Sitting in Dr. Matthew Joseph’s marketing strategy class at Georgia College & State University, I began to see the various points in the universe connect on the convergence of all the things I knew about marketing. Our efforts, regardless of how benign, go toward establishing, distracting from or adhering to a brand. “Marketing doesn’t start with some commercial or ad campaign – and it certainly does NOT end with a consumer’s eventual purchase,” said Dr. Joseph. “One misunderstood concept regarding your product can ensure you don’t get a single customer. One dissatisfied customer can do more damage to a brand than thousands of dollars worth of advertising can repair…”
I hate to admit it, but I would normally doze of around this part of the class. It was a 90-minute class and thirty minutes in was the perfect time for a ten-minute nap to get me to the end of the lecture. But that day, the marketing professor had my undivided attention and by some divine forces or the universe, he was actually making me use my brain to connect the dots and call on knowledge that I already knew to reinforce the concept of marketing towards a brand. “What I’m saying is that if you don’t build your product/service around a solid set of values that define what it is you’re trying to sell, you can forget about going to market!”
I had heard this somewhere before. Those exact words weren’t used, but the notion was similar. Then it hit me – I had first learned of the concept in Sunday school years before even attending college.
Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and
loving favor rather than silver and gold.” (KJV)
Proverbs 22:1 "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to
be esteemed is better than silver or gold." (NIV)
Marketing without substance (i.e. trying to sell something that people are confused about what it is or perceived to be of no value) is like screaming at the wind. I would later come to learn that marketing was an extension of branding – the act of establishing, maintaining and enhancing the brand. The brand itself was the meat on the plate – the main dish. Simply defined, a brand is a particular identity or image regarded as an asset. When people hear names like Coach, Aston Martin, and Hermes, high value and prestige are associated with the brand. What Dr. Joseph and King Solomon (the author of the book of Proverbs) were trying to convey is the importance of the name/brand standing for something.
Before huge corporations and organizations hired marketing and branding specialists to lord over their image, logos and PR events, business was conducted between individuals by individuals through a rather simple exchange. If you wanted the best produce, you would ask “Who collects good fruits and vegetables?” Word of mouth (which in many cases has now has been replaced by TV commercials, web ads, radio spots, billboards, text ads, etc.) would lead you to the best possible produce based on the positive experience of someone else. Truth in the experience was proven time after time and conveyed to others in search of a particular product or service. With this truth, trust was established between individuals. The guy who had fancy marketing tactics might have been able to make an immediate sale, but the guy who was able to back up his reputation with quality was blessed with an established name (i.e. brand) and longevity with a loyal cliental.
What I had learned in Sunday school so many years ago and what Dr. Joseph taught me in marketing strategy class was a concept in branding brought to full circle. But what relevance does branding have to each of us as an individual when the word “personal” is placed in front of the phenomenon? Like organizations, people also have to rely on the basic concepts of brand marketing. Your personal brand tells the world who you are. Given that we now live in the age of social media and social networking, you don’t have to invest millions of dollars to take out an ad in the trendiest periodical to get the word out about who you are as a brand. The world can find out about you and what you stand for just by looking at your Facebook or LinkedIn profile, or by following your tweets.
I have come to realize that we are all “selling” something at any given moment. Depending on what you’ve built as a personal brand will certainly determine who will be buying. So commit today to making a good name for yourself and building a worthy personal brand – you never know who needs to “buy” something from you.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.