Of course, why not, absolutely !!!
Hold on, did I say yes !?
It's all in your head
We all carry within a set of beliefs, a set of values, aspirations about what we would do if we had unlimited time, fabulous health, strength and if money wasn't an issue. However, we rarely express them or when we do, it's often involuntary, uncontrolled and piecewise.
What does a brand like Coca-Cola or Apple do differently ? They Broadcast this information about them on TV, press, internet, in shops and on every radio channel they can. You would often hear that companies have a 'Mission Statement'. Well believe it or not, we can all have our own.
Sure we don't have the same glam-factor indeed (or not yet), we're only an individual, our personal mission statement may not be so impressive or interesting to share. So shall we not try ? Are there no other people who share our vision ? Can we not start a small group, a think tank, a non-profit organisation, to help others and debate around a particular social ache ? We can always start small and who knows, it might grow big. The end objective being to 'broadcast' our message.
It gets emotional
For our peers to buy in and carry the message, it needs to hit the emotional chord. Why ? Because we do not make 100% rational decisions, that's all. Some have a liking for beauty, are passionate and have a 'certain sensitivity' about it in the luxury sector, while others are more geared towards alleviating human suffering or the betterment of the human condition. Whichever your message, it is more often that not, your fight. It can be the endangered fauna and flora in the oil-polluted oceans or the environment or the planet at large. Whichever the cause you feel you need to support and fight for, you will rally others like you around the common mission only because there is a hard and deep felt drive to do something about it.
It's a promise / an engagement
At the individual level, we are not about to offer "24hr guaranteed delivery and free" nor "the lowest price or double the difference reimbursed". Not quite. We are all guided by our belief systems when we make decisions, usually the critical ones. By promise here, we can consider it as consistence - in our values, or mission.
If I fight for a different cause each day, it either means I have cracked the code for time travel and I can be omnipresent, or that I actually stand for nothing real (cough cough, I might only be "networking"... ). An underlying aspect is also repetition. All commercial Brands practice it. Imagine if LG stopped using the slogan "Life is Good" and one day it's "Life is Great" and another it's "Life is Gorgeous" ? We, the target audience would not know where to stand the next day or the one after. And it thus becomes hard to follow, so much that we'd give up on the brand (for the sake of argument). The keywords here are consistency and repetition.
There's loyalty involved
This is often where large corporations would spend fortunes to achieve customer loyalty. Individuals too have "customers" - to be heeded and listened to, means we're having to engage and keep an audience. Loyalty translates into everyday life events at the moment we make a purchasing decision - we first think of brands we already know, brands that would have created in us a memorable and pleasant customer experience. It gives the brand in question the edge over competition for sure, without having to advertise. To an individual too, we can be loyal. We're loyal because the person stays true to his/her mission, communicates about it clearly and with passion, engages others into taking concrete action, makes them feel they're also important to his/her cause and to achieve a higher purpose. Loyalty is also the side effect of charisma - we're all fond of leaders who inspire us and love to quote their sayings. "Stay hungry, stay foolish" ... who said that again ?
Affiliation and referrals get you further
There is always the option of appearing on The X-Factor, Britain's Got Talent or The Only Way is Essex and getting endorsed by ITV in front of millions of viewers! However for those who are camera shy or simply want to keep their private life/lifestyle private (and save themselves unwanted embarrassment), then there are more subtle ways to get your name associated to an already reputed brand. If you're wondering, it's not only signing at the bottom of your emails Chartered ACCA / Engineer/ Marketing, MD. PhD. LLB, Harvard MBA etc. - or having them on your mailbox - rather we're talking about circles of influential people in the fields you're considering. You are interested in environmental issues, then maybe it's a good idea to check out the Al Gore foundation (Climate Reality Project), if you're keen on science & technology why not check out your local incubator programmes or attend/join TED Talks. If you're looking for a cause, you might as well join a foundation like the Bill & Melinda Gates' - indeed one can be tech savvy and philanthropic.
And after all this, the next question beckons : now that our personal brand starts to emerge, how do we manage its online and offline presence ? More on this in my next number ;-)