A thought leader unique to her kind and marketing revolutionist of the Silicon Valley, Karen Kang’s extensive background in communications and marketing puts her in a pristine position to encourage discussions surrounding personal branding, and she shares her expertise in this field with her new book BrandingPays. In the first part of an exclusive interview with iCharts, Kang shares her own beliefs about marketing oneself and one’s company while shedding light on the importance of visual branding. She pointed to her past work in corporate positioning and branding as only the beginning of the inspiration for her book. Kang explained how working at the influential marketing, communications and strategy firm Regis McKenna helped her see business branding strategies in a greater, more all-encompassing light.

Regis himself was really a market visionary and came up with some very seminal thinking around positioning products in the market and how you work the ecosystem to make that happen with other players… He talked about this way before the internet and social media kicked off. It was great that I was there in the 80s and early 90s because we were doing so many ground-breaking things.

She said that she found that the methodology she was using at Regis McKenna was adaptable to any size of company, and more importantly, that it worked. This was the first spark of inspiration that eventually led Kang to formalizing her ideas about marketing and branding oneself into a book.

I got the idea that we should really apply this to people as well, since personal branding was becoming more important… How people would brand themselves for opportunities, how they would be seen, how they would show themselves having value to the greater world… A number of my clients asked me to speak on personal branding, and once they heard me speak would say ‘Oh my goodness, this is so important, people don’t know this – you have to write a book’.

[Kang at her BrandingPays book launch on Tuesday, Jan. 15]

Hers stands out above other books that talk about personal branding because they only touch on strategy and tend to be more social media oriented. Truth is, most people don’t know where or how to start being strategic about their personal brand. Kang warns that without a clearly defined strategy people may be sending out messages to an audience who doesn’t care. She asks her customers three main questions to get them on their feet and thinking about how they want themselves portrayed:

What problem am I solving, what opportunity am I enabling, and how am I adding value to the world that is unique?” Furthermore, she describes the text as a huge amount of information in a “not-too-heavy volume… Because I have a five-step system and provide examples and concepts around those steps, there’s just a lot of meat on the bone. My book is definitely not one of those that could be boiled down to a 2 page article. There’s a tremendous amount of content where people can go back to it time and time again to use it as a guidebook.