Brand? What Brand? Huh?
Posted March 14, 2010on:
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Let me introduce my fictional example, Melanie McGuffin, the IT programmer who makes it happen, works real hard, and never stops… and needs a new job or some freelance work. She’s thinking about a personal brand. It seems that if Melanie doesn’t think of herself as a brand name then she’ll risk becoming a commodity. Problem: What is a personal brand?
Well, Melanie, luckily, I was a marketing major before I became a young professional, and I know what a “brand” is. It’s who and what you are. What the intangible benefit of the product (that’d be you) is. For instance, you might be an IT programmer. That’s what an employer gets, the product. However the brand is, Melanie McGuffin, the IT programmer who makes it happen, works real hard, and never stops. I’m sure the “Personal Brand” evangilists would tell me that I have to phrase that in a witty, one sentence tag-line, but that’s not my point.
My point, Melanie, is that if you know yourself, then you should already be doing the personal brand thing. Your track record should show that, your interviews should exhibit it, and your online self should support all of that. Same as with a real product, you can’t just slap a brand message on a company. The company has to live the brand.
A “Personal Brand” is just how to communicate this inner who-you-are to others. That’s the 60 Second Commercial, what you’re wearing, your behavior on Linked In and other social networking sites… The list of things that affect this “brand” go on. And here’s the kicker: all you should do is be yourself.
I recently read All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin. In it he explained that a brand has to be on message at all points of contact and have as many points of contact as possible since you don’t know when or where the customer is going to have the first impression. The only way to do this is to live the brand message, since that way even if you get caught unawares by a customer, you’re still showcasing that all-important message.
Same thing for prospective employers or business contacts. Will they see you first on Linked In? Your blog? How about a networking event? Or maybe at work? So just realize that you’re always going to be in the spotlight and act accordingly. We all have heard not to post drunk photos on Facebook, so just don’t. Melanie, if you want people to think that you’re a perserviering, IT version of the Enegizer Bunny, then your Tweets should support that by talking about where to find solutions, even after business hours are over, or linking normal life to problems you’ve seen in the IT field on your blog to show your always about IT.
That’s all there really is to a personal brand. All the other stuff is just icing. If you look at a person as a product, then this is the core of what the “Personal Brand” evangilists are getting at. It’s really a simple idea.