Everything has a brand. A fellow colleague once asked me about my long term goals. She wanted to know why I wanted to pursue doctoral studies. “Why would anyone want to read and write all day?” she said.”I don’t believe in the idea of branding yourself as an academic,” she confessed. I reverberated the question back to her and asked why she wanted to become a sociologist. “What is your motive for wanting to study people?” I asked.
“It is simple,” she said. “I want to help people.” Interesting I thought. What I was most curious about however was how she expected to market that talent. She would need to market or “brand” her counseling skills in order to gain a significant number of clients.
In almost any vocation or career it is helpful to view yourself as a brand. Custodial engineers or janitors have some skills that make them exceptional. If they market those skills outside the workplace, they may be able to start a business that specializes in that particular skill.
We all are label whores; addicted to some kind of brand or label. Our lives are surrounded by labels and brands that draw us into monogramming ourselves in some way or another. We can blame it on a capitalist society or we can take responsibility for our own part in establishing and validating ourselves through brands and labels. Subconsciously these labels allow us to gain a certain type of validation.
As a teenager I loved the name brand GUESS JEANS. I bought a pillow that was shaped like the back of guess jeans and slept with that pillow nightly. I was a crazed fanatic; buying everything from notebooks to key chains that included that upside down triangle. Now teenagers love JUICY and COACH. They have been sucked in by the capitalist monster that fuels label addiction.
The brands and labels do not just stop at clothes however, it is also applicable to brand yourself with a certain lifestyle or certain types of educational achievements. So what brand are you? How have you chosen to brand your career and or lifestyle? Or are you still denial that you too are a brand?
Big Companies understand the importance of brands. Today in the Age of the Individual, you have to be your own brand.
Tom Peters, FAST COMPANY MAGAZINE
August 31, 1997