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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

People Branding in the digital age

Whether you are an entrepreneur or an ambitious career oriented person, you probably know and recognise the importance of the personal brand in making an impact on clients and co-workers, increasing the value that you command in the market and influencing others' opinion. 

'People branding' has always been a relevant concept, but the digital era has underlined its importance even more sharply. Every person who has tried to start a Facebook page, blog or group understands this. What you project, both consciously and unconsciously, is defining you as a brand to your target audience and prospects. Therefore it is important to be consistent in what you say and do.

Many of the branding solutions that we undertake at Bright Angles have involved people branding. An inspiring social entrepreneur, a creative jewellery designer, a leading medical practitioner - all of them are dynamic personalities who define their young businesses and the branding solutions we arrive at have to take this into account.

It's a delicate tightrope walk between defining the brand and keeping the personality distinct from it. A brand is larger than the individual, and needs to stand for what is desirable and aspirational in its category, and to its target audience. For instance, your individual personality may be to take things lightly and easily, but that may be a no-no in your category. Nonetheless, young and entrepreneurial brands can gain an edge and sharpness from the energy of their founders, so it is important to extract and put some of these qualities into the brand. 

It is all the more important when we are creating the digital brand strategy. Why? Because, to put it simply, people talk to and interact with other people, not with brands. The human element is extremely critical in digital branding. That's why we believe that in social media, a person with a name should be manning the Facebook page. A company blog should have the name and designation of the author (Maybe the CEO). Never mind if someone else prepares the content, it should have a personality that springs to life. Only then will people be interested in engaging and having a conversation. 

The Bright Angles Digital Branding Template is a powerful tool for all businesses, and especially if you are a 'people brand' driven business. It has multiple facets that bring the brand to life as a person, such as what the brand will think, do, act, the kind of friends it will have etc. This may seem like a far cry from the crisp 'one line brief' or brand positioning statement, but this expanded definition is extremely  useful in social media. Because we are not creating an ad which needs to make one point. In the digital medium, we need to sustain a lifelong conversation and engagement. A fully fleshed out personality makes the job of the social media team easier, and ensures that the website designers can also create a brand personality that syncs with the social media. And it's important to provide breadth of canvas, rather than be sharply focused as this allows more room for digital content teams to play with the brand. 

The process of people branding involves a deep understanding of the person or partners who run a business, or an understanding of the organisational soul and culture. This in turn gets captured in the Digital Branding Template, in a way that can be leveraged in the brand's digital presence.