Colby B. Jubenville, PhD, is an international speaker, author, educator and coach.
In the biopic Walk the Line, there is an exchange between the then-unknown Johnny Cash and record producer Sam Phillips that illustrates what can happen when someone decides to step into a defining moment and with — or without knowing it — build a personal brand. In this scene, Phillips listens as Cash plays a gospel song. A few verses in, Phillips becomes visibly irritated, stops the audition and asks Cash if that’s his best effort. Cash defends his performance saying, “Well, you didn’t let us bring it home.” Phillips’ response is something we should all ask ourselves if you want to build a personal brand.
“If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing one song. Huh? One song that people would remember before you’re dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up. You tellin’ me that’s the song you’d sing? … Or would you sing somethin’ different. Somethin’ real. Somethin’ you felt. Cause I’m telling you right now, that’s the kind of song people want to hear. That’s the kind of song that truly saves people. It ain’t got nothin’ to do with believin’ in God, Mr. Cash. It has to do with believin’ in yourself.”
A brand is a promise delivered in an experience. A personal brand is the meaning, makeup and message of your promise and how you deliver it. As you digest that, ask yourself these questions:
• What is the defining moment in your life that could be or is the foundation of your personal brand?
• How would the moment help you be seen as real (think more alive)?
• What is the one song that sums you up and made you feel something you had not felt before? What was that feeling and how does it translate into how you connect with others?
A study of brand personality traits found that a vast majority of brands are described by one of five personality dimensions: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness. Further, personal brands, when coupled with personal interactions, are influential in forming business relationships. Human nature is to do business with people we trust and like. These are emotion-based states that can be influenced by how our personality is being perceived.
Along these same lines, all brands share the characteristic of possessing unique stories that provide a backdrop for a brand’s existence. Its successes and its failures and how it can connect with people it comes in contact with are all part of that story. A distinctive brand story is powerful in that it can create brand awareness, differentiate a brand from its direct competitor and build customer loyalty. Looking back at Johnny Cash and what he was known for, it is clear that he is a great example of all three!
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