Building your brand
More than ever Agents, Realtors® and other service professionals (like me) are told we must build and nurture a “personal” brand. The term has gained traction with the proliferation of social media, with SM being the go-to tool to build one’s personal brand.
This leaves me questioning:
Do personal brands exist, or are we really talking about reputation?
What is a brand?
A brand identity is made up of a clearly defined set of characteristics/attributes (adjectives) identified as best representing the desired brand. These are used as a standard by which initiatives, both internal and external, will be measured to ensure they are “on brand” to deliver on the brand promise.
A reputation is the judgment or recognition of a quality or characteristic that is earned/developed by what we say and do. I’m of the opinion you can get a reputation faster than build a brand, but that’s a topic for another post.
Are personal brand and reputation synonymous?
As human beings, we are what we do – that’s what creates a reputation. And, the Interwebs don’t allow us to hide from our history so our reputation can actually precede us.
Brands are all about association, and people will associate with a brand based on experiences (which and include reputation and ethics).
So, are brand and reputation then synonymous, as they seem to roll experience, ethics and experience all up into one?
Or are they dissimilar?
You can have a reputation as a jerk, yet be known as the best at what you do (think: a temperamental, difficult chef that can create a culinary masterpiece). And, one can have a relatively unknown personal brand, and a stellar professional reputation.
Or, you can have a huge personal brand (vis-à-vis a huge SM following), but not really be known professionally. For example; think of the people that have a huge online following, but are known solely for their social media prowess, as opposed to their profession.
One person that IMO has it right is Peter Shankman. Originally a Facebook list, he built HARO – a huge online following of fellow PR types – to help further the industry. So his following is relevant to his career.
But, my question remains: did Peter enhance his (already solid) reputation or did he build a personal brand?
This is where I see the problem…
If you could, in fact, boil yourself down to a few key words that represent your desired brand, you’d be one dimensional.
As human beings, we are complex, emotional sorts and differ daily depending on our mood, social setting, etc.
As such, how people we tie only a few meaningful adjectives to themselves which would establish a differentiated brand with maximum resonance? Meaningful is key. Then, how would people consistently execute against only those few descriptors?
In addition, being a person that develops and executes against strategic imperatives around branding, I know it as a complex undertaking, requiring far more effort that building a social media following – which seems to be touted as the method to build a personal brand.
IMHO: People build reputations. Companies build brand.
What do you think?