Be the Brand! Part 1
So why am I interested in Branding?
And for that matter why should you be interested in it either? Well my curiosity stems from a book that I surveyed lately by Gary Varnurchuk, “Crush It, Cash In on your Passion”. Yes, I read – and quite a bit actually. This is an absolutely necessary part of making Power Moves, but I digress. In this book, Gary talks about how in our modern internet driven age, anyone can become a house hold brand and begin making serious dough for creating value around things that they are passionate about. In my personal assessment of his claims, I had to come to the conclusion that he is totally right. There are many examples of various individuals who have created huge followings and insane incomes by doing just that. We now live in a world where our biggest stars are discovered by us on YouTube, or SoundCloud, Facebook, etc. (The likes of Justin Bieber come to mind). And even the news seems to get their news from twitter. Here is the bottom line, the cost of college is skyrocketing, and traditional occupational opportunities are drying up or have simply lost their value. It’s painfully apparent that we must adapt and look to the future of a new way of doing things. Like Gary I believe the internet is the key, the internet has the power to give us true personal freedom – if we really desire it. With the number of tools and platforms that are constantly popping up, the average individual has become more empowered than at any other time in human history and we haven’t even truly realized it.
Okay I’m sure I have lost some of you at this point, let me spell it out as plainly as I can.
“The days of the big, corporate, monopolistic brand name are limited!”
We no longer have to take what we’re given, sell our greatest asset “our time” five days (for many people more…) a week to soulless corporations, never have the opportunity to really contribute real value to humanity, and hope and pray that for our loyalty a company will have our best interests in mind and take care of us. We need not to be enslaved to the legacy of occupational servitude that previous generations have left us to look forward to. There is another way.
We have the power, we can be the brand
To understand this concept, let’s quickly break down what the heck a brand is essentially. Personally, I consider a brand as a public persona, something that represents the values, beliefs, and character of a company or, in this case especially, a person. This transcends the simple, “what kind of products do they produce” but rather is a question of “Why do they create their products in the way that they do”? A very popular Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek, presents us with a perfect illustration of this with the example of the most valuable brand in the world currently, Apple Inc. Apple’s brand is not defined by what the make – i.e. they cannot be simply pigeonholed as a computer company. Apple as a brand has come to represent something of the marriage of beauty, innovation, and tech. No matter what they make from a laptop, to a music player, to an automobile, we expect something concocted by a genius who also happens to be really into art.
Okay I get it, but how do I become a brand?
Okay so we come to the real question, and focus of this whole thing. How does one create their own personal brand exactly? This has been a pressing question for me as of late. After graduating early last year and blazing a different path for myself unrelated to my major, I have come to understand how important building your own brand and persona can be. I wanted to make a place for myself in tech, despite not having any formal training, certifications, or endorsements. Being young, full of unbridled passion and healthy naiveté I tried a lot of things and learned through a series of failures. The thing that ended up giving me the opportunity of getting my foot in the door was the brand that my partners and I created unwittingly by just following our passions and letting it show in our work. That brand was Power Moves. Every time people wanted to know what I did or when talking business I would tell them the quick story of how I started Power Moves with a few of my friends and how it brought me to where I was now. And more than anything that story opened many doors for me, and allowed me to connect with people who opened even more doors. Later I came to find out I was doing the essential thing about personal branding, telling the story of you. People connected with our unique high-passion-high-action brand of business and it made them trust that we would go the extra mile given any opportunity to do so. So they gave us a shot, not because it made sense to but because they had connected with our brand.
So there’s step one! Tell your story.
Effective branding IS the art of storytelling. For thousands of years, and even today for many cultures storytelling was the main form of entertainment, education, and the only way to keep preserve a cultures history and identity. So it is no wonder that a good story triggers something engagingly primal within us all. It allows us to cultivate a relationship that is genuine, a relationship that is human. This cultivates loyalty and most importantly trust. Getting this right is especially important in today’s world where even though we are more connected than ever, corporations seem cold, distant, automated inhuman machines.
But it is not just the words you put in the about me section of your website, it is also about the logo you choose, the colors, the style of your website, and the people you hire. All of these things are storytelling devices that convey who you are to your customer and why they should do business with you instead of someone else.
Okay we’re making progress…
So we’ve explored a bit about why everyone should know about branding, and hit the essentials of what branding is. For the next part of my personal branding series, we’ll explore some more concrete examples and things we can try to jump start our brand and get in the game.