The problem with branding is …

When I work with people on their business or personal brands I inevitably end up sharing a variation of this quote.

“A brand should strive to own a word in the mind of the consumer.” Al Reis and Laura Reis

The problem is, for people not used to working in branding and marketing, this is actually quite a hard thing to grasp. Once you’ve worked with many brands and wrestled with this problem, you have the benefit of hindsight. And the trouble with hindsight is that it makes everything always looks so obvious.

zen-quote

I think the problem with identifying the idea is that it’s just too simple. And simplicity is difficult to achieve. Simplicity requires some brave decisions. It requires you to eliminate elements and ideas that dilute and distract. It’s far too easy to try too hard. The result of this is trying to appeal to everyone. And you know what Simon Manchipp said about that. “A brand trying to be all things to all people = blanding”.

Making a decision on what idea you are going to own can happen in one of two ways. You can either plan on the idea that you will own, or you look back and ask your customers what it is that they think of when they think of your brand.

The first route can come from the gut, or from lengthy reviews and analyses of what else is happening in the market. Either way, once you’ve identified your idea, you need to build your whole strategy around it.

The second is more interesting. You might have been doing X for a while, but when you finally get round to asking your customers what they remember you for, they tell you Y. Depending on what Y is, it can be a great opportunity to start building on what you’ve already established without realising.

This article by Brand Strategy Insider sums up the whole issue quite nicely, as well as showing what happens to big corporates when they ignore this simple piece of advice. And you’d think that they would know better!

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Don’t hire a Personal Branding Pro until you’ve answered these 5 questions

If you’ve considered hiring a professional to help you manage your personal brand, there are some things to bear in mind.

Personal brand management involves considering all aspects of your personal brand: your strengths, your results, your appearance, your knowledge and experience, your objectives and all collateral about you in the media - in the press and online. Large companies hire Brand Managers to manage their brands so why shouldn’t you?

Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself before you decide whether you need the help of a Personal Brand Manager, Consultant, Advisor or Coach.

1. Do you have what it takes?

Managing your personal brand requires a strategic approach, a plan and knowledge & experience of the various aspects of brand management. If you happen to be an ex-Brand Manager then you are very well suited to managing your personal brand. But if you’re not then you might find yourself having to learn many new skills and ways of working. These new skills and habits may be in conflict with your natural style.

2. Can you afford to be distracted?

Too much workManaging your personal brand is no small task. Depending on your line of work and your levels of activity, your personal brand management could be quite time consuming. Surely your main focus should be on what you do and doing it well, and not managing your personal brand. It’s all very well coming up with great plans, the real magic is in their timely execution. Your personal brand will suffer if there isn’t a consistent approach.

3. Do you know what you want to achieve and what’s possible?

Clarity around your goals is an important aspect of managing your personal brand. But equally important is knowing what’s possible. You may be familiar with what leaders in your field are doing, but by copying them you are not going to stand out. You need to be aware with what leading people outside your field are doing.

guardian angel4. Who’s keeping an eye on you?

It can be all too easy to come up with big plans for developing your personal brand. And, it can be even easier not to follow through. After all, if you’re doing it yourself, who’s going to find out? Right? Wrong! Who’s there to push you and keep you to task? Having a great team around you is more likely to lead to success.


pot-o-gold5. What are you missing out on?

Have you taken the time to consider how much you personal brand might be worth in the future? Do you know how your brand is worth now? Let’s say that that you’re brand is currently worth £60K (what you are able to earn in a year). Your future brand might be worth £500K. If mismanaged, you may take a lot longer to get there, if at all! Is it really worth not getting outside help to get you there?

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