by Peter Serff, Partner
Centennial Data Group
Several years ago, my dad gave me a book to listen to on my commute to work called MicroBranding by T. Scott Gross. I gave it a shot, expecting a typical marketing read with a few nuggets of value. But to my surprise, I was quickly drawn into and inspired by this book. Gross is an incredibly charismatic speaker and lays out his case through story and hyperbole that every one of us has an interest in building our personal brands. Large, successful companies like Google, Nike, Apple, & Southwest Airlines treat their brand as an integral part of their business; they understand that every time they interact with a customer, directly or indirectly, they are impressing upon or reinforcing their impression on their customers and potential customers. Gross’ premise is that we should all be just as concerned about our own personal brands.
As a business professional, and especially as a consultant, we have to look at everything we do and each interaction as something that will create or strengthen our brand in others’ minds. We all understand that our resumes and LinkedIn profiles are important branding documents, but if those aren’t consistently reinforced with supporting actions, we risk creating a weak brand. Worse yet, if our interactions are consistently negative, we risk creating a strong negative brand. Rarely do we have a choice in how perceptions are made about us, which makes it paramount to deliver the impression we want every chance we get.
For example, if I want to be known as a trusted adviser with outstanding customer service, but I am frequently late in responding to emails and deliver sporadically for my clients, I will still be building a brand … just not the one I intended. I’m sure you can think of several people who have created strong brands for themselves, both positive and negative. Take a few minutes to think about the interactions you have had with these individuals that helped you form your impression of their brand. Now, consider similar situations you have been in … did you act in a way that builds the brand you want?
Furthermore, the companies I mentioned above do an excellent job of hiring people that have strong personal brands and integrate them in a way that promotes and solidifies the company brand. Southwest Airlines hires energetic, positive people for their flight crews. This reinforces Southwest’s brand image that they are the customer-centric airline focused on ease of travel. The people they hire, no change fees, bags fly free all play a part in the brand they build. Ultimately, people with strong, positive personal brands are the best assets a company can have.