Personal Branding Across Cultures Blogathon – Day 5 / Richard Anderson:
Australians are people who value informality, directness and equality. They are individualistic, work hard, take pride in their achievements and like to win. BUT they do not like to “blow their own trumpets” or share their softer sides. They like their achievements to speak for them! So personal branding can be quite a confronting concept for an Australian.
Are Australians Suspicious about Personal Branding?
As an intrepid branding specialist I often have to overcome the initial response of my clients – suspicion! They can easily equate branding to product marketing and be suspicious because of past (often unhappy) experience of false and exaggerated claims. They also feel that personal branding fits more comfortably into American culture where standing out and self-promotion are encouraged – not so in Australia where we do not readily embrace our Tall Poppies. Even though Australians tend to be early adopters of new ideas and products they do not follow blindly – they need to see the value to them of something new before they are ready to accept it.
With the changing nature of work – where specialists are valued over generalists – the case for personal branding IS very strong. Having a strong brand is a necessity for all careerists rather than just good PR for the few high-flyers.
So, you can see the challenges I face in getting my clients to accept personal branding!
Firstly I need to show them that in uncovering their own personal brand they have the means to be clear and authentic in who they are in all of their dealings – and that this does not require becoming a pumped-up self-promoter.
Secondly my clients need to accept that they are more than the sum of their achievements – they are also human beings who bring a wealth of personal qualities to their work.
Feedback and Data Bridges the Gap
The 360Reach Personal Branding Survey tool helps me overcome both of these objections. As Australians tend to be more rational and matter-of-fact in their dealings they tend to value data over soft skills. The feedback provided by the 360Reach tool helps bridge the gap here. It is a way of introducing the emotional brand elements packaged in the form of data. My clients will accept the importance of and opportunity to differentiate themselves with their emotional brand attributes when their raters spell it out for them!
My experience of working with some seriously hard-headed clients is that once they understand what the data is telling them there is a high acceptance of the personal branding process. They are now on track and their individualistic Australian style kicks in as they strive to be their best with an expanded understanding of their (rational and emotional) authentic brand and how to express it.
With continued communication and education personal branding will continue to grow and be accepted within the Australian market but only if it can be seen as authentic and not as a marketing exercise based on half-truths.