Are you hiding behind your brand like a person in a mascot?
In business, brands are really important. But there is a discussion around whether or not brands are limited to the world of corporate marketing and advertising. People can have brands too, and personally I think businesses with only a few principle partners can greatly benefit by using their personal brand in conjunction with their business’ brand.
Those in favor of personal brands generally have a sentiment, which states individual people should become brands, and brands should become people. In essence it hints that we are heading towards a convergence of sorts, a place where people and businesses will be talking from the same position; a position built on trust, authority, and reputation.
For a long time businesses have possessed authority and reputation, while likewise lacking trust from the buying public. On the other side of the coin, individuals have long been able to build a reputation and authority equal to businesses. But it is a person’s ability to gain trust, which is the key to this shift. Trust is a valuable commodity to businesses.
So let’s look at this some more. It is important to understand the mindsets of business and people to really grasp how they can both benefit from a mutual relationship. Or if nothing else, to work towards building a marketing platform with similar attributes.
A look at the mindset of people.
The reason people are more apt to be transparent and personable is because failure is an option. And I don’t mean it’s okay to fail; I simply mean people are expected to fail from time to time. That’s life, and people learn from trial and error.
A look at the mindset of businesses.
In business, failure is not an option. They are not people, and when an entity has no emotions, and operates in world that is viewed solely by the bottom line, it can be hard to show a human factor. This affects their ability to earn trust.
It is true that businesses are made up of people, and when a person within the company takes a chance on an idea and it fails, a company looking at the bottom line simply jettisons that person from the organization.
This creates a risk adverse culture, and if you are creating an environment were taking risk is frowned upon, you are not going to be maximizing your talent due to the fear of failure.
Employees are no longer thinking about the company, and because of that mindset, the organization becomes a “monolithic ogre” devoid of personality, and thus no public trust.
In the end, I feel we have a golden opportunity for individuals and businesses to work together when trying to build trust, reputation, and authority. Businesses could, in my opinion, benefit a lot by simply associating themselves with individuals, and these individuals could come from within the company.
Those individuals would need to build a personal brand for themselves, and thusly associate with the corporation. By doing so, the business would benefit from the personal brand’s audience, and any overstep or negative feedback would not be directed squarely at the organization, but rather the person.
Then the issue comes down to hiring the right people. Luckily, for the most part, marketers are an open book. By the nature of their business they are required to be forthcoming and transparent, which should make the process of determining whether or not a person is a good fit easier.
Is this perfect?
No. But when has being human ever been perfect? We all have our flaws and shortcomings, but through the process of hiring top-notch marketers, and interacting via their personal brands in conjunction with the corporation, we have limited some of the risk.
Regardless of whether or not you agree with my conclusion, it will be hard to disagree with my premise.
You need to do your best to break any zero-defect mentality. Innovation, be it marketing, sales, or R&D, can’t exist within that ecosystem.
Finally, when an issue arises, don’t wait three days for your PR department to draft the perfect, empty apology. Act fast, take responsibility, and apologize. Isn’t that what being human is all about? People will respect you for that, and with respect comes trust.