Monday, March 1, 2010

Become the brand you fancy

For the better part of late last year and again this year, I have been talking to my friends about their 2010 plans. To my amazement, about seventy percent of my young corporate friends keep talking about their personal branding plan for this year.

This made me think about how you build a personal brand. I stand to be corrected but a few years ago when former East African Cables CEO Mugo Kibati announced that he was leaving, we observed ripple effects on the company’s value at the stock market. A personal brand that was driving the corporate brand had moved on.

Just the other day Tiger Woods was one of the few unique sportsmen that every brand wanted to associate itself with. But now, with the scandal around his morality on everybody’s lips, the ‘Tiger brand’ has been torn into pieces. Only time will tell if the brand will ever resurrect.

These examples show the importance of being conversant with the dynamics of sustaining a brand. There are some critical steps that one should go through to emerge as a brand. These steps are not that complicated; just that we make it harder for ourselves to become brands.

But how do you become a brand?

There is need to focus and be clear on your specialty. You cannot be all things to all people. You must be clear about the one thing you can do to serve and help people. You can’t be known as a master of ten different things. When you think about psychiatry in the Kenyan market for instance who comes to mind? To the masses Dr Frank Njenga does. He has successful singled out his specialisation.

A lot of people can’t really tell you the one thing they do well, because they don’t want to miss an opportunity by being too narrowly defined. I do not disagree with lawyer Paul Muite’s quest to ensure equitable distribution of resources though out the country, but in reality what does the former MP specialise in? He is neither a constitutional lawyer nor property lawyer.

One should polish his/her ability to clearly articulate what they are talking about. If you cannot clearly articulate what your specialty or skill is, your personal brand will be muddled and confusing.

You have to make it clear

Recently I had a chance to have a chat with Mr Peter Nduati, the Resolution Health CEO. One thing that strikes you, the moment you start talking with this self assured CEO, is the passion he has for medical insurance. He is slightly short of a Doctor despite his marketing background. He reminds me of another factor in self branding – have the right words when explaining or talking about yourself. You have to make it easy to understand. And if you have to explain in detail what you do, you’ve already lost.

The two concepts above are not rocket science.

So what’s the hard part? Being disciplined enough to execute on these points over time. If you can do that, you will be on the right path…and your personal brand will be one that resonates and helps you go-to-market with strength and clarity.

Smart brands should identify and capitalize on unmet expectations. People who understand where the strongest expectations exist will be the brands that survive, and prosper, this year. If you believe you are a good strategist, get down to strategies. If you can implement them, specialise in implementing.

For me, my resolution is to adopt and devour the latest technologies and innovations, and hunger for more.

So ask yourself, “Am I really keen on becoming a brand?” Be honest and good luck in year 2010.


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