Today, I spoke to Bruce Turkel, who is an author, speaker and consultant on branding.  In this interview, Bruce talks to us about how important personal branding is to his clients, how to apply corporate branding strategy to personal branding, his seven steps to brand value, how to stand out as a speaker and much more.

Your company TURKEL manages the brands of companies. How much emphasis do you place on personal branding?

I place lots of emphasis on personal branding, and I spend a lot of time explaining the importance of it to my clients. It’s funny, most marketers talk about whether their business is B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Consumer) but they forget that almost all businesses are P2P (People to People). And people do business with people they like and people they want to be around.

How could you apply your corporate branding strategy to personal branding?

Personal branding is exactly like corporate branding because the brand let’s people know what they’re going to get before their transaction and then it also confirms what they’ve received after the fact. Most people think that consumers buy things because they need whatever it is that the product does but they actually buy because they want whatever it is that the product makes them feel about themselves.

When was the last time you saw a new car advertised as a transportation device to get you from point A to point B? Even though that’s what autos actually do, they’re branded and sold because they offer safety, performance, durability, ruggedness, environmental consciousness or whatever attributes the consumer wants. And it’s not that they want those attributes in the car, they want it in themselves.

We used to say, “You are what you eat.” We now say, “You are what you consume.”

What are the 7 Steps to building brand value?

  1. All About Them
  2. Hearts Then Minds.
  3. Make It Simple.
  4. Make It Quick.
  5. Make It Yours.
  6. All Five Senses.
  7. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Besides playing the harmonica, how do you stand out from other speakers?

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

I think that’s a great way to model your own personal branding and
that’s how I stand out from other speakers. When I’m up on stage I have a good time, I’m energized and enthusiastic and I try to have a real conversation with my audience. Not because that’s how I’ve built my brand but because that’s who I am.

I tell funny stories, doodle and sing and run around because that’s what I do when I’m off stage too. But I also try to stand out by giving the folks who listen to me real, proven ideas and techniques that they can use the minute they get back to their offices. I figure if they’re going to pay attention to me then I owe it to them to talk my talk and walk my walk. My personal goal is to engage, educate and entertain my audiences and for them to find me helpful, enjoyable and valuable.

Do you encourage your clients to get involved in social media?

I absolutely do. I want them to be involved not only because of the immediate opportunities social media can deliver but also because if they don’t jump in they’ll never understand it.

When you do get involved in social media, remember what the words mean. The definition of social is “relating to human society and its members” and media “refers to various means of communication.” So social media is really nothing more than people relating and communicating to one another. C’mon, we all know how to do that.

So not only is social media something we all know how to do but one of the great things it is that the cost of entry is so low there are no excuses for not dipping a toe in and trying it out. Listen, I know it’s crazy, but I believe this whole Internet things is going to be huge. Really. It’s going to catch on. And you can say you heard it here first.


Bruce Turkel is the CEO of TURKEL, a successful brand management firm.  Bruce has been creating and working with valuable brands for over 25 years.  His clients include Nike, Discovery Channel, HBO, Black & Decker, Hasbro and the Miami and Kissimmee Convention and Visitors Bureaus.  He travels the world speaking on building brand value, speaking at MIT and Harvard.  He’s been on NPR and CNN and featured in Fast Company and Communications Arts Magazines.  He is the author of Brain Darts, New Design and Building Brand value.