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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Right-Brained Personal Branding Integrates Person & Profession

Personal Branding and Women or Left- vs. Right-Brain BrandingIn May 2009, I contributed the following article to Personal Branding Magazine Issue No. 8 Re: Female Power Brands. Many of the ideas are ones that I've been revisiting as I think about organizations that are particularly successful at 'flooring' their consumers. I welcome your reactions.


Personal Branding and Women or Left- vs. Right-Brain Branding

By Christine B. Whittemore

There’s an interesting confluence of forces at work suggesting that effective branding is shifting from traditional, hierarchical and interruption-based notions [i.e., left-brained or male] to connected, adaptive, social and conversation-based notions [i.e., right-brained or female]. Think Ford Motor Company hiring someone dedicated to facilitating conversation [i.e., Scott Monty] or Fiskars, the scissors company, creating the Fiskateers, a community of brand evangelists – both right-brained branding strategies.

Right-brained personal branding results from a carefully woven tapestry that integrates person and profession, includes personality, celebrates individual passion and welcomes interaction to help the identity evolve against carefully determined values and priorities. Right-brained brands consider ideas in terms of ‘us,’ ‘it depends’ and nuances rather than absolutes.

Left-brained brands, on the other hand, prefer absolutes, focus on an ‘I’ or ‘me’ perspective and dictate behaviors. They appear rigid.

Now, we all – men and women alike – represent a combination of both approaches, in different degrees. However, as David Wolfe outlines in his book Ageless Marketing –premised on the majority of the population, as it is now, being over the age of 40 – as we get older [and wiser] our brains become less categorical, more interested in context, more about shades of grey, more right-brained [and female] in how we process information.

Our maturing brains – regardless of gender – look for connections and true-ness [i.e., authenticity]. We seek out values relevant to us as we look to ‘self-actualize’ to use Abraham Maslow’s notion of transformation and personal improvement.

Interestingly, this affects and inspires younger generations – helping to explain the renewed civic-mindedness we are witnessing with record Peace Corps and Teach For America volunteers.

In the workplace, although hierarchical left-brained business models remain well entrenched, we’ve started to see traditional hierarchies replaced with flatter, leaner, more cooperative structures. Command-and-control has morphed into spheres of influence where as individuals we must figure out how to provide value for the greater good rather than selfishly extracting it.

Add to that the tools of social media which enable the individual to express personality, share wisdom and demonstrate undeniable passion. Those same tools require that corporate brands show personality and individuality, that they become porous and malleable to evolve and remain relevant. These brands have the opportunity to express a right-brain attitude, become social and connect with core constituents.

As we individually commit to participating in the marketplace in a public way, we must establish a credible and memorable presence or brand to stand out and be noticed. Too left-brained an approach signals inaccessibility and rigidity, even eventual commoditization. A right-brained approach, however, welcomes and interacts socially, demonstrating sufficient confidence to invite perspectives and offer value. The personal brand evolves and remains relevant.

My business self includes many left-brained aspects – e.g., meticulous, results-oriented, practical. My right-brained aspects complete and complement my personal brand, keeping me receptive to change and nuance. I’m fully engaged in a rich, interactive and ever-evolving journey.

Are you ready to express your right-brain self, your right-brain personal brand?


Note: Special thanks to Susan Abbott, Toby Bloomberg and Andrea Learned for contributing inspiration and perspective for this article.

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