A brand is the identity of a product or service. Interestingly, the word originates from “branding” for ownership of cattle and other animals, but the meaning of the word has evolved to encompass identify, and can now take many forms (promise, symbol, general identity).
As any professional service provider (recruiter, lawyer, engineer, town planner etc) your personal brand defines who you are and what you stand for. In the professional services arena, technical excellence is essential, but so too is the ability to distinguish yourself from your competitors. Key to this is building a strong personal brand (this is separate to your company brand). Having presented on this subject a few times, it is surprising how many people in this industry don’t have any concept of their own brand.
Your brand is developed through all the points of contact with you and is known as your “brand experience”. When a candidate calls to enquire about a role – how do you treat them? When you are sitting in front of a client to take a brief or present a shortlist – what is their experience?
To engage in building your brand, you need to develop or align the expectations behind the brand experience, and the impressions that people get when they deal with you need to be consistent. To develop your brand consider:
- What makes you special or unique? (Point of difference)
- What is your value proposition?
- What can you offer in the market place?
- Just like a corporate brand, a personal brand offers a promise – what is yours?
- How is your appearance and presentation?
- How do you communicate (written and verbal?)
- What are your values?
- Are you consistent?
Branding is not just about the way you walk, talk and dress. It’s the way that you conduct business, your customer service level and your follow through on promises. I was talking to a client last week, who sent me an email that they had received from another recruiter trying to market a candidate. The email was filled with grammatical errors, and was very informal. This was a recruiter that she had not dealt with before. How is this person’s brand perceived by this client? Remember that every bit of correspondence that leaves your desk defines your brand. Consider too your personality – it’s important not to try and be someone that you are not.
Spend some time thinking about what words or descriptors describe you, and think long term about what you want to stand for. Always focus on fine tuning your interpersonal skills (including written) and most importantly – be consistent!
Do all that and hope like hell that nobody has the same name you do. Cause if you believe in a "personal brand" you are up the proverbial without the proverbial if somebody has the exact same name.
So sayeth one who knows the difference between a brand and a reputation. A brand can have a reputation for being good or bad. But it's right out the window if somebody has the same name. The reason why brands are registered but personal names are not. Prime example are the twitter names that read "The real John Smith". Really what makes you more real than John Smith. :)
So true! And I think it's also amazing that it can take years and years to build up a brand and only one minute to ruin it (think Tiger Woods).
One of my mentors once said to me - if you wouldn't want it on the front page of the newspaper, don't do it!
Good read Ineke and definitely one of my favorite topics. In fact even countries have brand ratings and they go up and down based on several factors. I would highly recommend checking out books by Al Ries on this topic.
One person who has definitely impacted his company with his personal brand is Steve Jobs and Apple is now world's most recognized brand edging out Google.
If we take care of our clients and our candidates, shoot straight, cut the trendy bizspeak, have our own ego's in order we build our reputation for all of the above and the brand will take care of itself.
I doubt seriously if Steve Jobs woke up one morning and started worrying about his personal brand or his company brand. I would guess that he woke up a lot of mornings and worried about how to produce and deliver a good product that performed and how to market it. Anybody can brand something, that's just naming it. The product and service are what makes the name stand for somethng. anybody can market a bad product until a lot of people recognize the name/brand and buy it. Once
The best part of all this, "Be Yourself"...there is no one way to succeed.
Its all about being consistent over a long period of time and there is no better way than "Being Yourself"
(Note: Unfortunately this is not as easy as it sounds)
Sandra- Steve jobs DOES worry about his personal brand and how it affects his company. That is why he is so guarded about his health issues (and rightly so since every time something about his health is leaked - Apple stock drops like a Granny Smith in a windstorm.) He is also famous for his attention to detail and obsession with quality; that is his brand. And because his/Apple's brand is so strong it can withstand the occasional (and inevitable) miss-step i.e. bad antenna design on the IPhone 4 and the IPad 2 that was less spectacular than expected.
So, I do not agree that the words "name" and "brand" are interchangeable. It is the quality, performance and service that makes a name a brand as you pointed out in your last post. You were also correct in saying that any (reasonably) good marketer can sell anything - once.
As for being the "real John Appleseed" or not, remember that our friend Mr. Jobs was sued over the name "Apple" (seems somebody else had already branded it) and although he "won" his case in court it took him several years and several millions of dollars before he could sell any of the Beatles catalog on ITunes. So he overcame that issue as well and I think both "Apples" are doing pretty well.
My point here is I think we all agree that it is substance that counts and we should not get hung up about the semantics. Being a native of Washington State, i can tell you that you can make a darn good pie with either "Golden" or "Red" Delicious Apples.
Hmmmm Where was Apple and Jobs when Apple almost went bankrupt... Mike I hate to tell you Ideas, a Killer Product with great engineers to produce a game changing product is what Makes Apple .... Apple! Steve Jobs is a thinker but his goal from back in the 80's to make a great product never changed. He needed a new product to save Apple. Apple always made great products we can never forget that!