Who are you? What do you do? Where are you from? These are some of the questions that form the basis of interaction with strangers who could be newly found friends, colleagues, partners or spouses. When someone asks you these questions, they are scratching beyond the surface to find out more about you. Some people may say they seek to know your personality, others your character and in the corporate or business world they mostly talk about The Brand. This is what we delve into today.
Before the new millennium, the word “brand” was limited to companies, organizations, products, services e.t.c. Corporate giants, then and now, pride themselves in their brand through the products and/or services they offer. They have made a name for themselves in various industries because through years of massive advertising and marketing campaigns they have managed to get the word out about who they are, what they do, where they are based and perhaps most importantly what they stand for. This has had a trickle down effect so that with the explosion of the information age, individuals and personalities have made branding a personal thing.
It is this personal branding that has changed the way people interact on a colossal scale. People undertake huge steps to cultivate a particular image of themselves to the society either through the way they live, their career or their public relations. This has primarily been aided by the internet and the various platforms that come from it. Let’s take for instance Twitter. The Kenyan Twitter community today has no less that 5000 well know brands of personalities who keep their followers engaged on an individual topic of choice. It is through these brands that these individuals are sought after by businesses and companies to get word out about their products and services. The rewards are mind-boggling fees paid to these people who have made the online space a full-time hustle. The side effect of this is that these same individuals(mostly young people who will do anything for that elusive cash) may be used to spread malice about others which forms the twitter wars and Facebook feuds that are a daily fixture in the Kenyan online community. This notwithstanding, they have become a brand, and like any other out there, they are sought after.
So the question I ask you today is: Are you a brand? If so what kind are you? How many people would want to associate with you or what you do or what you represent? I especially ask this to my fellow young people who are in the constant search of themselves and still trying to figure out life. It is imperative that you cultivate your brand if you are going to make it through the murky waters of life and especially life as it is today as opposed to 20 years ago. This feat, however, is not achieved easily. It will have you search deep within to know self, and after you have known it you now seek to let it shine to the world. It’s hard enough as it is to find yourself let alone letting the world know it. But make no mistake, this is one of the most fulfilling endeavors you could ever undertake, and you owe it to yourself.
An individual brand is easy to cultivate. They say that what we miss the most are the basics due to their simplicity. Start with these. How do you greet people? How do you dress? Do you show up to a wedding in jeans or do you take the time to look dapper and turn a few heads? When you walk, is it like a headless chicken or is your head held up high, your posture upright and destination predetermined. It is paramount that you treat other people as you would have them treat you. After all, it is the golden rule. It is golden for a reason.
The beauty of anything, including a good brand, is found within, beyond the surface, beyond what is seen and heard. When you consider this, personal traits such as discipline, work ethics, determination, moral values, religious standing e.t.c come into play. Cultivating your image around these aspects is the best way to create a lasting and fulfilling impression on yourself and others. If you take money, for example, some people find security in storing lots and lots of it for themselves. They drain the life out of them by chasing the shilling, or the dollar, or the pound, or peso. But would it not be better if you create your security around knowledge, ability, and experience. If your personal brand calls these three traits in you, you might never have to worry about making money because you have the necessary skills. Don’t get me wrong, having money and keeping it is important. But if having it is your primary source of security, chances are you will live in fear of losing it and never really having lasting happiness.
In conclusion, your brand will carry you through life. How people treat, you will depend on how they see you treat yourself. A serious person will wake up early, have a decent work ethic, be disciplined, be optimistic, be present, and most of all are true to self. What is your brand? Do you want to cultivate it? Well, find yourself first, be true to self and then through hard work, discipline and determination live it out, and the right people will identify with it. Be careful, though; there is a flip side to a positive brand, which is a negative one. Negativity is easy to creep its way into one’s life and suck the life out of you. This too has its won audience.
I hope you find yourself and make a great brand out of it. If you have already found yourself, let your light shine. And if you are happy with the way you are right now, take further, if not, change is always waiting.
This post was written by James Mwangi