Roger Claessens No Comments

Most readers will be familiar with notion of branding, maybe less so with the notion of love marks. The term was used some years ago by Saatchi & Saatchi, one of the best known advertising companies on the planet.

From branding to love marks

In a farm, how on earth could you recognize 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 first of all recognition. 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’s ”Vorspung durch Technik” (being better than the others due to technical superiority) is associated with the perception that Audi cars are indeed technically advanced, hence the amazing success of the brand. A brand is usually associated with a logo and typical brand colors and slogans. 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.

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 should match dreams.

The fundamentals of a brand are what we do not see, called the essence of a brand. In order to be a highly successful company you need to get all functions right, i.e. the proper marketing function but likewise the human resource function, IT, finance, management, compliance, and so forth. The way the major corporate functions are executed ultimately determine the answer to the question: nice logo and nice slogan but are they professional.

The result of being professional is that it creates customer loyalty. However, in the absence of a brand, there is always the possibility to substitute it with another more or less equivalent brand. Consumers are flexible enough. This is not the case with a love mark. The example by excellence is the Apple computer. The users are almost no longer consumers but disciples. In the rare situation where their computer would crash they would be devastated and would not just switch to an HP for instance. The almost physically feel the absence of their beloved brand.

A love mark has all the characteristics of a brand with an additional emotional feeling about it.

From branding to personal branding

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 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 over 61 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, to name a few:

  • 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

Why is your personal branding so important? Let me quote Scott W. Ventrella (2007, Me Inc., John Wiley & Sons, UK) 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.

From personal branding to likeability

You may know the life-shows, where candidates walk from the backstage to the front stage in a few seconds….and we have “that impression”, very often a lasting impression. Why are some candidates or some groups particularly likeable? Likeability, like many concepts, is quite difficult to define but we, sort of, all know what it means.

Have a look at the X –Factor UK 2015, the girl group called the “Fourth Power”. It is magic, like one soul that would have chosen four different bodies to be on this planet. The first audition is worth noticing but even more so the six seat challenge. One of the judges, Rita Ora, called it “perfection”. As a professional trainer, I love that word! What could be better than perfection? Simon Cowell, the ultimate referee called the performance, “amazing” and the future mentor of the group throughout the competition, Cheryl Cole, called the group’s performance: “phenomenal” whilst adding: “You and I together can create magic”. Another one of my preferred words.

What makes these singers so likeable? I have not all the answers yet but, for sure, I have the conviction that they worked hard, very hard on it. They form like one personality. They are hug-able. There is something about them. There is a personal good factor there, emotions, cool, natural, joyous. They provoke a smile on the faces of the judges and the shouting of the crowd when they appear. They are powerful, dancing, charming and singing of course.

Here follows a short list of what is needed stated by various authors including me but mainly from Tim Sanders, 2006, “The likeability Factor, Three Rivers Press, USA:

  • Authenticity
  • Empathy
  • Realness
  • Trustworthiness
  • Modesty
  • Sensitivity to cultural aspects
  • Discipline, and last but not the least
  • A healthy life style

What are the benefits of working on the various points mentioned above? Working on those character features will bring the best out of others, those you want to be liked by. Your performance will be recognized. Actually, you will most likely outperform the others. You will enjoy life more. In fact, you will, in all likelihood, get a better life. You will smile more often. People will love you being passionate about it all. In short, you will be someone worth remembering as you will make the others feel better. Your personal brand will be one people talk about when you will have left the room. They will remember this very likeable person.