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Lesson 12: Nature's most powerful brand

Have you ever heard a lion roar? No, not the MGM lion in cinema, but the earth-shaking, full-on, thunderous roar of the real thing. A sound that reverberates over several kilometres of bushveld, leaving no doubt about the lion’s presence and status. It is a magnificent show of power and confidence. Truly the king of beasts. Lions have had this title for centuries, due to their majestic appearance and position as a top predator.
The most distinguishing characteristics of the Lion are twofold in expression. First is the image of the male Lion, the epitome of strength, vitality, and presence that is evident in his long, muscular frame and the thick mane of fur that surrounds his head and chest.  He does possess a royal look and attitude with that ‘kingly’ mane. This pronounced sexual differentiation has also given male lions an added aura of strength. He is most definitely master of his domain, and encountering the King of Beasts, on foot is a confirmation of his royalty and capabilities, courage and strength.

In the female lioness, we see the next distinctive set of characteristics of being a lion. The females of a Lion pride exhibit the intelligence to work in perfect synergy with one another for tasks ranging from caring for their young, to taking down large prey. While the male Lion is the iconic image of Protection, Strength, and Vitality, the lioness is the epitome of Cooperation and Feminine Power. Living in a pride give lions the strength in numbers. The power of the pride is in the lioness and the power of the lioness is in the pride. So much so that even elephants do not unnecessarily disturb a lion pride. Only a very large pack of hyena may challenge a pride over a kill, or elephants may sometimes chase lions away from a water hole. But other than that, the king retains his throne.

Lions are known to be the King of Beasts ("king of the jungle" would be a misnomer) across most cultures of the world. The fact is, from the ancient Greeks to the present day Europeans and inhabitants of the modern world, the lion is more familiar than probably any other animal. There is also an over-fascination with the lion evident in the fact that numerous European countries (Belgium, England, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the list goes on) have chosen lion, on their national emblem and/or coat of arms. Countries where people have never seen a lion in native wilderness.
Bruce Patterson correctly pointed out that “Maned lions are practically universal in world European heraldry, which is remarkable in view of the fact that lions have not lived in Europe for ten millennium.”

The fact is a lion has the formidable personality of a King. When you are confronted by a lion in nature you know that this is the moment of truth. You are in the presence of royalty. Its reputation and capabilities are unmistakable. There is not a moment of doubt of what they are capable of. Lions represent the most powerful “brand” from nature.

What is your personal brand?
In an article, “A brand called you”,  Tom Peters first published thoughts on personal branding. He starts out the article by writing, “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, whether you are in school, a small business owner or even a corporate manager, your most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
Personal branding is essentially the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about who you are. Marketing expert John Jantsch, defines branding as "the art of becoming knowable, likable and trustable." That's how most of us feel likely about our favourite companies such as Apple, BMW, and Woolworths. If we don't manage our personal brand as diligently as these companies manage their company brand, people will brand you themselves. And this may be to your own detriment.

We live in the age of Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google. Go and Google your name followed by your home town. If you have a Facebook page or LinkedIn profile your name probably comes up on the first page. Perhaps you are listed in the phone book. Maybe you have recently been mentioned in a local news article. All of these things are part of your personal brand.
Scary? That’s reality. It’s already out there and you can’t do anything about it. The question is no longer if you have a personal brand, but if you choose to guide and cultivate the brand or to let it be defined on your behalf. Here are a few things you can do to manage your personal brand: Once you understand how you wish your brand to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic about your personal brand.


Start thinking of yourself as a brand - Be clear about the image you intend to project.
What do you wish for people to associate you with when they think of your name? Is there a certain subject matter in which you want to be perceived as an expert or are there general qualities you want linked to your brand? Ask: “What distinguishes me from the pack?” How is your product or service special? For example, what is your personal trademark? Is it speedy service? Is it going the extra mile to exceed expectations? Whatever distinguishes you, be clear about it so you can articulate it and do it intentionally.

Be purposeful in what you do or share
Every tweet you send, every status update you make, every picture you share, every piece of work you finish contribute to your personal brand. It is an amalgamation of multiple daily actions. Make certain your brand message is consistent across all platforms. For instance, your resume and LinkedIn profile must be in sync.

Associate with other strong brands
Your personal brand is strengthened or weakened by your connection to other people/brands. Find and leverage strong brands which can elevate your own personal brand. Start with the three C’s: company, college, colleagues. Which school did you attend? Are there groups you can join? An alumni newsletter you can contribute to? What hidden opportunities are available within your company which you have yet to tap into?

Deliver what you promise and keep your word
Every day, with every client and every person you serve, at every interaction, consistently deliver exactly what your brand promises. Anything less will not do. Doing so will create the positive stories that people will tell about you. Be known as someone who keeps his or her commitments, such as showing up for a meeting, being on time for an appointment, getting back to people on an article you promised to send or following through on any action item you undertook in a meeting.

Make quality a non-negotiable
Do people immediately associate your name with quality? Whether you're dealing with a major client or a small one, whether you're making a presentation to 100 people or two people at local coffee shop, be the best. Don't cut corners, and don't short-change people. Instead, adopt a craftsman's approach to what you do and make your name synonymous with quality. Quality is a watermark for trust.

Re-invent Yourself
Remember confidence comes from competence. Continuously develop the skills necessary to excel in what you do. Leverage your points of difference. Be clear about what separates you from the crowd—it's what makes you memorable. Prove your worth. Let everyone see what you're about and what you can do so they're comfortable endorsing your new brand.
Now just imagine if your brand can be as powerful as that of a male lion…
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