Brand, An Invisible Tattoo?

Recently I had a heated discussion about brand with a friend.  Coming from a corporate environment, I learned that brand was an asset you actively protected.  One of the duties of my job at a national bank was serving as “logo police.”   Most of my colleagues thought that it was primarily focused on protecting the company’s brand, making sure the correct colors appeared in print, or on a t-shirt, or whatever.  They felt no real connection to the company brand because it was nebulous, ill-defined, and ultimately it became irrelevant.

My friend challenged that brand was exactly that… a brand… you know the reference to cowboys literally putting a brand on a cow’s rump.  It got me thinking about personal brand and how we find it or at least describe it.  Is it something we carefully craft by using surveys and focus groups to uncover sentiment?  Then we test out our ideas, figuring out what the right combination of logos and taglines?

In working with many individuals about uncovering their brand, I’ve found it’s often a scary and often misunderstood process.  Whether a new entrepreneur, seasoned business owners, or a misplaced professional looking for a job, most recognize that brand affects their ability to earn new business, find speaking engagements or land a job.  Yet, I think for some it’s like trying to describe a tattoo they can’t see.  They know it’s there, but can’t really describe it much less see it.

There’s something very powerful when someone really comprehends their personal brand and they fiercely protect it.  The question, I think, is it genuine?  Brand isn’t about a logo, but more about sentiment and how you show up with others.   What do they experience as a result of interacting with you?  Why do they recommend you to others? Hollywood is littered with celebrities that cultivated a brand that was contrary to their real selves.  The good news there’s less pressure on us mere mortals to discover our brand and nurture it to get what we want.

So, what is the brand others have been sketching about you?  Is it the one you want?  If not, what can you do to artfully morph that tattoo in progress into one you’d be proud of showing even if you can’t accurately see it?

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