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category, you can actually charge a premium for your brand. Let’s look at those attributes overall and then in a personal sense.

What Is a Brand?

First, a brand is image or a perception. For the most part, it’s not about just reality, but it’s about what has happened in the marketplace and what has happened in the environment that changes your perception or your image of a particular brand. Think about some of your favorite brands. As you think through those brands, certain things flash before your eyes. In some cases, they are reality, but these images are also a perception or a history that has been built up over time. The same is true of personal brands. Your image—other’s perception of you—is created over time. That’s why every interaction that someone has with you should reflect your brand.

Second, a brand is about experience. Experience is not just about the product or the service, but it truly is the end-to-end experience. One of my customers is a large appliance manufacturer that has a great brand. To conserve costs, they changed out their delivery service to a low-cost provider. The low-cost provider did not have the same care for the brand, was often late for deliveries, and more than before, delivered damaged goods. Although the product did not change, the end-to-end experience with the product changed. That had an overall impact on the brand of the product.

You have to think through the end-to-end experience, not just the product itself. For a product, the end-to-end experience starts with the sale and continues after the purchase of the product. The same is true with your personal brand. If you think about someone’s experience with you, it’s not just about the results that you produce but it’s also about how the results are achieved. It’s about how your team and how you collaborate. It is about the customer’s entire end-to-end experience with you.

The third area of a brand is trust. Trust is probably one of the most crucial elements for a brand; it is about keeping your promise of constant or consistent value. For example, McDonald’s has a promise of value that I trust. I’ve eaten at McDonald’s in 50 countries around the world. Everywhere I go, I order a Big Mac that pretty much tastes like a Big Mac that I get in the United States. McDonald’s promises a consistent level of value. You have to think through what you are promising. Your quality standards and level of promise in your marketplace will be observed because the market will hold you to whatever level of promise you made. And that’s what establishes trust.

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