Yesterday I was going through an article in TOI on front page stating how an engineering guy’s tweet made him secure an MBA seat in University of Iowa Tippe school of Management. I went on to read it further and discovered the way he marketed his idea using a tetra pack. And somehow it inspired me to write and research this article.
If you were an ice-cream, what would you be? HaagenDazs-sinful, extravagant and something to savor and aspire for? Or Amuls predictable, a little boring, but oh-so-dependable? After all, ultimately, what is an ice cream? Just a frozen confection of milk and sugar, with some additional flavors thrown in. Do a blind-taste of these brands for, say, vanilla ice cream, and I bet seven out of 10 people won’t be able to to their Haagen-Dazs from Vadilal. But such is the lure of images brands help create that just the name is evocative of a distinctive attribute: be it class, quality or cost. But then, you’d have to be really naïve to still believe- if ever you did-that branding is all about product perception. It’s about creating an identity and image to help customers and stakeholders-investors, distributors, retailers, marketers, financers…the work reach a decision, preferably favorable. And what that product is you, it’s even more critical; the branding process be so perfect that the decision can’t be anything but in your favor.
That, in a nutshell, is the premise of Peter Montoya’s The Brand Called You. It’s being touted as the definitive guide to personal branding, which, in turn, is the “the most powerful success and business-building tool ever devised”.
Fulsome praise, indeed, but it begs the question: what is a personal brand? Montaya has appended a helpful little glossary at the black of his book. According to it, a personal brand is “a personal identity that stimulates precise, meaningful perceptions in its audience about the values and qualities that the person stands for, personally and professionally.”
And, before you ask, no, it’s not the same as advertising and PR. The purpose of creating a personal brand is not to make you famous, emphasizes Montoya. It’s about enhancing you sphere of influence, because that’s what generates wealth.
Of course, you may become famous, but that’s just a welcome extra, not the ultimate goal. A personal brand is about keeping ypu and ypur business top-of-mind, telling people that you can create value and helping business come to you, rather than you scout for work.
If it sounds like a sterile way of doing business, that’s because it is. But it’s a reflection of reality. People are commodities, just like a soap and steel-and the CEO is the company’s most valuable asset. So, if it’s a choice between building the corporate brand and the personal brand, go for the latter. Be prepared to invest plenty of time and effort in the exercise. The rewards will be worth it, Montoya promises.
Montaya certainly has the right credentials to write a book on personal branding. He is the founder-president of an agency devoted to developing and managing personal brands, and is a frequent speaker on the subject.
He’s also the author of another book-The personal Branding Phenomenon-and publishes a magazine called Personal Branding. Co-author Tim Vandehey is the editor-in-chief of that magazine.
Citing case studies of orthodontists, realtors, commercial photographers and personal injury lawyers, Montaya lists several strategies, from the obvious(send targeted press releases, maintain a website and pay personal attention to customers.) to the unusual(create a personal brochure and use it instead of business cards, send out personal postcard instead of the usual direct mailers.)
Unfortunately, where he could have been most useful, Montoya is guilty of the ultimate sin in how-to-books: he talks down to the reader. Don’t use a white on black logo, take quotes from at least three printers before settling on one, postcards should be between 6”x9” and 8.5”x11” Montaya comes across as an anxious mother sending her child off to boarding school: he doesn’t just hold hand; he clutches it and drags you across the street. Of course, if you’re good, yopu get an ice-cream
In the last 13 years, Peter has delivered over 1,500 presentations to financial advisors, developed more than 5,000 custom marketing plans, authored three best-selling books and is the father of two children. And he has just survived his one-millionth mile on United Airlines. To this end, he recently introduced the ultimate advertising compliance solution, “Marketing Library,” which is revolutionizing the way financial advisers interact with their compliance officers, including the benefit of compliance pre-approval. Just one more way Peter is working to transform the way we do business. Obviously, he is committed to the success of his clients.