THE BRAND CALLED YOU
Big companies understand the importance of brands. Today, in the Age of the Individual,
you have to be your own brand. Here's what it takes to be the CEO of Me Inc.
, Issue 10 | August/September 1997, Page 83 By: Tom Peters
Illustrations by: Alison Seiffer
It's a new brand world.
That cross-trainer you're wearing -- one look at the distinctive swoosh on the side tells
everyone who's got you branded. That coffee travel mug you're carrying -- ah, you're a
Starbucks woman! Your T-shirt with the distinctive Champion "C" on the sleeve, the blue
jeans with the prominent Levi's rivets, the watch with the hey-this-certifies-I-made-it icon
on the face, your fountain pen with the maker's symbol crafted into the end .
You're branded, branded, branded, branded.
It's time for me -- and you -- to take a lesson from the big brands, a lesson that's true for
anyone who's interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of
Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in,
all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own
companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head
marketer for the brand called You.
It's that simple -- and that hard. And that inescapable.
Behemoth companies may take turns buying each other or acquiring every hot startup
that catches their eye -- mergers in 1996 set records. Hollywood may be interested in only
blockbusters and book publishers may want to put out only guaranteed best-sellers. But
don't be fooled by all the frenzy at the humongous end of the size spectrum.
The real action is at the other end: the main chance is becoming a free agent in an
economy of free agents, looking to have the best season you can imagine in your field,
looking to do your best work and chalk up a remarkable track record, and looking to
establish your own micro equivalent of the Nike swoosh. Because if you do, you'll not
only reach out toward every opportunity within arm's (or laptop's) length, you'll not only
make a noteworthy contribution to your team's success -- you'll also put yourself in a
great bargaining position for next season's free-agency market.
The good news -- and it is largely good news -- is that everyone has a chance to stand out.
Everyone has a chance to learn, improve, and build up their skills. Everyone has a chance
to be a brand worthy of remark.