Looking After Your Brand

Glyndwr University's Zone Business Breakfast series has two parts to each session: the breakfast itself, and at the end of the day a guest lecture.

I covered the important points about the breakfast in my previous post, but I did not cover the lecture in that article.

The lecturer, Matthew Draycott ("Educator. Entrepreneur. Geek") delivered this month's lecture, covering the theme of managing, and taking control of, your own personal brand.

Everyone has a brand. In this modern world of data footprints, every email, tweet, blog post, Facebook status update and Google search reveals something about you, often in ways that you won't realise until something happens to come back to haunt you, perhaps years down the line.

You effectively are your own brand. You, the things you do, the things you like, your reputation. Robert Greene, in his book The 48 laws of Power, emphasised the need for maintaining a strong reputation:-

Law 5

So Much Depends on Reputation – Guard it with your Life

Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once you slip, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable. Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen. Meanwhile, learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them.

Actually, a lot of the 48 Laws of Power are very useful when it comes to maintaining one's reputation and managing one's brand. A good rep, a strong brand, could mean the difference between a lucrative life and obscurity: or worse, someone else destroying you by linking your brand to something unsavoury.

I thought I'd take some of what Matthew discussed and apply it to myself.

Tagline - something that says everything people need to know about you in a few short words.

Blogger. Writer. Hypnotist. Philosopher.

As a major point of the lecture, Matthew asked five questions, gave five directions to consider when gathering together the resources to begin managing your brand, and listed five activities to consider doing after the lecture.

The Questions

1. What are your goals?
Primarily? To enjoy the adulation of a paying clientele, ensuring I need never have to worry about being underneath someone's heel, ever.

2. What do you value?
Trust. Followers. My friendships. My family and relatives.

3. What are your passions?
Among others; The 48 Laws of Power and other Robert Greene books. Blogging. Writing. Creating material for roleplaying games such as Traveller, Legend and White Wolf's World of Darkness. Mind maps. Neurolinguistic programming. The Buzan 10 Intelligences model. Hypnosis, particularly trancing people. 2000 AD. Science fiction. Wrexham Museum. My local library. The Chester Science Fiction and Fantasy Readers Club. Geeky stuff like H P Lovecraft's books, Vedic Mathematics and the Klingon language. Taking Co-enzyme Q10 daily. Transhumanism.

4. What are your motivations?
Having something to write about. Having opportunities to learn. Having every opportunity to refine my hypnotic techniques. Expanding my vocabulary. Creativity.

5. What makes you remarkable?
The variety of subjects I study. The fact that I keep studying them, and that I keep my mind flexible.

The Directions

1. Be diligent.
This ties with the "Show up / Follow up" theme discussed in my previous post. If I promise something to someone, I deliver. Some would call this "honour," as in "the honour of a Klingon." It just means living up to your word.

2. Be consistent.
Maintaining your image means maintaining it across the entire blogosphere. Not just on, say, your main blog but across every blog; in every tweet and Facebook status update and email, even to your business cards and letterheads.

3. Be relevant.
Stick to the topics you know about. Have a clear association with those things.Jeremy Clarkson is associated with cars and Boys' Own idiotic adventures: if he suddenly started going on about mediaeval madrigals or Japanese flower arranging, he usually has something from his relevant topics to bring to the discussion at some point.

In my case, it means not making foodie posts, posting videos to music tracks that my readership would not thank me for, endless trivia about which hand I'm holding my toothbrush in, posts about tat I'm selling on eBay and invitations to all and sundry to come and join me on Facepalm, or whatever mind-numbing game is all the rage these days. I don't do Farmville, Angry Birds or any of the social games - and once SuperPoke Pets has closed down in March, I've sworn never to play any of those kinds of social games, ever again.

4. Be interesting.
At least, in this case, I do strive for this through the application of my blogging philosophy of "Sticky Words;" the words that stick to you. The words to which you stick. The words which glue you to the screen, like the black tar globe trap that snared Mister Incredible in Disney Pixar's animated movie The Incredibles, or the briar patch that snares intruders into Br'er Rabbit's domain in the stories.

5. Be yourself.
I would love to do this, but sometimes don't believe the "myself" that I am can do the things that I can do.

The Activities

1. Take inventory.
Ongoing. I have blogs, Facebook accounts, a Twitter account, email addresses, and a presence in several fora relating to my passions and activities. What's consistent about most of them is that I use the same Shadow Self / Hollow Man self-portrait across the board, whether I go by my proper name, "Fiat Knox," "Libra" or "Lucifuge Rofocale."

2. Develop a plan.
Again, ongoing. The biggest step, IIRC, is to find someone who will monetise my blogs and keep me funded so I can continue to do what I do in an environment where the need to make money is taken off the table, and I can explore this world and its strange phenomena at leisure.

3. Craft your identity.
Again, look for the Shadow Self / Hollow Man identity. As much as a brand, it is also my logo.

4. Choose the right tools and channels.
Getting there. Using tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn to post status updates and tweets of my blogs. I have a DocStoc account to post whatever free stuff I end up creating. I keep business matters on LinkedIn, and tweets are mostly to post links to blog entries I just posted.

5. Measure and repeat.
Another ongoing thing. I keep watch of whoever's still listening to me, and look at all times for customer satisfaction - I also request feedback reviews from clients I've tranced, among others.

Final Notes

I have to mention the next big Zone event, this year's Virtual Enterprise Conference on 22 - 23 February 2012 at Glyndwr University's Nick Whitehead Centre. Now in its third year, this event is split across two parts - the real world conference, where people meet in the flesh, and the second day which takes place in Second Life.

Guests for this year's conference include Simon Grice, Josh Liu and Jess Ratcliffe.

Alumni and students can attend for free; businesses have to book and pay a fee of £35, though if you are a Glyndwr University alumnus who runs a business you can attend as an alumnus rather than as a business.

For information, including arranging group bookings, email Matthew Draycott and tell him Alex Greene sent you.

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