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Positioning Your Personal Brand

December 27, 2013

positioning your personal brand

Once you define your brand as discussed in part one of this series, positioning your personal brand is the next natural step in a proven process used by big brands all over the world.  Positioning is a core part of building a brand, and it’s essential to the marketing of it.

The problem is that positioning is perhaps one of the most misunderstood concepts in marketing.  Most don’t really understand how it works and it may feels nearly impossible to think about how it applies to people, unless you really break it down.

In a nutshell, positioning is how you want your customers to feel about you; it’s the space you want to occupy in their minds every time they think about your brand. When you think about branding that way, it’s easy to see how it can apply to people as well.  How do you want people to feel about you?  That’s your positioning!Positioning is not a statement about you – it’s a statement that captures who you are. It’s not a factual claim, but rather an emotional reason for people to want to be around you. It should capture the essence of who you are and how you have defined your personal brand.

Starbucks is not positioned as a retailer that sells coffee.  Instead it is positioned as a vibrant member of the community, giving neighbors a place to meet or simply start their day.  At least in my mind, as a big fan of the brand!

A really good positioning statement can act as a guidepost when it comes to making decisions in your life.

For example, the positioning of a big brand like Nike shouldn’t be “sports gear,” which is a statement about what the brand makes and sells. Instead, the positioning of Nike should capture how the brand makes its customers feel.

Instead of “sports gear,” Nike’s positioning would be something more like “motivates the weekend warrior.”  That statement is much more emotional and descriptive of what the brand does for customers and ties directly to the brand’s tagline “Just Do It!”  Now every decision that Nike makes, from how it markets to what new products to launch should fulfill on that positioning of “motivates the weekend warrior.”  I’m not exactly sure if that’s how the brand would frame it; it’s just my perspective.

You can take the same approach using your own personal attributes to craft a positioning statement that captures how you want people to feel about you.  You can use this positioning your personal brand statement to make decisions in every aspect of your life, at work, home, and socially.

I’ll use myself as an example. I’m what you might call, “a builder and a fixer.”  I’ve spent my entire career building brands and organizations, fixing and addressing their marketing challenges to help them grow.  I like to think of myself the same way in my personal life as well.  While my positioning statement is fact-based, it also has a sense of emotion to it.

I’ve made career decisions every step of the way to make sure that I am building my own brand as a “builder and a fixer.”  It’s helped me through some very tough choices.Your positioning statement then becomes an effective way to describe who you are to others.  Imagine using it as a strategic way to answer the classic interview question, “tell me about yourself.”

The positioning statement should be short and to the point, yet also embody how you want people to feel about you when they interact with you.  I use my positioning statement to evaluate where I am in my journey and what decisions I need to make to keep moving forward.  I’ve recently become an “empty nester” and am at a cross roads in many ways.  My positioning statement is an invaluable tool that is fueling the way I manage my personal brand during my personal transition.

Now it’s your turn – get started today:  What’s the positioning your personal brand statement?

Love Your Brand!

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About The Author

Entrepreneur of the Year, Agency of the Year, Most Creative Agency, Thought Leadership Certificate of Excellence, Social Media Icon – these are not accolades that Jim Joseph takes lightly or too seriously either. They inspire him everyday to continue to excel and to learn. Jim Joseph is the kind of guy that actually watches the television commercials rather than skipping through them. He scans the magazine ads before ever reading the columns, hard copy and online. Don't be surprised to find him in his office, legs propped up, flipping through Twitter on his iPad. As the President of Cohn & Wolfe North America, Jim brings over twenty-five years of consumer marketing leadership, bold management prowess, and a fine head of hair to the agency. If running this gig wasn't big enough, he's also a three-time author, blogger, professor at New York University, and regular contributor to Entrepreneur and Huffington Post. To top it off, he's on the Board of Directors for the number one branding school in the country, The Brand Center at VCU, as well as The Council of PR Firms and DTC Perspectives. With the strength of a power-lifting honey badger and the intelligence of, well, an NYU professor, Jim's boldest move was transforming what was a struggling pharmaceutical advertising agency into an integrated marketing powerhouse, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness. By moving from "sickness" to "wellness", and from silo'd to holistic, Jim engineered a makeover that included new capabilities in CRM, promotion, and digital, as well as a new mix of clients beyond pharma into diverse areas of wellness. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, Jim published his first marketing book in 2010 called The Experience Effect, which showed how building a powerful brand experience creates shareable consumer loyalty. As Jim says, "without a great brand experience, you're just another product." The book garnered much critical acclaim, winning a Silver Medal for Best Marketing Book from Axiom. We'd bet his mother has a copy bolted to the refrigerator. Sequels take a look at applying that big brand theory to small business with The Experience Effect for Small Business and now personal branding with The Personal Experience Effect. His daily blog and continuing contributions to Entrepreneur and Huffington Post remind us that, "marketing is a spectator sport," as he touches on big brand experiences as well as advice for anyone in marketing, even if you are just marketing yourself!

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