Asking ‘what is a brand?’ is no different to asking ‘what is human being?’
Think of a brand as a human being. And the questions that come to mind, when anyone passes judgement on another human being include:
- Is it a friend or foe?
- Do I like them or do I not?
- As I interact with him/her/it, do I feel an ever growing resonance?
- Am I with like-kind?
- Do I agree with your way of living?
This list is not exhaustive, of course. But it is a way to help you get into the frame of mind of relating to brands as living breathing beings. Like any relationship with a person – sometimes, you find enough common ground to want to learn more about each other. You sometimes find enough difference, to keep the relationship engaging and intellectually stimulating. And sometimes it is a love-hate. How that relationship initiates and evolves is a complex dynamic. Same thing when you interact with a brand.
This is foundational to creating an authentic brand. Whether you use your name as your brand (personal brand) or not, this principle still holds. Like every business or brand – it is a product of a human being’s thoughts and inspirations. That is what makes it unique. And the degree to which you are clear on who you are, what you stand for and the experience you passionately want to give – is the degree to which your brand will be of distinction too.
The principle challenge of branding is a personal challenge.
One of understanding self. That journey must be forever, or give up on building a brand. Now if you are reading this thinking “oh but I’m already clear on who I am,” then I ask that you think it over again.
Clarity and understanding of self is a journey with no end.
I’m not the only one who stresses this. Arguably the foremost expert in branding and social media – Gary Vaynerchuk (CEO and Founder of Vayner Media, Best-Selling Author and International Speaker), will stress the importance of developing greater self-awareness. Just watch some of his videos online, and you’ll see how strongly he hammers that point home.
If you are wondering whether or not to create a personal brand or a brand, crafting a personal brand is of benefit. It does not necessarily limit you. It can work for or against you. Just depends what you want to create (which we will explore in more depth in the coming chapters). But rest assured that it is a myth that you can’t create a personal brand that becomes a visionary company, and continues to thrive well after you are gone.
Take a look at this list:
- Johnson & Johnson
These are just some of the top visionary companies that have been identified in Jim Collin’s book Built to Last (published 1994). These companies, as you might have guessed – are personal brands. Brands named after their founders. And they achieved the following:
- Had multiple generations of chief executives.
- Moved through different product or service life cycles.
- Founded before 1950!
But you don’t need to know the details. You just need to know that having a personal brand doesn’t necessarily limit the time and space horizons in which your brand can operate. In fact, these examples suggest it might be in your favour to have a personal brand! Whether you choose to build a personal brand or not, is not the point.
It is how you use your brand that matters.
The essence of your brand is a product of your personal passion, core values, and business vehicle (service or product). It is what excites you to do what you do every day – because without that, there is no magnetism. It is also function of the deeper drivers (core values) that govern your decision making process, and the way of living that your brand represents. And of course, how that brand shows up in the marketplace and projects its values onto its consumers is the business vehicle or strategy.
Important distinction you need to understand when you are crafting the extension of you – thinking in terms of creating a brand just to please someone is possibly the biggest mistake you can make when constructing your brand of distinction. It isn’t about being liked.
It is about being authentically you, and then expressing the way you live your life in the world, and communicating it in terms of how it might be beneficial to someone else’s life. Remember, we aren’t talking about marketing or sales.
We are talking about planting a flag that represents a way of living – an expression of yours. And seeing how the products and services of that philosophy so to speak, will be of benefit to consumers. Try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.
So keep this mind as I share more content on crafting your brand of distinction.
If you as a human were a business. What would that business look like, sound like, feel like and live like?
We will build on everything bit by bit.
Ready to start building?
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