Sunday, July 5, 2009

What Brand are You?

A lot of mileage has come out of the concept of turning ourselves into brands. And for good reason. The idea that we can transform ourselves from marketplace automatons into vibrant, passionate and focused super-doers has a lot of energy around it. In fact, so much energy that more and more people today are heeding the call to brand themselves.

But what is a brand and how do I become one?

While there are many definitions, I have always like this one the best: A brand is a promise held in the mind of a consumer of an individualized, personal and consistent experience from a product, person, or organization. In other words, a brand says, “You can count on me. I am dependable, and will meet needs that no one else can. I am unique and special, and that there is no one out there like me.”

Key to understanding the power of a personal brand is understanding four aspects of the above definition.

  1. Experience—brands are not icons, names or the product or service. They are the experience someone has using that product or service, or engaging with that person.
  2. Individualized and Personal—great brands connect to people in ways that are unique to each person. They’re intimate, emotional, and special.
  3. Consistent—strong brands can be counted on to deliver the same experience over and over again. Consistency in delivering a good experience drives loyalty.
  4. Promise—likely the most important part of the equation, brands are promises made by the provider of the type of experience the user will receive. Promises are commitments and consistent delivery on the brand promise increases trust – the number one factor of any brand’s success.

With all this in mind, it isn’t hard to see how we can turn ourselves into brands. Think of people who have become brands—Oprah, Martha Stewart, Michael Jordan, Richard Branson, Jerry Garcia, Elvis, Madonna,…and the list goes on. These individuals actualized their potential to deliver an individualized, personal and consistent experience to the world.

But you don’t have to wait until you’re rich and famous to be a brand. You can start wherever you are by simply changing your mindset from employee to owner, resident to citizen, follower to leader. Becoming a brand means you become CEO of your life and contribution. You turn yourself into ME, Inc., and consistently deliver on the promise of you.

Keith Wyche, president of Pitney Bowes Operations, created an incredible chart which helps to outline three critical elements of a personal brand. He calls it his PEP model: Perception, Exposure, Performance. I interviewed Keith awhile back on my radio program. You can listen to the interview here.

I also interviewed Sherri Thomas, author of 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand. In her interview, she offers specific strategies to move forward in your career by building your personal brand.

Both Sherri and Keith will provide you some excellent ideas on how to build and develop your own personal brand.

-- David Kinard, PCM

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