The difference between information and knowledge is so huge; so much that actually few people standing on one end manage to see the other. Let me tell you, information is nothing. Information is what you do with it, and what you do with it is called knowledge.
So, in my last entry of 2010, I wrote about what I learned, basic information, utterly useless unless I make something out of it. I have been gazing at that entry for a while, pondering upon what knowledge I could juice out of it. Being a branding professional, I reached the following conclusion:
Based on a recent poll I published on my blog, 67.5 of the respondents believe that People are the most crucial asset of a Nation Brand. This is information. Then I asked “people” to tell me what, according to them, people could do to enhance a nation brand. That’s knowledge.
I’m still an ignorant… No one answered.
Here’s the insight. As much as we think that people make nation brands, nations also stamp people’s brands. Tell me where you live, I’ll tell you who you are. Personal branding finally, is a reflection of a bigger collective microcosm, one that encapsulates the characteristics of the bigger picture, be it a family, organization or country.
Every time you get a job in a new company, the first thing you are taught is the culture of that company as well as its values and code of conduct. You are clearly asked to subscribe to these beliefs, adopt them and strictly abide by them. If you have your “own” personal branding, does this make you schizophrenic?
Undeniably, being part of a family, we get imprinted by its core values and culture when developing our own personal brand. Same applies to the country we live in. So finally, personal branding is not “that” personal after all.
In a country like Lebanon, our personal brand is constantly pulled and pushed between family, work, politics, religion, our own vision of our brand, and… fear. Now brand this!
We’re constantly asked why don’t we do something about it! They simply don’t realize that we did. We did the unimaginable!
Lebanese are personal branding gurus. Name one country living under the constant specter of war and that manages to con the world about being a safe haven… And make it work.
Name one country where the religious divide is so wide, and yet manages to export the highest surface of naked skin, be the hero on Fashion TV, and become so degenerate that it succeeds morphing anyone into a singing celebrity.
Name one country that relatively lives under the poverty line and where a thyme pie still sells for a dollar or more, and where expensive fine cuisine outweighs casual dining or even fast food.
Name one country where people can manage at the same time to look richer than Wall Street, and stupider than a Bradypus Tridactylus. Go ahead, look it up if you don’t fall under this category!
The bottom line, we succeeded at creating a halo, a bubble that projects this wild image of Lebanon and Lebanese. It worked great, in a way. We still have to find a way to influence the news. Yup! That’s a tough one, but if we managed to sell ourselves as the lighthouse of the East without even having electricity, we could crack this one I guess.
The drawback, we live in a lie, one hell of a big lie. We are simply not who we pretend to be. We are not a safe haven, we are not safe from the religious divide, we are not above the poverty line, and we are not as smart as the amount of money we gather. So, for how long can we manage to live this charade and make others live it?
This, is knowledge.
The power of branding resides in consistency and sustainability, and we’re defeating both purposes. It’s true we’re doing a good job for now, but seriously, for how long? You know the Arabic saying that translates: “The rope of lies is short”? Well guess what? It is.
Branding is also about viability, not survivability. This might come as a surprise to the Lebanese who are more used to the latter…
Why do we create a brand? Let alone a personal brand? To sell… Duuuh! And what is selling all about? Creating a brand. Nice loop, no? Yep, quite nice until you realize that the golden assets of a brand are honesty and transparency. Hehe, yeah two more words we, Lebanese have a serious problem with… Ok, ok, let’s stick to branding.
So, consistency, sustainability, viability, honesty and transparency, that’s what a brand is all about! Can you handle that?
So that’s what I learned, and that’s fine.
I’m so consistent I’m almost boring!
I’m so sustainable I’m good for the environment!
I am viable. Ask my friends.
I am honest… Read my blog.
I am transparent… ummm… Read my blog!
I hate to disappoint you, but I’ll keep learning, because where some brag about the knowledge they don’t have, I’ll settle for the information I seek. You see, although Personal Branding is not that personal, still the most important word in personal branding is “personal”.