Your Personal Brand Part 2

Branding as a concept is hardly new.  Any student of business or advertising can tell you that your brand name and brand recognition are extraordinarily important.  The brand name tells the consumer what to expect and, for better or for worse, the level of trust they will place in a product.  There’s a reason why billions and billions of dollars are spent every year making sure that you know that Coke is the Real Thing or that Frosted Flakes are GRRRRRRRREAT!  Johnson & Johnson?  They’re the family company and I’ve heard that Snickers really satifies your hunger.  The name is the product and the product is the name.

Have you heard of the Mars Bar?  It’s a candy bar.  They have a version in the UK, but the kind I’m talking about is the all American Mars Bar, milk chocolate, nougat, almonds and caramel.  Man I love those!  They’ve been my favorite candy bar for a long time.  I don’t even buy them that often because I will eat all that I see until they are gone.  This is a really good candy bar, but sales were down.  In fact the Mars company, the company for which this candy bar is named after, knew that they had to do something.  It’s a good candy bar, it’s a flagship candy bar so how do you raise sales?  They decided to re-brand this candy bar.  See the Mars company also sells a candy bar that you may have heard of, the Snickers Bar.  The Snickers Bar is one of the top selling candy bars of all time.  One act plays have been written about the Snickers Bar.  Say Snickers in a room full of 6-11 year olds and you will be attacked until you produce the candy.  Thus the ever so tasty Mars Bar was re-named – re-branded – Snickers Almond.  The company took the trust and name recognition of the Snickers Bar – the candy that out sells their own flagship bar – and used that to help boost sales.

It worked.

Most people don’t know the history of Snickers Almond.  I know that a few folks thought that it was a new candy bar when they first got one.  I knew it wasn’t and it was a bit disappointing that this great candy bar that everyone was now enjoying could have been enjoyed just as much but not as many people would give it a chance because of its name, its brand.

But what does all of this mean for people?  What does it have to do with email and social networking?  Quite a bit actually.  Whether you like it or not if you are online you are advertising yourself.

Think about it.

It doesn’t matter if you only have an email address and nothing else, anything you have online represents you to those that might find you on the web – and that could be anyone on Earth.

So what do we, the older generation do?  I feel like we are a bit behind the curve with execution, but ahead of the curve when it comes to content and expression.  Any teenager can tweet right to their Facebook and then post a video about it on YouTube all from their phone.  I need to use my Blackberry to do all those things and, with the exception of  Twitter, really can’t get it done right unless I’m sitting in front of a full fledged computer.  I’m just not culturally accustomed to it.  And from my experience I’m about middle of the road for my age group.  I have some friends that are as savvy as a 13 year old, and some whose grandparents are better online.  Although we may not be able to do as much as the kids, what we can do is take advantage of what we do… do.  My friend Mark is an artist.  He does fine art.  He is looking to branch out and wants to do so online.  He has a website and a Facebook but he wants to try Twitter and see if MySpace can do anything for him.  I know a PR firm who only operates in social media and does a great business advertising their clients only online.  PepsiCo has decided to not advertise on the Super Bowl this year because they are moving to a mostly online advertising model.  Interactive social media is becoming more and more important all the time and even the big companies can’t deny it, which brings me back to the title topic, your brand.

Because being online is now almost a requirement how you allow yourself to be seen is more important than ever…

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