Extract from a presentation delivered at the Sainsbury Management Fellows’ Networking by, Katy Ennis, mentor, trainer and public speaker
An effective, authentic personal brand will help you build a profitable business and boost your career success, but before looking at personal brand I want set the context by looking at the underlying principles of ‘brand’.
What is a brand?
The response that I often get from asking this question is a list of criteria such as logo, strapline, trademark, colour etc. It’s a bit more complicated than that.
At its heart a brand is a collection of thoughts and feelings that customers have about a particular product or service. For example, if you consider your response to two different types of car you may get something like:
Bentley – expensive, stylish, sleek, leather
Hyundai – nippy, cheap, functional
Creating a brand is a step-by-step process that starts with the organisational values and emotional response you want to create; well before images, colours and fonts appear. You can break it down broadly into three sections:
The Brand – at heart this is an emotional response; it is the thoughts and feelings that a customer (or potential customer) has about your products or services.
The Visual Identity – the visual aspects that form the identity of the brand, such as, colours, fonts, shapes, words, symbols.
The Logo – the simplest form of the brand in that it identifies it via a mark or an icon using the colours, fonts, shapes etc that form the visual identity.
Why is branding important?
There are five main reasons why branding is important:
- Recognition: a brand helps customers recognise your product or service
- Differentiation: a brand differentiates your product or service from your competitors
- Loyalty: a brand helps to build loyalty
- Relevance: a brand makes what you have to offer relevant to particular target markets
- Focus: a brand enables you to focus your marketing message
Back in the 1930s Louis Cheskin, a scientific researcher, clinical psychologist, and marketing innovator embarked on a life-long obsession to understand how customers’ perceptions motivate their purchasing behaviour. Through his research he observed that people’s perceptions of products and services were directly related to the aesthetic details of their design. He named this relationship sensation transference. He spent most of his life investigating how design elements could significantly impact perceptions of value, appeal and relevance.
Q: What colour is margarine?
A: The answer is often ‘yellow’. The real answer is that it is not. In its natural state margarine is a greyish-white. Cheskin convinced the manufacturers that they would sell more if it looked more like butter.
Do you think he was right?
In his 2005 book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell considered the work of Cheskin and a number of studies that followed on from his work and in summery Gladwell wrote:
“people give an assessment of something they might buy … without realising it they transfer sensations or impressions that they have about the packaging of the product to the product itself … most of us don’t make a distinction – on an unconscious level – between the package and the product. The product is the package and the product combined”
Blink: the power of thinking without thinking, Malcolm Gladwell, 2005.
So, where does this leave us in terms of personal branding and its impact on our businesses or our careers?
Well, the first thing to realise is that the process of going through a personal branding exercise is exactly the same as the process for branding a business or a product; you take the three brand elements and apply them to the individual:
Brand – identifying the inner you; your values, your message
Visual Identity – creating the outer you; your ‘look’
Logo – managing the inner and the outer you to determine how you make your mark; build, manage and maintain your reputation
The five elements that make branding important – recognition, differentiation, loyalty, relevance and focus – are summarised in my definition of personal branding:
Personal branding unites your passions, strengths, skills, behaviours, attitudes and core values in a focussed message. It makes you instantly recognisable, differentiates your uniqueness, builds a loyal following and makes you relevant to your target audience.
A personal brand:
- enables clients or employers to recognise your potential – “does what it says on the tin”
- differentiates you from your competitors – what makes one engineer better than another?
- helps build loyalty – client loyalty means they keep coming back (it is far easier to keep a client than it is to find a new one); employer loyalty can influence job security and promotional prospects
- helps clients and employers understand you and buy into your core values – people buy from (and buy into) people they like
- makes what you have to offer relevant to your target market
- enables you to focus your personal marketing message
Developing a personal brand allows you to understand your core values and create an authentic key message. Your values and your message are then applied consistently across all aspects of your life, your business and your career to enable others to have that ‘emotional response’ and ‘know’ what they are getting when they buy from you or buy into you.
A mentor, trainer and public speaker, Kathy Ennis uses the concepts of engagement marketing and personal branding as a method of business and career development; she firmly believes that it is individual effectiveness that contributes most to the overall success of any organisation. She helps people grow their business; and enhance their networking and communication skills. www.kathyennis.co.uk