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Michael Drew Headshot

The Age of Branding

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A friend of mine is a marketing professor with a specialist in branding. He recently gave a talk about how high-end brands risk diluting their exclusivity by becoming so commonplace that to possess, say, a Louis Vuitton handbag, means you've got money but not necessarily taste. Louis Vuitton bags are everywhere, real or not, and why should you pay thousands of dollars to have what everyone else has?

Even if genuine Louis Vuitton bags are first-rate products, market saturation can lead to a dimming of star power. Certainly the mark of a high-end brand is the attention to quality and craftsmanship that the products display. But a brand is also something indefinable. You've got to nurture yours.

We live in an age of the personal brand. The recognition of a name, whether it's a person or a product is apparently what sets you apart in our overloaded age. The Q score, determines how familiar that brand name is, and whether you're worth paying attention to (at least, for advertisers).

But a brand can be both a good or a bad thing. A French company, Findus, for example, is now the butt of jokes because it was discovered that its all-beef lasagna Bolognese actually contained horsemeat, in addition to beef (and sometimes all horse). Many people around the world actually still eat horsemeat, but they choose to: they don't want to chow down on the unknown, as it were, as they dine on their industrially produced pasta products.

And even a powerful brand, such as Louis Vuitton, can be weakened not only by knock-offs but by ubiquity - is something so very exclusive if, although it costs a fortune, everybody seems to have it?

As for personal branding, quality is part of it. As well as integrity. And something that sets a person apart. Again, this can be good or bad. Do you want to be branded as someone who is a crackpot or someone who's an expert? If you're writing a book to help build your brand - using your book as a tool to increase your visibility in your field - you're taking care to be who you say you are.

The thing is, though, you need to be branded. You need to be known as the go-to person for serving the need of the market in your field.

I recommend taking a look at a book my new book on branding. It's concise, to the point and available as an e-book on Amazon. You'll find pointers on what to do to brand yourself. And what to avoid.