Hajj Flemings is the author of The Brand YU Life, which I previously reviewed in further detail. He specializes in personal and corporate brand management consulting, training and seminars.
As promised, I quized Hajj’s a bit more on the subject of personal branding. Enjoy!
There has been a recent surge of interest in personal branding, especially in online communities. Why do think personal branding has become such a hot topic?
One of the reasons is the balance of power of has changed. With the success of web 2.0 icon Gary Vaynerchuk and others we are seeing in real-time that anyone with an idea, passion, and time can live their dreams. That idea is extremely appealing to people.
The second reason is personal branding is threaded into the fabric of social media (SM) and as SM continues to explode I believe you will see personal branding continue to grow in popularity. The majority of the Rockstars of personal branding have integrated a solid social media strategy.
In The Brand YU Life you make a lot of comparisons between personal brands and business brands. Do you see more similarities or differences between the two?
I used a lot of business brands as comparison because people conceptualize and understand business brands without a lot explanation. This is due to the fact that people use and interact with business brands all day as consumers. I focused on shifting their paradigm of being a consumer to one of a producer.
Tom Peters the father of the personal brand movement stated in Fast Company magazine, August 1997, “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You. Personal branding was birth from a comparison between a business and a person. I personally see more similarities than differences.
Are there any concerns for individuals in replicating business brands?
Business brands are typically much more established and there is a defined culture that guides every business decision. Personal brands on the other hand are typically more nimble and can make decisions without an act of congress being passed. Business brands should be used as a model to understand the functions and elements of a brand if this thought process is used it shouldn’t present a problem.
How important is the act of listening in developing your personal brand, both online and offline?
Listening is very important, very simply you don’t what you don’t know but being open to other voices and minds who don’t think like you or live where you live can assist you in increasing your influence. Information is changing at such a fast past if you don’t have a listening strategy you will be operating with old data that could cost you missed opportunity or destroy the reputation of your brand.
Hajj is definitely one of the leading experts on personal branding and you asked all the right thought provoking questions to get the most out of him. I really like his answer to your question about personal and corporate branding, quoting Tom Peters who said that we need to think of ourselves as our own CEO of Me, Inc. While it is difficult to rap your mind around that, it is very important that you start to think like that.
What a great interview. It’s truly amazing how average people can become “famous” on the web just for being a thought leader on one topic. Gary Vaynerchuk is an excellent example of this. The great thing about web 2.0 is anyone can create a personal brand just by connecting with an online community. Since there is no money involved, everyone should take 30 minutes out of their day to write a blog or try and develop these online connections.
Hajj is such a dynamic motivator. The Brand YU is so inspiring and enlightening, it’s almost impossible to put down. The parallels he draws between the personal brand and the branding of a product made for easy-to-grasp examples, which I can imagine being a good leg up for those marketing professionals who are used to pushing products not people!
Of course one should never forget how professional personal branding can be a double edged sword. A number of celebrities have suffered a loss of confidence when it is discovered that sometimes it is their staff Ghost-Twittering for them.
Branding is the key to success…you don't sell a product, you sell a brand, a way of life, an ID.
Thanks for sharing interview story.
It's really meaningful. Hope you keep up the good work !
– Hyun June, Park from Seoul