Managing Brand You: 7 Steps to Creating Your Most Successful Self [NOOK Book]


Whether we realize it or not, we are all brands. We all have qualities that shape and influence how the people in our lives see us—and how we see ourselves. Nationally respected brand experts Jerry Wilson and Ira Blumenthal have helped some of the most exceptional companies and individuals in the world perfect their images. Now, in Managing Brand You, they reveal their proven seven-step process for personal brand building. Using illuminating examples from successful corporations like Coca-Cola and Starbucks as ...
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Managing Brand You: 7 Steps to Creating Your Most Successful Self

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Whether we realize it or not, we are all brands. We all have qualities that shape and influence how the people in our lives see us—and how we see ourselves. Nationally respected brand experts Jerry Wilson and Ira Blumenthal have helped some of the most exceptional companies and individuals in the world perfect their images. Now, in Managing Brand You, they reveal their proven seven-step process for personal brand building. Using illuminating examples from successful corporations like Coca-Cola and Starbucks as well as high-profile celebrities like Bono and Oprah, Managing Brand You gives readers a step-by-step guide for conducting a self analysis, creating a unique identity, defining their objectives, discovering their passions, creating a plan, putting that plan into action, and monitoring their progress. Wise and insightful, this book will help readers identify what it is that makes them unique and communicate it in a way that guarantees them success.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

What if individuals could harness the power of branding to improve their lives? Wilson and Blumenthal expound on the rewards of identifying and reinforcing a consistent individual brand in this pragmatic self-help book, which offers readers a step-by-step guide to personal and professional exploration and development. The authors highlight those corporate juggernauts (Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Burger King) and public figures (Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Walt Disney—and surprisingly—Mahatma Gandhi) that have used conscious branding to catapult them to success. Subsequent chapters offer straightforward assessment exercises to help readers identify their strengths and key attributes, develop a strategy for "repositioning" or reinforcing "brand essence," and align their behaviors with their brands. While equating commercial marketing techniques to personal development may initially strike readers as disingenuous or calculating, the authors emphasize that "brand positioning is meant to bring out the best in you, not to set in motion a promotional campaign based on false image." The true message of this widely appealing book is about being true to yourself and then intentionally and dependably projecting that authentic package to the world. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814410691
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 7/16/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Jerry S. Wilson (Atlanta, GA) is a noted speaker and senior vice president at The Coca-Cola Company.
Ira Blumenthal (Atlanta, GA) is a highly respected brand consultant, author, speaker, and university educator who has counseled high-profile brand clients such as Coca-Cola, Disney, Marriott, Nestlé, and American Airlines.
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Read an Excerpt

Managing Brand YOU



Copyright © 2008 Jerry S. Wilson and Ira Blumenthal
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8144-1069-1

Chapter One



"It is not enough to understand what we ought to be, unless we know what we are; and we do not understand what we are, unless we know what we ought to be." —T. S. ELIOT

WHO AM I? How did I get here? The first step of the Brand YOU journey is an honest self-assessment. Consumer brand companies call this a brand audit, and so, true to our premise of adapting the principles and processes of corporate and product branding, we use the same term here for your first step in the 7 Steps to Creating Your Most Successful Self. Whether their product is Harley-Davidson motorcycles or Tide laundry detergent, brand managers take a thoughtful approach, stepping back and conducting a thorough assessment of the standing of their brand before revising or enhancing a marketing plan. This step includes what professional marketers refer to as a SWOT analysis—short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Similarly, with the Brand YOU audit you will identify and develop your own SWOT portrait. This beneficial diagnostic tool, done in a focused, highly committed, and thoroughly honest manner, will be invaluable later in the process.


You are a function, today, of all of the life experiences you have had to date. These include, but are not limited to, your major accomplishments and significant setbacks. Now is the time to chronicle the historical mile markers in your life and the passages you have taken that have defined your current brand position. After all, your education, experience, reference points, exhilarations, and disappointments have all contributed to who you are. As poet and essayist Wendell Berry has said, "The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it."

The Brand YOU audit is an important step. You may well carry the key to future success hidden in your past experiences, be they positive or negative. For example, let's say that as a young child you spent a lot of time outdoors. You and your family hiked and visited parks and preserves, and you enjoyed those times very much. You garnered great comfort from playing in all that nature had to offer. As an adult, you have significant stress in your life and you are anxious about each new day, about your future. Those wonderful childhood days in the woods, with hour upon hour outdoors, seem like another life. Yet reverting to this better place and unlocking the simple joys of childhood may reset the pace for your future life.

Suppose you began spending a few hours a week hiking again, going back to your beloved nature to escape the stresses of everyday life. Hey, it worked when you were younger; your youth was marked by relaxation and wonder. As a child you used to look to each new day with excitement, energy, and enthusiasm. This could be the wake-up call you've been looking for. This is exactly the rationale for the audit. Indeed, the audit may well be the first step toward your rebirth—as well as the first step in rebranding, reinventing, and reinvigorating.

A Rebranding Business Success Story

As you look at the first step of the 7 Steps to Creating Your Most Successful Self, it is important that you take a methodical approach to this self-learning. You need to work diligently to get to that "ah-Ha!" moment—maybe even experience a learning epiphany. Remember, this is not as easy as it sounds. Digging into your memory—even deeper into your psyche—and pulling up memories, feelings, and experiences (both positive and negative) is uncomfortable. However, it is necessary if you truly want to extend, enhance, and grow your personal brand.

The Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces great products and has established and maintained a stellar reputation. However, years ago the company faced increased competition when Japanese companies like Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki entered the American market. These three power brands began to challenge Harley-Davidson's market share, which had been built up over the years, as well as helped to hurt Harley brand loyalty. In 1969, Harley-Davidson motorcycles had become expensive, and they were perceived by consumers (i.e., brand image) as having eroded in quality. Even Harley loyalists started investigating whether the imported brands were worthy of consideration. This led to a sales decline and put Harley-Davidson in the unenviable position of facing bankruptcy.

By 1981, the company was sold to a group of investors who returned the original Harley look and feel to the product. Also, an important strength surfaced during a thorough brand analysis and audit; specifically, Harley-Davidson had a group of very loyal Harley owners. Acting on information received from their comprehensive audit, Harley-Davidson managers set up what is called the Harley Owners Group (more affectionately, HOG) in 1983. Today there are more than a million members worldwide in this group of brand-loyal owners. These Harley "super fans" feel pride in the product and consider Harley an important part of their very life and—just as important—a vital piece of the fabric of American culture. In the process, the group offered insights about the product and shared honest feedback. For example, they wanted the product to remain absolutely authentic—absolutely "all-American." They wanted it to be an American icon, true to its proud heritage, which included the sound, feel, and power of the engine. As a result, Harley reconfigured its product, marketing, and overall brand image, and turned the company around.

By returning to the core equity of the Harley-Davidson brand and bringing HOG to life, the brand started growing again. The Harley image of the 1950s, fueled by Hollywood biker films, resulted in a Hell's Angel association with the brand, and the public viewed Harley owners as rough-riding tough guys with multiple tattoos, biker-gang affiliations, and body piercing. Talk about metamorphosis! Today the HOG is peopled from all walks of life, representing a wide range of demographics, pyschographics, even sociographics. Although Harley owners might still be seen as free spirits, they are also seen as sales professionals, doctors, lawyers, educators, and business executives. In fact, 12 percent of new Harley purchasers are women, showing also that the strong heritage and equities of this brand have transferred to a new group.

The Harley turnaround demonstrates that almost any corporate or product brand image can be dramatically altered for the better. So can your personal brand. Remember, though, that the Harley transformation didn't just happen. It was the result of a great deal of analysis (the brand audit) and a step-by-step process to rebuild the brand—the process you are embarking on in reading this book. So put your hands on the handlebars, rev your engine, and let's hit the road together.


Begin your Brand YOU audit by imagining your life as a series of five distinct phases. Each phase is rich with experience and learning that influence your life, shown in Figure 1.1.

By organizing your life into these five phases, you can take stock of your life. It is interesting to note that the first three phases cover only 22 cumulative years, yet these phases have been very influential in forming Brand YOU; this will become even more apparent as you complete the audit. But now let's begin to look closely at each phase.

Phase One

Your childhood comprises the ages from birth to 12 years. You will have certain very distinct memories of this period, and they will be happy or sad and will involve friends and family because your life at this time is closely linked to these people. Perhaps you played specific games and attended a special elementary school. Your earliest experiences and memories shape your development; you are, after all, a product of all you've experienced, touched, seen, heard, felt, and lived, especially in these early years.

Phase Two

Your teen years cover the ages from 13 through 17 and can best be characterized as years of change. These high school years are when you faced enormous challenges of acceptance and rejection, and certainly include some times of confusion and perhaps even frustration. You probably experienced mixed feelings that led, ultimately, to the level of self-esteem you feel today. Affiliation becomes an important part of your life at this point, and although you likely didn't know or use the word inclusion, its importance was very much a contributor to your joys and sorrows at this time. So many people's memories sting with feelings of rejection by certain groups during their teen years. After all, young people want to fit in with the crowd they view as cool or hip or savvy or smart or respected or that includes leaders—or any number of other self-defined descriptors. These high school years set a tone for the phases that follow. Though only four short years, this time has likely played a long role in shaping your current Brand YOU.

Phase Three

Your young adult years range from ages 18 through 22. This part of your life is a time when you first experienced independence. Following high school, people either move to college or take on work, military service, or other activities. Many use this time to experiment with different lifestyles and dramatic personal growth occurs as a result. As a new, independent thinker with the responsibilities of life, you had a chance to really get to know yourself. You might have taken a trip with a group of friends to a foreign country, or you might have moved into your first apartment, or you might have started your full-time work career. During this phase you certainly reached out to new people with different ideas, and you experienced and learned so very much.

As with other phases, your accomplishments and disappointments are remembered. Even though you may have been seeking personal autonomy, a sense of connecting socially may have continued to be a theme in your life. Being rejected or accepted by those you respected set a tone for your future years. While rejection is painful at any time, during this time of independence and self-discovery, it may be even more so.

For example, if you wanted to join a specific fraternity or sorority in college, yet you did not get accepted, this rejection could symbolize personal dismissal and be interpreted as a failure. It could derail you at the very time you were entering your collegiate years and make you hesitant to join another group. Yet, if one of your friends who did not seek such membership heard of your rejection, that friend might discount this event as trivial; after all, life experiences are individual and have personal implications, just as feelings are real and can become long lasting and have unproductive results. Do you really want to carry such a grudge into adulthood? Are you really going to avoid joining organizations because of this small speed bump in your early life? The answer might very well be yes. In the end, regardless of peer-group receptivity, it is what you learn and reapply that will really matter to the new Brand YOU. The lesson here is the key to your future: what you learn from experiences is what you do to continue moving forward, to continue growing.

Phase Four

When you become an adult, the years from age 23 to 30, you have reached the proving-ground years. You move into a period of establishing yourself as a real adult, and this likely is very important for you: to be viewed, treated, and respected as an adult. Whether this life is centered on a career, on a relationship, or on travel or otherwise, you are engulfed in proving to yourself and others that you can make it in the real world. You may hit it big early in life or you may struggle to land a respectable job. Regardless of your place in society, your independent life has entered the time when your personal brand develops significantly and you begin to make a name for yourself that will likely be attached to what your personal brand stands for.

Phase Five

The longest phase, five, encompasses age 31 through to the present. This entire phase is about adaptation. By now, you are a full-fledged, fully-functioning adult with all the responsibilities and realities that go along with adulthood. Your ability to survive and thrive is now a picture of how well you adapt to whatever life throws at you. This stage of life can involve marriage, divorce, success, failure, loss of loved ones, and everything else under the sun. Adaptation to health problems or job-related difficulties becomes a way of life, in fact. How well do you adapt? After all, many of these occurrences are not your doing. Still, failure to adapt can be a major limiting factor to a healthy Brand YOU.

In the life span of an average adult, this longest phase represents, by far, the highest potential for growth and fulfillment. You have many years to make things happen, and you have many years to use your life experiences to help you adapt to varying conditions and challenges. It is unfortunate that too many people view this stage of life as maturity and consider it a period with little learning and when few willful changes can occur.

Not so. Even at the end of this phase opportunities abound. The list of people who have created, developed, achieved, and succeeded in their later years is incredible. Michelangelo began work on St. Peter's Basilica at age 70. Benjamin Franklin was named Chief Executive Officer of the State of Pennsylvania when he was 79. Goethe wrote "Faust" at the age of 82. Verdi composed Otello when he was 72. Harlan Sanders created Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) when he was 65. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote Little House on the Prairie when she was 70 (her first book was published when she was 65). So, in the words of legendary comedian George Burns, "Everyone has to get older but that doesn't mean you have to be old."

But, wait! You're not that old yet, are you? You are, however, at a time in your life when you have acquired the experience and skills to develop and refine a brand new you—with vigor, energy, and wisdom; you work best when confronted with a challenge. This is a change that will carry you into your later years.

Whether you are in your early thirties or in more advanced years, you will be facing situations that require adaptation. Looking at this adult Phase V through an opportunistic and positive mindset will ensure you continue to develop your Brand You.


Maya Angelou is an example of someone who overcame many real challenges in her life to become one of the most respected American poets and humanitarians of modern time. She was born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, as Marguerite Ann Johnson. When she was 3 years old, her parents divorced, and she and her 4-year-old brother, Bailey, were sent to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. She took up dance classes while living with her grandmother. The children were sent back to live with their mother, who was now in California; while there, Maya was sexually abused at the age of 7 by her mother's boyfriend. After sharing this incident with her brother, who conversely told her uncle, Maya's uncle killed the child molester. For the next five years, Maya did not speak, since she believed that her words led to the death of another person and she felt great guilt. Maya returned to live with her grandmother in Stamps, where she began speaking again and was introduced to classical literature.

Later Maya moved in with her father, where she was assaulted by his girlfriend. She then ran away from home and lived in a junkyard with many other homeless children. During the month she lived there, Maya met children from other ethnicities and backgrounds, all sharing the same goal—survival. She would later share in her autobiographical work I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that this period had a significant influence on her life and her mindset. Living in what she called a "community of equals," she grasped a deeper understanding of people and their unconditional acceptance of her for just who she was.

Maya experienced life without condemnation, and this environment taught her the lessons of acceptance, open-mindedness, and tolerance. After dropping out of high school, she worked as the first African-American female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. She eventually returned to high school and graduated three weeks before her son Guy was born. Maya supported Guy and herself in various jobs, including that of cocktail waitress, dancer, and cook. By the time Maya was 16 years old, she had already been through more pain and suffering, and had met more challenges, than most people endure in a lifetime.

Consider, now, what Maya Angelou's childhood memories represent. Think about how she spent her teenage years, then consider the life lessons and learning she would carry with her for the remainder of her life. Through it all, she acquired personal strength and wisdom. Obviously, she is a survivor with significant personal resilience. She has learned the power of language and the gift of tolerance.


Excerpted from Managing Brand YOU by JERRY S. WILSON IRA BLUMENTHAL Copyright © 2008 by Jerry S. Wilson and Ira Blumenthal. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


INTRODUCTION: What Branding Can Do for You....................1
CHAPTER 1: Who Am I and How Did I Get Here? STEP ONE: Do the Brand YOU Audit....................33
CHAPTER 2: What Do I Stand for Today? STEP TWO: Assess Your Brand YOU Image....................57
CHAPTER 3: What Do I Want to Stand For? STEP THREE: Determine Your Brand YOU Identity and Essence....................75
CHAPTER 4: I Can Get There from Here! STEP FOUR: Position Your New Brand YOU....................109
CHAPTER 5: If It's to Be, It's Up to Me! STEP FIVE: Set Your Brand YOU Goals....................153
CHAPTER 6: I Can Build My Own Personal Roadmap on My Own Terms STEP SIX: Establish Your Brand YOU Strategies....................177
CHAPTER 7: I Am Ready to Commit to My Action Plan STEP SEVEN: Implement, Monitor, and Adjust Your New Brand YOU....................197
GLOSSARY OF BRANDING TERMS....................219
ABOUT THE AUTHORS....................233
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