personal branding minus the grossness

I’ll be honest.

The whole notion of personal branding can be really gross. All too often, I see people making themselves more plastic, more slick, more generic in order to ‘brand’ themselves. Their hair becomes perfect and so do their clothes.

And to me it so misses the point. It’s branding – but it’s actually not that personal. It’s the stripping away of quirks (or turning those quirks into catchphrases =, slogans and caricatures). Instead of letting our freak flags fly it’s easy to focus so much of ‘building credibility’. But we all have a natural credibility that comes from who we are, our own journey and quirks.

We are exhorted to build empires, create a brand and scale ourselves up and systematize. But, often, along that path, something is lost. It’s like the restaurant that makes the most amazing corn chowder. And they franchise, but to make it profitable they start to water down their corn chowder. The people who make it don’t put in the same love and attention – and it stops being special (even though it’s branded as being special). And somehow it doesn’t taste as good when you don’t know the chef. At the original restaurant, the chef would come out and speak to each table. He was warm, charming and so grateful for your business. You came back for him; you came back for the atmosphere that he seemed to create with his staff.

We are told to get on social media, as if that will save us. We’re sold on a lot of new tools that are the ‘cutting edge’ and ‘must haves’. But in the end, there’s only one thing you really must have – a message. The only must have is a gift that you are giving to the community. Something special. Substance. Something from you. Something that no one else in the world can give in just the way you give it. The rest is just polishing and presentation and busy work to help people find it and see it it’s a fit for them.

You see it with workshop leaders who franchise their work. And then you go to one of their ‘franchisees’ workshops – and it’s rarely as good. And you begin to realize that the content wasn’t the teaching – the teacher was the teaching – their example. You begin to realize that presence can’t be replicated – and that presence is what we most crave. Presence can be shared and a community can organically be built around it, space can be made for it – but you can’t systematize it into a binder.

Systematize logistics? Yes. Build community? Yes. Scale yourself? Well, keep reading because . . .

In his recent blog post, Dan Blank (pictured here) shares about how to bring ourselves back into our marketing. As always . . . he does it brilliantly.

This week, there seemed to be a lot of conversations about whether Google+ would be more valuable than Facebook, and similar questions. While I am participating in Google+, and closely watching how people are finding value in it, I’m also thinking: this is the wrong question.

Again and again, we choose to put the PLATFORM ahead of CORE VALUE in our brands, be it an individual brand of an author, or the brand of one’s company. Online technology platforms will come and go, trends and capabilities will have them constantly evolving. We seem to constantly be migrating to and from one platform or another. But there is one thing that is the unique differentiator for your brand that is constant and impossible for others to take away: you. For larger companies, this may be: you, and your employees. And for all of us in business: you, and your customers, fans, partners, and other affiliates.

To read the rest of his post just click here.

 

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