If you scour the web frequently or work in online marketing circles, you have probably come across the name Dan Schawbel. Well if you haven’t, here is a sneak preview. Dan is the author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, April 2009) which made the Amazon top 100 best business book sellers when it came out. Dan has over 800,000 results for his name on google. BusinessWeek named Dan as one of twenty people entrepreneurs should follow on twitter, alongside Richard Branson. Dan runs a leading career blog called Personal Branding Blog, and publishes a magazine by the same name, as well as a TV program by the same name. He now has an awards program where a panel of judges award best Personal Brands every year. His blog is syndicated by Reuters, Forbes and Fox Business among others with a reach of several million readers. Dan is a 25-year-old who has been described by Fast Company as a “personal branding force of nature.” His is one of those stories you hear about and all you can say is Wow!

I come from a generation of people that was brought up to believe that success is majorly about attaining the next level. If you are in primary school, then you should be focused on getting to a good secondary school, then focus on getting to University, then focus on getting a good job, and thereafter focus on promotions. Self improvement as a means of career growth was and still is revered by many in this part of the world. We now boast a generation of professionals bent on acquiring certification after certification in a bid to have a shot at the next career opportunity. A whole new industry of professional studies has been born out of this obsession with papers. While skill will always be an integral aspect of professional and entrepreneurial excellence, the world we live in now has brought with it a new element that is inescapable. Welcome to the age of the brand.

Self packaging or Personal branding is not a new concept at all, though it has escaped the spotlight it so deserves in most circles. It goes back to the 1980 book “Positioning: The Battle for your Mind”, by Al Ries and Jack Trout (Ries & Trout 1981). These two writers argued in probably the simplest of ways that you can benefit immensely by using personal branding to advance your own career. This would have sounded profoundly insane in the 80’s and probably even in the 90’s. Not anymore. Branding is no longer the forte of huge corporations, though the basics remain the same in the case of individuals. Just being good at what you do, no longer guarantees you that dream job or that business opportunity. It’s that simple — and that hard.

We now live in a world of equal opportunities, largely thanks to democracy and internet technology. The good news — and it is largely good news — is that everyone has a chance to stand out. Everyone has a chance to learn, improve, and build up their skills. Everyone has a chance to be a brand worthy of remark. The bad news is that it is now harder to transcend the narrow boundaries of competitive business spheres and attract sufficient buzz and chatter, reminiscent of the likes of google or Mr. Schawbel.

The distinguishing factor lies in the enterprise that business books like to call Me Inc. It’s CEO and Chief Marketer is none other than You!

A brand is a 3-fold component, comprised of Name, Voice and Value. The Name identifies you to your audience, which could mean your clients, colleagues, bosses, partners etc. The Voice is the means by which you communicate with your audience. Your business card, your email, your pages on facebook, twitter, linked in etc, your portfolio (electronic or printed), your website or your blog all fall in this category. Maximizing the leverage that these mostly free mediums offer to your brand’s exposure will undoubtedly launch you on your way to success. Read Schwabel’s personal branding article on Mashable to learn more about this.

The last and in no way least important element is Value, without which you can forget about the first two. The Value of you brand is a promise of the benefits that your audience will receive when they interact with you. Your audience will judge the value of your brand by simple elements such as personal grooming and eloquence, all the way to actual delivery of the service that You Inc. provides. Consulting firms such as Mckinsey and PriceWaterHouse Coopers will tell you how important Value is to a brand. They operate in an industry where virtually all players operate on the same business model. Their brands are their lifeline. They invest heavily in it, and consequently generate multi-million dollar revenues every year.

The trick here is to know how to master these three elements and optimize each of them separately and jointly to create an unstoppable brand for You Inc.

As has always been the case, the best examples can be found among notable entrepreneurs and professionals in the west who have figured out the benefits of being an active CEO of Me Inc. Early adopters such as Donald Trump, Richard Branson, Coco Chanel, Simon Cowell, Michael Dell and Walt Disney have all made fortunes by building and utilizing their personal brands, building empires in the process.

It’s time to launch Me Inc.

7 Responses to “THE BRAND THAT IS ‘YOU’!”

  1. 1 jeremywaite March 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Love your title: Intervangelist!!! Brilliant post too. I write a blog on celebrity branding and i agree with your comments totally. It is ALL about caring and authenticity. It’s about being original and not just regurgitating other peoples stuff – or trying to become a carbon copy of someone you admire. More important to be You inc! Like a friend of mine told me recently, “The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the content ever will”.

  2. 2 Alex Mwaura Muriu March 16, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Thank you Jeremy 🙂 Being original and unique is a great way to Stand out no doubt. I dare add that a little creativity also goes a long way. Sex, Brands and Rock n Roll! You already have my attention!

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