You Are a Brand

branding yourself deckers lacy

Book Review
Branding yourself: how to use social media to invent or reinvent yourself.
Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy
QUE BizTech/ Pearson, 2011. 283 p.

You may or may not be comfortable thinking of yourself as a ‘brand’ a la Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, or Facebook.

But considering your career as a brand will generate ideas that may help you reach your goals.

In Branding Yourself Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy explain why you should promote yourself, how to build your online network, and how to succeed in ‘real world’ networking (public speaking, getting published, using your network to land a dream job).

Erik Deckers owns a social media agency and has been blogging since 1997. Kyle Lacy runs a digital marketing firm and blogs at KyleLacy.com, where he is ranked in the AdAge 150.

They emphasize the importance of establishing oneself as trustworthy and credible, carefully distinguishing this kind of branding from false advertising. Here they raise and develop themes developed by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith in Trust Agents and by Dan Schwabel in Me 2.0: Build a powerful brand to achieve career success.

If you ask 10 people to define personal branding you’ll get 10 different answers. Deckers and Lacy offer this: A brand is one’s emotional response to an image or to the name of a particular company, product, or person. Given that, branding yourself means creating the desired emotional response in people when they hear your name, see you online, or meet you in person.

OK, but how? They say that a personal branding campaign involves preparation and planning. One should sit down and craft a positioning statement (what I can offer uniquely) and a transaction statement (what success will look like). The statement will include defining one’s competition and specifying one’s end goal.

Kyle Lacy uses his positioning and transaction statements to keep himself focused. His location, age, being a published author, and running a business distinguish him different from some of the competition.

In a nice touch, Deckers and Lacy created three fictional personas to illustrate the points in each chapter: ‘Allen’ is an influencer with many contacts in the marketing and advertising world; ‘Beth’ changes jobs within the same industry to climb the career ladder; ‘Carla’ wants to change jobs and move into a different industry; and the IT specialist ‘Darrin’ leaves his job every 2 or 3 years to pursue a bigger paycheck. Throughout the book, each persona applies the main points to his or her own circumstances.

The authors discuss building one’s network via blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. For example, forwarding articles and links helps build relationships with customers and colleagues. Facebook’s professional pages help business owners promote and develop their brands, establish community-based relationships, purchase advertising, and track analytics.

The authors wisely realized that this can all get kind of heavy at times. To lighten the tone, they include a selection of humorous Twitter tweets they sent back and forth while writing the chapters. It’s like looking over their shoulders as they worked through this project.

In the Yin and Yang of brand building, it’s important to balance self-promotion with modesty. The authors emphasize remembering to talk about other people more than about yourself. As you promote other people’s ideas and victories you become seen as helpful and resourceful.

Although I generally like the book’s design and layout, I would register one complaint about the information-rich figures, illustrations, and graphs. They are tiny and difficult to read. Often less than half a page, each deserves a full page.

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