Chapters 23 & 24 – “Building Brand YOU!” – by Omar Abedin

Chapter 23 Putting your Brand Identity together (don’t forget what differentiates you from anyone else!)

So far, we have been traveling through the Brand Funnel TM and we have built a capsule, a positioning, a heritage, product attributes and a brand persona for Brand YOU.

But there were 6 pieces to the Funnel if you refer back to where we started. The 6th and final piece is the Key Differentiators.

What are your Key Differentiators and where can they be found?

Review the work you have done on the Funnel so far. Keeping in mind the Brand Firedance, select the 3-5 most powerful, differentiating and memorable associations that you can. Ideally, each should trigger the others and together they should mean only one possible Brand – YOU!

These associations will be key in building your brand in the future. You will need to keep them in the forefront of your mind as you move forward to ensure that you are building your brand on a consistent platform.

So now it is time to put together your completed Brand Identity. Here is how it should look, and ideally you want it to fit on one page.

JON STEWART
The brilliantly funny American liberal pundit

For those people sick of the right wing conservative media with its clearly defined agenda,
Jon Stewart is the must-watch political pundit / satirist
That uses well-researched & scathing humour to expose the foibles & follies of those who would take America down a conservative, right wing path
Because his unique delivery, style, East Coast sensibilities & unerring sense of humour make his show the most-watched in its segment, and great fun to boot!

Product Attributes

– Immaculate suit & tie
– Ability to do creative impressions (specially Old Jewish Grandmother from NY)
– Shorter than most people (and focuses on this with taller guests in typical self-deprecating style)

Heritage

– New York Jewish upbringing
– A decade of hard-hitting journalism
– Ownership of humour & satire as a weapon of truth

Personification

– Archetype: The smart & funny liberal pundit who can be relied on to tell it like it is!

– Values
o The truth needs to be told
o Integrity above all else
o Humor drives home the point better

– Personality
o Passion for the truth
o A self-deprecating & irreverent sense of humour and
o An uncanny ability to frame the important issues of the day for the American (and global) public

Key Differentiators

– The brilliantly funny American liberal pundit
– His unique delivery, style, East Coast sensibilities & unerring sense of humour
– New York Jewish upbringing
– Ownership of humour & satire as a weapon of truth

Now that your Brand Perception plan – the Brand Identity – has been carefully laid out, it is time to start bringing Brand YOU! to life. Before you do that though, run it by your key consumers. See what they have to say. Ensure that at least your key consumers are fully aligned to where you are going – and then move forward with confidence knowing that you are on the right track.

Chapter 24 Bringing your Brand Identity to life – planning your communication strategy!

If you remember the earliest chapters, the process we are following starting with consumer insight (knowing what your consumers need and want, and what itch you are trying to scratch), followed by building your perception plan (your Brand Identity).

Now we start breathing life into your Identity through a Marketing Mix that best tells the story of your brand. The challenge here is that your consumers already have a perception of you, so if you are going to create a new perception, you need to get them to notice that there is something different about you. So you need to keep three things in mind as you try to communicate your new Brand Identity:

– Disrupt: In order for your consumer to actually notice a shift or departure from the norm, you have to disrupt the norm of your relationship dynamic. Think of it as a reboot – where new settings kick in and perceptions change.

– Engage: You need to engage with your consumers at the new level that you have decided upon in your perception plan. Once people start looking at you in this new light, half your job is done.

– Convince: As you embark on this journey, remember that every action you take is either a deposit into, or a withdrawal from, the bank of your brand equity. If you stay consistent to your new / improved Brand Identity, there should be little or no convincing required as you build towards your desired Equity.

As you think of this, keep in mind that Brand YOU! is just like any other brand. You need a communication plan that tells the story of Brand YOU! in a holistic way, and brings the brand alive for your target consumer in an engaging and interesting way. After all, you want your target consumer to WANT to engage with Brand YOU!

So… when is your target audience most likely to be open to seeing the new & improved YOU? In marketing jargon, we try to catch them when the clay is moist… when they are attentive, receptive and at a point of need. So when your boss comes to you with a new project, or is desperately looking for a point person on a major new assignment, that would be a good time to introduce them to the new YOU! Or when your spouse wants to ‘talk’, you actually switch off the TV and listen – without interruption. And then respond in a way that brings your new Brand Identity to life in a positive and recognizable way.

Is it possible to predict when your target will be receptive, so that you can be better prepared? I mean, it would be helpful to know just when to bring your new game, right? It would allow you to be more relaxed, and more focused on a better Brand YOU! Well, here’s how you can figure out when the clay is more likely to be moist than other times.

1. Day In the Life Of (DILO): Take a very close look at the day of your key consumers – your boss, your spouse, your family, co-workers, friends. Is there an early morning ritual that your boss always indulges in, like a cup of coffee before he / she heads for their desk? Perhaps a colleague enjoys a stroll in the park during lunch? Does your spouse look forward to a quiet breakfast with you after the kids leave for activities on Sunday? Maybe your children value the time they spend with you just before bed? This exercise can be extremely informative if you are trying to figure out when your key consumers are most likely to be receptive to the new YOU!

2. Year In the Life Of (YILO): Do a similar exercise for the year at a macro level. During the year, there are certain times when your consumers will be more open than others. For example, your boss will certainly appreciate the new YOU! more during the annual business planning cycle, as your spouse would appreciate you more during the summer months when the children are home and cannonballing around the house.

3. Life Itself: There will be things happening in the lives of your consumers that give you windows of opportunity as well. The boss’s daughter’s going away to college? Your mother-in-law is having knee replacement surgery? A colleague is going through a painful divorce? These are all opportunities to bring the new Brand YOU! to the fore.

So, once you have figured out WHEN to communicate the new Brand YOU, here is HOW you communicate to maximum advantage.

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Chapters 21 & 22 – “Building Brand YOU!” – by Omar Abedin

Chapter 21 The Heritage (where do you come from – and how does that help to differentiate you from the crowd?)

One thing that most of us do – whether we are in the ‘biz’ or not – is that we think of brands as companies. Think about it. When we see two leading brands of anti-dandruff shampoo, how many of us realize that both brands come from the same company? The same is the case for two leading brands of soaps. So how is it that one company is able to implement such a strategy so successfully? Because the brands have such different positionings, they are perceived as completely different, and hence consumers don’t really make the connection. (This relates to a separate point that strong brands are forgiven many sins by their fans ☺)…

Most brands start out as entrepreneurial efforts – and guess whom the entrepreneur behind YOUR brand is? If you said ME (referring to yourself) – you are correct. As mentioned earlier, you are also the CEO, CFO, CMO etc. etc.

So how do you go about defining your “heritage”? Some useful areas to consider are:

1. Your mission! What do you think you exist? Is there a purpose to your existence? If there is, what is it? If you don’t know, then you really need to think about it. It’s a tough question to answer, so give it the time that it deserves.

2. What is your core expertise? Do you have any unique capabilities that set you apart, that define you, that define the way you see the world? Try to look at it from the point of view of your “consumer”. Is it something that they would be willing to “pay” for in some shape or form?

3. Is there something special about the people you hang out with? At work? At the gym? At your club? Are you an influencer in an online community? Our parents used to say that your friends define you – boy, were they right!

This is a deceptively challenging part of your Brand Identity. It must be done well, and it must be authentic and believable – and most importantly, it must make you more desirable to your ‘consumer’.

Chapter 22 Personifying Brand YOU (seriously… figuring out WHO you want to be, focusing on Values & Personality)

One of the exercises that marketers find useful during market research is to try to get consumers to describe the brands that they like or dislike in terms of the people they might be. We call it Brand Personification. “If your brand was a human being, and they walked through the door right now, they would look like…”

The answers you get in terms of male / female, young / old, educated / not, urban / rural, etc. are extremely interesting – and sometimes quite shocking to the Brand Manager. You see, sometimes the person who is closest to the brand – the Brand Manager – is the one least able to see the brand objectively.

I read somewhere that 99% of people who regularly drink either Pepsi or Coke believe that they can identify their brand by taste alone in a blind taste test. Less than 1% actually can. That’s astonishing. But less so when you think about it…

You see where I’m going with this ☺.

You would think that it would be relatively easy for you to ‘personify’ your own brand. Like heck it is. We are, with very few exceptions, largely blind to our own imperfections, and yet we believe, some of us with entirely misplaced confidence, that we know ourselves like the proverbial backs of our hands. We don’t.

So – how would you go about defining YOU as a person? We are looking for a real archetype, a clearly recognizable persona that people can and will identify with. The descriptors we are going to be looking for are way beyond ‘friendly’, ‘fun-loving’ or ‘sociable’. These are more than just words – they will help define the relationship between you and your consumer(s), and the nature of the bond that you have.

Here’s how it looks:

1. The Archetype: defines who YOU are to your consumer – and the role you play in their lives.

2. Values: three things YOU believe passionately.

3. Personality: three traits that YOU always exhibit.

These of course have to mirror the positioning you have defined for yourself – and help bring it to life.

Let’s look at an example. Who is this?

1. The smart & funny liberal pundit who can be relied on to tell it like it is!

2. Passionately believes & values:
a. The truth needs to be told
b. Integrity above all else
c. Humor drives home the point better

3. Exhibits the following behaviours consistently:
a. Passion for the truth
b. A self-deprecating & irreverent sense of humour and
c. An uncanny ability to frame the important issues of the day for the American (and global) public

Yes, Jon Stewart is the embodiment of this, his brand persona. This is what makes his show so compelling, and his Daily Show into such a powerful and globally recognized brand.

There are several steps you could take here:

Step 1: Write down your existing Persona as you see it today. Dig deep. Make it meaningful. Try to describe yourself in real terms, not how you think other people see you, but how you actually are. Can you write an archetype statement for yourself? What are your values – the things you believe in passionately? How would you describe your personality – those traits that make you who you are? Do you know what they are?

Step 2: Validate this with ‘consumers’ who know you well. I would suggest starting with your spouse or significant other, close friends, your boss and close colleagues. The easiest way to get this feedback is through a simple questionnaire designed to make it easy for your consumers to give you feedback in a safe and non-critical environment. A series of statements with a sliding scale (1-5 with 1 indicating complete disagreement and 5 indicating complete agreement) should be helpful.

e.g. I am innovative. I balance work and life well. I am trustworthy.

It depends on what values or personality traits you are asking about. Framing the statements properly will be critical. You should allow the respondents to add statements that they feel are reflective of your persona. That will ensure that all points of view are captured, and that the feedback you receive is more holistic than you might be able to ensure on your own. (Remember what we said earlier about the Brand Manager having potentially glaring blind spots when it comes to their own Brand?)

Step 3: Once you have the feedback collated (throw it in to a spreadsheet for easy tabulation), identify the gap between your perceptions and others’ perceptions of you. Understand this gap. Internalize it. Even if the gap is vast and not entirely complimentary, accept it for what it is and move on to the next step. (This BTW is much easier said than done but at some point you will need to BABAGOI – Build A Bridge And Get Over It!).

Step 4: Write down your desired Persona – complete with an Archetype, Values and Personality. Remember, at this stage, don’t focus too much on the ‘how’ you are going to achieve that, although a little bit of grounding in reality is probably not a bad thing.

Now that this last critical piece of the Brand Funnel TM is done, you are now ready to put the entire Brand Identity together.

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Chapters 19 & 20 – “Building Brand YOU!” – by Omar Abedin

Chapter 19 Putting together your competitive positioning (3 parts, 1 thought!)

The positioning statement has three parts – the core target (your audience), the frame of reference (your competitive set) and the benefit (what you offer).

So, how do you know if the statement you have is a good one?

Here are some criteria that can help you evaluate whether the statement that you have built does in fact work:

1. Is it cohesive? (Does the statement hang together?)

2. Is it credible? (Is it reasonably believable?)

3. Is it compelling? (Does it offer something worth buying?)

4. Is it capsulable? (Can it be summed up succinctly; can it be nutshelled?)

So overall, if you want to check the quality of your work, here’s a summary of the criteria we use:

Target Market: Meaningful Identity, Motivation, Mass
Frame of Reference: Significance, Simplicity, Scale
Owned Benefit: Desirable, Deliverable, Ownable
Reason To Believe: Plausible, Persuasive, “Put Away”

The Whole Statement: Cohesive, Credible, Compelling… and CAPSULABLE!

There are some problems that you might face in writing the statement. E.g. Don’t put selling language in your frame of reference – try to be as descriptive as possible without selling yourself in this area. Try to avoid circular arguments – for example, putting your benefit in to your target audience descriptor usually is not helpful. But generally, if you have really put your mind to the tasks so far, the positioning statement should really come together nicely now.

Chapter 20 What next? Product! (The tangibles Brand YOU always delivers!)

This is where your brand earns its positioning. Here we deal with those things that your “consumer” will experience with their five senses. So, how can you, the product, prove that you, the brand, are worthy of the positioning? Here are some useful areas to start considering:

1. What are some adjectives that come to mind when you and other talk about you? I.e. what is your product halo or Brand Firedance of Associations?

2. What is the “stuff” about you that other people “consume”?

3. What does your “packaging” look like?

4. What are some of the “symbols” or “signals” that you are known for?

Let’s do a creative exercise here. I’d like you to design a logo for your brand based on the brand positioning that you have built in the last few chapters. This should be as “good” as you can make it. If you can afford to work with a professional designer, then do. (BTW, this is not as expensive as you might think. There are quite a few web-based designers who will do a logo design for you for $100 or less.) If not, do it yourself; it’s challenging but fun. Put some thought in to it. Like anything else, the more effort you put in to it, the better the result is likely to be.

But be careful. It does need some thought ☺

You need to be realy really careful with your logo :)

Start with a good look at your name. Most people are comfortable with their names, but many people never truly come to terms with theirs. Certain names in certain contexts lead to generalizations being made about you that are undesirable but unavoidable. The sooner you figure out how your name adds value to, or detracts from, your Bank of Brand Equity, the better off you will be. Of course, if you do a good job of owning it, then it almost doesn’t matter what your name is – over time, or in an instant, it can become synonymous with what you stand for – or want to stand for.

But the product is YOU. Everything tangible about you – from your clothes to your makeup, your accessories to your personal hygiene, your preferred mode of transport to your degree of organization at work and at home. Anything that people can “experience” with their five senses. People say that 90% of communication is non-verbal (and that % may actually be higher than that). If that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what does.

How many of us actually take the time to ‘manage’ our ‘tangibles’? If you are an on-air personality, then of course you do. You have stylists and teams of PR people in place to manage the image of Brand YOU. But if you are Joe or Jane Professional trying to build a career, then generally you clean up as best as you can, and get out there hoping for the best.

If you agree that our first impression of people is made in the first few seconds of meeting them, then that approach is simply not going to cut it for Brand YOU.

Things that you need to take an objective look at, and evaluate through your own eyes, as well as the eyes of your ‘target consumers’:

1. Clothing / sense of style
2. Hair cut / hair style
3. Makeup
4. Accessories
5. Footwear
6. Personal grooming & hygiene
7. Handshake (the initial impression)
8. Inter-personal skills
9. Listening skills
10. Speech patterns (tonality, nasality, pronunciation etc.)
11. And so much more…

It might seems obvious that if you aspire to be a part of the senior management team in a large multinational corporation, then you might consider losing the blue hair and various pieces of metal in your face. If you do decide to keep them, then you shouldn’t wonder why you never get promoted to management. I’m not saying it is good or bad – but you have to dress/act the part that you are aspiring for. You don’t see too many CEOs or CFOs with over-the-top expressions of their personalities in their personal tangibles – and there is a reason for that. The exceptions, like Richard Branson, have a good reason for being exceptions – and let’s face it, if you have decided that you want to model yourself on Branson, then that is a long and tough road that you have embarked on ☺. The maverick CEO is a much-desired Brand Image – and one that is notoriously hard to deliver on.

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