We all know about the big brands: Coke, Samsung, IPhone, BMW, VW, Mercedes Benz, Nike and so on. They make big money because they are big brands. Even on the local scene too, we have many big commercial brands.
Every customer wants to be associated with them. The big brands attract either big crowds of customers or big premium pricing. Either way, they make big money because of the value of their brands.
At personal level, it is the same. Some people are big brands. When their name is mentioned, everyone gives respects. By our standards, Mwawi Kumwenda is a big brand in sports, especially netball. We had Peter Mponda in football and now we have the likes of Joseph Kamwendo and Gabadihno Mhango as big brands in football.
Many clubs want these big sports personalities to play for them. They command premium value in their trade. They have worked hard and long on something that they enjoy, have passion for and something they like to become so skilled that many admire them. Many young people in those fields look to these brands as their role models. They want to become like them.
In career too, you can become a big persona brand. When we hear of Mwai Kumwenda, we think of a smart netballer that never misses when she wants to score in netball. When we hear of Gabadinho, we think of a brilliant footballer that scores many goals. When we hear of Peter Mponda, we remember a defender who could mark even the most skilled strikers from anywhere in the world. They became the epitome of something in their field. That way, they earned respect and influence.
Personal branding is about influence you earn due to a package of skills, passion, personality and specialism in a particular field. If you are a marketer, have you found a niche area in which no one else in Malawi can beat you? It could be digital marketing, it could be marketing of fast moving consumer goods, or marketing services. Anything! Choose a niche area that is undiscovered by many and work to master it beyond everyone else.
I have a friend who is a medical doctor and his clinic is well known for treating children. But that is a story for another day. The important lesson here is that he has built his niche in health around providing distinguished quality of health services especially for children. This way, he commands influence in that space. This way, he boosts his value.
Companies that have big brands know that they make money because of their big brands. That is why they even employ brand managers—whose job is to ensure the brand does not lose value. They do things that sustain or even grow the brand. At personal level too, you need to protect your brand. You need to grow your personal brand.
Imagine you are good at something but people keep hearing bad things about you? Your reputation will be damaged. And if you lose your reputation, then your personal brand will also get impacted. You have to avoid all things that can badly impact your reputation and your brand. Definitely, you have to avoid doing things that bring into doubt the very things you are known to be good at.
That is why you will have noticed recently that Serena Williams announced that she was not fit enough to compete in the Australia Tennis Open. The moment she realised that after coming back from maternity leave, her fitness did not guarantee her to be in top form, she could not go to play for the sake of featuring there. She has her minimum standards that help her protect and maintain her great personal brand in tennis.
Do not work just for the sake of earning some money at the end of the month. Work also to drive and build your brand. Master some niche area more than anyone else. This way, you will build a great personal brand. Good luck! n