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Measuring Personal Branding for personal and corporate success

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If companies acknowledge the value of employee branding; and professionals are serious about seeing themselves as brands too: maybe we should be moving towards a new system and brand architecture - where we actually calculate the brand value of more professionals, and then incentivise and reward their social media network activities?

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Measuring Personal Branding for personal and corporate success

  1. 1. aestroaestro 086 // jun 2014 // the-marketeers.com If companies acknowledge the value of employee branding; and professionals are serious about seeing themselves as brands too: maybe we should be moving towards a new system and brand architecture - where we actually calculate the brand value of more professionals, and then incentivise and reward their social media network activities? IfProfessionalsare Brands,thenshould webemeasuringthis?
  2. 2. the-marketeers.com // jun 2014 // 087 Jonathan(Bilal)A.J.Wilson
 SeniorLecturer&CourseLeader, UniversityofGreenwich,LondonUK Editor:JournalofIslamicMarketing, EmeraldGroupPublishing. In my previous pieces, I have shared my thoughts and findings derived from investigating the views of practitioners and academics. Our industry needs people who are both arts and science, being a manager isn’t enough, and leadership is essential. The challenge occurs when attempting to galvanize these elements into a coherent, collaborative, compelling and authentic offering - across functions and amongst all levels of employees within an organisation. I’ve also reflected on the age of ‘Mad Men’ mavericks being replaced by those who formally study the discipline. The idea is that with such large organisations, geographies, and markets – this necessitates professionals with subject specific skills, formal qualifications and training. If I was to be cynical or critical, then there’s a real risk that this produces butlers and engineers. People in many ways designed to fit in and serve like butlers, and tinker around with existing processes, like engineers. However, with so much disruptive innovation, global competition, and increasing cross-sector extensions – being agile, lean, lateral, and hyper-responsive have become the mantras of large and small organisations. Plus, with the advent of social media platforms, tablets and smartphones – work/life balance is a blended reality. iPhones not so long ago weren’t serious business phones, they were toys and a work distraction; and Blackberry was the default instrument. Now, Blackberry messenger can fuel Arab Springs; iPhones and others are your remote office, research tool, media broadcaster, and a whole lot more. What else has changed: avatars, social media, and concision as a result of democratized information overload have pulled us further into a branded reality. Employer and personal branding are also in vogue. StrongTheory messaging has given way to WeakTheory – it’s about incremental gains, and long-tail economics that are achieved through the sum total of nudges, shares, and reciprocity as an opening gambit.That’s: ‘I’ll help you to be great in the hope that you’ll help me to achieve greatness – somewhere, somehow, and to someone’. So brands are attempting to resonate and embed themselves into our psyche by being more human, like Pinocchio – an identity, personality and all the rest. And humans are attempting to become more like brands.There’s never been a greater call to stand out, whilst fitting in – collective individualism.That means being liked by diverse networks and connecting them, so that they see your Gestalt reality. So how can we make this blended multi- layered reality work for us? My suggestion over the past year has been this concept of singularity and surrogacy through branding and transformational leadership. This is one emotive and cogent offering, decoded from the sum total of experiences and interactions. But most importantly, delivering cultural authenticity - in a way where adoption results from demonstrating a willingness to stand side- by-side, as a native and equal. With all of this in mind, should we be applying and extending brand thinking in the same way to professionals and leadership? Brands are no longer just reflective of an architecture made up of a corporate identity and portfolio of products and services.They are driven and humanized by the employees and consumers. Having said all of this, if it was this easy, then studying and following the rules would work, right? So what about those that break, reshape and make the rules? And are these rules actually just too nuanced and
  3. 3. aestroaestro 088 // jun 2014 // the-marketeers.com perishable? For example, Metallica are a brand that wasn’t cooked out of an agency. Not so long ago, I can also remember colleagues marking assignments wrong, where students suggested that Jay Z was a brand; and billboards in car video games, or YouTube user generated content videos were adverts.“Jay Z is not a brand, Coca Cola is – he is a celebrity endorser”… “an advert is a paid for piece of communication in a pre- designated space”… or at least, that’s what the text books used to say. But at the same time now, entertainers have raised the bar for other professionals. Have we all become performers? The pressure on staff across an organization to be intuitive communicators and decision- makers - with the speed of wit of a stand- up comedian and the ability to present every pitch like a TED talk.
  4. 4. the-marketeers.com // jun 2014 // 089 And, like rock and rap stars, the argument stands for controlling your professional image to present a ‘corporate’ cool - as everyone is Googling, checking and searching for authenticity. I’ve remarked on how with elite athletes it makes sense to spend time away from the training ground, working on image, personality and communication; and even considering retiring early - in order to protect an accrued brand equity, which translates to earnings, desirability and reputation. Okay sure, if brands want to become more human, and professionals are becoming and behaving more like brands, what are the implications and perhaps what should we be doing? Well employee branding as a concept has been around for a while: but should we be assessing the sum total activities of individuals; not just by how much they do for the corporate/product/service brand - but by all of these in conjunction with an employee’s brand value? Now, we’re used to rating athletes, musicians, celebrities, sponsorship
  5. 5. aestroaestro 090 // jun 2014 // the-marketeers.com endorsers, and entrepreneurs in this way; but perhaps the conversation becomes a little uncomfortable when we look at professionals like us in the same way. Logically, we should be encouraging people to improve their LinkedIn and other social media profiles, giving employees training in this.The aim being that they become more active on social media, for the benefit of the organisation. It’s good cheap promotion, and the days are gone when professionals can separate their private social media lives completely from their professional identities – everything is in the public domain. Also, as companies are on LinkedIn they should be pushing the profiles of their staff, as part of their corporate branding and promotional activities - because LinkedIn is doing this, making links and presenting network bonds anyway.This would give a boost to existing branding activities, attracting business, raising the corporate profile, and attracting new talent. However, there is a perception/guilty secret/fear here, that this gives too much power and ‘brand value’ to the people, which they may cash in on and take elsewhere. If we apply relationship- marketing theory to our staff, as we have to consumers; then this healthy competition and these brand exchanges should be embraced and encouraged. So for us professionals in marketing, advertising, branding and public relations what does this mean? In order to fulfil personal and corporate obligations - it’s about focusing on the individual.We should be doing more to create our own brand architecture, and to bring and embed that into an organisation’s.That’s more time communicating and practicing the spoken and written word; and not being afraid to stand beside our professional activities and offerings – because professional and corporate authenticity will be demonstrated ultimately through real people. The difference now is that this isn’t just the domain of board members; it extends throughout the organisational hierarchy. For example, I encourage my students to createYouTube short documentaries and presentations, to rework their assignments into magazine style pieces and whitepapers on SlideShare – to stand out, claim that space, and demonstrate authenticity beyond a degree certificate. Holistic Brand Leadership means leading and empowering professionals towards branding themselves, and being less precious about top-down control. Help people to be themselves and trust that they will return the favour by bringing brands and campaigns to life, just like Pinocchio. Finally, if companies are serious about branding their staff and employee branding; and if professionals are serious about seeing themselves as brands - maybe we should be moving towards a system where we actually calculate the brand value of more of our professionals, incentivise and reward it - and not just leave that approach to the footballers?

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