Why Most Executive Branding Advice is Simply Wrong – Part I

by Karen Armon, CEO/Founder, MarketOne Executive

I recently read an article from a career professional that had my head shaking and my voice screaming, “No-o-o-o-o-o!”

The author presented several simple steps to develop an executive brand, proposing that within 30 minutes you could design a personal brand that would magically work.  By answering just five easy questions, an executive would have a personal brand that would make recruiters fall all over you.  Voila!

But that’s not how to market yourself as an executive. Having an executive brand that works is the result of a long-term building strategy that takes time, work and effort.  What this person presented had nothing to do with the practice of executive marketing.

For years, I’ve kept fairly silent about the erroneous and incorrect information that those in the career industry, who do not have a marketing or sales background, have attempt to offer.   I generally let it pass because I know that these folks are sincerely trying to be of help.   But they are simply wrong.

In upcoming articles, I am going to provide you with the “how to’s” to building an executive brand that works.

But first, let’s go back and discover what personal branding really is.

Where Did The Idea of Personal Branding Come From?

Tom Peters started it back in the late 1990s[1].

Peters coined the phrase “personal branding” because he fundamentally saw that employment and work, due to technology, was dramatically changing the corporate landscape.  He was trying to communicate that employees had to: 1) start standing for something, 2) understand the value of communicating and align to the changing market, and 3) begin to become an innovator within a company to hold a position in the future.  He claimed that personal branding was what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of work and that it was “the promise of the value you’ll receive.”

But just as Peters did with the idea of creating a Mission and Vision Statement a decade and a half earlier, he now having to keep defining from the idea of Personal Branding[2], because most “career professionals” or “careerists” have so screwed up what personal branding means that it is now almost meaningless.

For an interesting little snippet, PLEASE listen to his video about Brand You, published in 2010.

What Is Personal Branding?

Branding is a form of differentiation and is based upon a concept.  It is the totality of all the elements of a name, logo, slogan, and/or design scheme associated with a product or service.  According to wikipedia, Personal Branding is defined below:

“Personal branding[3] is, for some people, a description of the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands.  It  has been noted that while previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging (emphasis mine). Further defined as the creation of an asset that pertains to a particular person or individual (emphasis mine); this includes but is not limited to the body, clothing, appearance and knowledge contained within, leading to an indelible impression that is uniquely distinguishable.  The term is thought to have been first used and discussed in a 1997 article by Tom Peters.”

Simply put, then, executive branding is the science and art of intentionally designing marketing messages, in multiple ways, to identify who you are, what value you bring to the market or company you work for, and what the brand receiver can expect from you.

Creating an executive brand must start with creating a concept that makes you different and stand out based upon what the market wants and is willing to pay for.

People who interact with your executive brand will experience you via your designed messages, will begin to understand that message and eventually will be able to define you whether they know you or not.  In each and every interaction an executive has within his or her target audience or niche, the personal brand is built – over time and with sharp intention.

It is the public perception of you and what the collective message is over time, that you have managed and controlled that defines you and, (this is very important) meets what the market wants, not what you want to sell them.

Personal branding is a strategy first that is executed orally and delivered in-the-moment.

You have to own your brand by personifying it, creating attractive reasons to interact with your brand, and continually sell your brand to a targeted audience (not company) that wants to hear it.

MarketOne Executive Bottom Line:

My definition of personal branding/marketing is to turn strangers into interested parties.  This takes time and effort.  Selling can only happen after attraction and its purpose is to turn those attracted interested parties into a job offer, a contractual relationship or a sale.

At MarketOne Executive[4], we help you to develop a framework for your personal ideas and intellectual property.  Intellectual property has value and is able to be identified as having economic capital worth because it can create a return-on-investment.

Intellectual property also gives you independence.  Your personal intellectual property, therefore, must clearly identify you, differentiate you, and align you with the hiring market today.

From there, we work with you to shape your personal brand orally, first, to attract strangers and power brokers to you.  Then we develop the various written marketing materials that are used in selling your brand.  We each step has a definable metric and benchmark and is repeatable.  We have built tools that you can use, year after year.

You see, all of the marketing strategies we use are the same ones used by large corporations.  All of the marketing tactics come straight out of the corporate branding playbook.  The tools are adapted to the personal branding practice, working with you as if you were a big brand product.

The sales strategies and tactics are come from 30 years proven and tested results in the practice of sales, including negotiations.

And if you’ll notice carefully, most of the respected sources who are cited as furthering the practice of personal are not career professionals but marketers!

For more tools and information about how to land an $100K+ executive role, read my bio and click on the link to my website, www.MarketOneExecutive.com.

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[1] “The Brand Called You” By: Tom Peters, Fast Company, August 31, 1997.

[2]“What a Personal Brand is NOT” http://www.tompeters.com/dispatches/010824.php , January 16, 2009.

[3]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_branding

[4] Full Disclosure:  Karen Armon holds a MBA and a BS in Marketing with a minor in Mathematics.  Her first position was as a sales representative for a Fortune 250 company.  She’s been employed at well-know companies Shell Oil, Moore Business Forms, Manpower, Cabala’s, and Johnson Controls.  The first 15 years of her professional career was in sales and marketing until in the early 1990s, she took a technical training position launching her career in human resources.  She has been certified as both a Quality Auditor and a Senior Professional in Human Resources (lifetime).  She has purchased, and sold, two businesses with and to outside investors.  Karen has used her marketing and selling skills to create and brand her company current, MarketOne Executive, recognized in executive circles world-wide.

© Alliance Resources LLC, dba MarketOne Executive.  All Rights Reserved, worldwide.
© Alliance Resources LLC, dba MarketOne Executive. All Rights Reserved, worldwide.

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