How is a Personal Brand different from a Reputation?

The 3 distinctive powers of a personal brand! By Vikram Rajan | I’ve presented versions of my “Leverage your Personal Brand” program for the U.S. Small Business Administration, Nassau County Bar Association, Suffolk Federal Credit Union, Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and many others. I’m often asked the question, “How is a personal brand different from a reputation?” Sometimes it’s asked to comprehend; sometimes to criticize. Either way, it’s a worthwhile question – because there are real differences. By knowing so, we can grow the full power of our personal brand – to then leverage it. All personal brands are reputations – good or bad. The only perception that matters is the one of the target community. For example, Howard Stern may have a bad rap outside his core demographic. But that may be part of why his fans are attracted to him! But not all reputations are personal brands. You can communicate your reputation, or p’Brand intention, as a combination of your persona’s 3 C Factors: Competency + Character + Charisma. } Your Your As the p’Brand Formula shows, your persona grows to the power of your 3

Communication Factors: Controls & Continuity & Currency. {Reputation = (3C

Your p’Brand develops multi-dimensional relationships with a target community. competency develops a rational connection; it’s your economic value proposition.

character develops an emotional connection; customers appreciate your values and style. And your charisma creates what I call an “irrational” emotional connection; we can’t quite put our finger on why we like (or dislike) you! As a personal brand, your reputation should be able to exercise three powers. Essentially, as you leverage your personal brand, you enjoy the fruits of these powers. Measure yourself, albeit superficially and subjectively, on a scale of 1 to 5; higher the score, the stronger your p’Brand. How far along are you?

1. PURPOSE POWER While a reputation represents the quality of your work, a personal brand represents a lifestyle. It is a statement of philosophy, purpose, mission, or values. Repute is more than the persona’s name: The p’Brand name is shorthand for an M.O. (modus operandi), larger than the persona. A personal brand states a way of being, living, or doing business. Clearly, the Dalai Lama represents a way of life. But there is also the Martha Stewart way of living. There is a Donald Trump way to being. There is also a Stephen Covey way of working with people, and a John Gray way to relationships. And many appreciate the Michael Gerber way of growing businesses. Of course, a personal brand doesn’t have to be positive: There is the Draco or Hitler way of running a nation. There is the Ken Lay way of running a corporation. And again, it’s the community’s perception: There is the David Bowie or Madonna way of growing a career. When somebody says your name (or nickname), how well does it clearly declare your values, purpose, or M.O.? What’s the current mindset of your prospect population? To what new habits are you shifting their paradigm? As you communicate your vision through anecdotes, your p’Brand showcases its purpose in action. Your fans exhibit the second power of your personal brand. As your p’Brand Purpose becomes apparent, there will be a clear definition of characters. Mascots can assume either role of hero or foil: A persona may be created to contrast your lifestyle. For example, Robert Kiyosaki’s Poor Dad foil highlights what Rich Dad would not do (or teach). Likewise, the WWE hosts a pantheon of Superstar characters – fighting the proverbial good vs. evil philosophies that appeal to their community. “Personified Purpose” – such as reputes, mascots, ambassadors, and relic idols – help shape the mindset of the community. In this way, fans define themselves through positive (aspiration) and

negative (repulsion) role models. Community members practice ‘hero habits’ and resent the foiling behavior of allegorical antagonists; read about the Allegory Stage in the Community essay. 2. COMMUNITY POWER Your clients appreciate your quality work; they can trust you. Moreover, your clients enjoy doing business with you. Yet beyond an ordinary reputation, a p’Brand has the extraordinary power to galvanize communities. Moreover, you need not be there in person to influence people to congregate, buy, or act in communion. Personal brands develop raving fans. They are proud to be your customer; they want to display it in whatever way you enable; and they want others to be your fans too. Community is shared experience. Naturally, members of your p’Brand community would share a similar mindset (psychography) and habits. So community members want to be friends with other fans; your friends are accepted as their friends. This creates an “effervescent” loyalty and momentum that reputation-based networking simply cannot match! Fan-hood and “friendzy” becomes currency. For example, in homage to Jesus Christ, communities congregate (even outside of religious settings). Many preachers leverage consumables to help congregation members further develop their spiritual connections. When Oprah recommends a book, millions flock to local bookstores; they organize book readings; strangers develop meaningful relationships. Same difference: Small groups voluntarily come together to play Robert Kiyosaki’s investment game, Cashflow. I’ve enjoyed the handful of times I have. How often do you bring your community of clients together? Do they come together voluntarily, or does it seem like you’re dragging them? Are your clients naturally friends with each other? Do they recognize that they all have common values and habits – because of, through, or with

you, and each other? How much do they collect, share and trade your collaterals, consumables, and other “habit drivers?” You may not have had the opportunity to check or exercise this power. When you do, those questions offer a few litmus tests. Here’s a question that you can definitely answer: When you’ve recommended another professional, service, or product, do your clients make the final decision based on your word? 3. ENDORSEMENT POWER Your clients may recommend your services to their friends because of your great reputation. As your reputation precedes you, prospects are attracted to you, and it’s simpler to close the deal. Because they trust your insight or experience, they may even ask you for advice or recommendations – on topics unrelated to your expertise. As you leverage your personal brand, you can become sought after, yet still enjoy free time. With the power to endorse, you need not do all the work yourself. More than with a reputation, a p’Brand can delegate, recommend and co-brand products, services, and other professionals. A reputation with endorsement capability can live a legacy of perpetual (posthumous) currency. Eternal Currency means your personal brand will always be relevant with the times and trends: Your p’Brand will continue to leverage current stars, channels, cycles, seasons, zeitgeist, pop lingo, regulations, conventions, and laws. The Jack LaLanne Power Juicer is not the most powerful juicer or the least expensive. But it is has been a best-seller for decades. Jack LaLanne, at age 92, is still the embodiment of great health and natural vitality. Likewise, the George Foreman Grill leverages his star power as the Heavyweight Champion boxer. And the Nike basketball sneaker remains a top-seller well after Michael’s retirement. While it’s been over a decade since David Sandler’s passing, the Sandler Sales Institute continues to prosper as a leading franchise; he continues to improve thousands of sales professionals, through franchise affiliates.

Do your clients trust your endorsement as a final authority? Do they perceive that a product or service is more valuable because your name is attached to it? How do you help your clients trust they will be treated the same – and receive the same great service – when they work with your certified delegates (or those professionals you recommend)? How are your clients nurtured while you’re occupied, of ill-health, or on vacation? How does your income continue beyond your time? In her book about the p’Brand Emeril!, Marcia Layton Turner explains, “In order to sustain itself beyond the end of the individual on which the reputation has been built, a brand must be active in multiple media.” The Capability essay details how you can develop the right systems and infrastructure to delegate your work, while improving your excellent quality. The three powers of your personal brand – Purpose, Community, and Endorsement Powers – enable you to leverage the full p’Brand Spectrum: Based upon your “Reputation,” you can package your intellectual property into W.A.T.E.R. consumables (a.k.a., “Ms/Mr. Product”). With the right capabilities, you can orchestrate a business model platform (a.k.a., “MAESTRO”). Moreover, you can complete the cycle, and empower “Ambassadors” to carry the torch (and/or bask as a so-called “Celebrity CEO”). Bottom-line, if you’re still thinking “Isn’t a personal brand basically a reputation?” I answer as Reverend Lovejoy would, “Ooooh, short answer ‘Yes’ with an ‘if’ – long answer ‘No’ with a ‘but.’ Yes, if your reputation exercises those three powers, then it’s a personal brand. No, but your reputation can grow into a full-spectrum p’Brand!” The following essays – and my conversations – provide insight into how. © 2007 CoGrow Systems, Inc. with Vikram Rajan. Vik is a Personal Brand Marketing Advisor for lawyers, accountants, financial planners, real estate, and health experts. You can read 3 new marketing tips every week at Ask Vik questions: 516.642.4100 or