Branding lessons sit comfortably between the pages of the Bible. I believe that there is inspiration and colourful lessons in the everyday and the ordinary and the Bible as the world’s best-selling book (I think it still is) has some useful personal branding lessons that if applied can help to amplify your personal brand and help you stand out and shine.
There were no advertising billboards, no Facebook, no Twitter and no social media tools to manage your accounts, in fact there was no Internet (hard to think of life with no Internet) but in spite of those conditions the Bible has stood the test of time with just the power of story and word of mouth marketing. The fact that we are still talking about God, Jesus and the Bible suggests that they must some lessons to teach us.
Before your run off to do something less ‘religious’ let me assure you that this is not intended to be a lesson in religious principles or practices so you can keep your personal thoughts on Christianity to yourself (maybe we can have that conversation another time) as it is not important or even relevant here. This is instead a journey through some ancient wisdom about practices and strategy that are as relevant today as they were in biblical times. So what can this text- the Bible – that has stood the test of time, tell us about personal branding and the story that captures it?
Here are eight of the points that I believe will help you on your quest to stand out and shine:
- Be a thought leader
A thought leader is the go-to person in a particular field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and show you how to replicate their success. The central character in the Bible is Jesus who is the expert and the storyteller. Christians buy into His story/stories. He is the thought leader that provides, guidance, support, encouragement and insight. He is not afraid to be different. He challenges the status quo and quite literally stands out in the crowd. He is appealing and engaging and people want to follow Him.Be a thought leader in your industry, challenge the status quo and stand out in the crowd.
- Develop your brand personality
Your brand personality comes to life when you associate the brand with human traits or characteristics. These characteristics give the brand relatability which helps increase brand awareness and popularity and is true of both business and personal brands.There is a lot to be said about promoting your brand through a recognisable character/persona (I am the Personal Brand Storyteller), someone that embodies the characteristics that appeal to your customer’s and as a result, gives them a greater listening for you and what you have to say.
Jesus provided the personal touch. He was visible and spoke to the people in a language that they understood – through story and parables. His brand personality stood out. In modern day we have great examples of characters whose personality has impacted a business and as a result has impacted the world i.e. Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey etc. You may not be a Steve Jobs, a Richard Branson or an Oprah Winfrey but you are the person your industry needs.
- Develop your brand narrative
Your brand narrative is simply your brand story. The story you tell through absolutely everything you say and do. How you show up, how you present yourself and how you interact. It is the conversation that connects the dots of your values, your vision, your mission and your uniqueness. At the core of the Bible is a strong narrative, a narrative that deliberately connects, engages, challenges and inspires its audience and all in a language that they understand. Through this narrative, the message of Christianity was and continues to be widely shared.Your brand narrative tells your story, a story that engages your audience and encourages them to connect with you as you take them on a journey.
- Develop your storytelling style
A story has no power without a competent storyteller to tell it. And the great thing is we are born with this innate skill. Storytelling is not a skill we need to learn, we simply need to understand how to access it and then how to put it to work. Jesus was an awesome storyteller and all of His important messages were neatly packed into a powerful and engaging parable – a succinct, didactic story, which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles.I was at a recent event where the presenter was talking about potential. Instead of giving the definition and using examples to support that definition he instead told the story of a young boy who on Christmas morning came downstairs to take a sneak peek at his presents. The boy opened presents one by one – four in total- and all of them were the same presents he had received the year before. The boy wasn’t happy and forgetting he wasn’t supposed to be opening presents stormed upstairs. He woke up his mother and began complaining about the situation. His mother looked at him lovingly before she replied: “you didn’t use them last year so we have given them to you again and when you use them then you will get different presents” The story helped the presenter make his point and the definition of ‘potential was fully understood, look I’m still telling the story.
- Create a framework to work with
A framework is a system of rules, ideas, or beliefs used to plan or decide something. At the heart of the Bible and Christianity is the 10 Commandments. These 10 rules are the framework from which the Bible and other Christian teachings and writings stem from. In order to be effective in your business activities you too need ‘the rules’ to build your business by. Create your own set of brand rules, establishing your tone of voice, your core beliefs and your core values. You might even want to write down your own 10 Personal Brand Commandments.
- Include multiple touch points for your customers to engage with you
Repetition is key as we are living in a media-saturated world, bombarded with 500 – 5000 messages every day and the chances are that there is someone doing something similar to you so you have your work cut out. The key is to connect purposefully with your customers across a variety of platforms, using multiple touch points to get their attention, connect and engage them en route to developing profitable relationships. The Bible is just one of the touch points in Christianity. As a brand, Christianity provides a variety of different approaches and ways for their audience to engage with their message. These include Hymns, Sermons, Testimonies (user generated content), Art etc.
- Give your customers something to talk about
Word of mouth is the best form of advertising, but word of mouth requires work. You have to plan for it, create a framework (I mentioned framework in 5) for it, then take action to make it happen. The Bible is littered with stories and personal accounts of encounters with God and with Jesus that they just had to share with each other and with us. Give your customers an ah-mazing experience that they just can’t help talking to others about and sharing with others.
- Evangelise; preach as you go
I think that Evangelism is more than just a Christian term. It’s all about passionately sharing your story with the primary intention of creating an environment for your customers to buy. Jesus and His followers did just that everywhere they went (even when it was unpopular) they shared their story and established their brand. Even the people that hated them and persecuted them were clear about what they stood for and what their story was about.
Here are some questions to ask your personal brand
- In which ways are you the thought leader for your customers?
- What is your brand’s personality? What’s your persona?
- How strong is your narrative? Who are you engaging with it?
- How many different ways are you engaging with your customers, connecting with them and reinforcing your message?
- How are you evangelising and practising what you preach? Do people know and understand what you stand for?
The Bible and marketing make for interesting bedfellows but you have to admit there are some useful personal branding messages there!