Saturday, March 28, 2009

Branding Made Simple

I often have conversations with clients about branding, their personal brands and the brands of their organizations. It is usually a fun, creative, and empowering conversation. What do you stand for and how is this conveyed outward? What's the look and feel of your particular brand? What can people tell about your brand by your logo or reputation or web presence? Our brands are one of the ways in which we show up in the world (particularly the money-making world) and they are important.

There is a good little article in the Saturday New York Times business section about personal branding that provided an approachable look at this topic. Here's a digest:
" have to dig deep inside yourself and figure out what makes you you and not that other Brand You over there..."

"...“finding your niche is the key...”"

"...a four-step process — discover, create, communicate, maintain. That translates into: discover your passion and put it together with your expertise; create a “personal branding tool kit” (which may include a résumé, online profile, blog and portfolio of your work) that consistently reflects your brand; pitch your brand online and offline; and update and monitor any conversations about your brand..."

"...consistency is key..."

“...dig down deep...Look at your competitors. See how you differ.”

"...I develop Brand Me by thinking about three things I am good at, three things I am passionate about and three things other people think I’m good at..."
When I teach courses about corporate philanthropy (a term often dismissed along with military intelligence or jumbo shrimp) I will introduce a branding discussion by conducting a relay race of sorts with teams marking up flip charts with every corporate logo/icon they can draw from memory. In a couple minutes over one hundred logos and icons can be drawn. The discussion then leans to the omnipresence of corporations and their products and services in our lives and how we may know a graphic representation of a company but do we really know the company? The point to make from this exercise and from a philanthropic perspective is what part of a corporate brand is about giving, community, service, impact, philanthropy?

The brand is the whole thing--the logo, the icon, the look, the words, the tone, the image, the spokespeople, the philanthropy, the message management, the longevity, the reputation, the founders, the management, the programs and products, the staff, the mission, the impact, the costs, the capacity, the growth, the colors, the fonts, the word on the street. There is a lot of intention that goes into how we perceive a brand. Brand is both tangible and intangible and requires intentional, careful, enthusiastic, consistent management.

What does your brand say about you? What's next for your brand? What's needed? What do you value about your brand? What's it worth to you? How do you manage your brand? When do you ignore it or give up on it? What's at risk? If your brand has no logo/icon, what then? Imagine one! If your brand is all about one person, what then?

I think there is something to all of this. More than anything, the Gro(w)th Coaches brand helps me to focus my energy and tasks in the most meaningful way. I hold my brand with respect and intention. I think about the choices I am making and the impact these choices will have. My brand stands for something important and it is uniquely me.

Have a great week.