The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Poppa’s Got a Brand-New Brand

To be a success in business today, it’s not necessary to have mad skills, or a history of business successes, or even brilliant ideas that will revolutionize your industry.

These days, all you really need is a brand.

This is good news. Since you have so little to offer in the way of skills, successes, or ideas, you actually may be able to make up for your deficiencies with your brand, assuming, of course, you rebrand immediately.


Let’s face it; your current brand is not only weak, it’s not really yours. Your brand has been created by your managers and co-workers observing your performance, or lack thereof. That’s why, in a world of Tiffany employees, you are the Dollar Store. In a company full of Teslas, you are a Radio Flyer My First Scooter.

You get the idea.

Instead of letting others determine your brand, you can devise a brand of your own — a brand-new brand. I think it’s possible, and so does Karen Leland, the author of “The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand.”

According to a breathless email from her PR person, Leland has broken the brand building process into “six key dimensions.” I promise to discuss all six in depth, but since my own personal brand is “broken promises and shoddy service,” a brand I share with AT&T, Comcast and Wells Fargo Bank, don’t expect miracles.

Key dimension No. 1 is “Develop Your Brand By Design, Not Default.”

“Is your brand producing the reputation you desire?” Leland asks. Unless your desire is to develop a reputation for being a shiftless loser, “a pivot to a more powerful personal brand may be needed.”

Alas, in your case, a pivot will not cut it. To get a more powerful personal brand, you need a pirouette, a glissade and a grand jete.

Let’s start dancing.

“Developing an Anchor Statement” is key dimension No. 2. According to Leland, this is the “go-to description of who you are and what you do,” and “sometimes called an elevator pitch.” What you need is an escalator pitch. Your voice rises in volume as your listeners fail to be impressed with your abilities. You can’t blame them, but you can yell at them.

“The scary person who screams at everyone” may not be the ideal brand, but it should keep everyone else at work far, far away from you.

Key dimension No. 3 requires the development of a “Personal Brand Takeaway.”

Basically, this requires you to determine “what makes you unique, distinct and special. What sets you apart?” This should not be difficult.

The fact that there is absolutely nothing unique, distinct and special about you makes you unique, distinct and special. In a world of eyes-on-the-prize strivers, your eyes are closed.

Now that’s a brand everyone can love.

In key dimension No. 4, “Brand Tone and Temperament,” you are cautioned that “taking any tone to the extreme will always backfire: too serious or too snarky will harm a brand in the long run.”

Admit it, your crying jags at the end of every salary review are not building the right brand image, but don’t dial down the snark. After all, you are famous for making fun of everyone in the company, no matter their position, as long as they are not in the same room with you.

Having a “Signature Story” is key dimension No. 5.

“What is the essential story that brought you to this place?” Leland asks. It’s a question you have asked yourself many times. (Your psychiatric team has always thought it was the unwillingness of Billy Wilson to share his dump truck in sandbox in kindergarten, but what do they know?)

Your sad story won’t inspire or motivate or make anyone like you, but it will generate inordinate amounts of pity. And you can work with that!

The final key dimension is “Signature Services.”

In developing this aspect of your brand you define your “core competencies.” That shouldn’t take long. (Oops! I guess there’s a soupcon of snark in my brand, too.) Core competencies are important because “the fulcrum of your brand needs to rest on the material ingredients of your values and commitments.”

Unfortunately, you have no values and your commitments aren’t worth the paper they’re not written on. The only material ingredients for which you are universally recognized is your reputation for being a charming goofball who rarely does any work, but is fun to have around.

It may not be the world’s most inspiring brand, but it’s yours.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at


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