What does your brand say about you?

Step yo' game up ~ sell your personal brand as a "product of choice" not cut-rate generic

I know, I know - I hear your collective groans. Everyone is just sooo tired of talking about "creating a personal brand", "maximizing a brand", "making the best out of Brand You." Believe me, I know. As a writer and small business owner, I get at least 30 emails a week with kindly folks wanting to help me with my branding strategy.

But what I've come to realize is, business or no business - everybody has a brand. You are born representing your parents' brand but soon enough you are out there on your own and the things you say and do shape how your personal brand is being perceived.

A "product of choice" is generally wildly successful. A brand that you will pay more for just on name alone. It's usually one that invokes good feelings just by hearing the brand name - Coca~Cola, Godiva, Häagen-Dazs - all good. Enron, BP, Exxon - not so good. Same thing with people as a brand - Adolf Hitler - not good. Mother Teresa- good. Both company and people brands experience ups and downs. Google - are they saving the world or taking it over? Kanye West - misunderstood artist or selfish megalomaniac? It's all in perception.

Let's take for instance my lying, cheating, can't-keep-a-promise ex. In the beginning, his brand was highly coveted. Successful, accomplished, wrapped in an attractive package and accompanied by the all-important feel good factor. But over time, the product was not as advertised and eventually did not work as promised. The feel good was minimized by the encroaching belief that I had been completely hoodwinked by the pitch and the packaging. This leads to an erosion of consumer confidence, lack of brand loyalty and eventually you get to the point where the mere mention of the brand makes you angry. 

Do you want your brand to be the BP on the block? Let's look at a few other examples: 

I had a conversation with a friend of mine who had begun a relationship with a fella. Not too long into their communications, he began telling her about all that had gone wrong in his previous relationship including the fact that he didn't believe he was very good in bed. What flavor of brand marketing is this? You admit straight out the gate that you can't keep a woman or satisfy her? You've torpedoed your own brand out the gate. That's like a mini Snickers bar saying on the package - you're going to need to eat 10 of these and we're going to make you fat. WDDDA? Just go ahead and place yourself on the bottom shelf of the Wal-Mart in the hood next to no-name one-ply toilet tissue.

I had another conversation with a male friend of mine who was attracted to a woman in his apartment building. Having just moved in, he was checking her out and strategizing the best way to approach her. She also attended his church and he listened to her give a stirring speech about how she was praying for God to send her a good Christian man now that she was living right and ready to settle down. After checking her out for a few weeks, he noticed that she went from buttoned-up professional by day to Love-in-da-club chick by night. Well, not in da club per se... she'd taken to bringing some of her one night stands home and they didn't always make it to her front door before the love part jumped off.  Her brand marketing was in direct conflict with her product AND she clearly didn't understand her target audience. If you want a good Christian man, you shouldn't be giving it up to random club dudes in view of God and everybody. 

You see what I mean about what your brand says about you? Your packaging (appearance), your pitch (speech), your promotions (what you write, tweet, blog, email), product placement (where you live, eat, work, go) and your performance (actions) all tell a story about your brand - are you being the best representative of you? Think on it and share your comments below.