Susan Chritton helpfully informs us that ‘success stories inevitably involve people who stand out from the crowd’ and that ‘no one is going to manage your personal brand except you.’ Combining the two we know that a well understood and well managed personal brand is what success is all about. Obviously then, ‘taking charge of your own future and learning how to manage your own identity’ is what this book ‘Personal Branding for Dummies’ is going to talk about.
An interesting book and one that takes you around stories of how brands create a niche for themselves in the cut-throat business world and then swerves into telling you what you need to do if you wish to emulate their success strategies.
Each of the five parts into which this book is divided, explores a vital share of the entire branding process. So we begin by going through three chapters that tell us everything there is to know why personal branding is so important. The author does this through case studies and gives the readers a bird’s eye view of the entire ecosystem associate with a brand that matters. This book takes you on an exploratory walk-through where you meet celebrities and the reasons they were able to be the brands they are today. From Oprah Winfrey and others from the media and business to Lady gaga and Meryl Streep from the world of entertainment, from Kate Middleton to Barack Obama, from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg… the list goes on to include vital case studies that will help the reader understand this enigma called a brand.
Talking of branding and its relevance today, let me take you to a Facebook update that I happened to notice today. This update from Harsh Rai Puri, an erstwhile Additional GM with BHEL wrote: “Media is increasingly becoming Award-friendly & Award-rich – a mutual ring-a-ring-of-roses ways of keeping the powers-that-are (& powers-that-are-going-to-be too?) happy… TOI announces new film awards… guess the Filmfare franchise sell-off was a one-way street… every publishing house, media channel, et al are in the fray… the more the merrier… as maybe the maxim of one-award-fits-all is no longer valid in these transient times… with Ghazini syndrome widespread (15 minutes of in/fame?)…”
I wrote back: “The way I look at things is that ‘branding’ is a walk into the heart of strategic thought… businesses need to remain in the eyes of the public as something unique. Nothing wrong with that. And if creating another ‘award’ family is what is going to do that, so be it.
That said, the sanctity of an award, if that is a part of the marcom strategy, must be maintained… because recognising the incompetent isn’t going to add any value to an organisation’s image. We live in times where customer perception is vital and though they know that the awards are a gimmick to reach out, they also want the awards to be given to the right person. A wrong decision here can nullify whatever vantage point the organisation planned to reach by its award-strategy!” Obviously, I am one person who believes that branding today is as essential as anything… and personal branding isn’t just a fad that will go away with time – this is a concept which is going to grow stronger day by day.
The next part of the book gently exhorts you to define yourself now as by the time you reach this stage of the book you are already aware of the nitty-gritty of how well branding catalyses and handles your career and future. The reader is introduced to techniques that will help him analyse himself, get a 360 degree view of his persona, dive into your own aims and goals in life, and get ready to align yourself with your target market! Now just analysis, the reader actually gets to begin crafting one’s brand profile. We are also told about the importance of writing your story well and know that illustrating your own life is what is going to ultimately win you friends and help you blaze the path that you wish to trod upon. So it is vital that you know how to find the plot in your story, learn to create trust through them, keep gossip absolutely out, and make the entire story memorable. After all, only what is remembered is what is allowed to take the next step.
Is branding all about just understanding what a brand is or how to write your own story? Obviously no… there is the important issue of effectively communicating the story in the best possible way to the most precise market. The next part of the book takes you through all the communication avenues open to you. After all your brand… or you as the brand need to converse with the world and get a positive response from it! Thus we are introduced to all the offline and online pathways and inroads that will ultimately transport the branding story across the world to minds that are waiting to receive them. This is an interesting portion of the book because here we move into the world of Linkedin, Facebook, twitter, Podcasts, and blogging – we also learn how to interact with all these techniques in ways we did not know even existed.
The next part is on controlling the brand ecosystem where the book treads on what you always thought were mundane or seemingly mundane issues and then on reading realise where you had been going wrong throughout. Learning how to fashion a brand, how to give it a visual appeal and identity and understanding how some abstractions and subjective thoughts like loyalty are connected to effective branding is what this part is all about.
The final part is all about all the follow-ups and maintenance work that is to be done if you wish to keep the freshness in your branding effort alive.
This book isn’t a work of fiction that anyone will finish reading and then let it remain in the midst of a lot of other books waiting for years before someone takes them out to say, ‘Aha! I remember I really loved reading this one!’ This is one book that is soon going to look worn and tattered because of constant use… there is no way you wouldn’t want to go back to it again and again and again…
Title: Personal Branding for Dummies
Author: Susan Chritton
Publisher: Wiley India
Price: Rs 349/- (in 2013)
Post written on 31 January 2013
Published in ‘The Education Post’ dated 04 February 2013