Thursday, October 24, 2013

Professional Branding: Whose Responsibility?

Professional branding or personal branding is strictly related to "me" or "I" or "self or myself".  I start imagining myself as a company, organization or corporation and/or I start thinking myself as a product. Then I start thinking about creating and developing  "me" ("me" as the corporation and "me" as a product) as a brand and how to do it. Finally I take concrete actions to position and promote "me" or "myself" as a unique brand.
So I become the CEO and also the chief marketer of the "me" corporation. It's solely my responsibility to convert myself from an "ordinary me" to a "brand me".
Essentially I will need to think in three directions. Firstly I must decide the value I wish to give to my potential clients. What is it that I need to deliver? What kind of value addition will I provide in terms of quality and quantity? My clients/potential clients must get a real feel of the heightened value I give them.
The second dimension will deal with making my deliverables greatly distinct and superior as compared to others, the term often known as "differentiation". Unless I am the master professional or the master craftsman of my field I cannot stand out in the crowd. I will have to emphasize this aspect. I must deliver like nobody else could. My deliverables must be distinctly different yet relevant and far far superior to what others do.
The third dimension is the promoting and finally selling myself (as a brand). What should  make my potential clients get attracted to me as a corporation as well as me as a product? This attraction should be so forceful and highly compelling that "me" and only "me" is recalled by my clients/potentials clients for all of their needs pertaining to the domain in which I operate. No other name should surface in their minds.
In doing all of this I must take full responsibility. I am free to use other people and resources but the responsibility centrally hinges on me. I cannot delegate it, particularly in the initial months and years till I get established as a reliable brand. I will always need to be around even later because peoples' memories are short. They are sure to forget me like they do many others unless I keep owning that responsibility even in the good days and keep putting in the required efforts to keep the "me" brand afloat famously.
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Monday, September 9, 2013

History of Personal/Professional Branding

Personal/Professional Branding Is a New Field

First of all we need to understand that personal/professional branding is not the same as corporate branding or product branding. Corporate branding is used to create a corporation's or company's brand name or brand image. Product branding is carried out by the corporations to create the brand presence of their products or services. However when we talk about personal or professional branding, it signifies the personal brand image of a specific person whether he is employed by an organization or whether he is self-employed. If he is employed by an organization he does not necessarily carry the same image as that of his employer.

In vast majority of cases, the personal branding is used for professional purposes or professional gains by an individual. When we use the term personal branding it really largely connotes the professional aspects of a person and therefore it is a good idea to replace the nomenclature personal branding with professional branding. Or we can as well use both these terms to mean the same thing.

What professional or personal branding in essence does is:
  • It creates and establishes a carefully worked out presence and status of a person in his professional arena at the local or global levels. 
  • It proclaims person's/professional's distinctiveness and authenticity to differentiate him from other professionals/persons.
  • It facilitates easy recall of him by those who wish to seek out the best professionals in the particular domain where he has established himself as a professional brand.
Personal/professional branding is comparatively new subject when compared to corporate branding and product branding. We will now trace the history of professional branding and it is quite young.

History of Personal/Professional Branding

  • 1937: Napoleon Hill introduced personal branding in his book "Think and Grow Rich".
  • 1970s: USA experienced massive layoffs in early 1970s. Big name companies laid off thousands in one go. That's when individual workers learned to take care of their own professional destinies by introspecting their own capabilities, craftsmanship and looking out for work that they would be interested in. It was the start of people honing up their own skills and creating a professional space for themselves without helplessly depending on just one odd corporate employer.
  • 1981:  Concept of personal branding was refreshed by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their book "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind". Authors talked about the positioning strategy for advancing the careers.
  • 1997: Tom Peters wrote about personal branding in an article titled "The Brand Called You". He popularized an already existing idea.
  • 2001: William Arruda made personal branding reachable to everybody, thanks to the Web.
  • 2002: Peter Montoya wrote books "The Brand Called You" and "The Personal Branding Phenomenon" and spelled out a concrete method.
  • Professional and Social networks facilitated the personal/professional branding process- 2003: LinkedIn, Myspace, 2004: Facebook, 2005: YouTube, 2006: Twitter.
  • Current situation: Integration of professional/social networks facilitating the personal/professional branding process.          

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Premises of Professional Branding

Following are the premises for taking recourse to professional branding:

  • All of us can have plenty of professional opportunities.
  • All of us can own a good share of market.
  • Each of us therefore can earn quite decently.
  • But to earn decently we need to attract people who will be willing to use our professional acumen and pay for it.
  • But for becoming capable of being sought after by our potential clients we need to stand out in this world of sameness. 
  • For becoming the preferred professional of our potential clients, we need to differentiate ourselves from others by developing and projecting our expertise in a superior and appealing manner.
  • Application of our expertise (our master craftsmanship) should be designed to be capable of resulting in a unique proposition or set of unique propositions reflecting what we believe in or what we stand for and which is different and superior in the perceptions of the potential clients/users. And it should definitely fulfill their needs in a high value-adding manner.
  • Only superior expertise and its superior projection in terms of what we can do for them better than the other professionals (the promises we make to our clients) is not enough. What more is required is the superior delivery (of those promises) by using the superior expertise- not just once or twice but again and again.
  • We can then use these initial successes in consolidating our image of being superiorly different and appealing from others in terms of our knowledge, expertise and delivery.
  • We can take constant steps to create, recreate, maintain and continually boost this image in the minds of our existing clients and potential clients and create/invent systems of easy recall of us by the clients.
  • All of this will result in an  ever increasing positive spiral and we can expand our circle of influence.
  • Conversely if we do not take steps for building our professional brand, we will sail through as millions of others who do not use professional branding- the also ran types. 

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Definition of Brand and Branding

What Is "Brand" in the Context of a Professional or a Person?

  • It is a specific promise or a specific set of promises. 
  • You make these promises as a professional (of any field) or as an individual person.
  • You make the particular promise(s) to others. In case of a professional the promise(s) relate to his/her customers or potential customers or clients.
  • The promises signify your class identity and the kind of benefits you can deliver to others/customers.
  • These promises or what we now call as "brand" creates an image of you as a person or professional (or both) on the other people/customers you deal with. 
  • If you live up to your promise(s) in each one of your dealings with your customers or the persons you come in contact with, your brand image gets strengthened in their minds. This in turn helps the word of mouth publicity about you. 
  • Once your brand gets established and gets known, you become the preferred person or preferred professional in the minds of a large mass of people/customers and they believe that you alone can address their needs the best. Your positive image gets associated with some particular class of activities in their minds- the activities where you have promised and where you have lived up to your promise(s).

What Is "Branding" in the Context of a Professional or a Person?

  • Branding is a process.
  • Branding is the process of creating your brand or brand image in minds of those for whom you wish to create the intended image.
  • The process over a period of time creates sets of specific perceptions about you in the minds of others (specifically the customers or clients, in case you are a professional). 
  • The process facilitates easy recall of you by your existing or potential customers/clients when they are looking out for certain benefits or solutions that you alone can give in the best possible manner.

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3. Definition of "Brand" and "Branding" in the Context of a Professional or a Person"

Friday, August 23, 2013

What Is a Brand?

Origin of Branding

In the olden days, branding was used to distinguish one person's cattle or animal from that of another person. It was done by stamping or burning a unique symbol on the animal's skin by a hot iron. This symbol was the distinguishing feature to identify or link the animal or set of animals to its owner. It was the mark of ownership.

The concept of branding was later used in commerce, industry and business for marketing, advertising and selling the products. Manufacturers, marketers and sellers started differentiating their product offerings by making promises to their potential and existing customers by proclaiming and making the customers aware that their products had uniquely beneficial features as compared to their competitors. These efforts were targeted in etching in customers' mind an association of those promised unique characteristics exclusively with their products.

Branding Extended

As the businessmen, marketers and professionals in variety of fields saw the advantages of branding, they did not limit it only to the products and started applying it in many territories. The concept of branding got extended to many things in due course of time. In modern times branding is done for:

  • Products
  • Services
  • Businesses/Corporations
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Cities/States/Countries
  • Political Parties
  • Governments
  • Persons
  • Professionals of all the fields
  • Celebrities/Personalities

Our Focus

In our articles here, we will concentrate on the topic of brands, branding and brand management related to persons and professionals.

Stay with us for the next post.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Professional Branding: Start Your Branding Journey Now

Answer the following questions before we proceed:

  • Do you wish to contribute meaningfully to self, your family, your chosen profession and the society at large to your fullest potential most effectively?
  • Do you want to make a mark, leave your imprint and make a positive impact in your and others' lives in differentiating ways?
  • Do you wish to become a much (or even most) sought after professional?
  • Are you interested in ever increasing your value as a professional (as a person)?
  • Do you wish to be meaningfully busy in your professional and personal life?

If your answer to these questions is an unhesitating "yes" then you need to go ahead pursuing the articles that will be published here from time to time. Those articles will describe how to fulfill your above-mentioned goals.

The entire crux of all the articles will be: "branding", "professional branding",  "personal branding", "brand you"/"brand me" and "brand management".

So, your branding journey starts now.

Stay tuned.

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1. Professional Branding: Start Your Branding Journey Now

3. Definition of "Brand" and "Branding" in the Context of a Professional or a Person"