AM I JUST A BRAND?

Isn’t it so funny!  We talk on Facebook, “I AM What I Am”… “I AM the One that BRANDS everything!” but since a week we are talking about “BRAND BUILDING”!

WHY???

Being a Brand, do we know Everything??? OR Do we LACK Something???

On August 2011, in one of the leadership development seminar, one of my faculties Mr. Sundar Singh Moses said, “You’re always a BRAND! Whether you are aware of it or not, someone on Earth is following you!” That’s true indeed; ‘each of our action is INFLUENCING someone on the Earth’.

The Cambridge dictionary definition about ‘BRAND’ unfolds some powerful words “UNIQUENESS” “TAGLINE/IDENTITY” and “REFERENCE”.

Lt. Mrs. Margret Mead, the famous American anthropologist and mass media speaker of 1960-70 said, “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” You’re wonderfully and fearfully made by God for a definite purpose with a high-calling to work for that purpose. There might be more than 7 people on earth who looks like you but still You’re UNIQUE! The way you walk, the way you talk, the way you think, the way you live and the style you wear that brings UNIQUENESS to you.

A couple of years back I asked my dearest friend “Will jeans suit on me?” Her instant reply was, “NO, You’re being TAGGED with Formal clothing!” Often our friends say, “Oh…. I am very sure Mr. X is not like that! / Mr. Y can’t do such thing! / Mr. Z doesn’t look like that!” People buy you because you are sellable. You are sellable because You’ve a TAG! Your tag is your cost in your market which is highly coded with a REFERENCE number!

Mr. Mac and Mr. Hewlett went for an interview, and both of them went fantastic. The interviewer said, “It was too difficult for us to select one of you. Both of your credentials and answers were the same word by word. But we have chosen Mr Mac. Mr Hewlett asked, “WHY HE?” He was replied, “because one of his answers was “I don’t know” and your’ was “Neither do I” That means, you followed him!” J Mr Hewlett was dropped in the interview because he took Mr Mac as a reference. You’ve a REFERENCE code! Your TALK – Your WALK is a reference code to your buyer. But is buying you benefits your buyer? Is buying you is a good deal?

Keep thinking….

HOW are You UNIQUE?

WHAT is Your TAG?

WHERE lays Your REFERENCE?

Two  verses from the Bible comes to my mind which read as follows:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” 

“For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

God bless you!

Stay tuned!

 

SURROGATE BRANDING

In the world of advertising, surrogate advertising is a well-known and commonly practised concept. Let me explain the concept… Surrogate advertising/branding promotes certain banned products in the guise of other products. A fairly close name is used to hoodwink customers and ensure that the actual brand does not fade away into oblivion. To give examples, Kingfisher, McDowell’s, Bagpiper are brands of alcoholic beverages that are banned in India. But, still the common people know these brands by way of mineral water or soda.

Everyday human behavior uses this concept of surrogate branding to let the ‘me’ still remain in the picture while doling out people-pleasing easily-acceptable responses. Often we don’t wish to transform ourselves because that would mean losing our individuality. Hence, in order to endorse the brand ‘me’ and yet not lose face before others, we guise the ‘real me’ and showcase the ‘people-friendly me’.

In this surrogate branding of ourselves, very often we end up losing our credibility. Unlike the business world which deals with products, the human world of flesh and blood deals with emotions. And so, surrogate branding of human behavior does not stretch too far. It comes to a jolting halt. And when the veil is removed, the ‘real me’ receives a jerk as the ‘surrogate me’ fades away.

Wisdom lies in accepting and showcasing the ‘real me’ no matter how ugly it may be and simultaneously be willing and open for transformation so that the ‘ugly real me’ re-brands into a ‘beautiful real me’.

Be open for a reformation of the brand ‘you’! Don’t present or accept a surrogate brand!

You are an original brand! Embellish yourself with real gems. Be ready to chisel out certain oddities rather than masking them. And you’ll emerge a masterpiece worth being marveled by others!

BRAND – COULD BE DECEIVING; BRANDING – FATAL

Hi Everyone,

There is a tech savvy, competitive,  fast paced world out there.  To add to the list its a brand loving world.  Don’t believe me?   I saw a movie in the recent past where a gang of girls after being conned by a con man decided to go after him and get him (referring this example purely coincidence not because of women’s day😁).  They purchased products from a local market and labeled them with names of high-end “Brands” and priced them at like hundred times their original price only to resell them to the con man as a part of their plan.  So what’s the catch here : brand names could be deceiving.   That was entertainment angle 😊.  But this is what happening all around.  Let me give you another example.  When we buy vegetables from farmers we try to bargain but when we go to malls with a special vegetable counter with some random brand name on it we don’t even think twice before buying.  No hesitation, no bargaining.   Isn’t it the brand power?  Pickup any product for that matter, brand it, see the price sky-rocket.  The products without brand names might be same in all prospects of quality and products with brand names might fall short in few aspects but still we strongly believe that if it is branded then it is trustworthy.  I am not against brands as it takes years of hard work and perseverance to build a brand but I am against the blind love for brands.  I am against the false prestige run for the want of Gucci or Tiffany’s even if it is not affordable just to be the talk of the town. It would not only burn a hole in the pocket but could run you in debts, I mean it is possible!

How could be branding fatal?  Well I want to talk about branding in a bigger perspective here.  Here in India politics is more or less a brand game.  A political party ruled the country for over five decades just because it bears a particular surname or more recently a particular party ruling almost throughout the country for which one face/ one name is acting as the brand ambassador.   Worse is people electing blindly without going beyond the cutouts as one name is branded and every thing else that comes under the wings of that name is bound to be accepted irrespective of its very own credentials.  Individual assessment is very important.  Nepotism in politics  is a very much possible offshoot of “branding” where right over power is extended to family and kin and the country is left at the mercy of a family.   It is fatal for the future of a country.

Be it politics of a country, industry or personal life running after brands blindly without assessing the impact could be deceiving as well as fatal.

Think twice before you act because your note (read money), vote and time are very important, don’t be unmindful!

THE BRAND CALLED ‘WOMAN’

Conversation 1:

Eve: Hello…this is Eve speaking… Could I speak with you for five minutes?

Man at the other end: Well, I’m just back from work and am totally exhausted… Is this important?

Eve: It is! And I promise I won’t take more than exactly five minutes.

Man at the other end: Uff!! Ok then…go ahead… How may I help you?

Eve: Thank you! Let me introduce myself first because you may not know me. I am Eve – the mother of all the living.

Man at the other end: Errr…excuse me?? I can’t make any sense of it. Who are you??

Eve: As I said, my name is Eve. As you don’t have much time to spare, let me get into business right away. I understand that you are about to get married shortly and so…

Man the other end: This is just unbelievable! I mean…I don’t even know who you are… How do you know about me? I think I need some rest…my mind is probably playing games… I’d better hang up. That’s it!

Eve: Hold on… How does it matter whether you know me or not? But, what I’m going to speak would matter. So, listen to what I have to say and then you can decide for yourself. A minute is gone already…four to go…

Man at the other end: Ok…go ahead…but mind you, not more than four minutes from now…

Eve: Thanks! To continue with what I was saying, as you are going to get married in a few days time, I wish to give you some words of wisdom to ensure that you enjoy nuptial bliss each day of your life. I promise to be brief.

Man at the other end: Ok

Eve: I’ll tell you just three things. Firstly, remember that God is giving your wife as a companion suitable for you. Bear in mind not to treat her as your subordinate…not to boss over her…or to trample over her by your words and deeds. Secondly, love your wife as you would love yourself. Just as you would not cause any harm to your own self, take care not to harm her in any way. Love her to the point of even being prepared to lay down your life for her, if the situation would ever so demand. Thirdly, guard her and guide her because she is vulnerable. Not because she is weak and infirm, but because this is your responsibility towards her.

Man at the other end: These surely are valuable words. But, isn’t a wife supposed to respect her husband?

Eve: Yes, she is to respect her husband. A boss demands respect. But, love commands respect. Your wife would respect you seeing your love towards her. She may not be the perfect piece. You will have to bear with her just as she will also have to bear with you. Remember, for this reason a man is to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh.

Man at the other end: Hmm…

Eve: Getting married may be easy, but remaining married takes hard work in which both of you will have to contribute. Don’t have unrealistic expectations of her. Have realistic ones. Don’t treat her as an object for catharsis.  Accept her as your comforter. Don’t cheat on her. Remain faithful to her. Nurture her and she will blossom. Keep in mind that a woman is the glory of man. The more you polish her with your love, the more she will shine. The more you neglect her, the sooner  she will wilt away.

Man at the other end: Gosh! It all sounds like real hard work. I may have to change myself a lot.

Eve: Yes, you may have to change some of yourself for her just as she will have to change some of herself for you. But, this is the beauty of marriage. It ensures that the bonding would last till death would do you apart.

Man at the other end: Thank you very much! No one had made me aware of these things.

Eve: I’m glad that you appreciate. I hope you will bear the above in mind as you cherish your wife for all the days of your life. Wish you a fulfilling married life!

Conversation: 2

Eve: Hello…this is Eve speaking… Could I speak with you for five minutes?

Woman at the other end: Umm… if this is about some brand you are about to endorse, I’m sorry I have no time.

Eve: Well, this sure is about a brand. But, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. You are familiar with this brand already.

Woman at the other end: Which brand are you talking about?

Eve: I’m speaking of the brand called WOMAN.

Woman at the other end: Is there a brand by this word? I’ve never heard of it.

Eve: Yes, there is. And I am the ambassador of this brand since I was the first of this type to be manufactured.

Woman at the other end: Oh!

Eve: Let me tell you some unique features of this brand that would make you proud to be a part of it…

Woman at the other end: What’s there to be proud of it? Don’t you know of so many women at the receiving end of abuse and atrocities of unspeakable means? Haven’t you heard of women being made scapegoats for honour, diplomacy and war? Endless streams of tears and volleys of unspoken emotions… Is this something to be proud of? After all, why are women created so weak and vulnerable?

Eve: It’s sad that women are treated as objects of no worth by many, including the people of their own close circle. But, that’s not the way God created woman. The woman God created was of equal worth to man. Not equal in form, shape and biology…not having altogether equal potentials and capabilities…but of equal worth – so that men and women would complement each other.

Woman at the other end: Hmm…

Eve: So let me tell you about three special features of this brand called ‘Woman’. Firstly, she has amazing abilities to forge and maintain relationships. That is why you see women playing multiple roles and seldom getting worn out. A woman binds people. That’s the talent she is blessed with. Few men can match up to it without losing their cool! Secondly, she is strong. Yes, you heard it right – she is strong. A woman may not have the physical strength of ten elephants, but her mental strength is indisputable. She can fight against all odds and still pull along with life. She is often at the receiving end, but has the ability to brush all aside with a smile. She has high tensile strength! Thirdly, she is beautiful. The word ‘beauty’ is almost always ‘equated’ with woman. You hardly hear anyone complimenting a man as ‘beautiful’! She may be tall or short, frail or plump, a blonde, a brunette, black-haired or greyed, flat nosed or sharp nosed, dusky or fair – she is beautiful. It’s sad that men judge beauty by her external appearance. Beauty lies in the heart not in looks. When men understand this, they will go a long way in understanding women.

Woman at the other end: So true… Seeing the way women are treated all around the world, I was just feeling to give up on myself. Constant threat of security and the bang of patriarchal mindsets…it’s just so suffocating… I was just wondering, aren’t men and women equal after all?

Eve: Dear one, the heart really breaks to see the discrimination and unequal treatment meted out to women all around. Created in the image of God, both men and women are of equal worth. Neither is inferior. But, men and women are created differently with different functional roles so as to make this earth a harmonious civilization. They are meant to complement each other and not compete with each other in a power tussle. However in the face of rising inequality, the demand for equality has raised its head causing women to strive hard to prove themselves equal in every field. And, this has given rise to much disharmony.

Woman at the other end: Hmm…can relate to it now…

Eve: If you look at your watch, you will realize that I have well exceeded the time limit of five minutes. I hope my words will encourage you to feel proud of the brand that you are! Never look down on yourself because a man tells you so. Never underestimate your strength because the society tells you to. Never let your mind lose the battle that you have so valiantly fought till now. Remember, you are fearfully and wonderfully carved by the Creator.

Woman at the other end: I will remember for all the days of my life. It was such a pleasure to hear from you. No doubt, you are the ambassador of the brand WOMAN!

HOW DO WE VALUE OURSELVES?

In today’s world of social media where personal information is shared with the entire world, and not just close circle of friends and family, do we place our value in the number of likes and comments? In other words is it others perception of us which adds value to us, or is it something else?  Personal brand-building is enhancing the value of a person.  It’s the value one has of oneself, or how much a person values himself/herself.

This value of oneself is a tricky thing. If you have too much of self-worth you might come across as an arrogant and narcissist person. You have too little of it, you acquire inferiority complex, zero confidence, and get treated like a doormat. 

In a world of competitive culture our worth is always being measured against others. The comparison never ceases as it encroaches all spheres of life right from the time we get admitted to school, and may be for some from the day they are born. Marks, beauty, talents, careers, girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife and what not! The list of comparison is never ending. And amidst all this comparison we try to hang-on to our accomplishments dearly to feel worthwhile. And when some Sharmaji-ka-ladka/ladki surpasses it the feeling of worthlessness sets in. We are back to zero and the world seems against us. Somebody has rightly said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

So, where does one go from here? It takes all sorts to make this world go around and each one of us has been created uniquely. And the value we attach to ourselves is not something we should give control to others. It’s us that should have it under control. The following pointers will elucidate what I’m trying to say.

  • Focus on being the best version of yourself:

In simpler terms it means maximizing the potential we have. For example in a game of football everybody dreams of becoming a striker and score amazing goals like Messi or Ronaldo, and be treated like a global superstar. But not all are cut out for it. Coaches help a young player identify his strongest attributes and help the budding- player mature into a position to which he is best suited. So the midfielder controls the flow of the game, the defender stops the opponent from scoring, and the striker has to score of course. It’s the sum total of all which makes a team strongest. And if one can maximize the talent at his disposal he will always add value not only to himself but to whichever team he belongs to.

 

  • It’s ok to fail:

This is something which I feel is highly undervalued in this present day society.  Failures are looked upon with such disdain. It’s an inevitable part of growing up. And the fear of failure prevents most of us to step out of our comfort zone and try for anything new. Thus, people opt for staying in the safe zone, not making any sort of attempt to do something different for fear of being branded a failure.  Only if we fail we learn what does not work and hence we gain the knowledge of what can actually work. That’s why they say” failures are the pillars of success”. The first US President Abraham Lincoln is a prime example of this.

  

  • Don’t aspire for perfection:

This point is an outset of the previous point. Perfection has the power to create inflated expectations and once we get that notion that someone’s life is perfect we always fall in the comparison trap that whatever we have is not enough. So many times we look at the FB profile of someone and see them in great jobs, travelling to exotic locations, married and honeymooning in Mauritius, and deduce that how perfect their life might be. This just creates negativity in us and makes us feel that our life is going nowhere.  Our life may not be in the best of state, but we have to stay still, breathe in, and learn to enjoy the little blessings and bounties bestowed upon us  by the almighty.  

  • Be gentle on our dear ones:

This is something which deals with adding value to the lives of our near and dear ones. Our friends and family are not perfect but they are the most important persons we have in our lives. There are times when we feel let down by them, be it cause of their behavior, their nature, or may be because they have stopped loving us for some reason. It’s our responsibility to try to understand them in a better way, listen to their side of the story, and help them wherever we can and be good to them. And if nothing works out we should have in our hearts to forgive them. It actually shows great strength on our behalf to forgive someone and makes us better persons, a person of value.

So let’s stay positive and keep believing in ourselves.  Every cloud has a silver lining. Stay blessed and have a great week ahead.

MULTIPLE PERSONAL BRANDS !!?

I was in my final year of my engineering course and went to attend a campus interview. Many companies participated, there were many students from various colleges.  As usual, my dad accompanied me. I went in at around 10 in the morning, as I was progressing through the rounds of the interview, I was also wondering what my dad was doing alone in the campus, as he is a very reserved person and doesn’t talk much.

Finally, I came out of the interview at 11 in the night, with the confirmation letter in my hand. It was the happiness of having secured a job I guess, I was very thrilled to share the same with my dad. I completely forgot to ask him what he did the entire day while I was in the interview.

The next day in college, one of my classmates came to congratulate me, “Congratulations ! I know it means a lot to have a job in hand and you succeeded on your first shot..”, I thanked him, he didn’t stop there, “Your dad is so awesome. He helped all of us so much during the interview by talking and relieved us off the stress. He is so jovial, you are so lucky to have such dad who is so cool …“, My dad found comfort with strangers, that’s sounds different than him… “Both of you talk like friends, and I am actually surprised that you are so friendly too. I have never realised in the last three years, you are so different than what others think you are“. 

I was getting curious to know what others think, he continued, “You know, all others think you are a serious person, not easy to get along with, in fact you are named after fire crackers… (flower pot, 5000 wala)” By now, I was smiling within me, “Many do think twice before they have to talk with you and are quite afraid of you“.. I bursted into laughter at the end of it, I am sure he was taken by surprise. I don’t get angry or shout at people, but yes, I don’t smile often either.

I have been the school leader in high school, the same continued in PUC too, I was in-charge of many activities, have had the responsibility to take many decisions and lead many programs. I always thought that was the reason why my fellow students have developed a kind of fear towards me. Come on, college is supposed to be different, isn’t it ? We are in our teenage, our hormones are on high, the attention we get from boys and I don’t have to explain the rest of it. I was a little different. I always used to enjoy the way boys used to stay in limits the moment I glare at them ( Does that sound unusual ? )  It used to feel like an achievement to me. 

I have become friends with many people when the association is ending or about to end, last days of college, either I am leaving the company I work for, or some colleague of mine resigns for a better opportunity. There are people, who read me well and took an early chance to extend the association into friendship and vice-versa, most of those are successful acquaintances.

No matter, how conscious we are, we leave an impression. Slowly, the perception builds into a brand. If you are not building a brand for yourself, you can be sure others are doing it for you…  My language, body language, as well as many shades of mine together left an impression that I am totally unfriendly, but if you ask my friends, they would give a totally different perspective of me. So, I have two brands. Oh Boy ! Two Brands ???  I gave a thought to it, and I am completely fine to have two brands of myself. Both are very different from each other but both of them are true and authentic..The same “not so easy me” continues today too, but all of it is very healthy, and keeps unnecessary problems out of my life.

As long as the brand you have created doesn’t interfere with what you want to be, your family ‘n’ friends, your career aspirations, you really don’t have to worry if you have multiple brands. As I have continued my observations, my dad has multiple brands, many of us actually have more than one… Manage the brands carefully and one would be very successful.

At the same time, it is extremely important that the brand reflects you, fits to the situation, so that you achieve your goals. Don’t get too carried away if some people misunderstand you, that’s fine too. Unless, it is absolutely required to correct your brand, don’t try for it, while making an attempt to change it,  you may end up making more mistakes and create altogether a new brand, which is not so you and as all of us are aware it is very hard to maintain a false self.

Personal brand is your identity, create one that works for you and others as well!!!

​WHY IS PERSONAL BRANDING IMPORTANT?

This article is not about making your career or boosting your business. Even though branding has always been considered a business topic – to me it is very personal. It is to believe who you are, what you want from your life and declaring it to the world in a way that the world starts relating to you differently. 

Branding is not showcasing you as somebody else. It is also not about wearing expensive clothes and driving expensive cars. It is all about how you want others to see you and relate to you.

Some 10 years earlier, I was involved in a course named “Landmark Education” and that course taught me a lot of things and one of the important ones was to learn how to confront others. We were given a task of taking interviews of people from different areas of our lives. We were given some set of questions that would make us aware of how we are perceived by people in that area of our lives. For example – I took interviews of one of my colleagues, one of my college friends, one of my cousins etc. 

What happened while taking those interviews was that I was so very surprised at so many things that people liked and disliked about me. I was very surprised to know who I was for them. Some surprises were pleasant and some were not, but they were all surprises. That was when I realized that if I do not consciously take care of maintaining my image/brand, it will just get built on its own. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I stop being myself and try to put on a false show – it just means that understand the consequences of your actions and take responsibility for them. 

That was the first ever time in my life when I truly understand the meaning of “Creating your own brand”. 

Who are you seen as? What do your friends talk about you when you are not with them? Is it positive or negative? Are they making fun of you or talking about the great things that you have done? Or do they even talk about you? Are people happy to have you in their group or they simply don’t care? Who are you to them? These are some of the basic questions that your “Brand” answers.

How do you consciously try to create your brand? 

Be true to yourself – Never ever put up a false show. It doesn’t work. If you try to be somebody other than yourself, people will see right through you in no time. It doesn’t work. Be your own self.

Be committed – It all depends on how badly you want to create a true brand for yourself. And it is not easy to do this. It takes time, energy, thoughts and a lot of work. Commitment is the key here. 

Define your aspirations – Who do you really want to be? How do you see yourself 10, 20 or 30 years from now? Be very precise of your aspirations today, they will keep changing and you will see that change in you if you define it appropriately now. 

Understand your strengths – As a culture, we are always asked to focus on our improvements areas. Sometimes so much that we forget what our strengths really are. Always play by your strengths and to do that you need to understand what you are good at. 

What are your brand attributes – What is it that you want people should relate to you as? What kind of adjectives you want people to use for you? Once you know what your brand attributes are, you also need to understand why those things are important to you. Again your brand attributes will also change with time. 

Once you understand how you want people to relate to you, you need to understand the current situation. Then start working towards creating the image or brand that is line with the attributes you defined earlier. 

Working towards creating your brand could include anything – your social media profiles, your display pictures, the topic of your conversations with others, your posts on social media, your attitude towards others, the work that you do etc. 

Few years back when I was talking to one of my colleagues in one of the interviews I mentioned earlier, he said that he doesn’t think I am as committed to my work as I ought to be and sometimes he doubts if he can really depend on me. This came as total surprise to me because I never thought of myself as non-committal. At that point of time, I made it a mission to create an image of me that is dependable and committed. It took quite a change of perspective to do that. I started communicating regularly what I was doing and how I was doing a certain task, I started being proactive in meeting small milestones so that big deadlines are never missed. And it worked.

On the personal front, I had an image of being a cry baby. Any argument with any family member used to end in me crying about it. I used to cry in a way that it would force the other person to just close the topic. I got this feedback various times and few years back I took it up to be more mature in my discussions/arguments with my family members. Every time during an argument I felt like crying – I would just tell the person that I am unable to control it and I need a break. That would give me some time to think about the topic and also come in right perspective. And it worked yet again. I managed to change the brand that I had created for myself.

So, think about it. What is your current brand? Are you happy with your brand? If not, then what do you need to do to turn it around?