To get into your greatness, you must consistently communicate your authenticity. That which is genuine, distinctive and valuable about you.
There are People Brands that you know and might want to emulate. There are brands that you might choose not to be.
The musician Bono is a brand. You notice how he nearly always wears those wrap around sunglasses…even at night. As a result of the power of brand Bono, people from all over the world throw money at his causes. This, despite the fact that he has no record of ever solving a problem of the type he highlights. What’s the lesson here? A good Personal Brand image will allow your audience to support you at a level which may not be justified by your performance.
Magic Johnson is a brand. His smile is his trademark. Magic’s brand is so strong that companies pay him just to attach his name as an owner of their franchises. As a player in college and in the pros, Magic was a joyous guy, a guy you wanted to be around. He was a winner. What a great brand. He has taken that brand identity and used it to beat back the very public turmoil (HIV infection) that the clock-of-life threw at him. He stayed true to his brand, and as a result he overcame things that would have crumbled lesser Personal Brands. What’s the lesson here? A good Personal Brand image will allow you to overcome the challenges that life will throw at you.
The Beatles were a brand. Always together. Always the mop-top hair cuts. The dark suits. The pointy toed shoes. When the brand changed – the group broke up, the look changed, new people hanging with the brand (Yoko Ono anyone?) – we did not value brand Beatles as much. What’s the lesson here? Your audience may attribute incredible value to the high-quality Personal Brand that you project. That value may be damaged if you alter your Personal Brand for reasons your audience does not appreciate.
Other Personal Brands we know include Lee Iaccoca, Jack Welch, Johnny Cochran and Martha Stewart.
Richard Branson – or should I be more formal and call him, “Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson?” The founder of the Virgin brand. He’s got Virgin Atlantic Airways…Virgin Megastores…Virgin Mobile…Virgin Galactic space tourism company…Virgin Cola…Virgin Vodka… All of these companies leverage his personal brand. His Personal Brand is about risk taking, innovation, fun, and a bit of flamboyance. When you deal with his companies, they are fun, innovative, and creative… a little bit different, kind of wacky sometimes. They are being true to brand Branson. What’s the lesson here? Be bold and consistent in communicating your Personal Brand. Inconsistent Personal Brands are not attractive to others.
Paris Hilton anyone? You and I might not choose to adopt her Personal Brand. She may be living a disreputable and ridiculous life, but her brand attracts lots of money for the media properties that feature and pay her. What’s the lesson here? Be consistent in your Personal Branding and you may still succeed, in a fashion.
Bin Laden the terrorist is a brand. As an MBA student related to me: Anyone that can convince people to commit suicide is probably a pretty strong brand. And that’s true. What’s the lesson here? You don’t have to be a good person to be a brand.
ALERT! You must consistently and clearly communicate “why” someone should do business with you. What’s your personal brand? All of your presentations, verbal communications, visuals, work product, and personal marketing must flow from the answer to, “Why you?”
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