What the GOP Primary Can Teach You About Your Personal Brand
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This blog was originally posted and featured on FastCompany.com.  The original post can be found here: The GOP Primary Proves Personal Branding Isn’t Optional

The race to become the Republican presidential nominee has dominated headlines for the last several weeks. But this process is more than just political theater—in fact, the GOP race has illustrated several important concepts that relate to personal branding. As a business owner or a professional, here are three key takeaways:

If you don’t define yourself, competitors will do so for you. In the weeks preceding the Iowa caucus, New Gingrich began to cut in to frontrunner Mitt Romney’s lead. Unfortunately for him, Romney’s campaign had the resources to launch an ad campaign casting doubt on Gingrich’s qualifications. Because Gingrich lacked the resources to respond, his momentum in Iowa was buried. As a business owner, if you don’t define your personal brand, you leave it up to your competitors to do it for you. Take control of your brand!

Style matters as much as substance. As a nation, we would probably be well-served if we were able to elect the smartest, most talented, most visionary individual to lead us as president. But the race for President isn’t about substance—it’s about voter appeal, aka “electability.” For better or worse, the same is true in the world of personal branding. You may be the most talented CPA in your town, but if you can’t construct a personal brand that positions you as an expert, you’ll lose business to competitors who are far less talented than yourself. Branding isn’t optional… no matter how good you are at what you do.

Liabilities can’t be ignored, but they can be overcome. There is no “perfect candidate” in the Republican field. In fact, there has been no “perfect candidate” in the history of politics. There are two types of candidates: those who are able to overcome their flaws, and those who cannot. Successful politicians are able to persuade voters to look past their flaws—either by persuading them that they don’t matter, or that they have been sufficiently addressed and are no longer a cause for concern. As a business owner, you’ll never have a perfect product or service. But if the strength of your marketing and your personal brand can overcome the objections of your customers, you’ll never have trouble closing the deal.

The strength of a politician’s personal brand can be the difference between winning and losing an election. As a business owner, a strong personal brand will give you the ability to dominate your market and lock out the competition. These three lessons from the GOP primary race will help you create a powerful brand—keep watching and see what else you can learn!