The word ‘brand’ evokes perplexity. Some understand the word, and others struggle to understand it. Personally, I feel like I am somewhere in the twilight zone.
To be honest, for many brands I use, it’s not easy to define why I would be proud of, respect, and ultimately put my money where my feelings are. However, I do know that there are certain brands that I would most certainly pay a premium for. Case in point: Apple. I am completely hooked on to the Apple ecosystem. I use every product and service that the tech giant offers (except the iPad).
There are certain truths I have gathered along my consumer lifecycle with brands, and these truths are also essential to developing a personal brand:
Know your weaknesses, but focus on your strengths more
Brands know their weaknesses, but they amplify their strengths. Apple knew that hardware software integration could be a weakness, and it lost market share to the open source movement exemplified by Microsoft Windows riding on IBM PC’s, Linux, and Android. However, it focused on integration as a method of creating a beautiful and simple user experience. So much so that, the switching costs of moving to iOS from a different operating system are nearly zero (except for the cost of the device, of course).
There is a tremendous clamor for simplicity and beauty today. While Apple’s weakness can be argued as it’s pushed toward integration, that integration has created a user experience making Apple the most valuable brand in 2016 at $146 billion. As Sun Tzu explains in The Art of War, if you know your enemy and you know yourself, the battle is won even before it begins.
This concept is very profound, and very difficult to implement. Do you truly know yourself? Do you understand your weaknesses? Focus on your strengths more and build on them. The combination of these two simple practices can multiply your personal growth exponentially.
Consistency is key to respect
Ultimately, everyone craves respect and love. Monetary success is a means to a greater end but is not the end in itself. Great brands have been consistent at delivering value over extended periods of time. Citigroup is more than 200 years old. However, it has serviced client needs in more than 180+ countries by consistently innovating and delivering on its promises. However, that doesn’t mean brands—and by extension, people—don’t make mistakes. Their consistency provides them a second and possibly a third chance where lesser known brands would crumble. The mountain goat is a classic example of slowly and consistently moving towards and achieving goals. Consistent behavior is slow, hard, and requires tenacity. There are no shortcuts to a reputation.
Proceed with a higher motivation
Don’t let money and hubris be your primary motivators. The higher motivation is living for others. While it may sound too deep, it’s actually quite simple and translates into ‘do unto others what you would have do to yourself.’ If you empathize with the people you deal with, you build a bridge to their heart as well as their brain. Great brands understand that, and have now refocused their efforts on looking at their offerings from a client-centric view.
Respect and brands are built over centuries and can crumble in a week. But, knowing that a great brand’s valuation is a rough quantification of the respect it has earned from people across the world should prompt you to use its products or services—or even better, be part of it’s heritage and work for it.
This post was originally featured on Medium and was republished with permission from the author.