What Does It Mean To Be “On-Brand?”

Some people hate the phrase “personal branding.”  They think branding is for products or cattle, not for themselves.

Some people hate the phrase “on-brand.”  Like we go on- and off-brand with frequency, or intentionally, or unintentionally?

Let me share an example of the idea of being “on-brand.”  This came up at lunch last week with a good buddy of mine who is going through a career reevaluation.

We were talk about a book that he has been contemplating for the last year, as well as the new directions his career could take.  He’s an independent contractor and has been for many years – he’s not looking for a job, but will be looking for new contract work.

I asked him what kind of work he wants to do in 1, 3 or 5 years – who would his client be and what would he consult on?

The answer to this question is significant for many reasons, but especially significant when he thinks about the book he should write.

My buddy said he wants to consult to business owners and directors about strategic issues – but the book he was going to write was very, very technical.

Writing a very, very technical book would brand him as a very, very technical expert.  Why would a business owner consult with the techie for strategic reasons?  Sure, techies are involved in strategy, and they should be brought in when evaluating decisions, but doesn’t it make sense that a strategic consultant show their expertise with a book on strategy?

This is kind of a gray example, since I think a technical book could reinforce the brand to a degree, but I would suggest another book to complement it.

I’m not saying you have to write a book to reinforce your brand, but the example is this:

If you have a brand or expertise, what tools can you use to reinforce that brand?

Some that come to mind are blogs, books, business cards, articles, email signatures, etc.

Think about your branding reinforcement tools – are they reinforcing your brand, or are they detracting (or confusing) your brand?

3 thoughts on “What Does It Mean To Be “On-Brand?””

  1. What does it mean to be on brand? Your market experiences a behavior that is unmistakably in line with what you stand for as a product, service, business, culture, person. Richard Branson is always on brand and so are his companies because he hires brand champions. (he hires smiles)

    I agree with the frustration people have with personal brand”ing” and brand”ing” in total. Long time brand managers are laughing at the notion that brand strategy is new. What is new is the commodity of personal brand”ing” experts who have never run a brand and don’t know what it means. They have never done strategy, pricing, values value proposition work. Personal branding has become defined as simply self discovery and self promotion over the last two years. The integration of the ‘ing’ has something to do with it and that is why I say focus on brand, not branding.

    I love the cattle reference, that is branding.

  2. I’m using a blog and my website to reinforce my brand. A few months ago I started asking myself if my “brand” was true, if it was an accurate representation of me or a “package” designed to help me get a job…or at least get an interview. I decided that my real brand was edgier than the one I was putting out there.

    I wrote about this recently — tying it back to what Disney is doing with its branding of Mickey — and have gotten a good response. https://posborne1.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/benefits-of-an-edgy-brand/

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