I enjoy tapping my virtual network and see what I can learn from the hundreds of people I can talk to on linkedin. I asked a question about personal branding and received the following response from Dennis Stevenson and it was really incredibly insightful and I wanted to share it with all of you. I am interested to hear what you think.
I think sticking too close to the “Brand” metaphor can create difficulties for you. Brands originated around products and companies. It’s a bit of a stretch to apply the same to a person. You can (and I have), but I’ve been noticing that it isn’t easy to stick to this path.
– Do I have a specific “brand promise”?
– Do I have a target market at which I am focused?
– Do I carefully construct the attributes of my identity that will appeal or cause action in my target?
As a person, this starts to become distasteful. I think, especially with the rise of Social Media, that a new metaphor is required. I have a “Voice”. I think of this in the same way that the author of a given piece of work attributes a voice to the piece.
– Voice is concerned with the audience who listens to it (and the venues where they can hear it).
– Voice is concerned with the tone in which matters are addressed and taken up. This borders on the issue of style – but is concerned with how that style is transmitted to others.
– Voice is concerned with passion and energy and what drives it forward, vs. what sucks energy out of it.
– Voice is concerned with how it evokes a sense of trust, or curiosity or inquiry, or stimulation in the audience.
– Voice is concerned with which topics does it assert itself over? When is the audience likely to listen?
These are all similar topics or issues as what a brand would be concerned with. However, in this day, I think that establishing my personal humanity is also a part of the package – and that something that Brand doesn’t care to address – but Voice does. Voice begins with a place to be heard. Could be Linked In. Could be Twitter. Could be a Blog. Could be a speaking circuit. The point is starting to get your voice out so people can hear it and from there finding out how they react and making adjustments.”
So back to the original question. Can I establish my own voice as I build corporate brands? Yes. So long as I don’t leverage brand secrets to establish the credibility of my voice.