Products must find some level of fame before consumers will buy them and, just as famous actors command higher fees, famous brands are more valuable. For marketing purposes, the celebrity must be accompanied by real value.
Who is a celebrity? A celebrity is someone who is venerated, respected and known for being good at something (besides showing up in ads). Celebrities play an important role in people’s lives. They provide “research and development” for the rest of us, trying out new trends and ideas. They demonstrate how to dress, where to live, even what kind of body to admire or desire. This is not new. Celebrities have set trends for centuries. Why can’t it be you?
Become the celebrity in your industry. Showcase your strengths and be the best at it.
Although you might have the right credentials – a degree from a name school, a solid work history, and top-notch references – people respond first to your image, reputation and identity. Their “perception” of you will ultimately prevail, but you can influence the image they perceive by building a self-brand.
The most crucial element in your success is maximizing your value as “your most important asset.” First, differentiate yourself from the competition. Identify your “big idea,” that is, your “unique selling proposition” (USP) – a concept, a vision, an “X-factor” that makes you special. Then, apply tried-and-true marketing strategies to communicate your USP. Your tools are a marketing plan, advertising tactics, a target audience and the right action.
How do you identify your USP? Act as a brand manager and conduct a “brand audit” to analyze your brand and your competitors’ brands so you can build a “brand strategy.” Take a close look at what makes you different from others in your business. Monitor the few messages that grab your attention among the hundreds you receive each day. Or, define an objective and work backward. Look for pertinent news stories and learn from people who have created self-brands successfully. Watch how celebrities portray themselves and their ideas on TV talk shows.
A SWOT analysis studying your brand’s “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats” is a critical step in your audit. Identify your strengths by assessing your positive features, such as job skills, experience, and successes. A personality trait, such as persistence or patience, can also be a strength. Treat weaknesses as areas to avoid or to target for improvement. For example, if you have poor presentation skills, consider taking a public speaking course. Opportunities and threats are outside influences that will affect your future or affect your strategies, such as changes in your industry, the relevant technology or the economy. Your SWOT analysis will help you identify which opportunities correspond with your strengths.
Seven tried-and-true self-brand strategies are:
1. Be The First: When you rank first in a category, you are the natural leader. Be able to back it up with testimonials and facts
2. Be The Leader: Create a strategy based on your leadership in your company or field
3. Own An Attribute: Select one strong attribute and build a position around it
4. Use A Magic Ingredient or Invert a New Process: Doctors, Consultants, Researchers, and other professionals use this strategy
5. Be The Expert: Narrow your focus and become an expert. Then write a book, article, or column, give speeches, become a media contact and be available for interviews
6. Be Preferred: Become the preferred brand for a niche market, such as a stylist to the stars
7. Own a Cause: Link your name with a cause you consider important and meaningful
Create a consistent self-brand with visuals, such as logos and design. Some logos are so powerful that they immediately identify the brand – such as the “Nike swoosh” or the “Coke wave.” You, too, can establish an identity using symbols, logos, and design. Make your logo simple, distinctive, evocative and flexible. Be sure that it communicates your intended message. Use design and color to complete your brand. Put your logo on everything, including business cards, presentation materials, stationery, holiday cards, signage, and your Web site.
Brand managers have one primary goal: Getting the target audience to connect emotionally with their brand. This is also your goal when you self-brand. Forge a strong, emotional bond with those you’ve identified as your target market.
If you become just a “little bit famous” you can increase your visibility and build “mindshare.” Take several steps to increase your visibility: Become a project leader, write a trade article or volunteer for a charity. Become known as an expert by writing a book or article, speaking at conferences or appearing in the media. Attend society or charity events, and participate in industry activities. Become your own PR agent, and learn how to draw attention to your activities by writing press releases or granting interviews.