Self-branding lessons on exclusivity to learn from the luxury Swiss watch industry
William Wordsworth said, “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”.
It is important to establish what people should think about me. If I don’t decide that, others will brand me the way they like, and it is possible that it may not be what I want.
The Swiss watch industry with which I have been associated for over two decades now has taught me the importance of self-branding very well.
The Swiss watch brands are associated with luxury and perceived as an invaluable possession and are considered worthy of a family heirloom passed on from generations to generation.
When you think of Swiss watch brands, the abstracts of the brand such as “made in Swiss”, “since 1884”, “first watch worn on the moon” - they have an aura of sophistication attached to it.
While it’s the flawless engineering and the raw materials make up for the product, it’s the intangibles that contribute towards the perception of the brand.
The parallel that I would like to draw here for the personal branding is that while education, work experience, product knowledge amongst others act as the brick and cement in making the house, it’s the empathy, power to listen, adding value in others’ lives, delighting people, are those intangibles that makes the house a home, completes a person as a leader and as a human.
While I had to learn and practice these values to be a leader, I also had to market them to weed out competition at interviews.
Secondly, the visual impact of these elegant, timeless products like a Patek Philippe or a Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet or for that matter a Rolex is nothing less than art. The boxes have a very strong character that helps to determine the legacy and the quality of the product inside.
Just as the packaging of the Swiss watch, an individual’s first impression is very crucial. A pleasing personality, dressed to the occasion, a welcoming smile speaks volumes on what one can expect from such an individual.
It writes the foreword of a wonderful story that is about be written – that of yours
While a lot has been written about self-branding, nothing comes close to a Swiss watch brand when referring to exclusivity.
The luxury Swiss watch industry with its brand exclusivity makes it even more inaccessible with its limited editions while not trying too hard to sell.
A Tag Heuer campaign says, “What are you made of”. It is successful despite the pricing, it provides for a visible status which nothing else can offer, the need for exclusivity and superiority is met.
In our closest animal kin, males spend a lot of time and energy fighting to establish dominance, and we do, too, but our weapons are what we wear, drive, and live in rather than claws, fists, and muscles.
Coming to self-branding, it is important that we demonstrate the power of just one quality that he/she is a master in.
There is a normal tendency to say that you can manage all, this is tagged as a desperate effort to sell oneself, it is better that you position yourself as a master in just one.
It could be an expert in distribution set-up, master in retailing, etc.
This industry has evolved over a period of 400 years and still holds a firm foot when technology advancements have made use of a watch as a timekeeping device quite redundant.
The need for stratification in an otherwise democratic society keeps these timepieces ticking and the need for these HUMAN qualities shall keep one relevant in this world where machines are poised to take over.
Debraj Sengupta is the CMO & Country Head – Watches Victorinox India Pvt Ltd.