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Personal Branding Lessons From The Super Bowl


It’s Super Bowl week, let the hype begin.

Over 100 million people are likely to watch the Ravens and 49ers battle it out on Sunday.  This year’s game is interesting because the head coaches of the opposing teams are brothers.  I don’t care who wins. Neither of my teams, the Steelers or the Broncos, are playing.  But I’ll watch, just like most people in the USA.

I bring up the Super Bowl because you can learn a lot about branding from it. You’ve probably noticed the big box retailer ads suggesting you buy a new, better TV to watch the “big game.” Super markets and delis promote their party trays for the “big game.,” not the Super Bowl.  That’s because the Super Bowl is the crown jewel in the NFL’s brand; so much so that they’ve trademarked it. If you want to use the words “Super Bowl” in your ads, you have to pay a fee to the NFL.

The NFL works hard to protect their Super Bowl brand.

You should work hard to nurture, promote and protect your personal brand too. Creating positive personal impact is an important success competency.  I discuss it in detail in several of my books: Success Tweets, Climbing the Corporate Ladder, Straight Talk for Success, Your Success GPS and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success.  Developing and nurturing your unique personal brand is the first step in creating positive personal impact.

I’m sure you know who I mean when I say Oprah, Michael, Shaq, Madonna and Bono. These are people who are powerful brands. However, personal brands aren’t just for athletes and celebrities. All successful people create and nurture their own unique personal brand. Your brand is how others think of you. It is a combination of a lot of things – what you stand for, how you act, how you dress, your online presence. Nature abhors a vacuum. If you don’t consciously create your brand, others will do it for you.

As you go about creating your personal brand, remember that a good brand will not appeal to everyone.

A brand that appeals to everybody is too vanilla. You want a Cherry Garcia brand, something that is uniquely you. A good brand will appeal to a lot of people, but it will also turn off a certain portion of the population.

Take my “Common Sense Guy” brand. It appeals to a lot of people. However, some people find “common sense” a little too pedestrian and “guy” a little too colloquial. That’s OK. Those folks probably aren’t real interested in what I have to say, and how I say it anyway.

There are two simple and common sense steps for creating a strong personal brand.

  1. Decide how you want people to think of you.
  2. Do whatever it takes to get them to think that way.

Once you choose your brand, stay on brand at all times. Be consistent and constant. Do whatever you can to reinforce your brand. For example, my website features the words “common sense.”  I end my blog posts with a paragraph that begins, “The common sense point here is…” I avoid lengthy, complicated analyses. I work hard to simplify the complex and provide simple, easy to implement advice to my coaching clients. I use humor in my talks – and frequently pepper them with the words – “After all, it’s just common sense, right?”

I work really hard to consistently and constantly present myself as someone who has common sense answers to everyday life and career success questions.  A couple of years ago, I published  a book on teams and teamwork. It’s called Common Sense Ideas for Building a Dream Team. See what I mean?

William Arruda, my friend and the author of a great book on personal branding, Career Distinction says it well…

“Be on brand in all that you do. People with a strong personal brand ensure that everything they do and all that surrounds them communicates their brand message.”

The common sense point here is simple. Successful people create positive personal impact. Developing and nurturing your unique personal brand is the first step in building your brand. Brand building takes work, but it is simple conceptually. Do two things. First, decide how you want people to think of you. Then do whatever it takes to get them to think of you that way. Your brand is important and, just like the NFL, you should do everything you can to protect it and build it.

That’s my take on what the Super Bowl teaches us about personal branding. What’s yours? Please take a minute to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us. As always, thanks for reading.

Bud Bilanich, Ed.D., is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire, a blogging community created by Annie Jennings.


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