Branding Gets Personal

The Need

“Golden rewards await the advertiser who has the brains to create a coherent image and the stability to stick with it over a long period,” wrote advertising maven David Ogilvy some 40 years ago. Branding is the process that delivers such an image. It has been used for decades to unearth a memorable presence for products and services.
But is this the case when the product or service is you?

As more and more of us say good-bye to dreams of a gold watch and become free agents, there is a swelling in the ranks of consultants and smaller, nimbler companies built to compete in the global economy. The challenge new entrepreneurs face is how to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Early Efforts

Enter personal branding. In its first appearances, personal branding was based on helping clients to “be like Mike.” This was combined with exercises to create inventories of skills and preferences. One drawback to this approach was that not everyone has the “larger than life” personality or star power of a Michael Jordan or Oprah Winfrey. Secondly, branding in its earliest forms began from the outside, which produced an image that didn’t always align with the branding client.

Today’s Dilemma

Fast forward to today. We have grown numb to traditional advertising. We lost the innocence of looking for the perfect job, the perfect family, the secure future. From sometime in the ’90s until the world changed in 2001, consumers saw the rise of a more cynical, “speed advertising” that reflected trends in music videos and action movies. We were barraged with images and non-sequiturs. For a while nonsense ads were in. But even those reached a numbing point. Nothing is so outlandish that it will hold the interest of the buyer for long. What worked well a few years ago no longer has power.

Although advertising continues to create new fads for the consumer appetite, the law of entropy is kicking in. This feeding frenzy may have to end.

But some brands don’t follow; don’t offer the flavor of the month. These brands are solidly built and have an enduring quality. These brands are born of authenticity.

Purpose Powered Professional™ gets Personal

Customers expect product and service to be branded with an image. What excites them is experiencing this brand. That’s a lot to ask for smaller businesses. How can you create this experience? How can you attract the right clients to your experience? Simply put: be authentic.

You are as unique as the DNA in your cells. But can you articulate this uniqueness? Many have not identified their distinctiveness; others cannot express it. The Essential DNA process can help. As a client, you work with an facilitator to construct your DNA (Distinct, Notable, Authentic) brand from the ground up using authenticity as its foundation.

In this journey, you explore and etch your uniqueness in stone or at least on paper. From this foundation you build your brand. As you move through this 12-week process, you uncover your creativity, special pattern of gifts and your personal means of portraying this brand to the world.

Beginning with the basics, you investigate inner values and passions. Later a framework emerges to bind the external to the internal–branding outward from the core to the skin.

One of my clients has built a successful accounting and HR consulting business. Recently she realized that some of her clients were not the ones she wanted to work with. After she had extracted them from financial chaos, they’d make a mess again. We traced this back to the way she branded and marketed her services. She represented herself as a rescuer, and her clients understood this better than she did. We are now building a brand to attract clients who are more aligned with her values of taking responsibility for avoiding a string of financial emergencies.

To get a taste, try a couple of things:

  • Take a minute and list your top five passions. Do these relate to your work? The Purpose-Powered philosophy says they should.
  • Try writing an ad promoting yourself in the Yellow Pages.

Wouldn’t you like to create a brand that attracts the work and clients you want?
You can do just that—by selling a unique experience, by clearly articulating your offering, by creating a coherent brand grounded in your greatest asset, you!

Published in Business Leader Magazine, November 2004