Tuesday, May 24, 2011
In his famous 1997 Fast Company article: The Brand Called You, Tom Peters told us that we all should become brands. "To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You," he said.
How about the other way around? From personal branding to branding personified.
I was thinking, for example, that there's a lot of similarity between how we go about getting and keeping a job and how a brand goes about winning and keeping a customer. Let's see:
We start looking for a job by trying to find suitable employers and letting them know we're willing and able to work for them. We use a variety of tactics to do this from reaching out to contacts, to answering ads to blasting out resumes, hoping that one of them will fall on the right desk.
Similarly a brand has to find appropriate customers and make them aware that it can meet their needs. It also uses a variety of tactics from word of mouth, popping up on search results to traditional advertising (the blasting approach).
When we finally get an interview, we need to bring our best game if we're going to get the job. Of course, we must have the right skills and experience. We might be lucky and be the only one with the right qualifications, but there will probably be others who are just as suitable, at least on paper. So, we'll also need to tell a good story about ourselves to stand out from the crowd. We'll need to dress the part--that could mean a suit and tie for some jobs but definitely not for others and finally we must seem like a good fit, difficult to put a finger on exactly what that entails but we know it's important.
Brands have to do pretty much the same things to win over consumers. They probably won't get the job based on functional benefit supremacy alone. They'll need to tell their own compelling stories, present themselves well and make emotional connections with their customers if they are to be selected.
Once we get a job, from then on it's mainly about performance. If we live up to or exceed expectations, we will do well. If we don't, we risk being fired.
Here brands actually have a tougher time than we do. They don't have much job security; they are like contractors continually bidding for projects. If they have a strong track record of performance their customer employers may be loyal to them but, even then, one screw up can be fatal. And there's always the chance that some other brand will come along doing things better, differently and/or less expensively.
That sounds like more of a dog's life than a human's.