These days, the topic on many people’s minds is brands: product brands, service brands, and as a result of social media, personal brands. Everyone – from IT to HR to Sales to R&D – has joined the conversation that traditional brand marketers have been having for years. But the questions remain: What is a brand? How can a strong brand affect business? And how can a strong brand impact revenues?
David A. Aaker, brand equity expert and UC-Berkeley Professor, shared an excellent explanation in his timeless book, Managing Brand Equity:
“A product is something that is made in a factory; a brand is something that is bought by a customer. A product can be copied by a competitor; a brand is unique. A product can be quickly outdated; a successful brand is timeless.”
To put it simply, a brand centers on an experience – something so incredibly unique and memorable that it cannot be duplicated by another product or service. A customer has a positive experience and wants to repeat it. This concept of a customer experience has taken center stage over the last few years and has melded with brand marketing. The smart companies, the ones that are industry leaders and trendsetters, have realized that customers who have positive experiences will become brand advocates, ambassadors, and influencers. It is these individuals who will help sell a company’s brand through positive word-of-mouth marketing.
Reasons for a positive experience may include customer service, product quality, or ease of purchase. Positive experiences may be tied to products as small as a particular brand of toothpaste or butter to something more substantial as a retail store or automobile.
While this concept of customer experience is easy to grasp when it comes to product marketing, how can it be applied to a personal brand? While one half of the brand equation is corporate identity, for an individual, this is known as personal identity. Brand marketing for an individual’s personal identity includes the same elements as for a corporate identity: differentiation, perceived quality and value, attitudes and feelings, and strong associations.
So, as you set up your social presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, a Blog, etc., and develop a defined personal brand, ask yourself why you support your favorite brands. What does Nike do well? What does Coca-Cola do well? What does Disney do well? What do your favorite brands represent? Once you have your answers, apply the same elements that yield memorable and long-lasting product and service brands – and you will be on your way to becoming a memorable brand yourself.