• Sharon Gill

"It's the Branding, Stupid!"

It takes a lot of years to build a brand. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton did it.

When Donald Trump entered the 2016 presidential campaign, regardless of your politics, you felt you knew him. Unless you have been under a rock for the last 30 years, no doubt you would have ran across a National Enquirer headline, seen him on the Apprentice television show, or caught him on an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. And if you are like most entrepreneurs who desire to be rich and famous, maybe, just maybe one time, you wished you had money like Trump!

Bill Clinton was a household name in the nineties. After all, he was the president of these United States for eight years. Of course, most of us remembered the juiciest part of his presidency being the Monica Lewinsky debacle and here the spotlight was shone on his wife, Hillary Clinton. For her part, Hillary went on to run for and successfully became a member of the United States Senate, then later ran and lost the Democratic nomination against President Obama in 2008. Hillary’s earlier political accomplishments were lesser known until this election season.

So, way before they entered the contentious 2016 US Presidential elections, we felt like we KNEW them! They were both branded and seared in our minds. The issue in this election then became, which brand do you like and trust the most. I will not comment further on this election cycle but I want to share some lessons that I observed about branding.

  1. A solid brand takes time to develop. To have true brand power, it takes years of consistent behavior and attitudes for your brand to stick. “Saying” you are something is not enough. Acting and behavior in accordance with what you say, over a consistent period, will garner more credibility.

  2. People can “brand” you based on their perception of you. In the case of our two candidates, some of what we thought about the candidates were conjectures, other people’s impression, and not necessarily grounded in facts. For example, we may think someone is not compassionate or “nice” based on statements they made or even on their facial expressions. This could be a mischaracterization. The problem is, assumptions stick like facts and affects the behaviors of others toward you.

  3. Your brand shows up even when you aren’t there. Have you ever heard the old saying, “Your reputation precedes you?”. That’s the power of a strong positive or negative brand. It does half the work. A great brand, once established, does not have to work that hard. On the contrary, it is hard to turn a negative brand around, even after tremendous effort.

  4. You must become proactive about how you want to shape your brand. Do you want to be known as an altruist? Then give. Compassionate? Then serve. Effective? Then get results. And remember, not just once, but all the time.

  5. If you run into brand “trouble”, then invest the time to rebuild your brand. People are forgiving. If you make a public relations mistake, own up to it quickly and act to make things right. Tylenol did when some of their capsules were laced with cyanide, but then they pulled them all off the shelves and the world forgave them. It will forgive you too.

I will be re-launching my Confidence 101 course during the first two weeks of December. Give yourself the gift of confidence for 2017. Inbox me for details.

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