I recently had an opportunity to interview John Morgan, author, speaker, and marketing consultant.
Years ago, I heard John speak at an event and was blown away. He really understands personal brands and social media better than most people do.
This is an important topic that most bloggers, writers, and authors unforuntately overlook — the fact that you have a brand, whether you like it or not.
So, I asked John five important questions about the topic of branding and his new book, which goes deeper into the issue.
Here’s how it went (I broke up the interview into the five main topics):
Jeff: In the world of social media, what’s better: a personal brand or non-personal brand? If someone is starting a blog or signing up for a Twitter handle, should they use their name or something more scalable?
John: I love to see people focus on their personal brand even if they are part of a large corporation. People like to do business with people.
We’ve heard that cliche for years, because it’s true. We’ve seen countless examples of how a powerful personal brand can drive a large corporate brand. Just look at Steve Jobs with Apple, Richard Branson with Virgin, or even Scott Monty with Ford.
You have to remember that you are your brand. When starting out, scaling should be the least of someone’s concerns.
That being said you’re not locked into your brand forever even if you brand your name. Tim Ferriss is a great example of this. His first book was about outsourcing and delegation. His second book is about fitness, health, and sex. His third book will be about cooking. He’s interested in multiple things and his brand reflects that. It certainly hasn’t hurt his business.
Branding through social media
Jeff: How do you build your brand through the social web? Is it like old school marketing with a new skin or a completely different ball game?
John: Branding through the social web is all about relationships and content. You have to produce great content to capture the attention of your audience.
Once you have that attention you must start building a relationship with them. You do that through engagement which is where most businesses get it wrong. They want to use social media as another broadcasting tool when it’s not. It’s a conversation tool.
The more you can educate and entertain your audience through your content the quicker you’ll succeed. If someone likes your free stuff and likes communicating with you then the natural next step for them is to purchase from you.
Another quick note on this, people have to understand that everything they do is branding. Every tweet, Facebook update, and YouTube video affect your brand.
They are either helping your brand or hurting it. The sooner you realize that, the better.
Branding and “The Machine”
Jeff: What is your new book about, and why should people read it? (And what’s your favorite Rage Against the Machine song?)
John: My new book, Brand Against The Machine, teaches people how and why branding and marketing are broken.
But more importantly it teaches you what to do to fix it with your business. It’s about getting your brand to stand out from the crowd and be remembered.
This isn’t like branding books of the past. Branding doesn’t have to cost you money and it’s not a one-time campaign. Branding is a commitment.
When used properly it allows you to dominate your competition. That’s why people should read it. Because most marketing techniques and strategies are about short-term gain. You want to build a business and brand that last.
My favorite Rage Against The Machine song is probably “Killing In The Name,” but “Bulls On Parade” is a close second. Both of those are in my playlist that I listen to before speaking at an event.
Getting branding wrong
Jeff: How do people and organizations get branding wrong?
John: Most people get branding wrong because they don’t realize they already have a brand. Everyone already has a perception of you. It’s up to you to ensure that perception is accurate.
People think branding just happens naturally and to some extent it does. But when you don’t focus on it you end up running from one tactic to another never gaining any traction.
Businesses don’t need another tactic. They need a strong relationship with loyal fans.
Jeff: What types of brands are succeeding in the 21st century?
John: The brands that are succeeding today are the ones who have a reason for existing. Most businesses are simply a “me too” competitor. They see someone selling widgets and they decide they’ll sell the same thing. You have to have a reason to exist in the marketplace.
Brands that focus on what makes them different and unique are the ones that succeed. People are bored to death of products and services. Give them a reason to care. Give them a reason to pay attention. The brands doing that are experiencing tremendous amounts of success.
For more on building a strong brand, check out John’s book Brand Against the Machine.
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What’s your biggest struggle with branding? Share in the comments.
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