Trump's Golden Shoes

Would you buy Trump’s Golden “never surrender” high tops for $399? Just a 1000 of them for sale and resales are already priced higher! It’s pretty awesome to have a personal brand that allows you to rake in a cool $400K just by endorsing a pair of sneakers! It’s also marketing, er, genius, to capitalize on having a police mugshot taken by selling a MugShot range of collectibles. Donald Trump definitely has high recall and the ability to monetize that into merch. 

The Power of Brand Consistency

Trump is really clear about who he is, and his brand “values”. You may find them distasteful or bang on target, but it is pretty easy to fill up a Hofstede onion model for him. I’d say you’d have more difficulty filling up one for yourself – at least I do! The strength of a brand lies in its consistent manifestation. That can be applied to many things that the brand does.
It’s important to grasp that nuance – who you are is separate from what you do.
This holds for corporate brands too.

Also Read: Building the Foundation of Corporate Culture, Jessie Paul, August 2021

Separating Identity from Actions

IBM or Apple or Google can morph their product lines because what they do is separated from the essence of who they are. They deliver a world that works better or is simpler or organize the world’s information and they do it through tools appropriate for that decade. How they do it is also separate from what they do – another important point.

The Evolution of Search

I’ve been using Google for search for most of my working life. I still use it to locate the best pizza near me. But if I want to research a topic I am more likely to use Perplexity or ChatGPT. A poll I am running on LinkedIn -do vote – shows that nearly 75% of respondents are playing around with other tools, not just Google. I’m pretty sure that Google will survive either with Gemini or by buying something else because this is too close to who they are as a company.

Brand and AI Utilization

This week’s AI spectacle was Sora which allows you to create amazing video from a text description. Which set off another round of speculation on what will humans do when AI can do everything. It is indeed a worry. For some people. But what if you were the CEO of Disney? Or Steven Spielberg? They’re more likely to be figuring out how they can put this new tool to work for them! Because they are established brands with a clear picture of who they are, they can use AI to deliver whatever they want to do.

Authenticity in Content and Products

For the near future, one of the big problems with AI is going to be authenticity. Are those wooly mammoths real or fake? Is that Taylor Swift or a deep fake? Should I buy this green bottle of snake oil as a cure for diabetes? The brand premium for a trusted purveyor of content and products will start to rise.

Navigating the Rise of Content Volume

My specialization is building B2B brands, including designing a content strategy. I can tell you that already the volumes of blah are rising. Content that sounds truthy and helpful but doesn’t add to your knowledge or ability to make an informed decision. Beware of what you are lending your brand and authenticity to. The tools are great – but they are tools. You still need to judge if they add value to your target audience and if it is something you want to stamp your brand onto. 

Authenticity in Corporate Storytelling

When I joined Infosys in 1998, the co-founders, Mr Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani made every corporate presentation whether it was to delegations or to clients. This was not scalable but the key reason for this was to ensure authenticity and accuracy – the company story was too valuable to be just told by anyone. We resolved the need for more storytellers by having a detailed training program on how to present the deck along with a final test with one of the founders. Of course writing that deck today would be so much simpler with all the tools available, but the time and commitment for ensuring authenticity would not change. 

Impact of AI on Employment

Part of the hoopla around each AI announcement is “we’re all gonna lose our jobs!” That is a real fear – jobs are vanishing. My dad’s job with the Indian Foreign Service in the 1970s required him to make a clipping of news articles that referenced India in the country where he was posted. These were sent by “Diplomatic Bag” once a week to New Delhi where presumably someone else pored through these papers and figured out what Australia or Tanzania or wherever thought of India. This job does not exist today. 

The Future of Work in an AI-driven World

Canva replaced many designers, as did WordPress. Grammarly & ChatGPT are replacing copywriters. Jobs where authenticity and credibility are not factors are much easier to replace with tech.

AI definitely needs arms and legs at this point – Google Maps tells me where to go but autonomous cars aren’t safe enough so it needs me to do the actual driving. So either you will have arms and legs sort of jobs or credibility and authenticity kind of roles.

Investing in a Brand Blueprint

Investing in your brand blueprint is a necessity. In this rapidly changing world you need to really build on who you are and why you should be trusted, not just on what you can do. Because what you do may need to change pretty fast. The human need is always for safety – can you deliver it?

I’ve been talking about the Hofstede model in the past couple of newsletters, and I wanted to share a bit about how it would work in an organization, like, say Mastek.

Mastek’s core values, which form the inner ring of the Hofstede onion model, revolve around Trust, Value, and Velocity. Rituals like storytelling, all-hands meetings, and UGC video collaterals reinforce these principles. Brand champions and the “Life at Mastek” series exemplify these values and create brand heroes. Visual elements, such as brand colors, digital themes, and brand guidelines, visually represent Trust, Value, and Velocity, ensuring a cohesive brand narrative.

Thanks to Prajakta for letting me use this!

Navigating Uncertainty with Trusted Brands

Despite the rise of Uber, Ola, Grab and improving public transport Paul Writer still employs a driver. Why? Because in certain situations it is just safer. As we sail into the uncharted territory of AI, we’ll need trusty captains. Who you are will matter more than what you do and how you do it. 

Upcoming Event: Personal Branding Discussion

I’m talking about personal branding on March 6 at the invitation of AVIXA – if you’d like to drop in. Register here.

Growth Hacking

And a shout out to my friend Sandeep Balaji who is getting Sean Ellis, the GOAT of Growth Hacking ( he coined it as well) who will be conducting Masterclasses and delivering a keynote at


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