Marketing / 08.27.19
Personal branding can be a real struggle for many people because it’s hard to look at yourself objectively, especially when it comes to thinking about your assets as well as areas of opportunity.
At INTIX 2019 in Dallas, Jacque Holowaty, Vice President of Client Experience and Ticketing at Spectra, led an interactive session to teach attendees about the importance of a personal brand, why being aware of your brand is crucial to continued personal and professional success, and how you can begin effectively branding yourself today.
To start, what is a brand? Holowaty explains it’s a name, term, design, symbol or other feature that makes something — or someone — distinct.
“There are five elements to a brand,” she says. “First, you have a brand promise, which defines what will be delivered or expected under the brand umbrella. You have brand perception. It’s what the brand represents in the mind of others. So, what does everybody else think of your brand? You may think it’s something different than what other people think, but that’s ultimately the perception. The expectation is the constant of what brands deliver. So, when people are going to different companies like a Nordstrom or Disney, you have a certain level of expectation. What is your level of expectation with that brand? A persona. It’s the brand’s ‘who.’ It doesn’t have to be a person, but the who — what is the personality of that brand? Then, lastly, the elements. These are the tangibles, whether it’s a logo, messaging, the packaging, the colors. Everything else that comes with the brand.”
Corporate branding has been part of our lives since the dawn of advertising. Not a day goes by when we don’t see a logo, hear a radio ad or read a tagline in a magazine that touches us in some way.
As consumers, we are surrounded by corporate brands. Names, logos, taglines and even colors tell us immediately what kind of business we are dealing with. For example, when Holowaty showed logos to INTIX attendees and asked what came to mind, they responded with words that reflected their emotional attachment to the company in question. They reacted to the Apple logo with words like “loyalty” and “friendly.” Tiffany & Co.’s logo and distinctive blue solicited words like “luxury” and “romantic.” And, no surprise, the Disney brand brought forth feelings of magic and happiness.
No matter how popular the brand, it can, at times, be drowned out by controversy. It is still a brand, but the perception of that brand changes for one reason or another. As an example, when Holowaty asked the audience to offer words that describe the NFL brand, not one person said “football.”
“There is a football on their logo and people still do not associate it at first. Somebody else — if we had a larger group — may have said football, but I think it’s a great point to bring up because this group in here did not immediately say football.” Indeed, player controversy and politics have likely played a big role in this perception.
Although we are used to thinking about companies and their brands, each of us has our own personal brand, too.
“A brand is basically everything in your world being interconnected,” Holowaty says. “So, a personal brand is the total sum of experiences that people have when they interact with you. It’s what you are known for and how people experience being around you, seeing you, seeing what you put out. It’s the intentional. I think that’s an important word. The intentional presentation of your strengths and values in the marketplace. What are you intentionally putting out there? That is your brand. Especially when you’re thinking of social media; you’re thinking of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, of all the ways we’re putting ourselves out there physically and publicly, but then also how are we acting with people.”
Holowaty continues, “The act of personal branding makes you the CEO of a brand called ‘you.’ Brand you! It’s all tying together. So again, you get to decide what your personal brand is. You get to decide your values, your beliefs, your mission statement, whatever it’s going to be about yourself.”
A personal brand, says Holowaty, is what people say about you when you leave the room.
“This is important. We may think we’re coming across in a certain way. But we all know what happens sometimes when we step out of that bubble, where it’s a safe space and nobody is going to tell you to your face what they think. So, when you step out today, what do you think everybody is going to say about how you are presenting yourself?”
Just like the NFL, unintentional things can sometimes impact your brand.
“This is why we really have to be creative and cognizant of the brand we’re putting out there. Your unique combination of skills and experiences is what makes you uniquely you. That’s what’s going to make you distinct, and everybody is going to have a different brand. Ticketing and live entertainment may be a part of our brand, but every person is unique,” Holowaty says.
She continues, “Your personal brand is important for personal relationships, but it’s extremely important for your professional relationships and career growth. It’s a powerful form of self marketing that will help you build your reputation and manage your career. It’s about establishing and promoting yourself through your brand. One thing that I always like to tell people who have worked with me is that [you should] dress for the job you want, not the job you are in.”
So, exactly how do you establish your personal brand?
“First, you have to build your brand. You must think about it. Again, a brand is natural. It’s going to be part of our core beliefs and values, of who we are and that’s not going to change. Our behaviors don’t just change. They are natural to who we are based on a lot of our traits and interactions that we’ve had,” Holowaty says. “But you can be strategic in how you build your brand. Now we’re also thinking again about your professional brand, your career brand, and it is slightly different than your family brand. It’s not that your beliefs and values change, but you might just present yourself a little bit differently and you may be less open to talking about a lot of personal stuff in your career than you are with friends. It’s optimizing your opportunities. So, where are your opportunities to make you distinct from everyone else with your brand? What makes you unique? What’s going to make you stand out from everybody else, and what’s going to propel you to that next level?”
It’s also targeting your audience, Holowaty explains, and this could change from day to day.
“Your brand will not change, you’re still going to be who you are, but what is the target audience that you’re building your brand for? And you need to monitor your brand … You don’t just build it, walk away and it’s like that forever. Your brand will evolve with you throughout your career, and there are checks and balances. You need to check in on your brand. You will need to ask people, ‘What do you think of me?’ You have to see how you’re interacting and monitor that what you’ve put out there as your brand is what people are perceiving,” Holowaty says.
An important step, Holowaty recommends, is to design your brand logo. Here’s how she came up with hers: “My brand is based off a tree, and that’s important to me because my family is the backbone of who I am; it’s where I’ve come from, they’ve made me who I am and I have a very large extended family. My dad had 13 brothers and sisters, my mom had four brothers and sisters and they all still live in the same city. We’re all very close … I also put ‘woman’ in my logo. I am proud, and I embrace it. I’m a mom. That wasn’t my brand five years ago. It is my brand now, and I love everything about being a mom. I’m a leader of other people, and as a leader I want to bring other people along and train them and help them develop themselves. I added a thumbs up emoji to my logo. I use it all the time. If you know me and get a thumbs up emoji, it’s not uncommon. I love music, I’m in the ticketing business, I love to smile, and I put a lightbulb in my logo because I love coming up with ideas. Now that you have a brand logo of your own, you can get some T-shirts printed up!”
In closing, Holowaty says, “Hopefully this gave you a bit of self insight and [the opportunity to think] about who you are a bit more. I encourage you to start talking to people, ask them how they perceive you. The biggest piece is you know your own brand now, that’s who you think you are, but has your brand been outwardly marketed that way, or do people see you differently? Now that you know your brand, you can start measuring it. Not everyone is going to give you an honest answer face to face, but there are a lot of programs available where you can get feedback or just start being more conscious of how people are reacting to what you are doing. And to wrap up, a quote from Tom Peters in Fast Company: ‘All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called ‘You’’.”
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Tags: Digital Marketing , Personalization , INTIX 2019 , Leadership