Nearly a decade ago, a little brand called Burma-Shave took advantage of a newly discovered empty space – the side of the road – to capture the attention of the shaving cream-buying audience. The company’s roadside signs turned it from a floundering newcomer to second-place in the shaving cream market – a big market back in the day when a well-shaved visage was an indication of class and good taste.
PR2 What Are the Characteristics of a Personal Brand? Nearly a decade ago, a little brand called Burma-Shave took advantage of a newly discovered empty space – the side of the road – to capture the attention of the shaving cream-buying audience. The company’s roadside signs turned it from a floundering newcomer to second-place in the shaving cream market – a big market back in the day when a well-shaved visage was an indication of class and good taste. Without having to resort to buying expensive newspaper or magazine ads, the BurmaShave brand imprinted itself into the American mindset by recognizing a whole new forum for advertising. America was embracing the automobile and the idea of driving long distances for pleasure as well as work, and the roadside signs that launched the brand entertained drivers at the same time they stamped the Burma-Shave name into their brains. In addition, it cost the company almost nothing in rent to have farmers place the signs along their roadside fences. Many people have recognized the Internet as a terrific and inexpensive forum to advertise a number of products – including themselves. However, while some such personal brands are very unique and creative, others are merely snagging a page of two – or a phrase or two – from the most popular and successful brands and hoping to catch a little reflected glory. The hallmarks of a successful personal brand is that it is just that – a personal brand. Your brand is about you – what makes you stand out from the crowd. What an amazing opportunity! Ten years ago, the only thing that got you recognized in the pack was your level of education or years in business. Today, using branding techniques that have been utilized by corporate America for more than a century, you can let everyone know that while there are certainly other options out there, you are the best choice because of special traits that no one can duplicate – even if they have better or more academic degrees and more years in the business. Your brand should immediately catch the attention of people who see it or hear it. That means that you need a branding statement, which could include a look, a logo, or a tagline that is going to make people immediately aware that when they see you, you are going to be worth a longer look. Your brand should also be crystal clear. If someone hears it or sees it, they should be able to repeat it back or rewrite it. Don’t get bogged down in immediately listing every accomplishment you’ve ever had or been witness to. If you are an amazing IT specialist, that’s what you are. If you’re a salesman who has had success in numerous ventures, you need to figure out exactly what it is that describes what you do – and where you want to go – and make that the focus of your branding statement. When you devise this branding statement, it should speak to what you do. I know there are a lot of billionaire beach bums with annoying radio messages on the planet, and perhaps they are as rich as they say. However, I have no clue what these guys do besides make money off other people’s hard efforts – and I’m not interested enough in their message to find out. If you actually have a talent or a skill – or if you’re just good at getting people’s money from them – just get out there and say it. Don’t try to be Superman if you’re just plain old Jimmy Oleson. Your brand needs to speak to who you are and what it is you do while at the same time being memorable and attention-getting. Focus on you branding statement, and once you’ve got that right, your brand will follow.
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