Platform Thinking in Personal Branding

Platform Thinking The first secret trick about personal branding is that first, you have to be known for something. One thing. First. If Gary Vaynerchuk tried starting Wine Library TV and Obsessed TV at the same time, I know for a fact he’d have failed and we wouldn’t know about him. Or worse than failed, he’d have done a mediocre job.

The challenge, as it were, is to build from a base, and then quickly show the breadth of your capabilities, all tied into an easy-to-consume story.

First Step: Be Damned Good at Something

You already are damned good at something. You just might not yet be choosing to acknowledge that. My dad is really good at poker. Justin Kownacki is damned good at web video. It can be whatever, but you have to start somewhere. Madonna started at music. She became an actor, a record producer, a fashion person, etc. But she started at music.

If you start at being known for being damned good for something, everything else gets a little easier. The related problem to this, however, is becoming pigeonholed. If everyone only thought of Christopher S. Penn as a financial aid marketer, that would hamper his forward growth. Thankfully, Chris counters this quite effectively by being part of the Marketing Over Coffee team, and by presenting outside the financial sphere.

But that relates again to platform thinking as well.

Diversify With a Unified Story

Gary Vaynerchuk started with Wine Library TV, where he speaks passionately about food. He launches ObsessedTV, with Samantha Ettus as a host, where it’s a passionate show about people. Gary could be boiled down to being a passionate marketer using the new channels of the web to drive response. He could launch a food enthusiast site, a car enthusiast site, a clothing site, and we’d all see the line.

Richard Branson does it similarly in the big leagues. Virgin has launched several brands, some of them successful, and others dismal. But his passion and the unifying theme is: I can do it better. We want to get behind that. I know many VirginUSA air travel customers who swear by the service. We know what to expect at Virgin Music. It’s a package of a story that diversifies.

The Arc of Your Personal Brand

Your personal brand has phases and arcs, such that you start by being known for something, you branch into some new territories with clear bridges from where you were to where you’re going next, and such that people can start to glean where you’ll go after that second hop. The trick of that is maintaining focus, and by keeping each hop somewhat closely joined.

You can’t do it all. It doesn’t matter that you have 14 interests. What matters is building from the position of what you do damned well, and tying it to where you want to go for a next hop. Don’t plan too far past the next hop. Work on maybe two or three brand extensions tops at any time. What do I mean by that?

In the personal branding perspective, let’s say that you’re an IT professional who gets known for his enthusiasm for writing about emerging technology. He’s pretty good, gets picked up by a lot of blogs to write for them, and becomes known in his space for finding interesting things and talking about them. Writing a book about his passion for blues music might not really get that “brand transfer” benefit, because it’s far afield of what he is known for doing.

The arc of my own personal brand looks like this:

  • Known for personal media making and PodCamp.
  • Known for working with bigger companies on social media strategy and execution.
  • Known for building new marketing methodologies for others to follow.
  • Known for writing about emerging business communications and community-meets-tech.

Something like that. I’m somewhere between 2 and 3 on that list. The challenge, as always, is knowing to say no to the extraneous things that don’t build on this arc. I love comic books, and would love to write for a comic book company. I’m a reasonable guitarist. I’m a decent artist. I like lots of things that don’t fit neatly into those arcs listed above. So they go to the side. I use them as hobbies and passions instead of career. And I don’t give them as much attention as the main storyline.

Platform Thinking and You

Can you plot the arc of your brand? Did you notice that I didn’t talk about a particular job or role? Don’t ever plan your brand around your job role, least of all in this current economy. Work from the perspective of what you can do well, what you want to do next, and how you can build out from a strong core into your new spaces.

What would the arc of your brand look like? How do you think that’s reflected in your blog, your website, your LinkedIn profile, your web presence overall? Will everything I find about you on the web reinforce this arc concept?

If not, will it soon, now that we’ve talked about it?

ChrisBrogan.com runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Theme Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Whether you're a novice or advanced developer, Genesis provides you with the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

With automatic theme updates and world-class support included, Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.

Become a StudioPress Affiliate

  • http://innerarchitect.com dean guadagni

    Chris,

    As the fire starter that you are, off topic for a moment, what is your stance or thoughts on “Conversational Search”? Is it the possible chink in Google’s armor or is it a passing trend so esoteric to us social mediaphiles that it does not matter to the masses?

    Here is something to think about: http://tinyurl.com/ba8sur

  • http://innerarchitect.com dean guadagni

    Chris,

    As the fire starter that you are, off topic for a moment, what is your stance or thoughts on “Conversational Search”? Is it the possible chink in Google’s armor or is it a passing trend so esoteric to us social mediaphiles that it does not matter to the masses?

    Here is something to think about: http://tinyurl.com/ba8sur

  • Pingback: Hur mitt bloggande gav mig ett drömjobb | Andreas Karman

  • Erika Owens

    Great post. The arc is not only something great to think about, but also a great thing to write down and read frequently to be sure you are behaving in line with those branding goals you’ve set for yourself.

  • Erika Owens

    Great post. The arc is not only something great to think about, but also a great thing to write down and read frequently to be sure you are behaving in line with those branding goals you’ve set for yourself.

  • http://clintonskakun.com Clinton Skakun

    This is good advice Chris! I’ve been struggling with this for wuite a while. The “Am I a programmer, am I a writer or a marketer or can I be all three.” Last night I was reading this and I thought to myself, man this makes a load of sense. There are a lot of other things I do for a hobby, but things that could turn into a career. I like to get rid of things that aren’t going to make me successful, even eventually I just loose interest in those anyways.

    I used to like to draw, but I don’t have the time to draw any more because I’m spending my time making money and growing a business and therefor I eventually lost interest in drawing.

    This really gets a person thinking! Great post!

    Regards
    Clinton Skakun

  • http://clintonskakun.com Clinton Skakun

    This is good advice Chris! I’ve been struggling with this for wuite a while. The “Am I a programmer, am I a writer or a marketer or can I be all three.” Last night I was reading this and I thought to myself, man this makes a load of sense. There are a lot of other things I do for a hobby, but things that could turn into a career. I like to get rid of things that aren’t going to make me successful, even eventually I just loose interest in those anyways.

    I used to like to draw, but I don’t have the time to draw any more because I’m spending my time making money and growing a business and therefor I eventually lost interest in drawing.

    This really gets a person thinking! Great post!

    Regards
    Clinton Skakun

  • http://www.strategicblend.com/category/blog Taylor Trask

    Chris – this post really hits home with me. Oddly enough, I can rationalize this with any clients we work with, yet I can’t seem to do so with myself. I suffer from a bout of “diluted he-man entrepreneurship” where I feel like I can actually facilitate all the ideas I have. Your personal references on what are hobbies and what are “brand advancers” were a great reminder that I need to be more selective moving forward.

  • http://www.strategicblend.com/category/blog Taylor Trask

    Chris – this post really hits home with me. Oddly enough, I can rationalize this with any clients we work with, yet I can’t seem to do so with myself. I suffer from a bout of “diluted he-man entrepreneurship” where I feel like I can actually facilitate all the ideas I have. Your personal references on what are hobbies and what are “brand advancers” were a great reminder that I need to be more selective moving forward.

  • Pingback: The George Jones Successful Career Guide « DayneShuda.com

  • Michael Jones

    Thisis great advice. Whether you are branding yourself or just in need of some career advice. Many folks who aspire to greater accomplishment or position will benefit from this advice. Thanks for your clear thinking and practical advice

  • Michael Jones

    Thisis great advice. Whether you are branding yourself or just in need of some career advice. Many folks who aspire to greater accomplishment or position will benefit from this advice. Thanks for your clear thinking and practical advice

  • http://www.reluctantrunner.net Candice

    Chris, this couldn’t have come at a better time. With so many interests and what seems like so little time and money, I have been a bit of a wreck these last few weeks trying to decide what to do. This post has put me back in a positive frame of mind!

    Thank you!

  • http://www.reluctantrunner.net Candice

    Chris, this couldn’t have come at a better time. With so many interests and what seems like so little time and money, I have been a bit of a wreck these last few weeks trying to decide what to do. This post has put me back in a positive frame of mind!

    Thank you!

  • Pingback: Morning Edition - Mar 9, 2009 « Sazbean

  • http://www.invesp.com/blog/ Rachel Burkot

    I appreciate how your blog posts are relevant to everyday life, both on and off the web. It’s true that everyone is good at something. How they choose to develop that talent is up to them. If they do nothing with it, they will get nothing out of life. Even if they aren’t meant to be a part of a career, everyone needs hobbies for a well-rounded life. And those things from which you ARE supposed to develop your career? You said it best – you must decide you can do something better. Then act on it.

  • http://www.invesp.com/blog/ Rachel Burkot

    I appreciate how your blog posts are relevant to everyday life, both on and off the web. It’s true that everyone is good at something. How they choose to develop that talent is up to them. If they do nothing with it, they will get nothing out of life. Even if they aren’t meant to be a part of a career, everyone needs hobbies for a well-rounded life. And those things from which you ARE supposed to develop your career? You said it best – you must decide you can do something better. Then act on it.

  • http://www.ospreyvision.com/blog Steve Finikiotis

    Great advice, Chris. Reminds me if Jim Collins’ hedgehog (vs the fox) principle in Good to Great. “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” The hedghog gets it done.

  • http://www.ospreyvision.com Steve Finikiotis

    Great advice, Chris. Reminds me if Jim Collins’ hedgehog (vs the fox) principle in Good to Great. “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” The hedghog gets it done.

  • http://www.phillmason.com Phill Mason

    Hey Chris, cool post and bang on the money. I’m sure there are loads of people who have just rushed off to contemplate their personal brand. I decided at the beginning of 2009 that it was time to sell off some projects and concentrate on only 2 or 3 projects that I’m good at.

    For me is was a simple choice, I’m sticking to making music. I’ve been doing it for years and wish to do it for many more. Like many, I was tired of being a “Jack of all trades” and a master of none. I’m still internet and affiliate marketing alongside my projects, but it would be great to be known as “The Music Guy” online, I’d be happy with that, so I’m off to earn that title.

    Thanks for a fab post, I always look forward to the next one.

  • http://www.phillmason.com Phill Mason

    Hey Chris, cool post and bang on the money. I’m sure there are loads of people who have just rushed off to contemplate their personal brand. I decided at the beginning of 2009 that it was time to sell off some projects and concentrate on only 2 or 3 projects that I’m good at.

    For me is was a simple choice, I’m sticking to making music. I’ve been doing it for years and wish to do it for many more. Like many, I was tired of being a “Jack of all trades” and a master of none. I’m still internet and affiliate marketing alongside my projects, but it would be great to be known as “The Music Guy” online, I’d be happy with that, so I’m off to earn that title.

    Thanks for a fab post, I always look forward to the next one.

  • Pingback: links for 2009-03-09 « Brandopia

  • Pingback: Link-Tipps der letzten Zeit | Leander Wattig

  • http://twitter.com/franswaa frank

    I think the hardest part is figuring out what your good at. Next in line may be the planning for how you want to grow. Getting that stuff on straight can be a monumental task if that’s not the way you think/live/do?

    what do you think @Chris? Not sure if you’ll see this being that i’m so late to the game :

    http://twitter.com/franswaa

  • http://twitter.com/franswaa frank

    I think the hardest part is figuring out what your good at. Next in line may be the planning for how you want to grow. Getting that stuff on straight can be a monumental task if that’s not the way you think/live/do?

    what do you think @Chris? Not sure if you’ll see this being that i’m so late to the game :

    http://twitter.com/franswaa

  • http://www.personalboardofadvisors.com David Sandusky

    @Frank – you are right on = what you are good at that matters and is not a commodity I’ll add.
    People make light of personal brand. Companies spend zillions on understanding brand value towards marketing communications. People are more complicated than products…even when they are productized.

  • http://www.personalboardofadvisors.com David Sandusky

    @Frank – you are right on = what you are good at that matters and is not a commodity I’ll add.
    People make light of personal brand. Companies spend zillions on understanding brand value towards marketing communications. People are more complicated than products…even when they are productized.

  • Pingback: Multiple Streams of Income in Small Towns - Personal Branding in Rural America | Backroads Business

  • Pingback: Join the Anti-Fan Movement » The Buzz Bin

  • http://www.myinternetbusinessmasterminds.com myinternetbusiness

    Great post, I totally agree that peronal branding has a huge impact on ones self.

  • http://www.myinternetbusinessmasterminds.com myinternetbusiness

    Great post, I totally agree that peronal branding has a huge impact on ones self.

  • Pingback: Links to what other people are writing about this week | Broadcasting Brain

  • http://www.twitter.com/lisahickey Lisa Hickey

    Sorry, really late in the game here — I just had an insight as to one specific thing you could do to help “figure out what you’re really good at”. Ask for 5 or so recommendations on LinkedIn. Not people you think might just say nice things about you, but people you’ve *really* worked with. Then see what the patterns are. What are the things *other people* are willing to state in a public forum that you are really good at? Use other people’s stories about you to help create your own. Hope that helps.

  • http://www.twitter.com/lisahickey Lisa Hickey

    Sorry, really late in the game here — I just had an insight as to one specific thing you could do to help “figure out what you’re really good at”. Ask for 5 or so recommendations on LinkedIn. Not people you think might just say nice things about you, but people you’ve *really* worked with. Then see what the patterns are. What are the things *other people* are willing to state in a public forum that you are really good at? Use other people’s stories about you to help create your own. Hope that helps.

  • Pingback: Interessante bookmarks week 11 | Bijgespijkerd

  • http://www.theneocom.com The Neo Com

    Crap! I started working on the brand before the substance! (great post btw)

  • http://www.theneocom.com The Neo Com

    Crap! I started working on the brand before the substance! (great post btw)

  • Pingback: Coherent Sales Consulting - Ed Callahan’s Blog » Blog Archive » LinkedIn is way more than an online resume

  • Pingback: What Am I Damned Good At? « Better Days

  • Pingback: Changing Belief, Discovering Purpose in a Work Life | Storied Mind

  • http://www.brandmelive.com/ jennydrea

    I have to admit Branding is everything in business, but without any means of strategic marketing be it online or offline, your brand still would draw less customers.
    I’ve known this site http://brandmelive.com/blog1/power-coaching-cal… that helps and guides and individual or startup company on how to create your own unique brand that stands out from the rest. In less than a month, I assure you, you will start to experience great amount of success on your brand or business with the efforts you put in. These are free calls and specifically designed to address your greates challenge and your greatest opportunity. It will be full of insight, information and secret strategies to launch into unfamiliar territory. Believe me, I’m one of the million that benefited from that site.

  • Pingback: The George Jones Successful Career Guide

  • http://brandmelive.com/blog1/brand-me-university/ 2legcaco

    Are you ready to be schooled? This is not a common education experience. Brand Me Live will offer monthly classes designed to explore, educate, empower and engage your personal development. Just visit http://brandmelive.com/blog1/brand-me-university/ if you are interested to participate in monthly 30-45 minutes online coaching sessions.

    http://brandmelive.com/blog1/brand-me-university/

  • jennydrea

    The Brand ME experience is a lifestyle. We want to help you bridge the gap between Monday (the worstbranded day of the week) and Friday (the best branded day of the week). The reason is simply this… Monday represents your Labor, the unquestionable common denominator of all mankind… WORK. Friday, represents your LOVE… your leisure, your passion your freedom, your life.

    http://brandmelive.com/blog1/what-is-brand-me-l

  • jennydrea

    The Brand ME experience is a lifestyle. We want to help you bridge the gap between Monday (the worstbranded day of the week) and Friday (the best branded day of the week). The reason is simply this… Monday represents your Labor, the unquestionable common denominator of all mankind… WORK. Friday, represents your LOVE… your leisure, your passion your freedom, your life.

    http://brandmelive.com/blog1/what-is-brand-me-l

  • Pingback: Q&A with Shonali Burke, ABC « Boston University PRSSA