DAV Professional Placment Group
DAV Professional Placment Group


Johannesburg +27 11 217 0000

Cape Town +27 21 468 7000

JOHANNESBURG +27 11 217 0000
CAPE TOWN +27 21 468 7000

5 steps to building a great career brand


By virtue of my job and chosen field of expertise I spend 70% of my time thinking about, talking to and interviewing some of the greatest marketing brains in South Africa. What makes people chose a BMW over a Mercedes Benz or have a strong preference for Blackberry instead of an iPhone? When I ask the marketing greats I hear about value proposition, quality, market leadership and all the other things that marketers use to sell us products or convince us of choice.

In thinking of this I took it a step further and wondered what differentiates people who start at exactly the same place in life in terms of education and 1st jobs. Why does one become a household name synonymous with career success and achievement while another seems to get lost in the middle? Why are there such gaps in income, influence, following and power with marketers who do exactly the same job but for different companies? What I want to explore in this blog is the simple philosophy that we can all choose to become household names and memorable brands in our fields of work. Here are 5 steps to get started.

1. Audit your current brand identity. How do the people who purchase your services or interact with you currently perceive you? In marketing world this would be market research. Do they see you as the Rolls Royce of your market – in a league of your own and worth every penny or as a utility Toyota (reliable, affordable). Both these brands are successful in their own right but operate from a stand point of knowing who they are and what they stand for. If your brand identity and desired place to be are not congruent then it’s time to work and, if they are, keep doing what you are doing and then some!

2. Decide how you want your customers to see you. If you want to operate in an elite market but are currently stuck in mass consumer world then it’s time to consider your own 4 P’s.

Perception, Positioning, Price and Promotion.

  • Perception: Revisit your customers and find out why they use you or buy from you. Probe also why they use your competitors and what they perceive as the difference maker.
  • Positioning: In relation to other people that do the work you do (colleagues, associates, people at other firms) on a scale of 1 – 10 where are you rated. This is a tough one to think about. The question on perception might also help. If you are not happy with your positioning get some expert help. This is where advertising agencies, media houses and strategy firms come in. As an individual reach out to mentors in and outside your industry who are well-positioned and ask for help in how you can improve.
  •  Price: In the world of pricing I have been told by marketers that it’s all relative. Relative to market economics, positioning in the minds of the consumer, dynamics of supply vs demand and also the shop at which your purchase. You expect to pay a premium price when you shop at Woolworths because their brand promise is quality and service. If your pricing is not right give some thought to where you are working – does your company brand work for or against you? Consider supply and demand, are you one of 15 000 brand managers who market FMCG brands? If so what makes you special and different. Answer these and you may be able to command a premium too. Do you consistently deliver on your brand promise e.g. Innovative Marketer?
  •  Promotion: How do you tell you customers about your brand? Do they know enough about you and what you stand for? This part never stops. As you evolve, change and grow take your target audience on the journey with you. We live in an age currently that makes this simple and easier so use social media to your benefit.
We live in an age currently that makes this simple and easier so use social media to your benefit.

3. Identify and capitalise on your natural branding advantages

  • Are you endorsed and certified by an authority figure or authoritative voice in your market. If not make an effort to get this right and expect that it might take time. Great brands never stop investing in marketing.
  •  Establish and keep building a reputation of excellence
  •  Can you reposition using a recent project you have successfully launched or implemented?
  •  Use your natural talents in a way that communicates your brand message. It is important to be consistent

4. Create a short memorable tag line – my colleague Jaclyn Allardice has written a brilliant blog “Your perfect pitch” which you can explore for this.

5. Develop core marketing messages.

  • How frequently will communicate and what will you communicate?
  • Ensure that your brand message is consistent with how your customers experience You.
  •  Evaluate monthly, quarterly or yearly (whatever makes sense for the field you are in) if your brand is gaining market share or improving its competitive edge
  •  Consistently look for ways for making your brand stand out – right place, right people, right time and right place.

This blog is a tribute to the great marketing minds that cross my path. Thank you for the inspiration. Here’s to building great career brands.


About Viva Somhlahlo

I am a senior consultant at DAV - in recruitment for the last 6 years. My greatest source of joy is finding & placing individuals who excel & are passionate about what they do. In the last 3 years my niche has been in the field of strategy, marketing & branding building. When I am not connecting great people to top tier employers you will find me at the Yoga studio practising the art of meditation or reading up on leadership and personal mastery. I get my energy & inspiration from the beautiful people of South Africa & the mindset of possibility we have. Connect with me on LinkedIn & help create the country we all dream of.

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