Whether it's Starbucks, Nike or the Java Hut at the corner, just about every company has its own specialized brand these days. The way Michael D. Brown sees it, it's time you had your own as well.
The author believes the "power of the brand" -- in this case your own personal brand -- can help you land that dream job, win a coveted promotion, or move from a dead-end job to one of fulfillment.
By branding, Mr. Brown means emphasizing the personal qualities and skills that make you stand out, the things you can do better than anyone else, and how they can deliver for your prospective employer or your new boss.
Just as there's little variation in a Big Mac (so well branded we don't even have to mention the maker), personal brands must be consistent so that people know what to expect and demonstrate a proven track record of delivering results, he said. After all, a Big Mac is delicious every time, right?
The last thing you want to be, he said, is a "generic."
Think about it. Generics are often seen as inferior and they usually are cheaper to buy than brand names. In the workplace, that can translate into fewer opportunities for interviews and lower pay.
"Why would you want to be a generic in a highly competitive marketplace?" Mr. Brown said. "You don't want to be caught in the generic track because you won't get looked at."
He described "generics" as employees who have little depth, who can't pinpoint what they do well, who haven't taken the time to hone their skills, and who bounce from one job to another.
Those attributes won't get you many looks, he stressed.
"Companies want a bona fide proven solution today, and they want to see that in you," he said.
Mr. Brown, author of the book, "Fresh Passion: Get a Brand or Die a Generic," has tips for those seeking to build their personal brand.
First of all, stay fresh and relevant in the 21st century. Pinpoint what job or promotion you want, what is required in that position, and then determine how your "brand" can deliver that. If you don't think you have all of the skills you need for the work, then set out to acquire them.
"In the times we are in now, you have to stay fresh and relevant. Often the skills we have are not competitive enough to take us to the next level," he said. Next, find your passion and develop skill sets within that area.
"You need to be connected to your passion. If you are not, you won't be fully engaged. A lot of the mistakes people make is they become disconnected from their passion. Now they're miserable. They hate their job. Through it all, you have to find out what you're passionate about," Mr. Brown said.
Third, find people who can network for you. Word of mouth has launched a thousand products and it can work for you, too.
"It's important to find people who can help you and advocate for your brand. We buy based on recommendations and reviews. When we go to buy a product, we want to buy the product with five stars," Mr. Brown said.
And where would the Big Mac be without an effective marketing campaign? Who can forget the catchy "two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun."
That doesn't mean you have to come up with your own jingle. But you should be marketing your brand on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ because part of being fresh and relevant is being adept at social media.
Mr. Brown also recommended video resumes, the closest thing your brand will get to a commercial. By a video resume, he doesn't mean standing in front of a camera and reciting your education and job history.
No, if you're in sales, create a video in which you are making a sale. If you're involved in product assessment, use your iPhone to record yourself evaluating products in a grocery store aisle.
"Be as creative as you want to be," Mr. Brown said.
The video will help to separate you from the stack of paper resumes an employer receives. And to boot, it's a 24/7 tool. "It's a proactive way to get your brand into the marketplace, and it costs you almost nothing," Mr. Brown said.
Unlike all those Super Bowl commercials.
Mark Belko: email@example.com or 412-263-1262.