Brain Vibe

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Personal Brand and Sponsorship: Test Against the 4 C’s


Blog sponsorship is a tricky thing for those that have built a livelihood around personal brand.  Forrester sees social media sponsorship as the future.  There has also been much talk about Chris Brogan and his sponsorship of Kmart.

The other thing that got me thinking on this futher is a post from Annie Petite.  She asked this question on LinkedIn.

“What’s worse on brand equity?  Huge market share and everyone hates you, or Teeny tiny market share and everyone loves you?”

Putting this all together makes me wonder if blog sponsorship is really a good idea when you spend a significant effort creating personal brand.  Your personal brand after all is about you and your expertise, capabilities, and ability to stand out from the crowd.  When you decide to leverage that personal brand and sponsor people/products/companies, it has the ability to tarnish that image.  Personal brand can be good, but it can also hurt you.

The success of a personal brand lies in 4 Cs.  Sponsorship should fit into this mix to enhance rather than detract from your brand.

  • competence – in topic area
  • credibility – to believability of brand
  • consistency – to brand definition
  • connectivity –  to your customer’s expectation

A really good use of personal brand is to look at golfer Tiger Woods.  He has built a reputation around sports excellence, golf.  It is not a difficult leap for consumers to recognize that if Tiger Woods sponsors Nike golf attire consumers are going to buy Nike golf attire to feel more like Tiger Woods.  In addition, Nike is all about sports excellence.  This brand partnership is an easy leap because there is continuity.  Later, Tiger sponsored Chrysler.  While this had nothing to do with golf, it did have something to do with pairing a luxury car with accomplishment, which is exactly what Tiger had achieved in life.

Extending your personal brand into sponsorships that conflict or is unrelated to the image and story you have created tarnishes can have a tarnishing effect.  At the very least you don’t help the one you are sponsoring because your pitch is unbelievable.  For you, you can be perceived as selling out and loose credibility.  Your sponsorship can be incongruous with your customer/audience base’s values and belief systems causing customers to re-think your value and integrity.  At a small level, consider the situation when you would be a reference.  You only want to be a reference when you truly believe that a person/company is of value and quality.  Otherwise, it can hurt your reputation in the process.  The same should be true when lending your personal brand to a sponsorship.

The tenet of social media is to change marketing and advertising from being the interrupter to being relational.  Sponsorship done well should also have this quality.  Don’t interrupt your personal brand with sponsorship make it enhance your brand.

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