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By Jon Michail

Most sustainable relationships between Australia and Asia are primarily based on interactions and associations. Therefore it is important to have a credible personal brand for instant impact.

There are three components in building a credible personal brand. These are:

  1. Credibility
  2. Dependability
  3. Trustworthiness.

Which in turn will deliver you:

  • Relationships
  • Respect
  • Prosperity

To build your brand, you have to create a system that works for you. While talent will get you so far, this is only one aspect of success. The most important component of success is the practical systems you build. No matter how disruptive certain systems seem, they are the key to your growth.

Every- one from Richard Branson and Steve Jobs to Lady Gaga created a system that tended to their business growth and brand. They had/have talent, that goes without saying, but they also had a successful system that leveraged their talents by creating personal brand value beyond what the average business leader or entrepreneur is able to create. When considering your systems and brand in Asian countries, the fundamentals are the same, however you have to consider how the brand translates, i.e. names, colours, taglines, styles and cultural nuances that may offend. You must decide who you want to target and how your brand reflects the market or individual that you want to influence, and then adjust to suit.

We touched on behaviours in the last issue. In this issue, I want to look at how to maintain your brand. Put simply, there are two ways you need to look at your brand:

  1. Offline – visit your market regularly (face to face preferably) and have your people on the ground do the same.
  2. Online – Create an online platform to regularly communicate with your stakeholders.

Let’s look at your team on the ground. It is important for them to understand that business throughout Asia is not always conducted in the same manner. Doing business in Singapore is different to doing business in Indonesia or China. Therefore your team must understand the culture. Recruit a team you can trust, people that also intimately know the culture, language and how business is really conducted there.

Any entrepreneur or business leader with hands on experience will give you real world insights if they are honest with you. Get really picky in finding your team; it can take time but in the long run will give back awesome returns. A good team will ensure that to the best of their ability, the brand will survive and thrive.

However as every leader knows, circumstances can conspire to hurt the business. If the brand goes wrong, it’s time to enter into the crisis management phase. It’s time to take a deep breath and contain your losses. You must have a strategy in place before the event. Having a plan in preparedness makes good business sense. Once you have set your crisis management plan in place, you can then work to re-position nearly anything if it falls into the parameters of your well thought out plan or system.

No matter whether you are a big or small organisation, you will face similar disruptions particularly in overseas markets. Some industries may find it harder to recover. The food industry is one that has to perform major repairs to its brand when something goes wrong. Remember the milk substitution racket in China. That cost to manufacturers financially and in reputation was disastrous; the cost of human lives was tragic. That’s a disaster that any respectable brand or leader should ever let happen. To mitigate these disasters, your brand values must be congruent with what you claim to be. In the example above it’s clear that these manufacturers did not follow their own mantra – they destroyed trust in the brand through unethical behaviours.

Brand Building – personal or corporate – is not a strategy for short-term profits, it’s a well thought out plan or system with steps in place that need to be followed to maximise brand value for the longer term. Your personal brand is a reflection of your leadership. Trust is one of the most important character traits missing today from our communities. From business leaders to politicians to your local church, people are suspicious of what they are being told as they have been let down too often. Your personal leadership brand is the ultimate tool to build business because you:

  • Understand yourself better
  • Increase your confidence
  • Increase your visibility and presence
  • Be the go to person in your industry, attract investors, media and powerful connections
  • Differentiate yourself from your peers
  • Increase your compensation
  • Thrive during downturns in the economy

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So when looking at the Asian markets, it’s important to remember the following:

  1. Be clear on your values and what you stand for (and what you will not stand for).
  2. Know your target market and position your brand accordingly.
  3. Decide what you need to do for impact.
  4. Plan how you will reach them effectively.
  5. Back your team / representativeness to be congruent with your personal brand. They must be a reflection of what you represent when you are there physically or not. Remember everyone must speak the same ‘language’… in their own voice; create congruency along all the brand communications channels.

“Set a standard for excellence, with- out distinction there is extinction.”

© 2014 Business First Magazine | This article first appeared in Business First Magazine in March 2014.

Jon Michail is Group CEO of Image Group International, an award winning author and recognised Australasia’s No 1 image coach. Image Group International supports executives, entrepreneurs and their organisations to become iconic and monetised leadership brands.

He has been a  regular commentator in international media including ABC, CNN, NBC, Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Success, The Financial Review and Vogue.

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