A bad habit of marketing ‘experts’ (and for that matter any other experts) is the over use of jargon. Specialised language is used to indicate that you ‘belong to the club’, to simplify conversations between experts, to shut out people who don’t belong to the club, and to pull the wool over the eyes of the less well informed.
An old idea that has been around for nearly 15 years (probably originally attributed to Tom Peters) is Personal Branding. In plain English this has been known for centuries as Reputation. We don’t need an expert to tell us that personal reputations matter. We don’t need an expert to tell us that we are responible for putting across our worth and value. Robert Louis Stevenson was saying this way back in the 19th century when he said “everyone lives by selling something”. Personal branding is nothing new and it is not complex.
Let’s get the toes curling. Paul Johnston – ‘transforming open minds for a competitive future’, Paul Johnston – ‘enthusaneer’, Paul Johnston – ‘defender of marketing innocents’. It is of course true that people and their names come to symbolise what they stand for. This is also known as celebrity. Mention a name, see a photograph and as Bob Cialdini says, ‘click whirr’ we make the association. Brand Management is in the business of pushing into the foreground the associations we want people to believe. The positives. In social influence terms it is a form of ‘landscaping’. Personal Branding is a compelling idea because of what it promises. However just ask Tiger Woods about the consequences of the difference between rhetoric and reality.
A curious habit we have is the way we ‘make sense’ of things through conceptual lenses. Jostein Gaarder in his wonderful book Sophie’s World explains it this way. The character Alberto Knox is talking to Sophie.
“Could you bring me those glasses from the table over there? Thank you. Now put them on”. Sophie put the glasses on. Everything around her became red. The pale colors became pink and the dark colors became crimson. “What did you see?” – “I see exactly the same as before, except that its all red” – ” That’s because the glasses limit the way you percieve reality. Everything you see is part of the world around you, but how you see it is determined by the glasses you are wearing”
The type of glasses we wear determines the way we deal with problems and solutions. I was recently told a story by John Kawalek of Sheffield University about someone he met who was utterly convinced that solutions to his company’s problems was ‘TQM’. Probing further John discovered that the person had recently joined the company a few weeks previously after being TQM champion for several years in his last post. Every problem was a TQM problem with a TQM solution.
You may have come across people who have been on management training courses and who have been introduced to Myers Briggs personality typoligies. All of a sudden, that’s how the world works. A new set of glasses and everyone is explained by four letters!
Problem. Credit Crunch, redundancy, fear of losing home, wife and kids. Solution….now let me see, which glasses should I wear? Is it a TQM problem? Maybe I need to sell my ESTJ-ness? I know, pass me my Marketing Glasses. The new, breakthrough, indispensbile glasses for guaranteed results. Hand me my Branding Glasses. I need a clear identity, I need to capture my brand personality, to create my image and develop the ability to convey my unique value differentials in an emotionally powerful way that taps into the hearts and minds of my audience.
For more CV power words I recommend Kevin Hogan, The Psychology of Persuasion and Covert Hypnosis. The real question of course is how has this post affected my personal brand I wonder?