Of all the brand conversations I have on this blog, the one I don’t discuss often enough is Brand You. The one brand, I’d argue, that you have more control over than any other.
It is unlikely you’ll lose your personal brand in a worldwide realignment or that the CMO of Brand You will suddenly be fired. So now that I’ve tortured that metaphor, let me put this out there – each day I’m confronted by folks who have recklessly abandoned their most prized asset – their personal brand. Abandoned in a market, despite what Washington or Ottawa says, that has millions of competing “personal brands” vying for attention. Abandoned in a very public, highly visible and very unforgiving way.
Play a little game with me called “Would I buy Brand You?” – warning more tortured metaphors ahead.
Can I identify this brand? – simple stuff but so many professionals chose inappropriate photographs for their LinkedIn profile. Photos best kept for Facebook or Pinterest. Even worse, many don’t have a photograph at all. We all know images convey a strong impression of you and your brand. No photograph sends the same signal to me as Unilever stocking shelves in the detergent aisle with blank white cardboard boxes.
Am I intrigued by this brand? – if your profile is merely a list of titles, companies and dates you’re telling me precious little about why I should buy Brand You. Again I see a wealth of profiles that make no attempt to explain their personal value proposition, articulate their point of differentiation, establish a functional or emotional connection with the buyer. It’s pathetic. Could you credibly launch any brand without that positioning stuff? Would you expect it to flourish?
Does this brand have any cachet or is it generic? – LinkedIn gives you a multitude of features to create a holistic impression of your brand. Links to your blog, a menu of expertises that are SEO-rich, groups to connect like-minded individuals and much more. All of these features add dimension to your brand offering and separate you. Why then do so few folks leverage them?
How satisfied are former buyers of this brand? – satisfied buyers are a cornerstone of any successful brand. Why would it be any different for Brand You? Potential buyers unable to peruse a list of Recommendations are going to be left with two impressions. One, you’re too junior to have any meaningful experience or Two, you’ve not made an impression on any of the folks you’ve worked with before. Sound like a Brand you’d want to purchase? Didn’t think so.
I don’t deny I’m a LinkedIn super-freak. As a freelance Strategy Planner I have to be, because networking is pivotal to paying my mortgage. I also readily accept that LinkedIn may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but here’s the rub. Many of us seem to ignore the basic principles of marketing when it comes to nurturing our own personal brands. This, despite understanding the inherent benefits of building a strong brand – increased loyalty, the ability to charge a premium and so on. Ironic no?
If you think the automotive, detergent, airline, retail or QSR categories are competitive, consider just how competitive the market for talent is. LinkedIn is increasingly the global marketplace for that talent. Will your brand flourish or die there?