Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding.
We are CEOs of our own companies: ME Inc. To be in business today our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called YOU.
What always makes me pause when I read this quote is that Tom Peters wrote that in an article in Fast Company in 1997! Almost twenty years later and his advice is more timely than ever!
If we accept the idea (which I do) that as individuals we’re every bit as much a brand as an Apple, Amazon or an Oreo then in order to keep our brands healthy and vibrant and performing well, we need only to think like great brands do.
Great brands know who they are.
Great brands have absolute clarity on who they are and the story they want to convey about themselves. This is the starting point, and unfortunately where so many of us trip and fall when it comes to our personal brands.
They know where they want to go.
Without a vision of what you want to create, you don’t have a shot at getting there. I’m not talking specific goals or actionable steps here. They’re important. But they mean nothing without a clear vision of what you see for yourself. Most of us get too caught up in the short term to give attention to what we’d like to create in the long run.
They invest in the product.
Great brands know that in order to make money – which is the end game for branding no matter how much they want to separate themselves from sales – you have to invest. That means time, attention and money.
The same thing holds true for great personal brands. They don’t just happen overnight. They need care and feeding – blocked out times to network each week, a strategy, self-study education like my Your Digital You course, one-on-one coaching and accountability such as what I offer in my personal brand advising and coaching packages, a web site designer for the would be influencer who wants to start blogging or a photographer for a good set of head shots.
They aren’t afraid to try new things.
Great brands are willing to try new platforms. They embrace technology. No matter how off brand it might seem at first glance. Think GE’s success with Vine. They know they cannot put all their money into television and think they’re going to stay strong in a world where an entire generation is voting to unplug their cable. They know that digital tools are not going away so they experiment to see which digital tools work best for them.
A great personal brand will not foolishly spend $1000 to have their resume rewritten and think that is the best route to their next gig. They might try blogging on LinkedIn or Medium to expand their reach or a presentation on SlideShare.
They’re mobile first.
Great brands know it’s not enough to have a beautifully designed website that only looks good on a desktop. It’s also how you show up on that smartphone.
Great brands are not weekend warriors who are sporadic in their efforts. They set up a schedule that works for them and matches what their end game is. Unfortunately, when it comes to our personal brands most of us fall into the weekend warrior syndrome.
They know they cannot be all things to all people.
Great brands focus on their uniqueness, not their sameness.They don’t try to be like everyone else or what they think people want them to be. They know that’s a big yawn. They know what makes them different and they play to their strengths.
So should personal brands.
They know they’re more than a ‘value proposition.’
They know at their core what makes them a great brand goes beyond the actual product. It’s the experience they elicit and how they feel after they’ve left the store or the online site. They engage us – whether it’s in changing our perceptions or tugging on our emotions.
Healthy personal brands do the same. They remember Maya Angelou’s words.
People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.
They know word of mouth is still their greatest advertising and that today it’s happening online.
At the end of the day, the very best kind of advertising comes through recommendation. It’s always been true for company brands and it’s always been true when it comes to personal brands. The difference now is that digital tools offer the ability for that to grow exponentially online.
Great brands know that.
So do great personal brands.