I’ve always been fascinated by the subject of branding. Is it just a business issue only to be dealt with by those who are responsible for marketing national products with multimillion dollar budgets? Or is branding something we all need to be concerned with?
I have the firm conviction that all of us have a brand – good or bad. Some of us understand it and call it “reputation.” Others of us ignore it and wonder why we suffer as a result.
The issue to understand about branding is not the importance of it, but how you determine what your brand already is as opposed to what you want it to be, so you can identify the distance between how you’re seen and how you prefer to be seen. Your brand is communicated through your web site, your logo, your mantras, purpose statements, and the like. That’s your input. But the true importance of a brand is what other people receive and then say.
The very best way to assess the condition of your brand, personal or otherwise, is to listen to what other people say when they talk about you. First, do they talk about you? If they’re not talking about you, your brand doesn’t really matter then, does it? Two, if they talk about you, you want to listen to the words they use. Do they use words like helpful, cool, state-of-the-art, couldn’t live without it, best money I ever spent, great resource, a must-read. And then do they use those words to describe your core competency? Is it a book, a service, a seminar of professional services you might render?
So ask yourself this question. “When people talk about me, what are they saying?” And you say, “Well, obviously, I don’t know.” And that is the problem, isn’t it? In this world of engagement and two-way conversation you need to give people an avenue to speak to you and tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly. The truth of the matter is, some of what you’ll hear will sting and wound you a little bit. But even in the craziest email that you receive, or the most negative feedback that’s given, you can identify something that will help you be more focused on the task you must do.