Companies have long understood the power of branding. They spend millions of dollars a year making a brand promise to customers that goes beyond the technical and physical attributes of a particular product. They build an identity that customers feel safe choosing over the competition.
So, what four specific takeaways can you get from corporate branding, and how can you apply it to yourself?
- Corporate Branding. All companies must identify what differentiates their product. Why is it better than other similar products out there? Quality? Speed? Customer service? Excellent design?
- Personal Branding. Identify your own unique selling point. What makes you different? Better? Do you do things faster than your competition? Do you provide superior quality? Are you very sociable and emotion-oriented? Do you have a knack for making complex things simple? Do some soul-searching, and ask a few friends and colleagues what single quality stands out to them.
2. Competitive Analysis
Corporate Branding. A company must position itself effectively against its competition. A business analyzes how other companies in its niche are acting, to see what works (and what doesn’t). Then they can then create a much more compelling brand for themselves knowing what is out there.
- Personal Branding. Use your competition to your advantage. Look at how other people offering similar services portray their brands. Then build on them to create an even more compelling one for yourself. For example, if you’re an artist, browse artist galleries on the web to see how they’re showcasing their abilities. Then take the best qualities of each one and mix it with your own style.
- Corporate Branding. A company’s values guide its decisions. “The boss says we need to lay someone off. Jane sugg ested letting go of our phone tech support guy. But that wouldn’t jibe with our company value of superior customer service.” Corporate values such as superior customer service lay the foundation for decisions that align with a company’s brand promise.
- Personal Branding. Personal values act in a similar way. They are the principles that shape your work habits and the way you interact with other people. Take a hint from your personality traits to find what values are important to you. Are you extremely shy? That may mean you prefer working on a project alone until it’s absolutely perfect before showing it to other people. Your shyness may stem from perfectionism, which says, “This person values the highest standards of quality in all their work.” Identify the values that guide you, then focus on the ones will be most critical to your future success.
- Corporate Branding. An “impression” is when someone looks at a logo, picture, ad, website, or other visual media related to a company and that image gets embedded in their mind. Each impression strengthens the connection between a company and its brand promise for that person. Corporate branding pushes a company’s image onto as many people as possible, because the more potential customers see the brand, the more they trust that company can deliver on its promise – and the more they think about that company as they go about their day. Impressions aren’t limited to advertising – companies also brand their invoices, newsletters and all communications, using their logo and tagline to strengthen the relationship between their name and their brand.
- Personal Branding. With everyone you meet, strengthen the association between your face and what you excel at. You want your name to be seen in a positive light by as many people as possible. That means every time you post a comment on a blog or forum, every time you send an email, every time you complete a project or presentation, put your name on it. Anonymity is not your friend. Take pride in all your work and connect it back to your brand. The more people come across these “digital breadcrumbs,” the more you convince them that you can deliver on your brand promise. So include your name, your tagline (what you do and who you do it for) and your contact info in all your work.
Pete Kistler is a leading Online Reputation Management expert for Generation Y, a top 5 finalist for Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of 2009, one of the Top 30 Definitive Personal Branding Experts on Twitter, a widely read career development blogger, and a Judge for the 2009 Personal Brand Awards. Pete manages strategic vision for Brand‐Yourself.com, the first online reputation management platform for job applicants, named one of the Top 100 Most Innovative College Startups in the U.S.