How branding became a life skill

Just like a pinch of salt brings out the sweetness of sugar in desserts, a pinch of nostalgia makes us appreciate all that has changed that much more. Just 20 years ago, it was complicated for me to explain to people who are not from the corporate world the exact nature of my job. A brand strategy planner. The engineers, doctors, scientists and armed forces personnel in my extended family and friends circle barely understood what a brand was and why it needed strategy to build.

Forget them, even key leaders within the companies I worked at in the 2000s did not see the need to put in this much thought and scrutiny behind advertising campaigns. Strategy Planning which had emerged as a separate discipline was in general met with unfriendliness. I have dedicated an entire article to this human phenomena of resistance to change. Strategy planners too were an inconvenient change in the system because they made you face reality. They shifted the attention from industry gatekeepers to the voice of the population. But, those were just the early years of my career. In time, there has been a slow but steady acceptance of the need for the discipline of strategy to build great brands. But, something more interesting has happened in recent years.

In the afterglow of the digital revolution facilitating every individual with their own platform to showcase every day of their lives to the whole world, a new phenomena has emerged. The personal brand.

Each and every one of us is a brand. And we can build it, on the same principles on which conventional brands are built. Namely, core ethos, capabilities, offering to the world and differentiators. We each need to discover and articulate our own unique selling point. Just as with companies and businesses, whether or not they think of it strategically, a reputation is being built. An image is being constructed in the eyes of the beholder. In today’s digital age, each of us is being beheld all the time. Those of us, who prefer to keep off the grid, also need to find avenues to build their brand in order to have choices, if not an advantage in the new world order of things.

The only difference between building a personal brand and company brands is the elimination of the idea of a competition analysis. Personal brands don’t have competition, they only have opportunities for collaborations. In my view, these are exciting times, because it frees us up from the need to find a box to put ourselves into. We often hear people in the traditional work forces claim that they used to be singers, good cooks, actors, sketch artists, classical dancers until their mainstay careers took over. Today, we don’t need to push a bunch of our skills into the past tense to be able to hold a job. A differentiated personal brand allows you to build on all your capabilities.

Personal branding is helping people be honest about who they are, who they want to be and how they want to serve the world to earn a living. It enables us to find like-minded people to work with. We have multiple channels to choose from to showcase our personal brand ranging from Medium to LinkedIn to Whatsapp and more. The personal brand is being built whether or not you approach it strategically. But, knowing how to build your personal brand to suit your own immediate and long term pursuits can help immensely to gain from the abundance of opportunity and possibility the internet has opened up.

And just like that, brand building has gone from being a specialised skill deserving a separate department of experts for it, to being a foundational skill every professional needs to hone no matter what their educational qualification, domain, work experience, strengths and weaknesses. Without personal branding, not only do we lose out on exploring the possibilities of making the most of who we are but also risk being left behind, as the world grapples with all the changes. Personal brand building like driving or cooking is quickly turning into a basic life skill for anyone looking to navigate through life better.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Pooja Nair
Pooja Nair has over 20 years of experience as a branding consultant across leading global Ad consultancies. Pooja is also known to be an ex theater performer, actress and model. Since September, 2022, she has focussed completely on her passion for the changing face of business, brand-building and reputation.

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