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Archive for the ‘Personal Branding’ Category

Seeing that “people” are at the heart of building a “Personal Brand” it is highly unlikely that anyone will be able to create a full-proof plan in terms of creating a winning “Personal Brand”… but the following discussion aims to provide guidelines for building and strengthening the Brand-ME.

  1. 1.    Believe in yourself

… because no one else will do so first. The secret behind building a strong Personal Brand is to ensure that you have an authentic Brand-ME that you whole-heartedly believe in! As mentioned in my previous post,”Project Brand-ME”, it all starts within you. In order to “sell” a Brand-ME  that you want others to trust and believe in, you must first truly believe in yourself! Like a car needs fuel to take on the highway, you need to be motivated that you have what it takes to be a “Top-Of-Mind” brand in the eyes of others. Everyone wants to be unique and admired. Most often people look to each other… but then the question remains, how do you obtain a unique selling proposition if you only copy what others are doing? This is, unfortunately one of the perils we, as citizens of today’s society, are faced with: “the fear of standing out in a crowd”. As said in an ABSA-advertisement:

“It is the crazy ones, the outcasts who have the courage to change the world.”

“Narcissism” is a selfish and self-obsessed love for oneself which is a different concept than “believing in oneself”. By “believing in yourself” you need to respect yourself and others around you in order to reach your maximum potential. You need to believe in and embrace your differentness, because that will ultimately build your sustainable competitive advantage. The best of all…? You won’t have to pretend: once you decide to explore your own brand essence… talent and being yourself will come naturally!

2.    Put pen to paper

As with any other brand strategy, you need a plan of action; a guideline that will direct you on your road to building your own brand that also serves as a reminder of who you are and where you are heading with this brand-ME.  As stated by Dr. Hubert Rampersad in Authentic Personal Branding the 11 factors that help to build an authentic Personal Brand are as follows:

Vision + Self-knowledge + Self-learning + Thinking + Mindset change + Integrity + Happiness + Passion + Sharing + Trust + Love

= an Authentic Personal Brand

See: http://www.brandchannel.com/print_page.asp?ar_id=1360&section=paper

During this step you need to define and formulate your own Brand-ME. Start by thinking of all the factors of your “Personal Ambition”: internal, external, knowledge & learning and financial perspectives. Identify the elements in your life that creates the 11 factors as presented in the equation above and write them down!

Now you are ready to formulate your “Personal Brand” by creating a unique and memorable “Personal Brand” promise which will serve to direct you in staying true to yourself and thereby staying true to others by retaining who you are and what you have to offer. In doing so you will give others a reason to trust you and have faith in you.  During this step you analyse and document your own strengths, weaknesses, as well as your personal ambition and brand objectives (your goals).

3.    Know your target market and competitors

In order to create a compelling and attractive Brand-ME you need to identify and analyse your target market i.e. know what industry you opt to excel in and know which companies are the key players in that industry. Analyse their business composition, the CEO’s background and what they want in their employees. What are the “target market’s” needs and preferences?

Also analyse your competitors and learn from their mistakes and successes. This is not as a method to copy others, but to learn from them and to add to your own unique success by identifying what makes you different and unique from them. I.e. know yourself; know your competitor brands and know what makes you different!

Once you have completed your analyses, you can incorporate the factors you identified as important into your brand strategy as well and use it to reinforce the Brand-ME strength. Decide on your field of speciality and focus on strengthening the core service you will be providing to others around you.

4.    Add your own magical essence (signature move!)

The secret ingredient to the ME-mix… that is YOUR secret… Where do you get your inspiration from? What drives you? What gives you a skip in your step? It can be a talent; a unique, beautiful smile; the sparkle in your eye; the firm grip of your handshake or the way you are able to capture an entire audience with your presence. You may not be aware of a specific “signature move” or “personal logo” of yourself at this stage, but it will become an intricate part of who you are once you have started to understand and believe in yourself. Only then will this personal aura automatically present itself. Keep your eyes open and ask others what is they find compelling/unique about you.

5.    Implement!

As any athlete will tell you: “Practise makes Perfect”… The concept of “Perfect” is very objective but I believe I can safely state that any strategy (no matter how brilliant) will remain a strategy…. until it is implemented… Only then it will have the potential to become a reality!

6.    Stay in touch…

This is the most difficult, but also the most exhilarating part of Personal Branding: Personal Branding is not a once of stage production, it is an all year-round performance that feature at different venues and will come into contact with new audiences and “sound & lighting – managing” teams. Once you have started your Brand-ME it is very important to re-evaluate yourself now and again; to analyse your target markets’ as well as competitors’ moves in order to adapt the Brand-ME promptly if necessary.

In this same context it is equally important for you to view criticism about yourself by others in a positive light… criticism is only negative when you choose not to use it as an opportunity to build your brand value even stronger. By learning to separate yourself from your Brand-ME  and view it objectively through other’s eyes, you may grasp their understanding of you better and can utilize that knowledge to leverage your brand equity!

But most importantly: “You have to stay in touch with yourself.” Being true towards others starts with being true to yourself… to Brand-ME.

See: “The Brand Called You” http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/10/brandyou.html

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A closer look at the importance personal branding… and the secrets it hides…

I would like to start this discussion by stating the following:

EVERYONE is building a personal brand of their own selves and continuously reinforce those brands’ values and characteristics every single day of their life!

The way you answer your cell phone, reply to an email, a Facebook comment, the way you address your friends, family, colleges and even the cashier at your local supermarket… every action and thought amalgamate together: forming a unique brand called “ME”. As with product brands, your Brand-ME can be controlled strategically in order to maximize your brand equity. Knowing this, it is also very important to realize that even if you should choose not to strategize Brand-ME… it will be formed spontaneously, seeing that the brand itself (YOU) can not be terminated!

A brand’s equity is formed as a result of the brand knowledge structures that consumers hold true to the brand in their minds. This applies to Personal Branding as well… people will form their own opinion of you, whether you are aware of it or not. Consider the following:

“You are the first one to create an image of yourself and the last to know about a bad reputation you have created”.

Secondly, we as human-beings tend to focus extensively on the world around us and the demands thrown at us every day. Few people truly take time to consider the “brand”-message they are portraying every day in their actions and interactions with others. Even fewer individuals specifically make an effort at improving their internal “brand-strength” through critical self-evaluation, their values, aspirations, strengths and weaknesses. Most would argue that life in the 21st century does not allow time for introspection and yet others may simply be too terrified at what they might discover. My theory about Personal Branding is:

It is like baking a cake: if you do not consider what you throw into the mixing bowl, or how much baking powder you add or how long you bake it… you will end up with a collapsed excuse for a cake… not something you would proudly present to guests! Strengthening the internal brand and measuring the characteristics that make you unique, THAT is what enables you to present a Brand-ME that maximizes brand equity (and thus the value you provide) in the eyes of friends, family, fellow colleges and prospective employers. One needs to therefore focus on one’s psychological make-up…  What you cultivate and strengthen inside of you will naturally and effortlessly be portrayed to your external environment.

As in the business world around us, competition is increasing exponentially: their will always be newer, better quality, more reliable brands on the market… any successful production can and will be copied… but your personal identity: that remains true only to you! The career industry is especially tough seeing that there will always be candidates who are smarter, has more noteworthy references and better educations than you… but they will never be able to be you! Your own bit of magic essence can be the winning recipe on the road to success (both within your personal as well as professional life). The “magic essence”? Answer: Be a “Purple Cow”… have a “Big Moo”. Find out what your passions and strengths in life are and just…. BE YOURSELF!

A third important consideration is the fact that once people have positioned you in their minds… it is very difficult for you to alter that positioning. For this reason, people should be very careful of how they portray themselves, especially in their online persona (i.e. Facebook, Myspace, Twitter etc.). Some argue that the best you can do is to embrace other’s viewpoints of you and use it to strengthen your unique positioning value! Example: if you constantly find yourself being the joke of the day, learn how to laugh at yourself with others and embrace the fact that you have made someone’s day!

Finally, Personal Branding serves as a leveraging platform, especially when viewed from a virtual socializing network channel, from where you can obtain with fantastic contacts that can advise you, guide you and present you with valuable opportunities for the future!

Ultimately a strong and authentic Brand-ME  will also motivate you to acceptance and embrace yourself and thereby build your psychological well-being as well as giving a deeper “meaning” to your existence: by not only realizing what your strengths are, but being able to give meaning to others’ lives.

Defining, understanding, readjusting and embracing your Brand-ME will leverage your unique value positioning and improve your ability to build and maintain the positive brand image that you reflect in the eyes of those around you.

See: “The Importance of Personal Branding” http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/the-importance-of personal-branding/

See: “Personal Branding” http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2008/02/personal-branding/

See: “Personal Branding is More Important Than You Realize” http://www.instigatorblog.com/personal-branding-important/2009/04/15

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When we talk about attributes that make a specific endorser a perfect fit for a certain brand we look at the TEARS model:

– Trustworthiness: The degree to which an endorser is loyal, honest, believable and has a sense of integrity. This will dictate how much consumers will trust the endorser, and consequently also the brand he/she endorses. 

– Expertise: The amount of expertise the specific endorser has about the specific brand he/she endorses and that is perceived by consumers. This makes their opinion and advice about the brand more credible to consumers

– Attractiveness: It has been proven! Even babies are more fascinated with attractive people than regular looking people. Choosing an physically attractive endorser to represent your brand will capture the attention of consumers and improve the chances of switching their brand preferences to the brands that the endorser represents.

– Respect: The way that an endorser lives his/her life and their personalities, values and morals will help to win the respect of consumers (both for the endorser… and the brand he/she endorses).

– Similarity: The more the endorser resonates with the target market, the more attracted they will be towards his beliefs; opinions and perspectives seeing that they associate themselves with him/her.

A good brand endorser must therefore be:

  1. Credible (Trustworthiness + Expertise)
  2. and Attractive (Physical Attractiveness + Respect + Similarity) 

In the same way we can use these attributes to result in successful marketing strategies that help us to achieve our objectives (weather it is personal branding success or actual product branding success). 

Personal branding success:

We are all brands in our own right. And we have control over the development and success of the brand-image that we project. The world around you, the people in your life, but most importantly your own personal experiences helped to mould you into the unique brand that you are today.

BUT… you have the power to control this brand that is U!

Thus: consumers favor certain brands because of the “TEARS” of the endorsers that represent those brands. In the same manner the people around you: friends, colleagues, employers and businesses will view and judge the image that that you portray about yourself in terms of these “TEARS”-concepts.

You have to build on the “I”-brand credibility and attractiveness in order to win the hearts and the minds of clients, colleagues and employers.

– To be Trustworthy is a non-negotiable characteristic needed in any employee, CEO or the everyday man.   

– Be an Expert at what you do. Make sure that you grow and excel in your knowledge and experience on a specific topic/interest that you have. Thus: “Know it all” about your field and “do it well”. Stay up to date with evolving topics and technologies in your industry and build connections with other knowledgeable mentors. Successful business people are people who are not only trusted, but they are known for doing the best job in their industry/business. BUT: Being an expert does not only refer to being in a position to delegate. Active involvement in your field of interest will further improve the sense of credibility others will perceive of you.

– Be Attractive: This does, however not only focus on physical natural attractiveness as much as it focuses on being “presentable”. How do you talk to clients? How do you answer your phone-calls? How do you appear to your colleagues and friends? How do you respond on emails? “Dressing” yourself for the position you envision for yourself is a very important part in the process of achieving personal branding success. The more likeable you are to others, the more they will take your words to heart.

– Respect is one of the quickest ways that you can build or destroy the “I”-brand. The way you live your life, your philosophy on life and the actions you take on the things that you believe in, will win the respect of others around you. The brand that promises everything, but fails to deliver on those well-meant promises will loose the respect of consumers. Even though it is important to communicate your philosophy and objectives to others… it is even more important to deliver on those promises. Also very important: Respect others as you would like them to respect you.

– Similarity: The more consumers can relate to aspects of a brand-image… the more they will be attracted to the brand and the attributes that it provides to them. The more others can relate to you or find ways to resonate their experiences with yours, the more they will trust your opinions/expertise on a subject. Do not make yourself unreachable to others: work with an “I am one of you” attitude and embrace others’ opinions and ideas. More knowledge can still be learned from others even when you believe that you know everything about a certain subject. No-one is ever done learning!

These basic principles will add to the success of any personal marketing strategy. Consider this as a way to create an “I”-brand that is unique and successful: resulting in personal marketing that brings “no-TEARS” … only SUCCESS!

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