To kick off the second season of Branding LAB, I sat down with Marty Neumeier, branding veteran, author and in my opinion “genius” to talk about his expertise and tips on being a pioneer in brand architecture.

Director of Transformation at Liquid Agency, Marty is the main thought leader for the agency and a prolific author on the art and universe of branding.

This season will put personal branding under the microscope, so launching with Marty as my first interview was a no-brainer. Personal branding doesn’t necessarily differ from company branding in process per se, which is a common misconception, but as far a intention is concerned…it absolutely does.

“The principles are the same, it’s just a matter of scale. But you still have to have the same pieces in place.”

I have built my brand around myself and my intentions for what I want to contribute to the world. I’ve done this by honing in on exactly what it is that I am both passionate about and good at. This was not an overnight discovery however; It took trial, error, and blood, sweat and tears to get to this point. The point I wish to drive home is that the magic happens when multiple elements overlap – but recognizing the overlap, and amplifying it, is when success happens.

“What does the world need now, or what will it need next year, and how does that overlap with what I love to do…and work that overlap.”

Start with your “why”. Getting clarity on what you want and what it is you’re trying to achieve will help you define what you don’t want or need. This allows you to make moves in the direction of developing your personal brand more easily.

AP: Where do you think someone should start? What would you do?

“First of all I’d go back and change Mark Cuban’s quote to, ‘Find the green in the dream’ rather than ‘Follow the green, not the dream.’ I was a graphic designer and there were a lot of people who had that skill, and I was no different from them. But what I discovered was that none of them could write. So I learned to write and that was my uniqueness. Boom.”

Being true to yourself and being authentic is something that people desperately crave in the world of products, services and skills being marketed to them. We want to support a brand that we feel personally connected to, influenced by and that represents us. This also forms a brand tribe around us that feels the exact same way. But what’s so interesting about that is that even when there are drawbacks to a brand’s product, you will defend it to the death because you’ve officially crossed the threshold into love.

“A brand is the customer’s perception of the product or company. You don’t control your reputation you just influence it.”

In The Brand Flip, Marty’s new book, he explains why if customers are not running companies then the company is probably doing something wrong. This doesn’t mean customers are making the day-to-day decisions, but they ought to be heavily influencing the products, innovations and culture of the brand…otherwise the company tanks.

“It comes down to what do you want your customers to become? What really matters is the customer’s identity. Who is that customer, what do they want to become and how can you support that thing? And beyond that, what tribe can you support? What’s that tribe like and how can you support that?”

By creating almost a cult-like following of loyal customers, you influence a culture as it’s being created in front of you. This absolutely applies to personal brands as much as it does to company brands.

By being authentic, you attract a tribe that is already aligned with your beliefs and values. People pleasing is not scalable and it definitely isn’t sustainable. You’ll lose your mind before you convince even one customer that what you’re doing is not only something they need, but something you enjoy.

This interview with Marty Neumeier was satisfyingly enlightening. It was the perfect way to open up the conversation this season on personal branding and drawing inspiration from the greats in the industry.

Final Words by Marty Neumeier:

“Be very aware of where your passion lies and don’t give up on that. Having a strong passion for something doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gonna succeed. Within your passion find out where your different and highlight those differences. – what i’ve found is that personal style comes from working around your deficiencies. Those actually might be the coolest things about you. Whatever you’re doing try to do it honestly, simply, efficiently, and what’lll happen is your style will just come out.”

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