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Special Columns
Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Chief Consulting Editor's Desk
Rajita Chaudhuri
K.K.Srivastava Guest Column
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Selling your own legend
Personal branding is not merely promoting oneself. It has to be meaningful, distinctive, relevant, consistent and authentic if you want to create and sell your own persona – successfully.
Mariah Carey has insured her legs for $1 billion, Tom Jones his chest hair for £35 million, JLo has posteriors secured for £18 million, and Dolly Parton is safe with her frontal assets covered for £400,000. When people can afford to manage their assets with such financial backing you know that they command brand value. But how? Well, you have to create and sell your own persona – successfully.

Most buying decisions are based on trust, confidence, and emotional connect that people have with a product or a person. Ranbir Kapoor is eulogised even if Rock star gets low rating. A brand is the expectation, image, and perception that an offer creates in the minds of the target audience. One song from Silk Smitha and the film was likely to be a hit. Successful branding captures the mindshare and the share of the wallet by outwitting its competitors. It ensures commanding of a premium over a commoditized offer. KBC minus Amitabh Bachchan is just one more TV show.

We trust people more than companies. Accordingly personal branding is becoming more relevant than even products/corporate brands. It is Anna’s persona – simple, direct, uncomplicated, powered by passion and conviction from the heart that has fired popular imagination. Even if important, the big idea – corruption is at the root of it all – will fail to draw sustenance without his backing. Yet most people don’t seek to manage their individual brand strategically, consistently, and effectively; in fact they don’t even appreciate that they are a brand, good or bad. And those who do manage their equity hold a flawed understanding about the process of branding itself.

Personal branding is not merely promoting oneself. A personal brand has to be meaningful, distinctive, relevant, consistent, exciting, compelling, enduring, persuasive, memorable, holistic, and authentic. Branding is about creating an identity that associates certain perceptions, feelings, and emotions with itself, and then influencing the target audience to buy an idea/offer based on that identity. A successful brand makes a credible, superior offer, and then delivers it. For this the prerequisite is to understand one’s unique attributes, strengths, skills, values, and passion, and then use them to separate oneself from competitors.

Take Sallu Bhai. The nickname for Salman Khan itself has been carefully created by his spin doctors to ensure that he is perceived as a hero of the masses. Wanted, Ready, Dabangg, and Bodyguard have ensured that he has become the most bankable star with a tremendous mass appeal. With memorable names like Chulbul Pandey and Lovely Singh, his star persona – raw, muscular, shaven physique – remains central to the male-working class ideal of the body. His offscreen image is in sync with his on-screen one. Thus he wears the same clothes whether acting or living his life. He reflects the Indian style – bright colours, earrings, inexpensive clothes, bracelet. He shares the residence building with his parents, staying in only one bedroom apartment. He participates in the Ganapati festival. He embodies lower middle class values of forever caring and giving. SRK, on the other hand, is quintessential symbol of ‘hard work leads to success’, reflected in Mannat, Vanity van, and jet setting lifestyle. As for Aamir Khan he follows three dictums: Do what makes you happy, not worrying about being successful; be courageous; and, live life on your own terms. Each one of them has a different recipe for successful branding.

You may be excused if you think that Rakhi Sawant is only good at seeking cheap publicity. But make no mistakes. All this is carefully orchestrated. She is savvy enough to spin off a show business career on the basis of so-called publicity stunts – Swayambar, breaking up with her boyfriend onscreen, or declaring her intention to marry Baba Ramdev – since they raise her celebrity quotient as also the appearance fees. Why do you think Mallika Sherawat keeps fetching good roles? Because she advances her career by using Jackie Chan, or pronouncing her more than nodding acquaintance with Obama, or simply by saying outrageous things. These girls are not dumb; they can teach a lesson or two to many aspiring brand managers.

So how do you go about building and sustaining a great personal brand? Well, for starters, you can follow this blueprint & the roadmap with five building blocks:

Define and formulate your personal ambition
Bill Gates’ dream was: a PC on each desk. Now his vision is to prove Malthus (who said that overpopulated earth will see mass diseases so as to turn world population manageable again) wrong through supporting mass vaccination programme. SRK wants to be the entertainer to the world. And Anna’s vision is to see a corruption free India.

Write your own brand statement
Define your personal brand statement encompassing your ambition, speciality, objective, and domain of operation. Sonia Gandhi does not merely wish to lead the nation; she wants to be instrumental in developing legislations and influencing government thinking for social engineering. Yet she is always respectful to the constitutional supremo, the Prime Minister. She always stands behind him when they are at microphone together, and always stands up when he arrives.

Formulate your personal balance scorecard (PBSC)
Assess your personal critical success factors needed to translate your ambition and brand statement into manageable and measurable personal objectives, performance matrix, targets, and improvement actions. Larry Page and Sergey Brin relentlessly work to achieve their mission – organise and make all of the world’s information available through Google search. Sergey is the arbiter of Google’s technological approach while Larry is the primary thinker about the venture’s future direction. They make an unassailable team.

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