What’s your personal brand?
Across the Pond- Marketing Transformed
28. What’s your personal brand?
This week’s topic is definitely a subject close to both our hearts, based on the work we do, our passion for marketing and building brands on a professional level and what led to the creation of the podcast. It gives us a sense of purpose that we feel that can be played back into what we do, but also, I think from the audience perspective, you’ll definitely get value out of that. We’re going to talk about personal branding, and no, it’s not to brag about ourselves or talk at you, what we do want to do is give you some inspiration and perspective, from things that we’ve seen work and things you can try and use to reflect and create your own personal brand, and creating a brand that generates the love, the intrigue, the interest in you from a professional perspective, your career perspective but also starting from a very personal place.
You can think of personal branding as the proactive efforts to influence, to manage your own reputation or image as if it were a brand. Now, more than ever, in the internet days, we have the ability to do that beyond our resume and personal relationships. There are plethora of ways to position ourselves through online and on a continued basis. We know that from the career perspective, depending on what source you believe, seventy percent of employers use social media to check or screen or review or even just check out employees, it’s happening right now.
And it wasn’t that long ago that if you were having a maintained LinkedIn presence, it was kind of deemed as a negative thing that you were being disloyal and always job hunting yet, clearly in a current climate, being on LinkedIn is a very relevant place to be. Its got over sixty million users, with an average time being spent of six minutes, probably larger than that right now, and it’s become a platform that you can’t afford not to be on, in terms of presenting your story and the credentials for the whole world to see. So, Chris, enough of me talking, lets get into it further and give our listeners your perspective.
Yeah, that point about LinkedIn is a very good one I think, and it’s a relatively new concept, Sam. It started out with the increase in influence and marketing, and we’re seeing celebrities or influencers taking their brands direct to their audiences and also, further back than that, there’s been a move from politicians or historical figures to business figures as their go-to autobiographies. At one point it used to be about figures in history and then it turned into business figures and became quite popular in that category as well.
I remember going to south by south west in Austin in about 2010, and the founders of Twitter and Facebook were greeted like rock stars by all the developers and attendees as everyone clambered to check in on Foursquare back in those days. And they felt they were in the presence of tech royalty, and it was hard not to get swept up along with the hype, there really was a clambering for selfies, and then like everything, eventually it moves mainstream so, everyone of a certain age was taking selfies of themselves, promoting their own self-image, and if you were a business leader or a celebrity or self help guru, you focused on your own profile.
Now, again, not a new concept. PR agencies would have focused on your profile as CEO for years and worked out how you talked to the masses, but those masses would have been the city, or the business press or the marketing press, now, its about ‘facebook developer’ conferences, sales force regional conferences and a continuous social media presence, which we’ll come back to.
And I now think, just a final point, it’s moved on again, Sam. It’s something that everyone should have on their agenda, and that’s not about jumping on the bandwagon, it’s just taking it down from a business perspective, thinking about what you stand for, what you believe in, what makes you different and how you convey that. And of course, we’ve done that all through life, you think about what defined us, you think about whether you’re a punk or a goth or whether you read The Telegraph or The Guardian or whether you wear Nike or Adidas, these are all statements about ourselves and how we display them brands or genre and what they mean about ourselves. So, personal branding allows you to convey what’s important to your audience and what’s important in work and life as that blurs as well. so, in a way that’s what we’ve been doing here, isn’t it Sam?
Yes, from our own perspective, the premise from his podcast, just responding back to you Chris, that it’s a statement about our beliefs on marketing and the impact we want to have informing and influencing the community and the industry and being vocal advocates of those principles, so you’ll see a bunch of recurring themes that are true for this podcast and true for our individual brands. For me, a key leading point is having a growth mindset, it’s a must for marketers, the spirit to learn to try to do, to fail, to grow and then to go again. A relentless emphasis on how to transform yourself, so it’s something I’m always working on through creativity, through the company culture, working on yourself but not keeping it to yourself.
The examples that we provide from both sides of the Atlantic, across the pond, literally in the title of the show, for me is an eye opener. What’s similar? What’s different? And how can we tap into all of this knowledge? And most importantly to be part of the sharing economy, to get people to share a point of view to this show, to use it as a resource for marketers, to learn about what marketing is and stay motivated in their careers, and proof point that marketing’s keeping up with important issues so that we’re contributing as much as listening and downloading from other podcasters and other shows and other content out there.
Yeah, that’s a massive point, Sam. Personally I know what I need to do to pay the bills and I know which one of my skills are in demand, but what I really like, what I truly love is that opportunity to help and coach others to participate, whether that’s CEOs, CMOs or junior Execs, I love that opportunity to learn how culture, media, technology, the environment effects all that we do, and then contributing something back. So, yeah, totally get that.
So, thinking more deeply about this, what my personal brand stands for, there’s so much commonality and similarity with your bunch of drivers, that of mine are firmly based on what makes me to do what I do. Building talent and culture, building people, the gateway and approach to changing culture within the organisation is absolutely through people, being a catalyst, to create the energy and to move people out of their comfort zone is essentially what you get when you engage with me. Help them see what people are capable, help you see what you are capable of, and being that communicator, a compelling communicator, sort of balancing, seeking to understand but also, articulating a point of view that gets you going, gets you engaged whether you agree or disagree, I believe that fulfilling work and business growth can only be achieved by prioritising building people ahead of the P&L.
And I’ve said that a few times and not everyone responded positively, but people deserve awesomeness and fulfilment, 24/7, 365 days in life and at work. It’s wrong that people are leaving eighty percent of themselves at the door as they enter their companies or start the world of work. My passion is to reskill and upskill organisations and people to be fit for the future of work. And as we know, the future is constantly challenging us to change and evolve, and it’s as much as helping on a one to one basis, helping individuals, in smaller forums or classrooms as an adjunct professor or engaging with larger audiences, and I see the value of driving that change more broadly and it’s all about transformation that helps companies get from here to there. it got me from the UK to Ireland to Switzerland to Germany to the USA, so, this platform is really to serve as a resource to others. So, Chris. What about you?
Moreno Marketing is my company and I took that name from an inspiring glacier in Patagonia, Argentina. I went trekking on my own, I was part of a group, but I went independently on my own, joined a group there, and as I came across it, I was just absolutely blown away by the size of this glacier and the clarity of it. It was awe inspiring, I just can’t get over it, it was amazing and should go on everyone’s bucket list. And what struck me was at the heart of this vast, complex structure were these brilliant, clear crystals. Just amazing really. And both huge and complex but very, very simple at the same time, and it was quite an important moment for me.
I was thinking about my career, thinking about myself and reflecting on what I wanted to achieve, and it struck me that, that’s very much what I do, it’s to help navigate complex problems, help lead a path to inspiration and clarity, and that’s why I decided to call my company Moreno. And I’ve tried to make sure that I stick true to that, I enjoy the energy and passion of start-ups and scale ups, both wherever it is, business to consumer or business to business, and I enjoy that challenge of limited budgets, limited resources and thinking how do we navigate complicated problems and try lead a simple path through calm waters. So, that for me, really sort of summed up, it was quite a profound moment, just seeing something I thought, wow, this really reflects what I think of as a concept.
That was great, I loved hearing the story you told there, it kind of takes us to that moment, taking us through your shoes to see what you see, feel what you feel and then hearing about it to bring it to life. that for me is part of it. Being in touch with that moment and actually applying it and applying it to yourself and the work and not letting that just pass you by.
Thanks Sam. And you know, a personal brand is no different to a company brand. You have to think about what is your point of difference, what is going to make you stand out, what your values are, what is the need that you’re trying to fulfil, and I want to share that message and help as many people achieve that as possible. And as the world of work has changed, with more and more people freelancing or working for themselves. Self-publicity, using direct channels has become important. And quite frankly, as you said in your intro, you’re crazy if you/re not taking advantage of the opportunities like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram. You used to have to pay for media, you don't anymore to a certain extent, social media has exploded that concept. Well, you do, because it still serves a purpose, but you see my point. You might have to invest in content marketing but the actual channel, the distribution channels are there, so, you need to make sure that you’re taking advantage of it.
Yeah, absolutely, being in the marketing and advertising industry, it’s evident that you’ve got to have proficiency and you have to participate in the platforms. It’s a necessary part of the job, and I know there are some naysayers, there are some rejectors in the industry but a lot of our audience is in the marketing and advertising industry but I know some of the others are from other industries and I don’t want to assume that everyone’s on the same page, but from this episode we’re really going to talk up the power of social, the benefits, the upside, the positives, I know there are some concerns of privacy and the dark side of it but I think from a marketing and advertising and creative perspective, it does kind of distract from your credibility if you’re not there.
Now, I’m not saying be there 24/7, you don’t need to be on every platform, but you do need to appreciate and respect it and be able to understand how it works and why it’s important and why it is relevant, and it does help be current. There’s a story, I wont go into too much depth, but from a corporate side that I’ve worked in, where a former Chief HR officer wanted to delete his LinkedIn account, and I couldn’t understand why and he didn’t understand why he should have it and I explained to him that I go to a lot of recruiting events for the company and when you’re talking about the company people immediately go in and start looking up some of the leaders, and so, being there adds credibility to the organisation and if he wasn’t there, it would basically put a big question in peoples minds about whether this company was up to date or current and or relevant to them. So, it was an interesting divergence between me and senior leaders in some corporations aren’t quite there yet.
Yeah. And I think, understanding about personal branding, whether your doing it as part of an external focus or an internal focus, it still equally applies. If you’re within a company, if you are the CEO, the go-to woman or the UX designer, if you’re a marketing director, your companies going to need a spokesperson that personalises your brand both internally and externally. To get on with your career, you have to make sure that you stand out for the right reason, so, that’s about the consistency and message, demonstrating value and there’s a quote that I read from a millennial workplace expert an author, a guy called Adam Smiley Poswolsky, and he sort of takes it one step further where he says, “carve a niche and then carve a niche within your niche, the best personal brands are very specific.” And that is absolutely true.
You need to make sure that you’re really defining what you stand for and you have to be genuine, you have to show that you’re authentic, not the person that you think people want to see, it’s actually got to be the true self as well. And also, it can be tangential as well, as to what you’re working on. I’m working with one guy, his technical skills are in SEO, but his passion is analysis and he’s subtly rebranded himself as an analytics guy in a small company and he’s now the go-to analytics guy. That’s not about job description, that’s not about a role that’s been given him, that’s about a persona, a can-do attitude and really, he’s seen a gap in the market and taken it.
Yeah, I love the stories we’re telling and we’re going to get into a few more of these stories actually, of people and their brands and how to bring them to life and before we go further, we’re actually not going to go into story telling in this episode, so, I’ll say go check out two episodes of the perfect refreshers, perfect reference points episode 20, where we talk about great storytelling and 21- we provide the storytelling playbook for marketers. So, check those out to use storytelling as leveraging and make sure you are on top of that.
It’s about building story into your own brand. And its important to look externally in the marketplace and ask yourself what value do I create? As much as what do I bring and what do I stand for. I’ll talk about from the impact that Carla Harris and her story had on me when I saw her speak at the National Black NBA conference in Los Angeles in 2010. She evolved her brand and is so awe inspiring, she’s now, the vice chairman, managing director and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley, in the US. But when she started her career, she would tell these stories of being a young, black women in the financial world, going to clients perhaps in the south of the country, and she faced a lot of prejudice, a lot of resistance and people wouldn’t take her seriously, people wanted to actually see the consultant, the advisor, not her because they just thought she was an admin or something, and she really did face a lot of resistance and she’s written some books that really bring to life the challenges that she faced, but she took that and she essentially applied the growth mindset to get to where she is.
Part of who she was, in an expressive and really creative person. She’s a singer. She loved to sing. In fact, she’s a highly accomplished singer, sung at some of the biggest forums of the world and concerts, concerts and made records, cd’s and all theses things but she kept that hidden through fear of detracting from her personal, corporate career, which was just completely strange and surprising that she felt that way, but also very understandable. But, she realised that this singing wasn’t just a distraction, it was actually a point of difference that people would remember her, that they would say, oh, Carla, the singer. Now, if you go to her website, you’ll see three sections of the website. The leader, and she’ll talk about Morgan Stanley. The author of books, and she’ll talk about her books, one of them is Expect to Win, 10 strategies in the workplace- that’s a great book that I’ve read and got. Then, she’ll have the section for the singer. She’s performed and sold out concerts at Carnegie Hall, so, my point there is that she’s embraced these aspects and told the world. Now, her personal brand has these diverse aspects that make her so relatable, so relevant and so compelling in many more ways.
That blurring of your work and your talent outside of work, it’s a good one I think Sam. It’s definitely a theme that comes through. Interesting fact, it’s only a focus group of five, and we’re two of the people in it, but if I think about my own personal network, I know five industries, sort of heavyweights in the digital space who have now branched out on their own and are now focusing on their personal brand rather than working for a company. All demonstrating parts of their personality that they probably kept a bit quieter while they were doing the corporate nine to five, and all for different reason as well. You gave a shout out to Michael Gale last week, my turn this week, Bruce Daisley, ex CMO of Twitter, actually vice president of Twitter I think was his title, now released one business book Joy Of Work, and an amazing podcast called Eat Sleep Work Repeat. I listened to an episode last week where he dissected the Microsoft work culture along with interviews with their CMO and ex HR head honcho, and it has high production of values, entertaining and tight with his brand, yet his tangent before was all about sales and tech, but something that kept him very true throughout the whole time I’ve known him is about the quality of work and culture, that’s what always fascinated with him and he’s now bought that to the fore.
A guy called Nick Bradley, entrepreneur, ex marketing director, and his mission is all about getting people to scaleup their business, helping to create freedom in their lives and he focuses on that final point and has a number of different ventures focusing around like us two, obviously. There’s a lady called Natalie James, who took a life-work balanced decision to relocate to France, her husband got relocated to a good role out there, but she didn’t want to loose her ecommerce ,category management, user experience skills, and therefore set up a weekly video blog, highlighting best and worse practices and tips from the industry. Really entertaining, really insightful, huge amount of value being given away for free there, and doing it for very different reasons, to fit into the lifestyle, which I thought was really interesting.
One thing to note Sam, as we know, all of us have felt that we’re talking into a black hole at times, and that is part of it. Brands take time to grow and may end up in a different place to where you start but sometimes you’ve just got to keep that confidence level going. And the other point is that, not all of us want to be on stage all of the time. But putting your head above the parapet is important and if it doesn’t feel comfortable because its not your natural persona to want to be extroverted and you’re more of an introvert then you’ve got to get on with it, but the best way to do that is to productionise it and make sure that you’ve got a classic template that can come into play.
Practical Tools to Shape Your Personal Brand
I think for the audience this is the section where you start typing or grab a pen or get ready to come back to this section because we’re going to give you some practical tips to bringing it to life. I’ll keep it simple; I’ll start with some questions that allow you to look inward and then a matching question that helps you look outward to shape your answer in terms of building your personal brand.
So, looking inward, what are your core strengths and competences? And then, looking outward, what value do you create for the world, with those competences and strengths? What are your passions? And then look outward, why’s that so important? Where do you thrive? Where do you function best? Where do you lose yourself? Look outward from your perspective, what do you do best? Or even better, ask a mentor or champion from their perspective, what do you do best? And then again, from the inward, what makes you remarkable, what’s measurable, what unique value do you offer? And then, looking outward, ask a mentor or champion, what four words would they use when describing you to other people? Great steps to just start to shape your personal brand.
Yeah nice, very clear, I think. I’ll be coming back to them myself. And there’s plenty of resources out there that covers this as well. I found a good article on Forbes, a lady called Goldie Chan wrote it about 10 Golden Rules for Personal Branding, I’m not going to go through all of it, you can Google it yourself, but the ones that really spring to mind are determine what your key message it, consistency, we talked about, making sure you’ve got a niche, we talked about that, I think, all pretty much stands but using your personality and keeping a positive attitude and take your brand with a positive approach, if things fail, you can overcome it again, embrace failure, learn and build from it. You have to do what we do in our day to day jobs; you need to believe in your brand and believe in success, more likely for people to like you and for it to succeed if you do that. So, that, I think is important. So, the key points are, make sure you’ve got a key message, stay positive and believe in success.
Yeah. Good ones there, some great steps Chris. And I’m going to share some that may contradict a bit, so as we go through this, the audience, wrestle these ideas and take what works, reject what doesn’t but also there’s going to be overlap and contradiction here because as you bring your brand to life, you’ve got it up and running, you’re feeling good, you’ve applied some of those rules, those principles but firstly, if you’re doing this well, you’re going to have to be mindful that there are detractors out there. Not everyone will agree and support your approach, your positioning, that’s what a brand does. You have to appeal to certain audiences and perhaps less so to others. And that’s fine, if that’s what you stand for, and that’s what brands do.
Secondly, you should definitely have an audience of mentors of sponsors of advisors that can give you feedback, they’re great stewards of the impact that you’re having and the perception that’s being created. And I know for example, my advocacy for diversity and inclusion in some circumstances in some organisations has not been well received as a positive thing, and being aware of that going forward, sticking with it in my case was really key to me and critical, but being aware of what your brand is standing for and what other people are seeing and hearing.
And then, the third one, listen, this is not all about being rah, rah, rah and a go-getter and an extrovert, I’m a huge fan of the work Brene Brown does. The stories and the reality of being courageous is also being vulnerable and through sharing some of those stories and being open to doing that is a possibility. Look, we know your personal brand is part of you, but it doesn’t have to be a resume. In episode 25 I shared the story of a start-up my wife and I created and then we closed, and we learned a lot from that, and I’m quite proud of that. Now, one leader, when I told him the story made a comment, “Well, if it wasn’t a success, what do you know about business.” And my response was, hang on a minute, I had my own money on the line, I had my own money at stake so, actually, I’ve had my skin in the game so therefore I can talk about this opportunity versus using the company’s money or someone else’s money, which made an interesting discussion that we both had at a later point.
Yeah, I bet. Yeah, it feels very naive saying that, doesn’t it? Out of failure we learn and so, it is so much better to stand for something than stand for nothing. So, yeah I get that. But I did want to talk about one person though, Sam, who I think will be pretty familiar with most of our listeners which is Gary Vaynerchuk. Seven point eight million followers on Instagram, two point one million followers on Twitter, let alone from YouTube channels as well. And he was described as the first wine guru of the YouTube era, he started off with the wine show, he created a YouTube vlog called The Wine Library, he created about a thousand shows, they were quite in your face and he grew from there. he set up his own company, carried on with the social media presence, making sure that he was really adapting to different channels as they came on board. As of this year, I think his net worth is reported to be one hundred and fifty million dollars, as I say, he’s prolific on Instagram and on various different channels as well, he sets himself up as fast talking, brutal in terms of his feedback, very direct, very crude in quite a lot of cases but he also lives and breathes his lifestyle and his philosophy.
He has a busy and chaotic life, he works from 7 am to 11 pm, thirty percent of his time is spent travelling, he’s one of these gurus that has thirty-minute meetings but he’s unflinching in his feedback. And the interesting thing was, there was a great article in Vice where someone tried to copy his week. And there was some end of week statistics where he said the hours worked were ninety-four, he was absolutely exhausted by the afternoon of the first day in terms of trying to do what he was doing, that constant exposure and that constant brutal sort of positivity and trying to cut through it was really, really, hard. I think it’s fascinating because you look at it where Gary Vaynerchuck went from ahead of the curve to media saturation in a way, and that’s both a good or a bad thing, I think, I used to follow him avidly but now I just can’t keep up, and he’s not alone, there’s hundreds of people that set themselves up to be like him. A word to the wise, not all of us can be Gary V or indeed would want to be, if you read that article in Vice and try to follow it. And what happens in a world where we all try too hard is what you have to fall back on is yourself and being authentic, and I thought this was a great quote from Gary V himself, where he said “You have to understand your personal DNA, don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it, you need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.” So, in itself, he is the lesson. But I thought that was a good quote to end on, Sam.
Today’s Three Key Takeaways
Yeah, Chris, it’s gone really quickly and I’d say:
It’s a fact that there are social and digital platforms out there such as LinkedIn and they’re being used to build brands, so, our argument is that you should be there whether you like it or not, it’s important to participate.
Starting with story, now, we’ve done a couple of episodes on that but certainly go into stories. Tap into the power of storytelling and also leverage your mentors, your sponsors and advisors to get feedback on their perceptions of what your personal brand can create and is creating.
Don’t only follow the Gary Vaynerchucks of this world, that’s one way of doing it, we talked about people like Carla Harris and someone like Brene Brown, there are different role models out there that do this is very different ways with different styles and be open and receptive to that for yourself and be proud of who you are and bring that to life through your personal brand.
Great summary there Sam. Loads to get my head around but look, we’re over on time lets bring this episode to a close but next week, we’ve got a really exciting episode, very relevant again, we’re looking at innovation and innovating quickly with purpose in a crisis. We’re looking at organisations that have managed to turn their products around based on their customer need and where they’re needed at the moment and we also look at those that are working out how they give back to the community, again, building on some of the themes we’ve seen today. It’s going to be a really good episode.