In the first college course I ever took, Introduction to Literature, the professor said something that remains with me always: “John Donne’s poetry rewards study.”
And so it is with this article in Entrepreneur: “Why Building Your Business Comes Before Building Your Brand“. The author, Kimanzi Constable, clearly has been around the block at time or two. But after studying his article, I’m not sure I agree with everything he’s deduced in those travels. To wit:
This point is beyond dispute:
Don’t get into the busy work trap. Don’t put yourself on a pedestal because you think it will impress potential leads. Connection is what impresses prospects because it’s rare today. Stand out and embrace what makes you unique. That’s how you build a brand that grows your business.
I’ve known quite a few hamsters in my time. And none of them, as far as I was able to discern, accomplished anything of note or substance by running on its wheel. Lots of spinning. No ground gained. Nothing to show for the effort. I applaud Mr. Constable for his stance on those points.
This next set of statements, however, left me scratching my head:
The problem with a lot of “build your brand” advice is that it puts you on a pedestal. You’re told to list all your accomplishments as social proof. You’re told to use auto-responders to show people how busy you are. You’re told to have a virtual assistant respond for you and to demonstrate how scarce you are.
It’s not that I think Mr. Constable is wrong. He’s exactly right. But I can’t help but wonder what kind of people would dispense build your brand advice that tells people to flaunt their laurels, to feign inaccessibility, and to employ human shields as a means of avoiding personal interaction for any ostensible purpose at all, let alone to establish a brand. It’s a perfect prescription for establishing a reputation as a self-important jackass. But a brand? Not so much.
It’s a perfect prescription for establishing a reputation as a self-important jackass. But a brand? Not so much.
Mr. Constable’s piece isn’t poetry. But it rewards study, as much for what it shouldn’t say as for what it does.
Image by Doenertier82 at the German language Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons.