Brand yourself

by Lou Smyrlis

You’ve likely been hearing a lot about branding of late. Columnist and former partner of MSM Transportation Mike McCarron has written about it as has blogger Carolina Billings, a partner with NLI Label. Branding was also a big piece of the conversation at the recent 17th annual Transcore Link Conference in Brampton.

Your brand, in the words of Billings, is “the essence of your enterprise. It is your best face to the world. It is your name equity and your reputation.”

It is not just your latest marketing campaign, but rather “the result of each and every contact people have with you, every promise kept and every expectation that has been met or surpassed.”

Or to put it more simply, as did Sue Douglas, president of SDC Manager Solutions, at the Transcore conference: It’s just who you are, it’s what you do and how you act. And by the way, Douglas, whose company provides HR consulting and internal branding, sees no difference between personal and professional brand. They should be the same and they should be consistent all the time, she believes.

So why should you care about your company’s and your own personal brand? Why not dismiss branding as simply the latest business buzzword. We certainly have gone through a heck of a lot of them over the past 25 years – when we weren’t striving for excellence or best of breed, we were re-engineering (spent almost an entire year I would like to forget on that one) or engaging in co-opetition (never did figure that one out). What’s different about this latest buzzword?

What’s different is that it speaks to the core of how your enterprise and you, yourself, are perceived by the people you deal with on a daily basis. And how those people – whether they be customers, suppliers or staff – perceive you and your enterprise determines to a great extent your success. Whether you will spend the majority of your time paddling with the current or against it.

McCarron believes that trucking as an industry is behind the times when it comes to understanding the importance of branding and I agree with him. For-hire trucking in Canada is an industry of about 10,000 mainly small and mid-sized enterprises routinely complaining they can’t get the rates from customers they need, can’t attract the personnel they want, and can’t get the government attention they deserve.

Why does an industry as large and as crucial to the functioning of the Canadian economy get treated the way it does?

Could it have something to do with the way it is perceived? Could it be many of us, in the rush to just get the day’s business done, have been neglecting to take the time to properly manage how people perceive we get the job done and explain the value we create?

I think so.

And I encourage you to read more about “branding” in our publications and on

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