Brand yourself

Do you want to strengthen your position? Or perhaps just make sure you are seen as the respected and trusted gateway to the Chief Executive? Markus Kramer’s branding tips will help you apply core-branding principles to make sure you shine – every time!

We associate individuals with personalities, behaviours and expectations. The same is true for brands. From Apple to Louis Vuitton, powerful brands are trusted and desirable. Whether you are building your reputation internally, or are looking for your next move, today everyone’s a brand.
Here are five critical areas to get right in order to harness the power of brand for yourself:

Position yourself
Everything accelerates and, as a consequence, attention is on the decline. In fact, we have already reached a point where our attention span is shorter than a goldfish’s – or about 8 seconds in average. The higher up you are in your organisation, the shorter people’s attention span generally becomes.
The first point to get right is having (crystal) clarity in what you stand for. What are you most passionate about? What makes you different? What do others value in you? Try to stay to the point. Best to come up with 3-4 values or key words that best encapsulate your positioning, then boil it down to one punchy line. Don’t settle for bland corporate words like ‘integrity’ – everyone claims that. And look for at least one totally differentiating value. How about ‘extraordinary’?

Create your story
We’re hardwired for stories. They add meaning and they stick, so long as they are memorable and short enough. Take your positioning and formulate a red-thread for yourself. How did you get to where are now? What is unusual? Make sure your story has a beginning, a very tight middle and a grand finale – that latter one sits in the future and makes it clear that your story is being written as you tell it. Your story is positive, upbeat and aspirational. Can you tell it in 2 minutes or less? Otherwise shorten it – remember, attention is a precious commodity and you want to make most out of it.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
If there is one thing to remember here, then it’s that you can never over-communicate. What good is your hard thought out positioning with a great story untold? Don’t be the hidden gem – be bold, tell people and be proud. Create a profile on LinkedIn, update regularly, contribute and comment on the topic you are most passionate about. Internally make sure people understand what you are all about. A nice way of achieving this over time are words: take the values you defined as part of your positioning and keep ‘weaving them in’ subtly in your own written communications, emails and so on – it’s unconscious and invisible for the reader but works wonders!

Be consistent
People buy from brands they know – consistency builds trust and is synonymous with what you stand for. When people know you, they will identify with you, your positioning and your story. When people feel like they know you, they trust you, they support and help move things along. Strong brands stay true to who they are. Hermès started with leather and still shows it proudly today. So, don’t squander your chance. Think long and hard about your positioning and your story. It pays to go slow but, once clearly articulated, it radiates inside out – in all you do and all the time.

Practice Scarcity
If you tell a child “you can’t have this” (think of a sweet, a toy, you name it) what happens? They want it all the more! The same applies to strong brands and individuals with gravitas. Scarcity is deliberately used by power brands to create desire. Have you ever wondered why the sign of that real-estate agent stayed up for months even though that house was sold ages ago? It says “Sorry, you were too late”. Manipulative? Perhaps – but, within reason, the practice of ‘deliberate scarcity’ is totally acceptable. Don’t accept every invite, say ‘no’ to meetings, say ‘no’ to tasks (that includes your boss, too!). Don’t allow yourself to be interrupted non-stop. Put up a ‘do not disturb sign’ – the worst you can get is a smile in return. And either way, it’s good for you too!


Based in London and Zurich, Markus Kramer is a partner at Brand Affairs, a specialised consulting agency advising boards and executives on all aspects of strategic positioning and brand management. The broad range of brands Markus has worked with include Harley-Davidson, Aston Martin, Ferrari, banks & financial service providers, governments, NGOs, start-ups and many more. Markus is a visiting Associate Professor in Brand Management at Cass Business School in London and a recognised thought leader in the fast-paced world of cutting edge brand management. He speaks regularly at select business schools and conferences globally. He is the author of The Guiding Purpose Strategy.