Building yourself as a Brand

As we take a look at you being a brand, let us evaluate two questions.

  1. If ten people from the different facets of your life (i.e. professional, social, from the bank, your family, your neighbors etc.) were asked to describe you, what one word would they use? Would those words synchronize?
  2. What descriptive word comes to your mind when these brands are mentioned – Coca Cola, Apple, Nike, Fubu, Oscar Awards, Kenya, Hawaii, Equity, Barclays, Woolworths, Mr. Price? Would these descriptive words resonate with many people?

Every person needs to build a reputation around themselves especially so if they are intending to be or already are entrepreneurs/ business owners.

Consistency of this reputation will ultimately lead to people associating a particular reputation with that person. For example, in Kenya, Toyota is a brand that is popularly thought to be affordable to maintain because the spare parts are available even in the second had market. This makes the Toyota cars be associated with the middle class. Mercedes Benz on the other hand is considered a luxury vehicle that is expensive to maintain therefore many relegate it to the upper class. The truth of these perceptions is highly debatable, but various motor dealers have endorsed these brands mostly by targeting the two segments.

Samsung, in the phones market is known to meet the spectrum of users from the bottom of the pyramid to the luxury market. So you can get a Samsung phone worth $50 and you can get one worth $800. At the same time, you will find iPhones concentrating on only a market segment where the prices start from $400 upwards. They have distinguished themselves as a brand of luxury and style.

What are you known for in terms of value system and how do you get to the level of being a brand?

Be Intentional. To be a successful brand, you need to be intentional about building it. You don’t become known for your integrity by fluke. You must engage some action. It starts with being clear in your mind about it. “I want my name to always be clear and devoid of scams and scandals.” With this in mind, you will be careful which deals you enter into or what commitments you make. You will work at being able to say “no” when necessary and “yes” when it is appropriate.

Be Consistent. I distinctly remember my university days, I used to wear official clothes every day and smart casual on Saturday. In the first month I was teased about it but after a whole semester of official clothes, my colleagues began to appreciate the separate style. Once my boyfriend asked me why I wear official, yet I am in college and my answer, “I always want to be ready and prepared in case a potential employer calls me for an interview during the day and I don’t have time to go home for a change of clothes.” Consistency forms a sure base for reliability. People appreciate the way you do things and they can rely on you for that. In the same way, you can be consistent in non-material matters – telling the truth, format of reporting, respect, verbal expressions etc. Even in the privacy of your house, consistency lets the children and others know how to live with you.

Be Unique (Inimitable, limited edition). A brand cannot be duplicated. You cannot be a brand if you are trying to be like someone else. And people can easily tell a fraud or copy. You were created unique and there is no one like you. Why would one want to abandon their unique contribution to this world just to be like someone else who is already making their unique contribution to the society? It is so puzzling when sometimes upcoming musicians and performing artists abandon their unique styles to be similar to legends who have gone ahead of them. Choose to learn from success stories but do not seek to be them. It denies the world your uniqueness and it denies your Maker the opportunity to show Himself in a brand-new way to the world.

Be Genuine. Being unpretentious is one of the most rewarding elements of life I have come to know. That in dealing with people there are no cards under the table; that what you see is what you get. Being genuine allows people to build trust in you therefore working with you is easier. Again, you must work at being genuine. Opportunities to present yourself in a “not-so-true” light will be many, but you must choose to remain true to who you are. Masks were invented to hide the actual face and replace it with a fake one. They are removable, disposable, and they will always wear out. Lo and behold if your mask was to fall off when you are in a life changing situation. Genuineness remains present and allows you to be unfazed in good and bad times, in heat and in cold, in plenty and in lack.

Be Visible. The greatest teacher to walk the face of the earth did tell us that you do not light a lamp and put it under a table. It is meant to shine forth for men to see and for illumination of the environment. When you build yourself as a brand, you are not doing it for yourself as a self-portrait to be hang on a wall in your house or office. It is meant to be shared with the world. Can you imagine if Nike did not use Tiger Woods or if Coca Cola did not invest so heavily on bill boards and television advertising? They would probably be having all these nice products and messages that nobody knows about. It is in putting yourself out there that any venture you take on will be known as yours. It is not only the Credit Reference Bureau that can vouch for you. You need social goodwill which is built by people being able to say the same thing about you.

Be Indispensable. The thing about a brand is that when you don’t have it and you can’t see it, something is definitely missing especially if you have had a taste of it. As a brand, you become indispensable by capitalizing on your skills, talents and abilities. There is a lady I know who made herself so skilled in what she did for her department that when she tried to leave, management had to beg her to stay because even though she had trained others to do the same job (and they were doing it well), they were not doing it the way only she could. Indispensability is an extension of uniqueness and visibility. Try imagining Nairobi City without the National Park. Try imagining South Africa without Table Mountains or New York without Wall Street. That is what you need to be.

Build your X factor. You can’t be visible, unique or indispensable if you are or have nothing. Your X factor is what makes you exceptional, that which no one else can do and you do better than anyone else. It is what you can do even in your sleep and even if you were not paid, you could still do it until all of you returns to your maker. You need to maximize your skills, gifts, talents and abilities to grow your X factor. Your weaknesses hold you back in areas that you might otherwise excel but I also find it worth mentioning that your weaknesses open your eyes to strengths that others have and need, thereby not making you so reliant on yourself that you shut out the rest of the world.

Understand and Explore your Y factor. Your Y factor is at the core of the entire “brand you”. It is the why part of you which embraces the fundamental questions that each human being has or will encounter at one time or another. Why am I doing what I am doing every day? Can it justify sitting in traffic every day for 261 days in a year (cut out the weekends) to go into an office or a college or somewhere where 12 hours are spent for revenue to be earned or a certificate to be pursued? Your Y factor also involves your character, what you hold true and dear to you. It is these that influence how you relate with people, what is important to you and how you work things out in your life i.e. how you operate. Your Y factor can be summed up in three letters – PVP – Purpose, Values, Passions. Brands are not about themselves. Brands are built to influence the environment.

Special note:

To help you understand and set you off towards building your brand as a business and as an individual, we would like to point you in the direction of several resources

1. On YouTube:

2. Book recommendation to help build the brand called YOU,“The Brand Called You 50 by Tom Peters”

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