The cool kids are using personal branding as a means to become even more popular.
Think you don’t have a lot of experience with personal branding? That simply isn’t true. You’re inundated with taglines all of the time: Subway, “Eat Fresh”. Skittles, “Taste the Rainbow”. Nike, “Just Do It.” Forgive me while I dust this one off: GE, “We Bring Good Things to Life”. It’s a catchy thread of words that makes that brand stand out to the world in a positive way. And good taglines are designed to make a short takeaway about the brand stick with you for a long time.
Sometimes personal brands can try to come across all sunshine and unicorns, to be all things to all people.
Like sales coach #1: “I help everyone become the best version of themselves while maximizing the efficiency to cut to the chase and close the sale.” Whoa, that’s such a huge promise and there are so many parts to it…not only do I not see myself in it but I wouldn’t know where to go first if I did.
Or sales professional #2: “When 100% isn’t enough, work with the professional that deliveries 110%.” I don’t know about you but it takes my logical brain less than 8 seconds to respond to this one with one condemning word: impossible.
Or the sales candidate #3, who tells us his greatest weakness: he’s too committed to helping his customers achieve results. C’mon already, give me a break, that’s not branding that’s corny brown nosing.
You’re probably rolling your eyes at that one too. So how can you, as a sales professional, effectively use a personal brand help make you better at what you do for the world?
Use your strengths and weaknesses to show yourself as a relatable human being not a collection of solutions. A personal brand claims an authenticity the world can relate to. I know, I know. Authenticity, the word is overused. Shall we roll our eyes again?
I never gave much thought to what a personal brand could do for me until I read brand expert Sally Hogshead’s book Fascinate: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist. Her book takes a dive into branding as “how the world sees you at your best.” She even developed a test to help reveal individual strengths and point out weaknesses, or your own personal “quicksand” as she puts it.
I love, love, love her Jägermeister example. This case study had me embrace the concept and want to dive in deeper. Consider the, eh, tasty alcoholic beverage Jägermeister. This is one of the most successful premium liquors on the market. In many bars, it’s chilled in fancy dispenser machines designed specifically for this product. I remember first coming across it at college parties. My friends encouraging me to drink it, “Get it before it’s banned. It’s made with Codeine which is why it tastes like Nyquil.” –It’s not and it doesn’t by the way but that’s what my friends told me.
The brand is steeped in mystery. It tastes awful but never claimed to win any taste contests. Rarely does one wind up a long day with a glass of Jäger on the rocks while watching the sun set.
No, this drink is done on a dare, with buddies, at a bar, late at night, followed by whoops and fist bumps. The brand serves up a toxic experience and like some other toxic experiences it is best shared with a side of bravado and testosterone.
There is a market for this sort of thing. When it was invented Jägermeister was a drink for hunters used to help stave off the cold. Eventually, it was marketed as an after-dinner drink served in delicate little glasses—the kind where you stick out your pinky finger, take little sips, and act civilized. That’s a far cry from where it is today.
When things weren’t working they changed course , listening to how people saw the brand, not just how they wanted to see themselves.
Done right, branding aids in success. But to do it right you need to know what makes you different, what you stand for, and what makes you stand out, even if it’s an alleged weakness. The process of turning strengths and weaknesses into a personal brand that works for you is fascinating in and of itself.
If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering if your brand is working for you, or if you need a personal brand at all.
Now, you may not think you need one. And maybe you don’t.
But I do.
Anything that helps me resonate more with my customers, I’m going to give it a shot (pun intended).
Will a personal brand make you famous?
Maybe, maybe not.
But it can go a long way toward creating a more remarkable version of yourself. A bold, self-expressed, personal brand can keep you from going down Vanilla Road. You know, that place where you try to be all things to all people. Instead take a calculated risk and see if it takes you in a remarkable direction. If it doesn’t, you can always change course.
Do you have personal brand? Want to share a bit about your journey? Have you ever taken a personality test? Which one? What did you learn about yourself? Leave me a comment.