I’m going to start this post in a not-so-unique way: with a definition.
branding (n.): the promoting of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand
Branding is a way of life. Whether you like it or not (and whether you know it or not), you have a brand. Companies have brands. Bands have brands. Restaurants have brands. You and all of the world around you are constantly adding, changing and supporting a brand. Are you representing your personal brand well? How do companies brand themselves? What does this mean? Why am I so obsessed with branding?
In the wise words of Entrepreneur.com, branding is “your promise to your customer.” What does that mean, exactly? It shows that your brand is how you want your customers/network/the public to see you – it’s showing yourself or your company in its best light. On personal branding, the founder of Amazon said that “your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” This quote rings true not only in the realm of personal branding (which my Cardinal Comm team and I gave a presentation about a few weeks ago), but also in more “public” branding.
Now that I’ve given you some background on branding, let me explain myself. Why am I so obsessed with this seemingly unimportant (it’s important!!) topic? Because your brand often precedes you. Before people get to meet you in an interview, they do their research – they check out your social media, your resume, your website. Before someone hires your company, they do similar research – checking out your portfolio, your prior clients, your employees. Your brand extends beyond the letterhead with your logo on it.
I’m obsessed with branding because so many people discount its importance. Your brand is arguably one of the most important parts of anything you do. It helps you establish your credibility (if you brand yourself correctly). It helps to motivate your buyer/audience (if you brand yourself correctly). It shows your intent (if you brand yourself correctly). Did I mention that this only works if you brand yourself correctly? Like I said, your brand extends beyond the papers that include your logo. Your brand includes your social media presence, your work, your clients, your network – all things that are very important in today’s workforce. As someone interested in the media (advertising, specifically), I know that branding is something that I will happen upon more than when we’re discussing brand materials for Cardinal Comm.
Branding is who you ARE. It’s how you show your network recognizes you. Branding isn’t telling someone to buy something or do something – it’s what sticks around after marketing yourself or your company.
Ever hear of brand loyalty? Well, you have to brand yourself before you can possibly have brand loyalty. Branding is multi-faceted, too. It’s not just being there. It’s including your peers in your doings. It’s interacting with your followers on social media. It’s creating excellent work that clients remember. It’s reaching out to other people or companies when you need expertise that you don’t have.
So, why am I obsessed with branding? Because without branding, you’re not complete. It’s not a stretch to say that everyone and everything has a brand, whether you like it or not. Branding is an incredibly important and prevalent part of life, both in your personal and public life. A drunken rant on Twitter can affect your personal brand as much as landing a major client for your company can. Being responsible and understanding the implications of branding can help you increase the awareness and respect that your brand deserves.
I’d love to hear about how you brand yourself in the comments.