I’ve been working on a few projects recently that can best be described as “personal branding”, coaches or consultants that decide to build their business under their own name. But “personal branding” has a very selfish ring to it. At its worst, it’s an exercise in ego-stroking. But as the “brands” in question were perfectly aware, there’s more to personal branding than “me-me-me”.
It will come as no surprise that branding at this level follows a well-trodden path for marketers. There’s a product with a USP and a potential market. The trick is to bring the product under the noses of the right market and let the combination of product and image work its magic. So far, so good. But the product in this case is an actual person (at least at the early stages, afterwards it might become a team).
The trick is to bring the product under the noses of the right market and let the combination of product and image work its magic.
So the image being portrayed is on the front line 24 hours a day, and the person will have to live up to certain expectations on a daily basis. I’m reminded of John Cleese telling the story of when he entered a shop to buy a box of matches. On the way out, he heard the shopkeeper whisper to another client, “Not very funny, is he?”
The root issue is that no matter how fab you are deep down as a person, you still have to be useful to others. You have to deliver. So the branding cannot allow itself to become too wrapped up in the aura of the subject. Sure, it has to be personal inasmuch as it is dealing with a person, but shouting “me-me-me” will not cut it. Not even if you shout it louder, or prettier. The branding still has to bear in mind the fundamental question facing marketers: what will this product/person do for their market? What’s in it for them?
For Gerry Murray – who takes a very practical approach to coaching (ie, the coachee has to work hard) – the branding we developed with Guy Stevens of Pix&Com is based around the phrase, “Take That Step with Gerry Murray”. He makes people do things, brings them on a journey of sorts, helps them take a step in the right direction. So the copywriting and soon-to-come website reflect this (check the layouts here). Rather than turning inwards, they have to keep the audience very much in mind. So in this respect, personal branding is not like a personal computer; it really does have to be shared – with the people it’s targetted at.
Gerry Murray will be conducting a weekend seminar called “Reset Your Compass for 2010” in Leuven, Belgium on January 16 & 17. Follow his writing on Thinking Differently or follow the website at GerryMurray.com