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The Three C's of Personal Branding

by William Arruda

The benefits of being a strong brand are tremendous. As a strong brand, you command higher pay or fees; you thrive during economic downturns; you get to choose the clients, assignments or positions you want; and you can transition your business or career with ease. In addition to being able to boast these enviable benefits, strong brands have something else in common. They all exhibit the “three C’s” of branding: Clarity; Consistency; and Constancy. Does your brand pass the ‘Three C Test?’

Strong brands are clear about who they are and who they are not. They understand their unique promise of value. And this promise of value sets them apart from their competitors. It differentiates them and allows them to attract and build loyalty among the groups of people who can help them achieve their goals. Richard Branson, for example, is clear about being a risk taker. He is not your typical CEO in a blue suit and white shirt. He is a dare devil who was dressed a wedding gown when he launched Virgin Bridal, and was not dressed at all when he launched his book, Virginity. Among his first big risky ventures was signing the Sex Pistols onto his record label when no one else would even consider them. Since then, he has taken on both British Airways with Virgin Airlines and Coke, the strongest brand in the world, with Virgin Cola. Even outside of the professional arena, Richard Branson is clear about being a risk-taker. While many CEOs travel the world comfortably in their plush corporate jets, Richard Branson decided he was going to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon.

In addition to being clear about who they are, strong brands are also consistent. Madonna is an excellent example of brand consistency. She is the chameleon brand of entertainment. She reinvents herself with each CD that she produces. Now that might seem inconsistent.  But in fact, Madonna changes with incredible consistency. She didn’t change for her fist five CDs and then stay the same for the next two. She consistently changed, each time starting a trend. We know for sure that her upcoming CD will be nothing like any of the others she has done before. Madonna has her public waiting on the edge of theirs seats, wondering what will emerge next. Her ability to change consistently throughout her career separates her from other entertainers, thereby strengthening her brand.

It is not enough to be clear and consistent if you are not always visible to your target audience. Strong brands are constant. They are always there for their customers and prospects or for those people who can help them achieve their professional goals. Oprah never goes into hiding. With her weekly television show, her book club, her magazine and her numerous appearances in the media, Oprah is a constant in our lives and an incredibly strong brand. Oprah is the human brand of show biz. She cares for people and is willing to share of herself to help people advance. This clarity about what makes her unique is consistent among all of her endeavors. And it is constantly visible to her target audience through her numerous ways of interacting with the public.

Chances are, your brand’s target market is a lot smaller than Oprah’s. And that is good news, making it easier (and a lot less expensive) for you to remain constantly connected to your target audience.

In uncovering, building and nurturing your brand, you need to keep the three C’s in mind, because no brand is truly a strong brand if it doesn’t pass the ‘Three C Test.’  How does your brand do?

> you practice the Three C's of branding during the Express Phase of the Reach personal branding process

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