ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 38
Financial Times  

Personal branding to win the world

By Kishu Gomes

In a world where brands rule, personal branding has come into the fore and I believe that it’s poised to reach new heights. In a fiercely competitive marketing environment products and services of all sorts are forced to stretch creativity beyond imagination to differentiate for unique positioning thereby creates competitive advantage to win in the market place. This challenge is equally true for people-for-personal success with personal branding

Kishu Gomes

Personal branding is the new holy grail of marketing. Superior inner skills, creativity, drive, out of the box thinking at one time gave you a competitive advantage, but now they are prerequisites if you even hope to compete. To the chagrin of the purists out there, those same skills, resources and knowledge have become mere commodities. Personal branding is also critically important because statistics overwhelming show people buy personalities and ideas long before they buy products and services. The trend is unmistakable. Those with the best personal brands win.

Personal branding
Personal brand is the strong impression or established image that comes to mind when people think of you. A personal brand is the mental picture that people conjure up when your name is heard or mentioned. In personal branding we can talk of two aspects-tangible and intangible. Personal Branding is therefore a process of creating and sustaining trust in communicating your unique value to your target market

Tangible branding involves tying your name to a specific benefit that people will get from dealing with you. Intangible branding involves creating a positive perception in people about you. Our personal brand - the word or phrase we want others to think of when they think of us - is all that is left to differentiate us from the pack. Because your personal brand is uniquely about you, it will never become a commodity.

Personal branding is not an option. Everyone has one; your current personal brand is positive, negative or neutral. The challenge for professionals or entrepreneurs is that they lack the discipline necessary to define their personal brands. As a result, others select it for them. Unfortunately, the personal brand others select for you will not always be the personal brand you would have selected for yourself.

Define yourself without letting others define You -- You can shape other’s perception of you simply by defining your strengths, values, goals and personality and presenting yourself in a compelling, persuasive manner. Express yourself and what you stand for to everyone you interact with – clients, colleagues, family and friends, neighbours, and strangers. Do this constantly and consistently, and you will create an effective – powerful - and lucrative - Personal Brand. You can manage and control the way you’re perceived by the people you deal with. Look around the world – Donald Trump, Tony Blair, Madonna, Tiger Woods are just a few incredibly successful people who have used personal branding to achieve great things in life - be known and admired globally.

How do you build a personal brand?
Process of Personal Branding can be as complex as a man is. From what you inherit from the country’s culture, professions of family members, education institute you went to, level of education, background of friends you associate with, the business you run, your employer and your job, sports you do to the locality you live- list is endless…. Ah..ha…you are now convinced that building a personal brand can be very complex. All these are factors that have an impact on your personal brand. I do not mean that one has to score well on each of these attributes to be a respected brand.

Time, situation and the target audience will tell what combination is best for you. But my focus here is the attire as one key attribute - how you present yourself.

That automobile you drive -- one look at the distinctive symbol on the front or back tells everyone who's got you branded. That laptop you're carrying -- ah, you're an IBM fan! Your T-shirt with the distinctive Champion "C" on the sleeve, the blue jeans with the prominent Levi's rivets, the watch with the red + sign on the face, your pen with the maker's symbol crafted into the end ...

You're branded, branded, branded, branded…...
Crafting your image is a tedious task that should be done carefully. Whether we know it or not, we choose friends, teachers, lawyers and consultants for various jobs the same way we choose some products: it is emotionally-based "love at first sight." Something about the way they look emits trust, credibility, social status and certain distinctiveness.

Trust also begins with consistency, and that doesn't just mean consistently wearing a suit. It means that your image or persona has a consistency that establishes instant trust and gives you immediate credibility. In plain language, it means that all of the components of your appearance or image are in sync.

The components of image constitutes clothing, including colour and "line" or style of garments, accessories from head to toe, hair, make-up and comportment and body language.

A lot of fashion names come and go quickly because the clothing, brand, and name are dated to a particular moment in time. A name that is linked to one of today's red-hot trends will become passé far too quickly in tomorrow’s world.

The man is faced with a huge challenge of searching for things that are personalized and so unique yet be identified for wearing ‘brands’. It’s too important unless it is critical to give up the challenge. Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. To be successful, the brand called YOU should be identified, admired and respected.

You must carefully define your attitude, your particular sense of style and fashion, and what sets you apart from the others. I wish someone had shared the importance of personal branding with me much earlier in my career. Timing is everything, am I right?

(Gomes is one of Sri Lanka’s top private sector executives).

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.