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So think about yourself on a personal basis. Personally, what is your promise? Are you promising creativity? Do you promise delivery or operational skill? Do you promise to deliver demand? Do you promise all these things? What is your promise of value? Make sure that whatever your promises, you deliver them, for that is what trust is all about.

Finally, the fourth factor that influences brand is relationship. A brand has an emotional connection. For instance, I drink Coke. I prefer Coke. In fact, when I get on an airplane and they don’t have Coke, many times I will not drink a cola but will drink water. I can’t really explain that. In a blind taste test I couldn’t tell the difference between Coke and other colas, but I have an emotional connection to Coca-Cola.

Brands have that emotional connection. Try to switch someone from a particular NFL team or try to switch someone from driving a particular brand of motorcycle. There is an emotional connection that exists. Think about yourself now on a personal basis. How do people emotionally connect with you? Do they have that connection? Can they connect with you? At what level do they connect with you? All of this will affect your brand.

The attributes of your personal brand not only have to do with reality but perception as well. The experience with you as a brand is not only based on results, but also on your end-to-end experience and how you interact. Trust is based on how you keep your consistent promise; and then probably most importantly relationship, that emotional connection that you create in your marketplace.

Let’s explore the personal implications of each of these.


When people say your name, what is the mental picture that exists in their mind? Your personal brand is represented by what others remember or imagine about you. One of the first things that I do when I inherit a brand is determine how it is perceived. The perceptions can be real, held over from many years of experience, or even based on some sort of inaccuracies. Regardless, a perception has to be handled in the appropriately way. For instance, one brand I inherited at IBM had a perception of poor quality. The quality issue was an issue of the past but had been addressed over many years. What did we do? We set out a team immediately to address all aspects of that image. The good news was that although the quality issues were real, they had been corrected. In this example, we had to fix the perception of the past.

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