What personal branding is

BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong - The Philippine Star

In August 1997, business guru Tom Peters talked about the concept of personal brand. Many thinks of “personal branding” as new and novel. This concept is brought about by recent speakers teaching that videoing themselves and posting stuff on YouTube and LinkedIn would propel them to stardom; build their personal brand and monetize them eventually.

Only a few can achieve this and have earned a fortune. The mass majority of those who are taking this path have been ignored. Why is this so? Because of scale. The number of people competing for attention in our increasingly connected world keeps growing. And the more informed they are, the more they quickly dismiss postings that are shallow and unsubstantial in content and thought.

The original concept of personal brand, Peters refers to something else. He says: “’personal brand’ has become such a hyped-up term that it sometimes provokes eye-rolls.” While some authors would define personal brand as the creation of one’s image and directing reputations, Peters says, “I define your personal brand as what others who don’t know you well think or say about you when you aren’t around.” Even eye-rollers have to face the reality that they still have one whether they intentionally define their brand or not. Their brand now is “Eye-Rollers,” in case you haven’t noticed.

Peters says: “Everything about you–what you say, how you say it, what you focus on, how you react, your areas of expertise, how (and if) you show up–all create a set of judgments in the minds of those you interact with.” Now here is a line he says that is worth its weight in gold: YOU CAN ONLY DEFINE YOUR DESIRED BRAND. OTHERS EXPERIENCE YOUR ACTUAL BRAND. What can we infer from this statement? A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” says Scott Cook In this aspect, therefore, you and I may design the brand we want to build, but eventually, the customers, the people we interact with, and the family we relate to will decide the kind of brand we carry.

There was a time when personal brands were created within the confines of time and space, it was shaped and formed through actual in-person transactions. Today, everything is digital. There was also a time when it takes time to build a brand and impression, unlike today, in just a few seconds, impressions are made by the image people see and the words people hear through that tiny frame in their Zoom screen meetings.

Another brilliant speaker and author of the past, Zig Zilar, says: “You never get a second chance to create a first impression.” Most especially, a first impression that is forged by social media. Before clients invite me to do training for them, they would have vetted my credentials through LinkedIn, viewed how I do presentations through YouTube, and checked my character and consistency through my Facebook pages. Then they would connect with me through my blog page, and connections are usually made through email. I tend to think that people who want to do business with you go through the same process. This is why digital platforms can easily help or hurt a personal brand.

The legendary adman William Bernbach says: “A great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster. It will get more people to know it’s bad.” Imagine the scale of having people click into the self-proclaimed subject matter expert and then concluding that it was a total waste of time as they find nothing substantial about the posted content. Then some familiar people would add to their comments and say negative things against the one who posted the material. It catches on quickly. Add this to some extra ingredients of today’s cancel culture, and the whole scheme blows up on the “subject matter expert’s face.”

A formula towards creating a good and favorable personal brand is to continue to strive for excellence and master the craft. To know how to relate to others positively and encouragingly, be consistent in churning out substantial stuff and content. The brand you desire will be handed and proclaimed to you, and you are monetizing this not because you have grown famous in social media, but because of the value you are providing for the people you interact with. This is what true personal branding is all about.



(Francis Kong’s highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership Master Class Online will have its final run for the year this Nov. 17-19. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)

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