I am a Gen Y consultant and I don't really have a brand other than myself, which I am OK with. Why do I need a company brand when the client is buying my services mostly for me and not my company?
Perceptions brand value vary, and nowhere more than when considering how generations look at brands. Ther are three major types of brand for a consultant. Each may resonate differently depending on your type of practice and relationships with your clients. First is professional, often designated by a degree, license or certification. An MBA or PhD, for example, may be prized or denigrated, depending on a client's perceptions of the value of academic degrees. Professional certifications and government licenses are generally recognized as validating experience, knowledge and practical accomplishment (e.g., MD, PE, CMC, ATR for pilots).
Second are institutional brands. For most of the later 20th century, who you worked often for carried more weight than who you were as an individual or your academic or professional pedigree. You've heard the expression, "No one ever got fired for hiring XXX"? Many consulting firms used to be, and some still are, strong brands. However, following a series of ethical and management lapses in large firms, including more than a few consulting firms, a company name alone no longer automatically carries the weight it once did.
The third brand is the personal brand. Although the rise of social networking and the "always on and public" style of Gen Yers is described as overly narcissistic by Boomers and some Gen Xers, there is something to be said for making a name for yourself beyond just your profession and institution. Because we are more mobile, staying at one company, and often one career, only a short time. Your most enduring brand may just be your personal one. Although a personal brand changes as your circumstances and interests change, it is more under your control than when the professional/institutional brands affected by company scandal or professional ethical lapses. Tip:
It is never to soon to begin forging a personal brand. Certainly, it takes more time and effort than did an institutional and professional brands. Once you took a job or achieved your certification, you were all set for those brands. Creating and maintaining a personal brand takes more forethought and effort. Make it a priority to have other people know you first as you, rather than classifying you as the ___ (insert certification or degree here) who works for ___ (insert organization here).© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA