.”

For further information and comments, please contact Jon-Michail on T: (03) 9820 4449 M: 0414 317 224

Kevin Rudd
*CBO – Chief Brand Officer, Kevin PM
Website, Myspace, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr
  • Has had no substantial visual makeover other than freshening up his wardrobe
  • Great visual changes coming from his wife – Therese Rein: New clothing, new hair, new body
  • Kevin poses with Bruno, gutsy move.
  • Born in Nambour , QLD
  • Hard up-bringing
  • Speaks fluent Mandarin
  • Academically good
  • Diplomat
  • Family oriented
  • Attempts to control himself under pressure – not so good at it.
  • Traveling constantly around the world – goal is to be seen as an international statesman.

Julia Gillard
Who would you vote for PM?  See the pics of Julia Gillard as she is and a potential "punk" Julia available at

Has no known personal website, uses YouTube, Twitter

  • Has had a visual makeover: hair, make-up, wardrobe
  • Partner’s look / image very much in the background
  • Playing it safe in most instances
  • Plays “gender politics” when it suits
  • Born in Wales - migrated to Australia at age 4
  • The first possible future PM born outside of Australia
  • Hard up-bringing
  • Not good at “visual things” ie art. (her personality trait is not strong in this area)
  • Academically good
  • Lawyer
  • Her career is her No 1 priority
  • Tomboy growing up.
  • She has used her niece and nephew (Jenna & Tom) as ‘surrogate’ children in media interviews. They are the children of her sister Alison.
  • Under pressure, generally better than Rudd.

Upcoming Event

Leadership Branding Seminar by Jon-Michail of Image Group International in conjunction with AIM featuring special guests Kevin Sheedy - AFL Legend and Katherine Sampson - Founder & CEO of Healthy Habits discussing how their personal brand links to their business success.

In the competitive marketplace, a brand can help to differentiate yourself and your organisation from your competitors.

Leadership branding takes you into the world of personal brand management and shows you how to maximise all possibilities for career, business and personal success.

A personal brand should be viewed as a corporate asset because it can:

  • Communicate leadership qualities
  • Create emotional attachment to you or your product, business or organisation
  • Help to differentiate you and your business from the competition
  • Project credibility in the market place
  • Create client, staff and management loyalty
  • Make purchasing decisions easier
  • Deliver above market financial returns
  • Set you on the path to having "one foot in today and one foot moving forward into tomorrow"

Join Jon-Michail for a full day workshop as he helps you discover and put into action your personal leadership brand.

Workshop overview:
The program covers the "hard truths" about real world business success. Some of the key areas to be covered include:

  • Self: how to identify and work with your strengths, build confidence and manage as a leader.
  • Communication: the first impression, what your body language says about you, how to have important conversations.
  • Personal Brand: don't be a commodity, be a brand, learn how to market yourself and the importance of being authentic.
  • Connections: networking success and mastering the 60 second sell. Why we should never forget our manners.

Designed for:
Emerging and established leaders. Any individual who wants to understand the power of personal brand and the impact it has on your success and the success of your organisation.

Bookings: Contact AIM on (03) 9534 8181 or visit

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Contact Profile

Image Group International

Image Group International offers an eclectic range of services to the corporate world through in-house workshops, public seminars and confidential, one-on-one coaching sessions. Established in 1989, Image Group International is an Australian based organisation with representative offices in New Zealand, Southeast Asia, the UK and the USA.

Image Group International advises individuals and organisations on The Seven Aspects of Authentic Image Management™ (AIM™) and coach individuals and businesses in various social skills including corporate communications, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, body language, colour psychology, protocol and etiquette, inner image, grooming principles, wardrobe strategies, media skills and new venture entrepreneurship - all with a holistic approach.

Patricia Bosa
P: (03) 9820 4449
M: 0414 317 000


How are Kevin and Julia using personal branding and how do they compare? Is it too late for Malcolm Turnbull? Jon-Michail of Image Group would be happy to tell you more about what our leaders' personal style says!


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