OK – I’m a marketer, so I probably already think branding is important. But I think my personal brand is important too. If you start with the idea that a brand is how people perceive a product — which can punish the brand’s performance or enhance it, then it might be safe to assume that it’s important for you as a person to be perceived correctly.
But it might be easier to think about if we go back to why branding is important for products and services, and then come back to the personal branding idea later.
To put it bluntly — Product branding is important because it creates benefits — getting a potential consumer to take action to benefit the manufacturer or business.
Good branding creates an increased predisposition for a person to know about, try, prefer, purchase, be loyal to, engage with, and advocate on behalf of a product or service. And those benefits therefore create competitive advantage and increased business value (revenue, profits, employment, commerce) for whatever has been branded.
There are a lot of different ways for Branding to confer these benefits, but they generally fall into two broad categories:
- Increased familiarity. Awareness, increased recognition, and recall of a product or service (or person) which helps the user identify the product in a crowded setting, and associates it with a function (NAME toothpaste, BRAND cancer drug, LOGO floor cleaner, etc.).
- Association of traits or characteristics. Like superior engineering, or reliability, or “coolness.” These traits are conveyed by building up a belief in the mind of the consumer in the increased capability or quality or effectiveness or attitude (like a feeling of alliance or belonging) of the product or service. These traits and the beliefs that support them are derived or created from either emotional or rational bases. Some people might argue it’s never completely rational, but I’d argue it’s never completely emotional, either. Obviously the actual experience of using the product conveys these traits as well, so a brand will have trouble building belief in its durability if it always breaks upon its first use.
All of the above methods can (and should, if properly applied) result in the benefits of branding initially stated above — awareness, preference, trial, purchase, repurchase, etc. Which in turn creates the business value for the manufacturer or service provider.
So if we look at these two items, Increased Familiarity and Association of Traits or Characteristics — it becomes clear that they both can work for personal brands as well.
- Increased familiarity. People have to know you before they can prefer to work with you, or hire you. and we’ve talked before about the need (even the internal nature drive aspect of it) to stand out from the crowd. So it’s probably a good thing to create some awareness of you and what you can do.
- Association of traits or characteristics. Conveying what you do best. Communicating how you offer benefit to others, and what value your perspective brings –all these things are beliefs in the mind of the other person, and can be derived from an either emotional or rational basis. You create these beliefs through the image you project, the relationships you build, and the performance you deliver. Notice that we didn’t include ‘what you say,’ because it’s more likely for people to internalize what you do, not what you say you’ll do. People may forget even what you do, as the quote goes:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
So the resulting benefit for a strong personal brand is an entrenched awareness of you and the emotional value you bring to that person, which can influence their preference for dealing with you, for hiring you, for promoting you, for staying loyal to you, and for rewarding you.
What do you think? Are these benefits important to you?