“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. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
– Tom Peters, Fast Company (1997)
I came across this article more than 15 years ago and it still sticks in my head like it was yesterday. Like it or not, we are all brands – a bit more complicated, but still brands. At first I was taken a little off guard by someone actually calling me a brand. Am I a human, a designer, a consumer, a husband and a plethora of descriptors before being a brand? Brands are not people; they are a business’s products and services. After numerous years in the business of brand-building, I understand now more than ever how important the human brand is. We have to keep our brand in check, and it is probably not a bad idea to give it a little makeover now and again.
We now communicate through technology at lightning-fast speeds. Our brains have less time to process and formulate opinions than ever before. The playing field has changed, but being the best YOU has always stayed the same.
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YOU: The power of influence
Organizations have changed dramatically over the years and have become something entirely different. The hierarchy has been flattened. To get things done, you need to be more of a collaborator, a sensei, a leader by example versus a dictator. People view your brand as something they can relate to, speak with and associate with.
YOU: Keep them coming back for more
Loyalty is something that has always been challenged. Everyone sees loyalty differently; it means one thing to you and something totally different to your colleagues, bosses, etc. The one thing that you can count on is that people seem to be a lot quicker to drop you if you provide poor quality, bad service, etc. Be careful: It is a lot more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep your existing ones happy and coming back for more.
YOUr career has no direct route
The future is one thing that we can always count on! The “branded you” of tomorrow will most likely be different than the current version of you. The one thing that you should always be sure of is your brand’s foundation. If you have strategized and planned the best possible YOU, then you should be fine. Change is fundamentally a good thing for all of us, but just be careful of what you are changing and what you should keep the same.
Building the brand called YOU is an ongoing assignment. As you maneuver your professional career, you constantly need to add additional tools to your repertoire, amplify your service mentality and, in my opinion, retain and hone the most important aspect of YOU: quality!
“Brand-building is similar to creating a pointillist painting. You have to have the ability to simultaneously focus on the most minute of details, while also maintaining the overall vision for what you are trying to build.”
– Michael Eisner