Please define the concept of personal branding and why it is important?
Personal branding is the story surrounding your name. This story is held in the mindsets of key stakeholders ranging from colleagues, fans, family and general society and can be leveraged to assist in accomplishing your goals and dreams.
How does South Africa compare with the rest of the world in terms of our understanding of branding and its significance?
South Africa has key demographics who are leading the dialogue in branding and brand leadership. As SA continues to ensure the masses have access to key technologies such as smartphones, we will become a global leader in the brand leadership space.
Why is it important to have a branding strategy?
Either you control how your story and values are positioned, or the market will control it for you. We live in an era where society desires to operate efficiently and those who are top of mind and well-positioned will be able to leverage society’s efficiency goal.
What makes an effective strategy? What are the key requirements to getting it right?
Every brand is different. Many brands need to be well represented in small key demographics, others need large grassroots engagement. For a brand that requires large-scale awareness, a multi-tiered strategy, where new and traditional media as well as a network model is developed will be necessary. Conversely, a smaller, niche brand can use a single platform to penetrate a market and sustain its messaging. Ultimately, a marketer will need a solid brief to operate from.
Can you share some companies and people that you believe are getting their branding right? What are they doing differently? Do they share anything in common?
There are many examples such as First National Bank (FNB), which are doing a great job of focusing on innovation and sharing their message and creating experiences for people to understand and live their ‘innovative brand’. There are great non-traditional examples of people such as Khanyi Dhlomo who is a wise and effective entrepreneur, to ensure that she is focused, she keeps a low profile and remains relevant amongst key stakeholders.
What is your response to the assertion that branding is unnecessary and the work or the product should speak for itself?
This is simple. Apple’s iPhone doesn’t have nearly the best operational capacity, nor does it have the best functional specs. There are many products with better batteries, better memory, lower prices etc, but, the other brands that have only a fraction of Apple’s market share struggle in the brand arena, not the quality arena. So, I would say, that these people who make this assertion need to catch up with the relationship between default inherent value and related narrative potential.
How has social media changed the personal branding game? What are some of the ways that entrepreneurs can enhance personal branding? What are the major pitfalls to avoid?
There are loads of strategies, again it depends on which markets matter to you the most and what your key messaging is. If you are a DJ or a comedian, large numbers are important, but if you are an investor, you may need to only be positioned as insightful and integrated with key groups and therefore large numbers could work against you. The key pitfall to avoid is being seen as desperate and all over the place without a core message. People are smart, they can see through inauthentic people. Know your message and serve it at a pace relevant to your long-term goals.
Timothy Maurice is a speaker, columnist and the author of three brand leadership books, the latest is titled Soul to Sole. Follow him on Twitter @TimonthyMaurice.