BrandingPays: A book review by Bob Morris

BrandingPaysBrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand
Karen Kang
BrandingPays Media (2013)

How to create or increase demand for the authentic value you offer

For hundreds of years, people have branded their livestock for identification purposes. Samuel Augustus Maverick (1803–1870) was a Texas land baron who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, He later declared his own independence by refusing to brand his cattle. His name is the source of the term “maverick,” first cited in 1867, which is now generally defined as “independently minded.” It was assumed that cattle without a brand must be “Maverick’s.” Our views on brands, branding, and brand management have certainly changed over the years since then but the primary purpose of a brand remains the same: positive and attractive identification.

That said, this seems to be an era of “companies of one” (i.e each individual) that requires mastery of what Karen Kang has characterized as “strategic personal branding” to achieve and then sustain positive and attractive identification within and beyond the given enterprise. As Geoffrey Moore correctly suggests to the reader in the Foreword, “Your job is to embrace the challenge of personal branding and to leverage the models and methods this book lays out to position yourself to provide maximum value to itgers. That, in turn, will create maximum value for you, both in terms of personal fulfillment and financial success.”

Kang provides thorough and practical explanations of initiatives that include these:

o How to take charge of one’s personal brand and strengthen both the quality of its substance and the scope/depth of its appeal
o How to position one’s self for appropriate opportunities to provide authentic, quantifiable value
o How to formulate and then transmit “messages” that possess clarity and achieve impact
o How to develop a strategy (a “hammer”) that drives tactics (“nails”) to achieve the given objective(s)
o How to establish develop, nourish, expand, and sustain an ecosystem for effective strategic personal branding
o How to formulate a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective action plan
o How and why “360º degree branding” makes maximum use of vision, symbols, words, and initiatives
o How (and how NOT to) use social media to support implementation of the action plan

I commend Kang on her skillful use of various reader-friend devices that include checklists of key points and processes as well as dozens of Figures that illustrate those points and processes. For example, Figure 1.5B (Page 39): Sample Brand Attributes, Figure 3.9 (72): Value Messages by Audience, Figure 5.7 (112): Ecosystem System Model for Job Search, and Figure 6.5 (127): Brand Improvement Template. Kang also includes “Summary” and “Action List” sections at the conclusion of Chapters 2-8.

Those who “embrace the challenge of personal branding and to leverage the models and methods this book lays out to position yourself to provide maximum value to others. That, in turn, will create maximum value for you, both in terms of personal fulfillment and financial success.” That’s quite true. The ultimate value of this book, however, will depend entirely on the nature and extent of effort that its reader is willing to commit and then sustain. At least in one sense, personal branding is no different from any other human initiative: all limits tend to be self-imposed.

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