Acton Networkers


Branding & Marketing Yourself


Why do companies spend money branding and marketing products?

Because human beings can only remember a small number of products for any one category

Branding helps a company sell more of its products.

For example, how many PC brands can you name?

How many makes of cars?

How many mutual funds?

        Market research has indicated that consumer can generally recall only 3-4 brands per category. Companies spend money trying to be one of those 4 brands so consumers will be more inclined to purchase their products.

        From a job search perspective branding and marketing is a way of standing out from the crowd and of being memorable. 

  • You meet someone at a networking meeting and a month later that person comes across a job that he/she thinks would be perfect for someone he met at a networking meeting. How will the person remember you and your area of expertise?

  • When a prospective employer thinks about the candidates he/she has had contact with, who is he/she most likely to remember?

        In both cases, the answer is a strong branding and good marketing. A strong brand gives you a competitive advantage by getting people to remember who you are, what you can do for an employer and why you’re the best candidate. Marketing is effectively and persuasively communicating your brand to the right people.

Branding Basics

        A brand is an emotional connection between a company or product and the customer.  The company wants the brand to stand for a specific message and personality. This is called the brand promise.  For instance, Nike’s promise is Maximize personal performance, Apple’s is Enable creativity and Microsoft’s is Help people reach their potential.

       The customer has a perception of the brand, based on all of his/her interaction with the product, company, communications and employees.

       It is important to consider perceptions when creating a brand promise. If you create a brand promise that is not credible, the customer perception will never catch up with the promise and your brand will fail.

Building a strong brand

Strong brands have a set of common components:

  • One personality
  • One brand promise
  • One visual and verbal identity
  • One set of core messages
  • An integrated marketing approach

From a job search perspective, let’s explore each of these common components


  • What attributes do people tend to use to describe you?

  • What attributes would you LIKE people to use?

  • How can you demonstrate those attributes?

        If you want people to think of you as energetic, passionate and results oriented, then make sure you sound that way when you answer the phone or meet someone at a meeting. Does the message on your answering machine or cell phone sound energetic and results oriented? Do your cover letters “sound” right and is the content supporting these attributes?

TIP: Whenever you make a phone call, STAND-UP and SMILE. 
         People can hear the difference.

Customer-focused brand promise

        A brand promise is a succinct statement of what makes a brand relevant and unique to the target audience.  For a company it is based on the organization’s mission and value proposition

        For the job seeker the brand promise can be created by thinking about what is the unique value proposition YOU bring to a given type of job. A useful tool in creating your brand promise is the self-assessment tool known as PAR process (Problem, Action, Results) Note: you may have more than one brand promise if you have more than one type of target company.

For example, a marketing executive who focuses on building the brand awareness of technology companies might have a value proposition of doubling brand awareness and market share in less than 12 months

A sales manager who has been able to increase sales even with very limited budgets in financial services  might have a value proposition of accelerating revenue growth with limited budgets.

To create your brand promise you can use the following formula:


 _________________________ (target audience)

YOU will

__________________________(value proposition)

Marketing example: For B2B technology companies, Joe Jones will double brand awareness and market share in less than 12 months

Visual and Verbal Identity

        Strong brands employ a consistent look and feel in everything they do and say. A company’s visual identity has many components, including logo, tagline, colors, typography, images, style of illustration. It’s verbal identity includes style of writing, tone of voice, spokesperson etc

        Your visual and verbal identity should be just as consistent and it should be driven by the personality you want to project. Components you want to consider include:

  • Business card

  • Resume

  • Voicemail message

  • Tone of voice/style of writing

  • Personal appearance

  • Marketing materials such as cover letters,  PowerPoint slides, newsletters

  • Website

Key Messages

        Key messages for a company tell consumers what the product or service can do for them and why it is the best choice. They’re based on the brand promise and tell:

  • What the company/product will do for customers

  • How we’ll do it

  • What the customer benefit is

Key messages from a job seeker are exactly the same.

  • What the YOU will do for the employer

  • How you’ll do it

  • What the benefit is

  • All based on YOUR brand promise

       The best way of determining your key messages is to look at some of the hardest problems you have had to solve, how you solved them, and what the results were. This is another place where the PAR Process can help.

        For example, one of the PARs for a marketing executive deals with having led an effort to have consistent branding and messaging. The key actions and results in his PAR were:

  • Developed online standards and tools to support employees and external vendors in implementing the brand identity and messages in advertising, branding, web, collateral, communications and product design

  • Increased awareness 7-fold – from 5% to 35% within 18 months

The key message he would create from this is:

At ABC Networks, I drove consistency in messages, branding strategy and identity across advertising, branding, web, collateral, communications and product design with 70,000 employees and dozens of vendors. This resulted in a seven-fold increase in brand awareness in 18 months.

Delivery – Marketing YOU as a product

       One of the basic tenets of marketing is that repetition is essential. Advertising is based on the believe that if you tell the customer over and over and over again how your product will solve their problems and they will buy it.

       For the job seeker the same tenet applies – you need to tell your audience over and over again how you can solve their problems. You want to use your brand promise, key messages and personality attributes in everything you create for your job search. That means that the:

  • Elevator pitch uses brand promise & one key message

  • Cover letter demonstrates (and may mention) personality attributes. It relates YOUR brand promise to the company’s needs through key message

  • Resume demonstrates personality, is built from P.A.R. and gives proof of brand promise

  • Other marketing materials can deliver more P.A.R., personality, etc as appropriate

  • Voice mail or answering machine embodies the personality attributes