Guy Kawasaki: 8 Tips on The Art of Branding

The best brands never start out with the intent of building a great brand. They focus on building a great – and profitable – product or service and an organization that can sustain it. – Scott Bedbury

As I mentioned very early on I’m simply not an uber-guru or expert when it comes to online personal branding – I simply have a buttload of experience doing it wrong to know what constitutes potentially a “right!”

I’ve also read a number of books from people that really know what they are doing and one of them is Guy Kawasaki and I’ve re-read his book The Art of the Start recently which has some killer points on branding. Sure, his context is business but the same principles can be easily applied to a person.

Here’s a brief overview of his points and some of my thoughts. If you want to go deeper I recommend getting the book – it’s really good stuff!

  1. Branding is Classic Marketing Applied – Product Place, Price, and Promotion. Guy adds Proselytization as well which is the process of converting others to your belief, doctrine, or cause.
  2. Create Contagion – Make your personal brand contagious. Make it cool, effective, distinctive, disruptive, emotive, deep, indulgent, and supported. Your personal brand may not be any of these (yet) but working toward these goals makes a lot of sense. Think of how you can do this effectively!
  3. Lower Barriers of Adoption – By flattening the learning curve of who you are (making it simple) you can get people to engage with you faster and more easily. Including pictures, as Guy notes, is really important. Make sure they are really good ones!
  4. Recruit Evangelists – Evangelists believe in your product or service as much as you do, and they want to carry the battle forward for you and with you. Recruiting evangelists can help you achieve critical mass through sustained, and continuous, and low-cost proselytization and branding. Make sure to ask the to join you, ignore academic background/work experience, focus on the important stuff (Do they believe and do they want to help?), give them the room to blossom, assign tasks, continue to develop community and fellowship, give them the right tools, respond to their desires, and give them free stuff.
  5. Foster a Community – I really like Guys’ thoughts on building community: Identify and recruit “Thunder Lizards” for your brand, hire someone (if possible) to develop community, create budgets for community support, find integration with community and sales/marketing efforts, host community efforts, and perhaps hold a conference.
  6. Achieve Humanness – The best personal brands are those that are going to feel intimately human; that is to say, authentic and real. Target the right industries and you’ll do just fine. In fact, Guy recommends always targeting the young (perhaps just for product companies?), make fun of yourself, feature your customers, and help the underserved and underprivileged. I think there’s a lot to learn from these things.
  7. Focus on Publicity – Create buzz, make friends before you need them (network, network, network!), use a rifle and not a shotgun approach, be a foul-weather friend, tell the truth, and be a source. Getting people interested takes work and intentionality for your personal brand – make it count!
  8. Talk the Walk – Make sure that you’re always upholding your personal brand and staying true to it. Personal branding starts with you and then heads out into the market.

Thanks Guy for your continued inspiration!

You guys have any thoughts on this list? Have you ever read his book The Art of the Start?

[This is part of the Personal Branding Series.]