When we think about the word “brand”, the first thing that comes to my mind is business. Companies communicate with customers, by ‘branding’ their products. Therefore, they highlight what to expect in terms of quality of their products and values, their brand image. Before, I didn’t consider myself as a brand but what to do in a situation where I am about to become my own business? How do I brand myself?
David McNally & Karl D. Speak (2009), reflect on the issue from two points of view:
‘A brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by a buyer or a prospective buyer, describing the experience related to doing business with an organization or consuming its products or services.’
‘Your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you.’
In fact, isn’t that the same? If I am ‘my own business’, I need to brand myself the same way companies would do. On the week 10 we had a Personal Branding workshop with Francesca Dall’Olmo Riley. On that day, I learned the personal branding theory and how to apply it to my professional aspirations.
According to Keller, Sternthal and Tybout (2002), brand positioning starts by answering three simple questions: ‘Have we established the frame of reference? Are We Leveraging Our Points of Parity? Are the Points of Difference Compelling?’ Frame of reference is a goal that our customers can achieve by using our brand. ‘Choosing the proper frame is important because it dictates the types of associations that will function as points of parity and points of difference’ (Keller, Sternthal and Tybout 2002,p.4)
The frame of reference is, navigate the field we operate in and establish our target customers and competitors. Once we figure out who our competitors are, we need to distinguish our points of parity and points of difference. The next step to defining the brand are the core values of our company as we individuals hold – ‘the mental map of the brand’. All of that leads us to the brand mantra, a short phrase, three to five words that capture the essence of the brand values. Brand mantra is the message we send to our customers.
As a freelance choreographer and dance teacher, I established my target customers and competitors as women who want to stay in shape and get back in shape (after the pregnancy). Couples, who want to strengthen their bond through dance as well as prepare their wedding dance. My direct competitors are other dance schools, freelance dancers, gyms and personal trainers.
My mantra comes from a believe that everyone can dance, no matter the level of experience they have. Dance is fun and helps to keep in shape but, most fundamentally, builds the confidence which many of us is lacking.
‘Fun, empowering, designed for you’
This exercise is helping me to define myself as a teacher and how to communicate with my customers through my brand. I found it hard but very rewarding. We brand ourselves, every day, unconsciously. It feels good to take control and make sure that we send an appropriate message to our customers. 😊
Keller,K.L.,Sternthahal,B and Tybout, A. (2002) ‘Three questions you need to ask about your brand’, Harvard Business Review
McNally. D and Speak. K.(2009) ‘Be Your Own Brand: A Breakthrough Formula for Standing Out from the Crowd’, Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Available at https://www.bkconnection.com/static/Be_Your_Own_Brand_EXCERPT.pdf [ accessed on 5/12/2018]
Riley, F. (no date) Managing a Creative Business: Brand Management. Available at: https://canvas.kingston.ac.uk/courses/9278/files/864839/download?wrap=1 [Accessed 05 December 2018]
Notes taken during the class with Francesca Dall’Olmo Riley.