Genuity and Personal Branding. Do they co-exist?

imageI have been interested in brands since the early 90’s, when I studied my first degree in Advertising, Media and Marketing. I remember writing about the importance of brand consistency and use of strap lines, using the examples of NIKE ‘just do it’ and Cadburys Caramel, where one should ‘take it easy’.

More recently, I have focused upon personal branding and in particular, the use of Story.  I have engaged in many discussions, both on and off line, about personal branding and I have not as yet been able to reach a comfortable conclusion.

For entrepreneurs and business owners working in the ‘helping’ professions (coaching, mentoring, therapy, training), personal branding is perhaps inevitable.  The old adage that people buy from people they like is central in this instance, especially if what is being bought are the personal skills of the business owner.  How can one not engage in personal branding, when people are engaging and investing predominantly in the person?image

In fact, sometimes people convince themselves that personal branding doesn’t matter, that it’s all about the business brand and that the two are separate. I’ve heard some compelling arguments for this and yet I still am not convinced.  A business that is borne from an individual, that they have given ‘birth’ to, will invariably carry the traits of it’s parent.  Some of this may be conscious and some may be unconscious; in much the same way that we have a nature/nurture dynamic in human beings, so too in our ‘brand-child’.  As such, I struggle to let go of the notion that personal branding is synonymous, when it comes to entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Much of the discussion about personal branding seems to centre upon the tenet of congruency and whether a person is or should be telling ‘the whole-true-self and nothing-but-the-whole-true-self’, which has been further coloured by the popularity of ‘authenticity’ in business nowadays. I’ll admit that I am a bit of a truth seeker and can ‘sniff out’ what is meant in a message, hidden behind a glitzy bit of ‘good’ copy.  In fact, it’s a bit of a bug bear of mine. If I believe that someone is being disingenuous in their presentation, in the quest for client procurement, inside I am saying “No, no, no, no, NO!”.image

I don’t think people mean to do it. They are selling a ‘lifestyle’, they may even have been coached to…..and after all, it is no different to the big brands on television is it….?…..encouraging us, through their advertisements to buy this, achieve that, be like them.  In those instances, however, the illustration is depicted by an actor….or endorsed by someone, usually a celebrity, with the desirable qualities.  This is where for me, the personal/professional interplay is illuminated. IF said celebrity engages in anything that betrays the desirable qualities, this is a risk to the brand.  Often, said celebrity is eliminated from any association with the brand.  Haven’t we seen this many times?

So, there are some obvious faux pas activities that perhaps we would all agree upon as being brand-detrimental but what about the more subtle acts of disingenuity?  The acts that lead to a perception which may secure clients who may not have been secured if the truth had been portrayed.  So, let me break it down:

1) Pictures in the smart new car (or showing off anything) and implying that the entrepreneurial lifestyle led to its purchase, when in fact it was bought on credit.

2) Images of serene places where the ‘laptop lifestyle’ takes place but it was just one random day, not an ongoing experience (and implying that it is).

3) Offering ‘discounts’ when you have NEVER sold same product or service at full price (and probably never will).

4) Referring to ‘clients’ who have not actually ever paid you a penny (they are not your clients).

5) Presenting a lifestyle at a moment in time, then revisiting at a later date (when clients have been secured) and saying ‘hands up guys, it wasn’t quite like that, let me now tell you how it really was’.  Ok, so this may become part of YOUR success story but what of the people who believed what was presented at the time?

These are five examples that I can think of – if I thunk hard enough, I’m sure there would be more! The big question is, does it really matter? Do we really care? Am I being too nit-picky?  After all, no one is lying, are they? It’s no different to what they do in commercial branding, is it?

imageIn commercial branding, we are not expecting to see the behind the scenes drama, are we? We WANT to see the good stuff.  We don’t want to see the blood, sweat and tears that go into the products, do we? We want to see the glamour, to be taken to a place where anything is possible, don’t we? Even when we know that reality has been sprinkled with some magic dust, even when we are established cynics, we know the game and we (somewhat) happily play along…….don’t we?

I am not sure that I am any closer to a resolution here, almost 1,000 words later (one of my longer blogs).  However, I do feel better, having got a few things off my chest and onto paper….so that next time a ‘branding’ debate takes place, my opinions are clear, even if my position is not.

Until next time.

🙂

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Consult This Chameleon

How I’ve enjoyed the last eighteen months.  I feel as though I have been on an adventure….a kind of reflective luxury cruise around this land called ‘Me’.

Actually, under the theme of ‘Working with what’s in my hands’, I have illuminated corners and uncovered some little treasures and allowed gems to sparkle.  I have declared God as my Director and He has lit this wonderful guided tour.

I am now so much clearer about where I want my focus to be and who I can be of service to.  I am also more than happy with the diversity of the people I serve.  ConsultAChameleon can now really step forward in all of  it’s technicolour glory….being what it needs to be, to whomever it needs to be.  It’s so exciting.

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The Heart Flow Business Growth programme is my main space as we head into 2016.  I cannot wait to start helping people to develop their inevitably bespoke, heart-flow approach to building their business ventures.  Helping people to work with what’s in their hands is a real passion.  This is a membership programme, so hop on board.  By doing so, members have discounted and gratis access to other ConsultAChameleon programmes and services…it’s a no -brainer.

Building your business involves developing leadership skills…..But not just any leadership skills, some heart-led, authentic ones.  This is crucial….leadership has very little to do with power and everything to do with respect.  Come and join me on my Heart-led Leadership Programme.

Whoever and wherever you are in your business and life journey, gaining skills and confidence in public speaking is an important tool for anyone’s toolkit.  I have many years’ experience as a speaker, trainer and lecturer….I can help you express the fullness of who you are.

Personal Development through my ‘Grow Free From Shackles’ programme, offers a life-changer for people wanting to let go of those ‘things’ (experiences, memories, habits, attitudes) that are preventing them from stepping into themselves and being who they really are.

Utilising the fabulous C9 cleanse programme, I offer people wanting more than external change, a 9 day Grow Your Colours Programme in addition to the cleanse, to really maximise the transformation!

The Chameleon Collective is a powerhouse committed to challenging myths around mixed race ‘identity’, educating and motivating and inspiring people to develop a new mindset.  Watch this space for conference and seminar dates.

ConsultAChameleon Copy Creation (and proof reading/editing) can help move ideas from your mind’s eye, to the public eye.  Submit those bids and tenders with my help; get that book written; review that webcopy….don’t be let down, when you can be elevated!

Wow, this has been one adventure, yes….and the fun has only just begun…

 

 

Follow the leader?

Okay….so the next stop on the Chameleon train is a special guest speech about business leadership at the MployMe business and enterprise conference.  Read more here about the speaker line up: http://www.mployme.org/#!speakers/c1ke1

Getting into the zone about what I will be speaking about, I began to think ‘who are the leaders anyway?  And who decides that they are leaders?’  As usual when I’m in the contemplative planning stage, I thought of key words and googled associated images…it gets my creative juices flowing.  These are the images I chose and my interpretation of their meaning:

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The leader at the centre of the organisation….with the rest of the team as captivated audience.
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The leader in it’s purest sense, leading from the front….pulling the rest of the team along…they dutifully and it appears confidently, follow.
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The leader, larger than life, leading from the side…directing the rest of the team towards the vision.
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The leader inviting interaction from the team, buoying them up, building momentum……procuring support and membership.
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The leader, directing from behind….shepherding the team towards the vision, ensuring everyone is moving in the right direction.
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The leader, using strong arm tactics to keep the team in line….making sure their voice is heard and the team do as directed. The team dutifully do as told…head down, no interaction.
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Leader, leading from the front….and from a place of warmth and passion…..seeming to be beckoning to the team ‘come on team, let’s go’.

What is key to this process is the awareness that there is not one type of leader….and what I have found interesting is the role of the leader is in part dependent upon the culture of the team….and the expectations of the team.

I’m not a fan of ‘how to’ when it comes to people based stuff…whatever we do needs to be genuine, it needs to be congruent, it needs to be real. I’ll give you an example that illustrates this and the former point: I always say thanks to the wider team when we achieve an organisational success.  The success is a shared experience…just as the effort made to achieve it.  There’s two things I’ve noticed about this.  Firstly, that the team will often respond to a thank you email with ‘well done Jo’….the second is that other leaders will state that they need to do more of that type of thing themselves.

There’s two reflections I have about this.  First….team….I really, really, really mean it when I say ‘didn’t WE do well’….second, leaders….the recognition I give to the team is not a ‘note to self’, it’s a genuine and natural response to our success.

In view of my resistance to ‘how to’ guides, I’ve created a ’10 ways to Grow Your Business Leadership Colours’ for anyone who emails me at joanna@consultachameleon.co.uk to request one.  These are ways….not rules, not laws – ways.

The other key aspect to this topic is that business leadership does not necessarily involve team leadership….so I suppose I need to be clear that much of what I will write and speak about does involve team leadership.  With further reflection, I can recognise the transferable skills to leaders without a team.  Whenever do we ever work in absolute isolation?  And if I’m honest, at the very core of my ‘ways’ is a fundamental commitment to treating people as unique individuals, to investing in their growth and development and to being respectful of them as people…beyond their job titles.  As a business leader, with or without a team, these ‘ways’ are, in my view, essential ingredients for transparent business partnership, where integrity is a key driver.

As I launch myself into this creative phase of conjuring up my speech for the MployMe event, organised by the dynamic Winsome Duncan, I look forward to my own growth and development through the process. ‘Tickets please!’

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