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Last Updated: Friday, 3 December, 2004, 07:55 GMT
Brand it like Beckham
By Martha Buckley
BBC News

Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell is consistently 'nasty'
Celebrities are increasingly turning themselves into brands, using their fame to succeed in business or attract lucrative advertising deals.

Whether they are selling us knickers or fronting a charity campaign, they are in demand because, just like a top brand of soup or a leading mobile phone, they are instantly recognisable.

But how do they achieve this and can the rest of us employ a similar tactic to cash in?

DECIDE ON YOUR BRAND

According to personal branding consultant Gabriella Goddard, celebrities build up their brands by sticking to a few key attributes they want to be known for and making sure everything they do reinforces the image.

You can be the best-kept secret in your department unless you do something about it
Gabriella Goddard
For the Beckhams, it is sporting and pop achievement combined with wealth and glamour and the perception of a perfect family life.

These are qualities many people aspire to, making their brand a powerful selling tool.

But even in "normal" careers, working on your personal brand can reap dividends in terms of business success or climbing the corporate ladder.

This does not mean you need a brand name, branded stationary or advertising about yourself, just a clear idea in your own mind of how you want to be seen.

If you can put across a clear message about what qualities you are "selling", you are more likely to be hired or promoted.

First, Ms Goddard says, it is important to decide what makes you different and what you want to be known for. Then you can concentrate on making sure everyone associates you with those qualities.

You might want to be seen as a stylish and innovative artist, or as an authoritative and decisive manager.

It is a good idea to focus on any particular area of expertise you have, or anything you are passionate about.

If you are not sure what makes you different, ask for feedback from friends and colleagues to find out how others see you.

GET NOTICED

Some celebs come from nowhere and enter the public eye through chance, by being in the right place at the right time, or through reality shows.

For others, such as Britney Spears, fame followed years of hard work, taking part in contests and promoting themselves before they achieved their goal.

Raising your brand profile is just as important in office life.

As Ms Goddard puts it: "You can be the best-kept secret in your department unless you do something about it."

She suggests networking, making contacts in other firms and departments, joining trade organisations and maybe writing articles for trade journals on your field of expertise to help promote yourself whenever you can.

The internet can also be a good place to start showcasing work and building a fan base, for those starting out.

Other ways to promote yourself include taking part in charity events, trying to get publicity through local media, doing work experience and voluntary work.

WALK THE TALK

Jennifer Lopez
J-Lo's brand covers everything from singing to underwear
Once you've decided what you want to be known for, you need to start reinforcing your brand by being consistent and "walking the talk".

Ms Goddard says: "Through circumstance you get visibility and from there you create recognition. And if you are consistent, the brand comes across.

"Simon Cowell, for example, is very consistent. His brand is built on his abrupt personality as well as his expertise, so if he suddenly became 'nice' it would ruin it.

"Whatever your brand is, you need to paint everything you do with that brush."

For celebrities, this includes being careful what products you let yourself be associated with.

Ms Goddard, who spent 15 years developing international product brands before moving into personal branding, says: "They need to be thinking, 'What kind of things should my brand be endorsing? Am I more of a Virgin Atlantic person or an Easyjet person?'"

For the rest of us, decisions on where to be seen, what accessories to choose and even what mobile phone to buy can all help.

It is also important to act professional, with business cards at the ready, and to dress the part.

If you are in banking, for example, but want to be known for your zany personality, then you could consider a pin-stripe suit with funky earrings or glasses.

Ms Goddard even sends some clients to voice coaching, to help them sound more authoritative or confident, or to posture experts to help them stand, sit and walk in the right way.

TAKE ADVANTAGE

Kylie Minogue
Kylie has evolved with the times

Fame can be fickle, so the challenge is to make the most of your time in the limelight.

Ms Goddard says: "The smart celebrities have businesses which they run as well, to keep the income flowing and give their visibility some leverage.

"If you've got something people want to aspire to, then you might as well exploit that."

The queen of this approach is Jennifer Lopez, who is now a singer, and actress, has her own perfume range and her own clothing, underwear and accessories lines.

Ms Goddard describes her as an "uber-brand".

"When you think of the J-Lo brand, you expect something to be fresh and a bit sassy," she says.

Ms Goddard suggests X-Factor presenter Sharon Osborne could be another big brand in waiting.

She says: "When you think of her, what do you think of?

"She's a woman who says what she thinks, calls a spade a spade, and she's loyal and nurturing and very genuine.

"If she wanted to create, say, a beauty range for the over-40s, and maybe call it something like 'Fabulous', when people bought it, they'd expect it to really do what it said on the bottle, because that's what Sharon's like.

"They would expect it to make them feel fabulous, plus it's aspirational, because if Sharon can do it, so can anyone."

Similarly, if you've made a name for yourself in one field, it might be worth using that success to help yourself start up a business of your own.

EVOLVE WITH THE TIMES

Britney Spears
It's all about getting noticed
Ms Goddard says: "High profile people reinvent themselves every few years because their value depends on their visibility."

"It's a bit like the auto industry, which is always coming up with new models to stay ahead."

Stars who get pigeonholed, such as Britney or Charlotte Church, tend to rebel after a while, as they change as people.

Others, such as Madonna or Kylie Minogue, have managed the process more smoothly.

Most of us will also need to help our brands evolve. The image that was right for a 22-year-old starting out in their career may not be right for the same person 15 years later, when they might be going for a senior manager's job.

At this stage, Ms Goddard advises building up a different aspect of your brand, playing up the skills you might need in your new job.

"Just like Madonna and Kylie, you have to keep up with the market and also how you are changing over time.

"For example, you might get married or become a parent, which will make you feel different, so you'll behave differently. Growth is good."


SEE ALSO:
Who owns their own image?
22 Nov 04 |  Magazine
Nine million tune into Celebrity
22 Nov 04 |  Entertainment


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