Japan and India: Personal Branding Views from Two Cultures – Sept. #1

From September I have the pleasure of collaborating with Dr. Amit Nagpal based in New Delhi on bi-monthly posts to present our views on personal branding from two cultural angles, Japan and India.  Our views will be on my blog and Dr. Amit’s blog, The Joys of Teaching: Brutally Honest, Ruthlessly Frank.  Dr. Amit is a Personal Branding Consultant, passionate Blogger, and Motivational Speaker. His philosophy is “Take Charge of your Life and your Brand.”


Sept. Topic #1:  How Personal Branding Has Become Easier due to Online Tools


View from India: Dr Amit Nagpal

The concept of Personal Branding was introduced by Tom Peters in 1997, William Arruda popularized the concept all over the world starting in 2001. But offline personal branding was only suitable for the upper class / richer countries. If Offline branding through TV and other mass media was too expensive, offline branding through tools like books was too time consuming.

The popularity of social media and networking tools like Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube and LinkedIn in the past few years has brought the concept of personal branding to the developing countries and made it affordable for the middle class also to build personal brands. Let us look at some of the key features of these tools which make it easy to build personal brands.

  • User-friendliness of computers and internet has encouraged even techno-phobic people to adopt internet and you can even find 75 year olds on Facebook, etc.
  • Most of these tools (basic versions) are free and anyone can make a Facebook Page, a Blog or create a Linkedin or Twitter account.
  • New free online tools are coming up every day and they include sites like Profiled.com, Referral Key, Visual CV and so on.
  • Several tools are available to share your knowledge and build your brand as a domain expert including LinkedIn groups, Quora, forums and so on.
  • The basic versions are free and premium versions with extra features can be utilized if you find them worth the money.
  • Newer free services are available like media monitoring from Profiled.com which monitors your online coverage besides Google alerts of course.
  • In the future TV will get completely integrated with internet (networked television) and those who are experts in online marketing will receive a huge benefit in this new world.
  • More and more niche sites are coming up such as ecademy for networking of entrepreneurs.
  • The entry of Google in social media will change the game forever. Google’s search engine powers plus blogspot.com plus Google+ can make it a giant like Microsoft in the internet arena. If search engines start giving real time results from Google+, Facebook and Twitter, it will be a giant leap. Google+’s idea of segregating what you share with friends, family and professional relationships is also wonderful and removes the biggest weakness of social media.

In India, Personal Branding as a structured industry is yet to arrive though many people at senior level have started working on their personal brands through their websites and social media taking the help of SEO and website (building) companies. There is no resistance as such to personal branding though emergence of Personal Branding Consultants in all parts of the country is yet to happen.

So even if you are a horse who does not believe in the rat race, get ready to jump on the social and new media bandwagon and build a powerful brand for yourself in the process.


View from Japan: Peter Sterlacci

Web 2.0 has had an impact on personal branding that Tom Peters could have never imagined when he wrote his groundbreaking 1997 article, The Brand Called You. Social media, blogs, websites, Google, SEO marketing, online groups, discussion forums, YouTube, and the like have caused an evolution in personal branding – dare I say a revolution! People all over the world are now able to jump online, brand themselves, and claim their space in cyberspace. Technology has dramatically expanded the reach and application of personal branding and has made it part of everyday life.

‘Digitally Distant’ or ‘Digitally Dissed’

The fact is that we are all being Googled. A few clicks on the keyboard and anyone can see how visible, or invisible, we are on the web. Add to this that companies are now aggressively investing more in social media over traditional recruiting methods. A recent survey by Jobvite found that 89% of US companies use social networks for recruiting, with 64% using two or more social networks to find new talent. In Japan, a survey by Regus found that 67% of Japanese companies agreed that social media is an essential aspect of branding. It is no longer “who you know” that matters, but rather “whom knows you.” Your online personal brand is important and the difference between what William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson call being ‘digitally distinct’ versus ‘digitally dissed’ can have dramatic consequences in a competitive job market.

Jorgen Sunderberg’s recent post on TNW outlined 14 must-haves for your online personal brand building toolkit including Facebook pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ profiles, niche-based social sites, social media analytics like Klout, Google alerts, etc. Using such tools will certainly expand your online reputation and help to increase your visibility.

Online Mind-Set Shift Needed in Japan

In Japan most of these ‘must-have’ tools, however, present a cultural challenge. Even though Japan is considered one of the most wired countries, the Japanese are not as quick to jump online and brand themselves as the online community has traditionally valued anonymity. Tokyo based MMD Laboratory surveyed 2,130 Japanese mobile web users and found that 89% were reluctant to disclose their real names on the web. Clearly this poses a challenge for online personal branding as Japanese users prefer to be invisible.

An online usage mind-set shift is needed in Japan before Japanese will jump on the online personal branding bandwagon. ClickZ.asia reported that Japanese tend to spend more time online in the ‘interest graph’ (looking for information) rather than ‘social graph’ (interacting with others or promoting themselves). Perhaps this explains why Japanese internet users spend the most time visiting blogs worldwide, as reported in ComScore’s August press release.


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About the author

Peter Sterlacci Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer.” In a country where fitting-in is the norm, Peter’s mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. An avid cyclist, he combines cycling imagery with personal branding strategy to empower his clients to shift gears and sprint to career success. Follow Peter on Google+