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Audi, Jaguar ads drive business branding

Tuesday, 4 September 2007 — by

Everyone is an individual in one way or another. And one of the goals of Personal Branding is to accentuate those unique, positive and luminous characteristics of yourself. In fact, truly unique personalities are in many respects like top marque car manufacturers.

So are you a Pinto or a Pontiac? Maybe an Austin Allegro or an Audi? Or are you a Reliant Robin or a Rolls Royce?

The automobile adverts you see in magazines and on TV are the equivalent visible representation of a persons efforts in Personal Branding and Brand Management.

And being the kind of individual that makes friends and influences people isn’t the sort of personality that can easily be faked and maintained long-term.

As a small business owner, I am my business. People have to buy into me before they buy anything from my business.

When sub-cultures and car brands meet

Think of those personalities who possess that certain something, that gravitas, cult of personality and charismatic charm.

These people affect others simply by being around them. Rarely do to they talk about what makes them unique. No, this sense of individuality simply oozes from their every pore.

They smile, you laugh. They dislike something, you stop buying it. They fight for a cause, you give your life to follow in their footsteps.

Then think of those “wannabies” who talk about themselves, about how they’re so talented and how they’re going to do this and going to do that.


Now think about the car adverts you see on TV. Remember those talking about leather trim, custom paint jobs, all “tricked out” with lowered suspension, tinted glass, alloy wheels?

Do you ever remember seeing an advert for Rolls Royce or Bentley on TV? Of course you don’t. These guys don’t ever talk about features, trims, finishes or engine sizes. The dialogue is a silent one, and it’s implicit that your money will be buying the very best.

The next time you’re at your lawyers, waiting for an appointment, find one of those lofty, glossy lifestyle magazines and look for the double-page spread advert for someone like Jaguar.

You’ll more than likely see their latest model on a black background. You’ll see a slogan and you’ll see the Jaguar logo. They’re not selling you features, they’re not even selling you a car. They’re selling you an accessory to a lifestyle.

They’re an aspirational brand. They’re out of the reach of almost every person alive on Earth right now. That is the quality and the presence they offer to you.

They add value to your own personal brand by speaking in unspoken terms about your income, your wealth, your achievements and your successes.

The lower tier but still renown, large marque manufacturers also avoid the showy stuff and instead talk in terms of lifestyle and technical prowess. In this instance, I’m thinking of the likes of Porsche, Audi and BMW, and more recently Volkswagen.

Clearly, people are prepared to pay large amounts of money for a certain brand of car. One that’s got a roof, four wheels, seats and an engine just like every other car.

So what makes these guys different is their pursuit of excellence and their continued effort to maintain that excellence. They have standing armies of satisfied customers who go out there and sing their praises.

That’s the kind of promotional advertising no amount of marketing can ever hope to match.

Take your personal brand and drive it home

So what can we learn from all of this? If there’s anything to be learned from a direct comparison between automobiles and people, then a business scenario seems the most likely and appropriate venue.

Like any kind of success, it’s a question of picking the battles you either know you can win or think you could at least gain some kind of foothold. Choose your enemies as wisely as you choose your friends. And when you succeed, be magnanimous.

Go the extra mile for your clients & customers. If you sense that they’re struggling to meet a deadline, help remove that pain and make that little extra effort for them. More than likely, you will be remembered.

Conversely, don’t be afraid to say no to them. Saying yes to everything is often just another way of making a rod for your own back. However, when you say no, be clear as to the reasons why. You may have seen something they haven’t, so be articulate.

Be selective about how or when you align yourself to current fad, fashion or trend. If indeed you choose to align yourself to such things at all. Sometimes, being fashionably late can afford you that extra time to see how things are working out, giving you the chance to highlight the positives, negatives et cetera.

Being contrary can often be a good thing, but be sure that you’ve got a good reason to walk the opposite way to everyone else. If five people think something is great, why not find ten reasons why you think they’re wrong?

Be prepared. Having an answer for everything can sometimes be annoying. But delivering those answers to everything with a genuine smile can often have the opposite effect.

Look to the competition for ideas and be open about it. This isn’t about plagiarism, it’s about paying respect to deep thinking, good business planning and best-of-breed marketing.

As a business owner, there are some prerequisites to running and maintaining a business. Once you’re established, then you’re on that long road. Hopefully the road to success…

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Comment and be known

Vik → Wednesday, 5 September 2007 @ 13:51 BDT

great analogies and lessons from the world of car lifestyle branding. I often finely separate a Reputation from a Personal Brand:

One of the main criteria is that while a reputation talks about the person, a personal brand talks about his/her lifestyle, M.O., way of life, or way of doing business.

For example: While Malcolm Gladwell has a great reputation, Michael Gerber, while less known, has a more definitive way of doing business. The way of life is bigger than the person behind the brand; large enough for us to aspire (at least fans of the brand do). Again, Howard Stern epitomizes his brand – yet, Don Imus didn’t have nor live such a brand.

~ Vikram

Wayne Smallman → Wednesday, 5 September 2007 @ 14:35 BDT

Hi Vik and thanks for the comments. Always appreciated.

I’m going to have to bow to your better knowledge when it comes to the people you mention.

Three people immediately spring to mind when thinking about personalities that exceed their own company brand — Jacqueline Gold of Ann Summers fame, Donald Trump and Richard Branson of Virgin.

All three are unique people…

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