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Next, after you nail your promise of today and tomorrow for your personal brand, how are you going to generate excitement and emotional connection? How do you connect with people? How do you make sure that people understand what you’re trying to communicate and what your image is in the marketplace both from a perception standpoint as well as from a reality standpoint?

One of my favorite companies is called Best of Italy. It was one of my first e-commerce customers. When you met the management team, the energy was pulled out and its site came with the same level of passion. It includes recipes for its pasta, recommended wines, and desserts. It made the site into an experience—the experience of having real Italian food. Its brand promise obviously comes through, but it is the excitement, the energy, the way it communicates it, and its perception in the marketplace that really makes a difference.

If you look at excitement and energy, how do you communicate your personal brand’s passion? How do you do it in a way that people know? Do you do it in a way that’s unexpected that causes them to think through your brand in a different way, in a powerful way?

A strong brand gives immediate credibility to new products, so use your brand’s strength to expand beyond where you are today. If your current project is leveraging your skills but you want something more challenging, think about how you can extend your brand such as what Gap does with Baby Gap. Extend but keep your strengths in mind.

In Today’s Dynamic World

In an economic downturn, because the world is so flat today, brand matters more. Especially a brand that has an attribute that is associated with the ability to change. If you think about a brand during an economic downturn, 84 percent of people make buying decisions on brand during an economic downturn versus when times are good and only 68 percent purchase on brand. People are more willing to take a risk when times are going well. In dynamic times, and especially in the environment that CEOs described in our 2007–2008 study, change is valued more highly.

One thing that causes a person to leave a brand that they love is that a change occurred, and the brand did not adapt to that change. An example of this ability to change is seen in our transportation example. Railroads in the United States were once king of transportation. However, the railroad

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