"Could you identify yourself with only 5 brands?" That's the engaging question being asked at 5brands on tumblr. Reading through the various responses, I noticed that some of the brands referred to experiences (Starbucks, ESPN, Google), but that most referred to actual products (Nike, Coke, Apple).
Then I remembered Tom Peters call for executives everywhere to manage "The Brand Called You." I saw new life in his brilliant concept when I considered what type of brand was I creating professionally. Do I want to be known for the experience I provide or for the products I produce? Now generally, I'm an experience guy. For us retailers, the only thing that can truly set us apart is the experience. But is that enough for a solid professional reputation?
In an economic climate where over 600,000 jobs were lost in January alone, I wonder which personal brand is more likely to survive a layoff. Experience - he's a great partner that you can count on; or product - his analysis and recommendations are reliable and accurate. My guess is the product brands are easier to demonstrate a return on investment and therefore more secure in their jobs.
Ideally, you find a way to build a brand that's strong in both. Krispy Kreme provides a distinctive in-store experience, and they also make mighty tasty donoughts.
Note to self: start working on improving the product side my brand.
P.S. - here's a fun brand game to play with your loved ones. Have them write down five brands that they think define you and see how they compare to your list. Then you do the same for them.