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What is a brand?

In a farm, how on earth could you recognise cows from each other? To bridge that challenge, cows got a mark on their hips. It is the origin of the word branding. Branding is thus recognition. Being recognised is the first step.

Linked to a brand are the numerous associations that people have with the brand. Think about Citibank, for instance: “The Citi never sleeps”. The association created with the brand is that it is possible to do banking business 24 hours out of 24 and 7 days out of 7. In another field, Audi:”Vorspung durch Technik” (being better than the others due to technical superiority) and the association is that the Audi cars are indeed technically advanced, hence

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the amazing success of the brand. A brand is usually associated with a logo and typical brand colours and phrases. To keep the same example: Citi is associated with the well-known Citi Bleu, Raiffeisen with yellow and black, HSBC with red and white, BGL BNPPARIBAS with green, …

What does a brand mean?

If you find the right artist you may have the right logo, but is the company behind the logo professional? Is the action of branding about design or about quality that is behind the design? Is it about selling wind or selling substance? Is it attuned to the fashion of having a logo or is it about the search of excellence? Factually, a brand equals a promise and should match expectations. A brand could match dreams. Think about the perfume brands which sell much more than perfume, but a living style, a personality. See the enduring success of “Chanel”.

How can you use what we know about branding to your advantage?

Today, even more than ever, the professional has a double challenge: being recognised as there is a tough competition in every field, and secondly being seen as, not just different, but better than competition. Even if you are a real professional, you still have to ascertain that others know it. One might think that with the new media this is easier than before. This is not the case as all of us use the same channels. Your voice is quickly lost in the noise.

Your challenge is to sell yourself as a brand by all possible means in a coherent, systematic manner using all tools of classical marketing. Look at you as a product. Most successful products are successful because of pure marketing techniques, which are not that different from the original ones. Think about you

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not just as a marketable product but as an augmented product, which its own unique, saleable features. There are a lot of excellent singers out there, but Lady Gaga has 57 million likes because of raw marketing techniques!

How can you brand yourself?

The answer to this question represents a long list, which is the same list as the key features of a successful corporate culture, as you would expect. Branding requires goals to be reached such as:

    • Being a learning person
    • Creating a disciplined environment
    • Possessing a strong code of conduct
    • When working with others, doing it with a team spirit
    • People oriented
    • Individual responsibility
    • Being conscious that people pay for added value only
    • Your on-going involvement

Above is a short list amongst other goals which need to be reached to get branded. In addition to the list, should be mention the need for a, attitude of motivation, of listening and of excellence. Think about the PC which is the result of a permanent search for excellence, i.e.

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could it be smaller, faster, cheaper, simpler, more powerful?

Why is your personal branding so important?

Let me quote Scott W. Ventrella (Me Inc., John Wiley & Sons, 2007) to which I fully subscribe: “Remember you are the CEO of yourself. If you were an employee of your company, would you follow you? Taking control of our lives has never been as challenging or as important as it is today as we can no longer depend on our employers or even partners to provide for us.

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We must be self-reliant”.

Foremost, through branding you will get a reputation. Your reputation will precede you. The remaining challenge will be to keep up with your reputation, which is much more fun and rewarding than the first phase of branding, which was to build your reputation!