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com People may be talking about you, whether you like it or not. Or worse, they may forget or ignore you altogether. You want to be promoted more easily? Give them something simple, yet distinctive to talk about. Your reputation will precede you. Personal brands used to flourish by luck, and were knighted by royalties. Musicians, fashion designers, and other celebrities used to be the only ones who leveraged personal brands. Times have changed. A job well done isn’t enough. It never was. It’s always been about who knows who, who you know, and moreover, who knows you. Self-promotion used to travel through the “old boys club.” Thankfully, times have changed. Boys and girls of all ages, colors, and backgrounds can now join the club. It is our responsibility to create and nurture our own fan clubs: The “Personal Brand Formula ©” is the convergence of experience and expertise, of art and science, of celebrity and management. We’ve been wearing portable music headphones for decades now. Yet every brand missed the greatest advertising opportunity, right before our eyes: Nowadays, walking down the street, it’s hard to miss those distinctive white wires dangling from its earbuds. Those white wires stand out in the crowd of boring blackness. We instantly recognize them. We’re instantly reminded of their brand. They’re promoted by hipsters, hippies, and hiphoppers. Once an oddity, white wires are now the sign of ‘cool.’ You too can use such a clever tactic to make a name for yourself. You too can stand out from the crowd. You too can be instantly recognized for your substance and style. How can you leverage a simple, yet distinctive characteristic? What are your “white wires”?
Welcome to the world of “p’Branding.” A personal brand – like a corporate brand – is a representation of our value. Business brands borrow meaning from the cruel practice done in the Wild West (and originally in Africa). Its metaphor clearly illustrates the 3 parts of a brand: A brand is ultimately the impression left on other people’s minds; their perception is “the scar.” We influence it through our communication (“the branding iron”), based upon our intention (“the icon”). We’ll explore p’Brand perception and communication in other articles. Here we’ll explore a part your personal brand intention, that is, your Persona. Your persona is how you want to be represented. You shouldn’t be fake. You don’t have to be like anybody else. You just have to be – in the immortal words of Cosmo Kramer – “more you... than you’ve ever been!” Have you seen a movie, or read a novel, wherein the characters seem stereotypical or shallow? They lack authenticity and depth. To create a trustworthy persona, we have to craft all 3 dimensions: our Competency, our Character, and our Charisma. Basically, our competencies are our knowledge, skills, and relevant experience. It showcases our economic, rational, and functional worth. It’s often expressed through our résumé, curriculum vitae (CV), or job description. We’ll explore your distinctive expertise in other articles. Our charisma is the magical or spiritual connection we conjure with others. at wielding it, of course. Charisma is the most unique p’Brand factor we’ve got. Still, there are 4 common bases of charisma. In later articles, we’ll also explore specific actions to develop the three levels of charisma. It’s beyond
“rational” emotions. Charisma is our charm. We all have this ability; some are better than others
Our “white wires” are shown through our character. Typically, self-development gurus define character as our principles, values, and morals, like integrity, honesty, etc. Of course, practice all that stuff. But I’m no preacher. Furthermore, you may need to convey distinct principles and hobbies to exemplify your own persona. For example, Trump embodies “rugged individualism” like Horatio Alger. And Madonna and J.Lo embody sexiness as a virtue. You may believe in values that many don’t: Remember, controversy is a double-edged sword. Our principles, values, interests, and cultural background are part of our “inner character.” It’s our substance. Our “outer character” is our style. Our personal style is how (and what) we choose to express. It’s what others first see, hear, and feel about us – by us, and through others. Our outer character is the epitome of our persona. How do you begin crafting your Persona Style? Think of yourself as a novelist; depict your distinctive character. Your outer character expresses its “back-story” and inner dialogue. You’ll be able to visualize your Personal Brand character through Role Models later. For now, answer this litany of questions. o Your hobbies: This is part of your inner character, though hobbies are often expressed through collectibles and social engagements. Which hobbies, interests, or social causes take up your time? How many trinkets showcase your passion? o Your VISUALS: How trendy are your clothes? What colors do you prefer? What accessories do you wear? How do you style your hair? What would a caricaturist exaggerate? o Your body language: How casual or formal is your stance? How do you walk or carry yourself? How expressive are you with your hands or face? Can fans impersonate your body language? o Your VOCALS: volume, tone, pitch, speed, rhythm?
o Your VERBALS: Do you speak with any accent (international or regional)? How fast do you speak? What tone of voice do you most often use? Can others identify your pet phrases? How is your vocabulary? Jargon? Slang? Buzzwords? o Your name: Do you abbreviate your name? Do you have accessories around your name (e.g., Dr., PhD, the III, Ms.)? How else can you make your name stand out (e.g., using just your first or last name)? Can you leverage a nickname? NOTE: If you violate your answers to these questions, you’ll hear from your fans, “You don’t sound/look like yourself today.” We buy and promote what (and who) we trust. Branding is powerful because it fundamentally builds trust... through familiarity... through frequent repetition. Brands are an unconscious time saver: People’s attention spans and memories are limited. Exaggerate your “core characteristic,” one which cleverly combines your character, charisma, and competency: Don’t those two white wires totally amplify its sleek ethos, charming nuance, and outstanding performance? Remember, your “white wires” need not be visual: The Beatles are still known for their “mop tops” (and I guess, so is the Donald), Snoop scored his own show on Music Televizzle, fo’ shizzle. Our persona can be embodied by name and language alone. Of course, our gestures, collectibles, and visual accessories are worth more than a thousand words. While you should keep current with the trends (that are important to your fans), constantly renewing your style is dangerous: It violates the fundamental precept of branding (see above). Dramatic changes should only be done in alignment with a unifying theme; think about Madonna. (Her switch from sexy to spiritual is as shocking as one would expect.) Occasionally going neutral from your familiar persona can be a good way to test your p’Brand impression. Count how many of your fans remark. Here’s how I’ve done it:
Drab business suits bore me.
Moreover, I knew I wouldn’t fit in too easily in my field,
dominated by old, white, men. I’m smart enough to know that with some audiences, it’s best to go with a dark suit, white shirt, and red tie. But I felt my youthful exuberance and imagination are worth accentuating. I talk fast, translate MBA-level strategy into colloquialisms, and gesticulate better than the Karate Kid. What more can I do to stand out? Flashy ties are a cliché (besides, I don’t like wearing them chokers). But I’ve got a penchant for mixing and matching colors like a bad acid trip. So I’ve set out to become known for my eye-popping blazers: Business, creativity, and showmanship, all wrapped up into one. Last week, I met a colleague at the bank branch he manages. To be introduced to his superiors, I donned a navy suit, tan shirt, and a tame scarlet tie. His eyes popped to a grin, “What? No crazy jacket today?” He leaned over to his partner, “This guy’s got the wildest suits!” I smirked at his quip. It tells me my fans are noticing, remembering, and talking about me, exactly how I want. I’ve branded my persona onto his mind: My “white wires” may be a 4button saffron jacket and a striped chocolate shirt. What are white wires?
© 2007 CoGrow Systems, Inc. with Vikram Rajan. Vik is a Personal Brand Marketing Advisor for lawyers, accountants, financial planners, real estate, and health experts. E-mail Vik@CoGrow.com and read 3 new marketing tips every week at ViksMarketingBlog.com
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