Last Friday I had a great opportunity to listen to Jay Matheson from Apple Computer speak at our local City College about personal branding. As a small business owner, I never turn down these special moments to learn, no matter how versed I believe I may be in a particular field. We can always learn more information, or see familiar information from new perspectives.
Jay focused on personal branding, rather than corporate branding, although his points easily apply to either. He started with the basics - Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter?
Most importantly, he destroyed the notion that a brand is a logo, slogan, product or service. Branding comes from the emotional responses that actual humans experience based upon interactions with those logos, slogans, products or services.
How do you FEEL about Apple? —Not their iPhone, not iPods, not Macs and not their notion of Thinking Different. The mechanisms Apple used to build these emotional responses through their years of focused marketing campaigns are just as important as the products themselves when considering the cultural shifts associated (e.g. iPods changing the music industry or iPhones changing the mobile industry).
First, Differentiate yourself from other brands in your field.
Then Validate your brand by answering these basic questions about who you are, what you do and why it matters. Act upon the strong common threads in your answers to this focus study. (Why does Apple say “Think Different” and how do they apply that to their product lines, customer experience and overall branding?)
Lastly, once your brand has been established, differentiated and validated, Cultivate far and wide into your industry. This third step I find most difficult, or rather, the lengthiest portion of the process as it has been on-going for us here at Oniracom since we launched in 2001.
Of course, no modern marketing presentation is complete without noting the trends of new media, social networks and so on.
The biggest difference between marketing campaigns prior to the digital age of communications is that the Sender > Message > Receiver workflow came to a halt once the consumer received the message. Now as receivers, consumers, fans or users, we complete the loop and are able to communicate back to the Sender.
Not only do we now have a complete loop with new media & social networks, but we are a community of many receivers, consumers, fans or users and can act as soundboards for one another. And along with Sender > Receiver threads or Receiver > Sender conversations, we most importantly have Receiver > Receiver communication.
If we did not have this type of conversation on Amazon.com for example, we would have to rely on consumer reviews of products, rather than real human’s experiences using the product we are interested in purchasing. Do you trust word of mouth from a friend or family member more than a consumer review?
For more on this idea of Receiver > Receiver (or member to member), please read Seth Godin’s Tribes!
Jay left us with a couple of other books to check out:
I hope this information lends to a little more thinking about branding yourself, whether you are a student looking for an internship, professional looking to start your own blog or corporation looking to jump to the next level.