How to zag authentically

I don’t know about you, but I think that the term “personal branding” is a bit over used. And, not being used correctly. When I worked in marketing, even marketers struggled to understand the meaning of “branding” so expecting non-marketers to get it is a big ask. I think one of the best definitions I’ve found of personal branding is from Kelly Cutrone, the PR Maven:

“Personal branding is about figuring who you are and what turns you on and then monetising it”

You can read about her other insights into personal branding here.

The other thing about personal branding is that when ever you come across articles telling you how to build your personal brand, they all say the same thing! So, how on earth are you going to stand out if you’re doing the same as everyone else. So, it was refreshing to read a brilliant piece by Robin Dickinson “35 ways to profit by doing things differently online”. I would definite recommend you pop over to his blog to take a peek.

He’s essentially pushing two of my favourite philosophies;

1. The first of which is “when others are zigging, you should be zagging”.

2. And the second is BE YOU!

The need for authenticity right now is more important than ever.  But I think the reason that we are seeing so many copies out there is that finding out who you are and what you’re about isn’t as easy as it sounds. But once you’ve cracked it, success is surely to follow.

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Branding; The Next Generation

A great article from Branding Strategy Insider last week cites a trend in branding toward the Holistic Brand Proposition:

“There’s every indication that branding will move … into an even more sophisticated realm — reflecting a brave new world where the consumer desperately needs something to believe in — and where brands very well might provide the answer. I call this realm the HSP — the Holistic Selling Proposition. HSP brands are those that not only anchor themselves in tradition but also adopt religious characteristics at the same time they leverage the concept of sensory branding as a holistic way of spreading the news. Each holistic brand has its own identity, one that is expressed in its every message, shape, symbol, ritual, and tradition — just as sports teams and religion do today.”

When I read this, the first brand that springs to mind in Guinness. Guinness has most definitely moved beyond the space occupied by “normal” brands and has taken up residence in the realm of holistic brands. With its iconic advertising, its association of black and beige and the fact that it pretty much owns St Patrick’s day all over the world. It has it all; the rituals, the symbols, the tradition, the legacy…

But, my question is this. If branding is to move into this new territory called holistic branding, on what basis?

Should all brands now be considering what their holistic brand assets might be? And what about new brands, are they really in a position to be citing rituals and tradition when they weren’t even around the year before?

And what if all brands got on this bandwagon? Would we be surrounded by big brand wannabes all punching above their weight?

Or, is this where branding comes full circle and where the authentic heart of the brand finds its true place, and the brand finds its purpose. After all, each brand needs to have a reason for being, as we do. And so, the beauty of this approach is that each and every brand will fill the space that’s right for it and express itself in the ways that are most appropriate. It is for everyone, and it is not dependent on how big you are but how authentic you are.

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