First off, what is branding….really?
There appears to be some confusion when it comes to clearly understanding branding. When discussing the subject, it is important to clarify what it isn’t. Branding is not the same as marketing, advertising, or public relations. Let’s quickly clarify the difference:
Me to you: “I’m a great Opera Singer!”
Me to everyone: “I’M A GREAT OPERA SINGER! I’M A GREAT OPERA SINGER!”
Someone who I pay to tell you: “Trust me—he’s a great Opera Singer!”
(That’s public relations)
You to me: “I hear you are a great Opera Singer.”
Basically, a brand is the association that people make with a particular person or product. A brand is the consistent message that is the foundation for a person or product’s reputation.
Strong branding is both complex and essential
Career and business minded people are always looking to define what sets them apart, both in the consumer market and the labour market. Whether you are a business wanting to have the reputation that draws customers to your doors, or draws eager job applicants to your job postings, the reputation of your business is critical to your appeal. Basically, what everyone wants to be associated and known for the desirable qualities that will define their success.
Branding your business in the labour market is not that different than branding your business in the consumer market. Your reputation will largely impact how people choose to interact with you. If you treat people with respect, value their relationship and interactions with you, make it clear why you are the superior choice above others in your field, and consistently and thoughtfully uphold that standard over time; you will attract the interest you are seeking.
Knowing what you need to do, and knowing how you need to do it are not always the same thing. To help break down the elements of your brand, we have created a helpful tool to get you started. What is interesting is that these steps are the same if you are building a brand for your business in the labour market, a brand for a product in the consumer market, or a brand for yourself in the job market. We call this the STATUS model. STATUS is an acronym for the core components of this approach. It stands for:
Spice – What is the unique essence that you have to make you stand out? What are your unique offerings? Your values? Your background? What is your competitive advantage?
Talk – What do you say you bring? (Not only now but to improve things in the long term?) What are the impactful skills and qualities you have? What is your value add?
Action – What are you doing to be successful now? What will make you the best choice from day one?
Target – Who and where are you trying to reach? What are they looking for? What are their needs? What purpose will you be able to fill?
Uniform –Are you presenting consistently? Are you a value fit with your target? Can you bring that fit consistently? How is this not just a hollow sales pitch?
Suitability – Does your brand fit with the target? Both in the long term and the short term?
STATUS is about helping people and businesses use self-awareness and critical reflection to make an intentional plan based on their experiences and values. STATUS provides a series of checkpoints to guide individuals and companies through the self-discovery process to find and convey a unique brand.
There are some great examples of companies who use their brand to stand out as the favorite in the labour market. We have all heard of great perks and experiences with companies like Google, or Virgin, they are well known. There are also great examples of companies who lean into their “Spice” and it guides how they do their business. Zappos, who proudly states “A Little Weirdness” as a core principle is a great example of this.
The big examples are often inspiring but may be a little harder to relate to. Sometimes it is not about the big shift, as much as it is about focusing on retaining the success you are already having. Who are the people who will be sharing and spreading your reputation? In the labour market it is your current and past employees.
There isn’t anything you can do about your past employees, but you certainly can make a difference with your current ones. Maybe that is the target for your branding in the short term. Make your current employees feel respected, trusted, encouraged, and inspired. Increase employee motivation and productivity by being committed to employee engagement. They are likely already talking about your business to others, make sure the STATUS of that conversation is in your favour.
This can work for you too
The key to a unique and compelling brand is to be intentional, consistent, and focus on what is already working. Given enough time and commitment, you can build your brand and your reputation to the point that people may even stop you on the street to comment on what a great opera singer you are.
Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, collaborate, be progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support check us out at www.roman3.ca