The 5 E’s of Personal Branding

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Whooohoo! I’ve just come back from my BTech: IT graduation ceremony and thought I’d share with you all the inspiring speech from the key note speaker for the occasion, Thebe Ikalafeng. Thebe Ikalafeng is a recognized and award-winning brand builder. He is founding managing director of brand strategy consulting firm, Brand Leadership and in a six-year tenure as Executive Director responsible for Marketing at NIKE Africa, he led the organization to over 75 local and international marketing and communications awards. You can find his full qualifications at the Design Indaba website where he was also a speaker, He’s got a pretty impressive reputation.

Anyways, he spoke about the 5 E’s of Personal Branding which I’ll attempt at paraphrasing…


Firstly, Essence – Basically what are you all about. What if somebody stops you in the street and asks you who are you and what are you all about? “What is your claim to fame?” as Thebe put it. You should know this off the top of your head and be able to put that accross to the other person quickly and concisely and make sure they remember you and your claim to fame. This is the much same idea as the “Elevator Speech“.

Although I’ve read about developing your “Elevator Speech” before and told myself to sit down when have time and really think about it, I actually forgot to do this. Now that I’ve got the message jammed in my head again, this time more effectively, I’ve made a promise to myself to sit down today and really think about it. What is my claim to fame? How do I want to be remembered in Life? I urge everyone reading this to do so as well.

The second E is for Education – Without the knowledge to make your dreams happen, you’ll be stubbling in the dark, learning as you go along, which can be very painful. Learning is endless and you’re not finished once you’ve completed your diploma or degree in however many subjects.

That leads to Experience – Not everything can be learned out a book and one must go out and take action, because only once you do will you really understand what you’ve learnt. Education only points you in the right direction so that Experience can take you there.
The fourth E is Excellence – To really make it big in the world we must Excel or at least strive for excellence in everything we do. If we only strive to do better than the next person we will only be just that, better than the next person. If we strive to be The Best at what we do, we will eventually get there.

And last, but not least, Exposure – You need to stand out of the crowd, blow your own horn, let people know what you’re about. You can be the best at what you do, know exactly what your “Essence” is, but if knowbody knows this, you won’t have the chance to make a difference in the world. And isn’t that what it’s all about? In the end, we want to make a difference in the world, make it a better place and on the side it’s nice to get a little recognition. Well, at least that’s my opinion.

I know I probably didn’t relay all the points of Thebe’s speech exactly as it was, but I wrote the main points what stuck with me.

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