Build Your Brand

The Mentor: KEITH FERRAZZI on 


I’m extremely passionate about Self Branding. This is an article from the book: “NeverEat Alone” which, in my opinion, is one of the best read for young entrepreneur and Branding in general. Enjoy. (Brizzo-AICY)

Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.


As a marketing professional, I’m keenly aware that perception drives reality and that we are all, in some sense, brands.      I know how all my choices—what I wear, my conversational style, my hobbies—fashion a distinctive identity.                Image and identity have become increasingly important in our new economic order. With the digital sea swelling in sameness and overwhelmed in information,  a powerful brand built not on a product but on a personal message has become a competitive advantage. Your content will become the guiding star of your brand, helping to integrate all your connecting efforts around a uniform and powerful mission. Good personal brands do three highly significant things for your network of contacts: They provide a credible, distinctive, and trustworthy identity. They project a compelling message. They attract more and more people to you and your cause, as you’ll stand out in an increasingly cluttered world. As a result, you will find it easier than ever to win new friends and have more of a say in what you do and where you work

After exposing consumers to the Nike swoosh for two decades, and infusing the symbol with all the athletic grandeur we now associate with the symbol, the company has trained us to think “Nike” whenever we see that simple little symbol.

Powerful stuff, don’t you think?


Within a network, your brand can do something similar. It establishes your worth. It takes your mission and content and broadcasts it to the world. It articulates what you have to offer,why you’re unique, and gives a distinct reason for others to connect with you. Branding guru and all-star business consultant Tom Peters instructs in his customary bravado to “create your own microequivalent of the Nike swoosh.” He wants to bring Madison Avenue to your cubicle, holding out the branding success of Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey as a template for every Willy Lohman wanting to become Willy Gates.

How have we gone from pitching products to pitching ourselves?

Peters insists that we live in a “World Turned Upside Down.” The conventions of the past are meaningless. Rules are irrelevant. The lines have blurred between new and old economy, Hollywood, huge corporations, and simply huge incorporated individuals.                                                                                                                                                                            It’s what Peters calls the “white-collar revolution.” A confluence of factors—including a streamlining of business processes, technology that replaces jobs, an increase in outsourcing to foreign countries, and an age of entrepreneurialism where more and more people see themselves as free agents—are combining in such a way that Peters predicts over 90 percent of all white-collar jobs will be radically different or won’t exist at all in ten to fifteen years.                                                            He says, “You must think of your job, your department, your division as a self-contained’Inc.’You must do WOW projects.” (At AICY we simply call it WOW EFFECT)

In terms of branding, then, the bottom line for everyone

comes down to a choice: to be distinct or extinct

I repeat……


In terms of branding, then, the bottom line for everyone comes down to a choice: to be distinct or extinct


“I’m sick to death of hearing, ‘I’d like to, but they won’t let me,'” Peters preaches, hitting his iconoclastic stride. “Be the CEO of your own life. Raise hell. Let the chips fall where they may. It’ll never be easier to change jobs than it is today.” Yes! Yes! Yes!

Few things infuriate me more than when people say they’re helpless, or even indifferent, to distinguish themselves from their peers and colleagues. I remember giving advice to an extremely smart young guy named Kevin, who was working at the consultancy PriceWaterhouseCoopers. In the course of our discussion, he told me he wasn’t happy with what he was doing or how his career was playing out. He was, he told me, just another anonymous number cruncher with no alternatives given the staid environment there.

“Wrong!” I told him. “You have alternatives, you’re just not creating them for yourself. You have to start taking ownership of managing your career. You have to start making an effort to change your brand from anonymous number cruncher to slightly famous difference maker.”

When I made some suggestions on how he might go about doing this, he said, “That sort of thing can’t be done at a big consulting company.” I thought my head was going to explode. I think he probably thought so, too.

“Kevin, that’s just self-defeating crap. From the first day I joined Deloitte—that’s a pretty large consulting firm, right?—I went out of my way to take on projects no one wanted and initiated projects no one had thought of doing. I e-mailed my boss, and sometimes my boss’s boss, ideas. And I did it almost every day. What was the worst thing that could happen? I’d get fired from a job I didn’t like anyway. Alternatively, I’d make the effort to create the job—regardless of where it was—that I thought would make me happy.”

flirting is the
promise of sex with no guarantee.
A successful brand, then, is the
promise and guarantee of a mind-shattering experience each and every time.


To become a brand, you’ve got to become relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value.And I promise you can add value to whatever job you’re doing now. Can you do what you do faster and more efficiently? If so, why not document what it would take to do so and offer it to your boss as something all employees might do? Do you initiate new projects on your own and in your spare time? Do you search out ways to save or make your company more money?

You can’t do all that if you’re solely concerned with minimizing risk, respecting the chain of command, and following your job description to the letter.

There’s no room for yes-men in this pursuit. Those with the gumption to make their work special will be the ones to establish a thriving brand. You can’t do meaningful work that makes a difference unless you’re devoted to learning, growing, and stretching your skills. If you want others to redefine what you do and who you are within organizational boundaries, then you have to be able to redefine yourself. That means going above and beyond what’s called for. It means seeing your resume as a dynamic, changing document every year. It means using your contacts inside and outside your network to deliver each project you’re assigned with an inspired performance. Peters calls this the pursuit of WOW in everything you do. (And at AICY we totally agree with it !!!)

Shake things up! Find your value! Obsess on your image! Turn everything into an opportunity to build your brand.

So how do you create an identity for a brilliant career? How do you become the swoosh of your company? Of your network?


Here are three steps to get you on the road to becoming the next Oprah Winfrey:

Develop a Personal Branding Message (PBM)                                                                                                                                     A brand is nothing less than everything everyone thinks of when they see or hear your name. The best brands, like the most interesting people, have a distinct message.                                                                                                                                  Your PBM comes from your content/unique value proposition, as we discussed in the last chapter, and a process of self evaluation.                                                                                                                                                                                                      It involves finding out what’s really in a name—your name. It calls for you to identify your uniqueness and how you can put that uniqueness to work. It’s not a specific task so much as the cultivation of a mind-set.

What do you want people to think when they hear or read your name? What product or service can you best provide? Take your skills, combine them with your passions, and find out where in the market, or within your own company, they can best be applied.

Your message is always an offshoot of your mission and your content. After you’ve sat down and figured out who you want to be, and you’ve written goals in some version of ninety-day, threeyear, and ten-year increments, you can build a brand perception that supports all this. Your positioning message should include a list of words that you want people to use when referring to you. Writing those words down are a big first step in having others believe them. Ask your most trusted friends what words they would use to describe you, for good and for bad. Ask them what are the most important skills and attributes you bring to the table.

Package the Brand                                                                                                                                                                                      Most people’s judgments and impressions are based on visuals—

everything other than the words you speak that communicates to others what you’re about. For everyone in every field—let’s be real—looks count, so you’d better look polished and professional.

There is one general, overarching caveat in this step: Stand out!

Style matters. Whether you like it or not, clothing, letterheads, hairstyles, business cards, office space, and conversational style are noticed—big time. The design of your brand is critical. Buy some new clothes. Take an honest look at how you present yourself. Ask others how they see you. How do you wish to be seen?                                                                                The bottom line is you have to craft an appearance to the outside world that will enhance the impression you want to make.                                                                                                                                                                                                “Everyone sees what you appear to be,” observed Machiavelli, “few really know what you are.”

Why not create a personal Web site? A Web site is a terrific and cheap marketing tool for your brand, and a great way to force you to clearly articulate who you are. With a good-looking site, you look as polished and professional as any major corporation on the Internet. This may sound trivial, but it’s not. Little choices make big impressions.

Broadcast Your Brand                                                                                                                                                                              You’ve got to become your own PR firm, as I’ll talk about in the next Article Take on the projects no one wants at work. Never ask for more pay until after you’ve been doing the job successfully and become invaluable. Get on convention panels. Write articles for trade journals and company newsletters. Send e-mails filled withcreative ideas to your CEO. Design your own Me, Inc. brochure.

The world is your stage. Your message is your “play.” The character you portray is your brand. Look the part; live the part.



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