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Berline Says 'Brand Yourself'
By: Don McLean
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Fifteen minutes into a talk to advertising greenhorns Jim Berline, of the Berline Advertising Agency in Detroit, said “Brand yourself; it’s all about perception.” While the students in Adcraft’s ADvance class may not have known what to think, he went on to say, “Perception is more important than reality.” What is your brand? How is it perceived? Did you know there was such a thing?
Berline specified four characteristics needed to thrive at his agency, and any agency for that matter, that are part of personal branding.
  1. Be competitive. Love the thrill of the fight. Self-confidence is key here. You need to have relentless motivation and drive. Always strive to make yourself better and learn from any mistakes.
  2. Be bright. Know how to multi-task, well. In fact, in today’s day and age multi-tasking should be automatically assumed. In any business, no matter what it is, everyone is juggling many tasks at once. Collaboration should also be in your tool kit. Being collaborative means working as a team. In a  team environment you must have a ‘we’ versus ‘I’ attitude. If you are not sure what this is, figure it out fast.
  3. Be sensitive to strategy and insightful. Remember all those story problems and hypotheses in college that you said, ‘When will I ever need these?’ It comes in handy here. Knowing how to solve problems in more than one way is paramount. It also helps to know the successes and mistakes of other working businesses. The case studies are out there. It is on the news every day. Pay attention and turn it into a learning experience to help develop your knowledge faster. Through school and life’s experiences everyone is capable of insight. It is just about how you develop it.
  4. Most of all be passionate. You must love the business. This could not be easier to explain. If you do not like the business you are in, your personal brand will suffer. Passion brings out your true self. This is what is needed to truly succeed.
Berline then posed a question to the group. “What will you do to set yourself apart?” Experiences are what make a person valuable. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the field. Experiences include getting involved in charities, having hobbies, and the like. “Base yourself on experiences and not assets,” said Berline. Sometimes experience means furthering your education. A higher degree such as an MBA shows you are willing to commit the time and go above and beyond what is needed. The actual degree does not really matter.
Berline also stressed, “Whatever you do in this business make sure you have someone to go to for sound advice, so you make sound decisions and to give you guidance.” Part of this includes surrounding yourself with good people. Negative people can bring you down like a disease. Soon you’ll start thinking like them and not making the best decisions for yourself and your career. Find some strong people to give you guidance and surround yourself with greatness. If you are still fairly new to the business and unsure who to go to, start networking. Networking can be one of your greatest assets. It is all about doing your homework, knowing who you want to talk to, and making the connection.
Berline left us with this thought, “We have the power of communication to change the way people think.” What will your personal brand communicate to the audience? Will it, in turn, affect the brand you work for positively or negatively?

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About the Author
Don McLean, MBA is an account supervisor at Airfoil Group, an independent marketing and public relations firm serving tech companies and innovation-centric brands with offices in Detroit, New York and Silicon Valley. Follow Don on twitter at@mclean_don.  
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