I always say the phrase “You Are Your Brand”. And it is true indeed, however there are different ways of interpreting that phrase. It all comes down to strategies, which I think is one of the best things since sliced bread!
Firstly, your brand is the product of your style, your thought processes, your ideas, your hard work, your design and your creativity, brand loyalty, product value (product value here is not how much your products cost) amongst many other things which come directly from you.
Secondly, your brand is a representation of your values, your beliefs, your attitude, your emotions and how you present yourself amongst other things.
So, the phrase above is directly related to the second part of my breakdown which is that you are firstly the representative of your brand and everything it stands for. From brand values to brand communications, brand ethos and brand equity.
Do you need to sell yourself to your customers?
The short answer is absolutely not!
(Many do and that's perfectly fine, however, that is not the subject of today's topic)
You are not the product.
It all comes down to value. It’s probably the most common misconception when it comes to luxury branding, that you have to sell yourself. How many customers can you meet face to face to be able to build a professional relationship on a personal level? That’s the number you will limit your sales to if your sales campaign (strategy) was based on selling yourself. It is also a short-term solution.
Why doesn't that work in the long term? It's simple. A customer may be sold on you as a person and they may buy your product initially based on that alone. But once they've bought it, if the product is not sold to them with added value then that becomes a one-time sale.
From a brand sustainability point of view that campaign becomes ineffective very quickly as it is temporary. Although it is an idea which is employed by many who are not looking for brand loyalty. I like to call that a 'No strings attached' strategy, because it’s not really a strategy in its true sense. Strategies are for long term purposes and campaigns are for short term promotional purposes. This is where the term ‘Advertising Campaign’ originated from. It has a shelf life of one season or one model at a time, whether it’s cars or fashion.
When it comes to selling yourself, what you have to look at is how valuable you are as a person to your brand, and not to your customers. So, in effect what you have to do is to sell yourself to your brand. You do this by investing your ideas, investing finances, investing time, investing in research and development and this in turn will build your product value and that is what makes you invaluable to your brand. Without you, your brand is starved of all those nutrients you feed it with.
When it comes to selling to your customers, what matters most is how valuable and relatable your product is to their lives. How your products represent your brand. What will your customers gain by having your product in their lives? Why would they need your products more than once? These are the areas of your branding which a customer will be able to relate to and make conscious decisions about their loyalty to your brand. The answers to questions like these are the reasons why you will sell your products and build brand loyalty and make your brand sustainable for the long term.
Majority of the most successful brands in the world create strategies for the long term and run campaigns for short term promotions. Strategies are built for the overall brand ethos and are held together with string like structures of values, reseach, beliefs, consistency, development, cutomer service etc. So we can say that strategies always come with strings attached to them. Hugely successful brands have millions of customers worldwide and 99.9% of the customers have never met or spoken to the brand owners. Most don't even recognise a brand owner if they were to be shown a picture of them. Their sales strategies are successful because the customer value is in the products. The brand representation stays with the brand owner.
I have highlighted the what and why above. But how does someone achieve and build brand values without having to sell their soul? Well that's part of the James Clarke mentoring programs.