Branding gets personnel touch

Companies are tapping into the personal branding skills of their employees, made possible by the explosion of social media platforms, to inject their brands with personality and respond better to consumer demands.

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Just as consumers are looking to associate with brands more through multiple media channels, agencies also have to recruit staff that can relate to their clients. These individuals can then use some of their personal branding skills to come up with new marketing efforts.

At agency Iris, a love of sports is a trait shared by most of the account team working on brands such as Adidas and Polar. But Adidas account director Lucy Naylor takes her personal brand insights as an athlete into her work for the sportswear brand.

Naylor recently took part in a half-ironman event. At her first race of that distance, she won in her age group and finished 9th place overall in Antwerp, Belgium on the European circuit. This means she took one of two slots in the world half-ironman championships.

“I live and breathe sport, both outside and inside work. Representing Great Britain in triathlon at age group level has seen me race at the world half-ironman championships in Florida and the ITU world triathlon championships in Australia. Out of work, my life is dedicated to triathlon – six out of seven days a week I train, twice a day, before and after work. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning – literally,” she says.  

Naylor adds that she takes this passion with her to work and uses it in her work with Adidas. “It doesn’t get better than working on an account where the clients share the same passion. Immediately there is common ground between us, a shared love.

“It’s brilliant to be able to put my passion into the work that I do, whether that be brainstorms with the creatives, writing briefs or reviewing creative work. I automatically think like the target consumer, rather than like an agency suit trying to put myself into the mindset of the consumer.”  

She claims that by developing her own personal brand, this has led to benefits for Adidas, which has seen the sportswear company ask her to act as a brand ambassador. She joins its staff on runs when she visits Adidas headquarters in Germany.

“When visiting Adidas in Germany, we have often had a run on the agenda, which for me is brilliant – but I’m less sure that I’d love it if I wasn’t a sporty type.

“It’s a great way to spend some time away from a desk doing something that we all enjoy,” she says.

“I’ve even given guidance to my clients on what events they could enter or what training they should do triathlon wise. Adidas has also kindly given me sample kit to wear. It’s great sampling different gear.”

Not only does Naylor leverage her own personal brand for the use of her client, but also the branding of fellow runners at her local triathlon club. They have helped Naylor’s team at Iris develop campaigns through “recruiting actual runners to star in the ads, undertaking research, competitive evaluation of ideas or grassroots activation”.

Naylor is now about to start working on Powerade and again plans to use her sporting “brand me” as inspiration to steer her work for the client.

Brand We Case Study: Eurostar

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As a result, he kept a close eye on how the ads appeared to ensure they were as close to reality as possible. He says: “From all the stories I’d heard from my mum and her colleagues, I was confident that a campaign based on real experiences and real skills was the way to go.

“In fact, the Dolls’ House press ad is similar to a story my mum told me a good few years ago about how she had used a role-play situation with dolls to help a little girl talk about the abuse she was suffering at home.”

Ewart says the personal connection he invoked for this ad campaign was a valuable asset to this campaign, and “brand me” should be used as much in advertising as possible.

He says: “Personal connections are important in every form of communication, and advertising is no different. This doesn’t mean it has to be as intimate as the one between a mother and son every time, but it might be with the man in the pub, the woman on the bus or the CEO in the city.

“They are all human beings with hopes and dreams and anxieties and expectations. Any good creative needs to understand this and stay close to it if the campaign is going to resonate.”

Brand Me Dos and Don’ts

Do

  • Take lessons learned through your use of the latest technology (eg Twitter) into the workplace.
  • Be open to constantly evaluating your ideas and tweaking where necessary, just as you would in your career.
  • Show your superiors your talents and how they can be used in a business environment.
  • Make yourself noticeable everywhere you can – particularly online – and make sure you develop valuable contacts in your network.
  • Show that your ability to market yourself to employers and contacts makes you perfect to market to others.

Don’t

  • Let your own personal beliefs get in the way of your profession – always keep the two separate.
  • Let your ego take over a project and make it all about you – the brand is the thing that needs the promotion, not you.
  • Think you know best and not allow your peers to come up with ideas – collaboration is key.
  • Stick to the norm because it’s what you’re used to. Be open to new ideas and new methods.
  • Forget who the target audience is for your brand – it may not necessarily be the same as your “brand me” audience.
  • Use communications that you like personally when your audience does not want to receive interaction using that particular media.
  • Break communication guidelines. Always ensure your company knows what you are doing and sign it off to avoid any potential pitfalls later on.
  • Mix personal and business thoughts in external marketing communications – you need to speak for the company.

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