Authenticity Personal Branding Self branding

Personal Branding Series: Episode 35 | Mark Hannant | Co-founder teammagenta and Indigo Premedia| Be Comfortable In Your Own Skin

As a ‘reverse’ economic migrant, Mark Hannant has made a difference in creative services in India, taking a path lesser tread by most people – who prefer moving to stronger economic markets to benefit. He has not just thrived but also built his ‘brand’ engaging as a creative services entrepreneur. In this interview, he shares his world view and what differentiates him as a thinker, communicator and author. A fun fact – Mark has acted in Bollywood movies alongside upcoming stars (then) like Ayushmann Khurrana!  In the 35th edition of Intraskope‘s Personal Branding Series,  Mark highlights the importance of relevance and authenticity as one navigates life on your own terms. Not conforming to how the world operates can land you surprisingly positive results. Learn more in this interview.

Watch the YouTube video interview and read the complete interview below. Look up more such stories on my YouTube channel and on LinkedIn.
  1. What according to you is personal branding?

I think it’s about having a voice, an opinion (advocacy), authority and good content that is visible within a community. There should be consistency – people should know what they can expect from you!

2. Do you consider yourself a personal brand? If yes, how do you know it?
I don’t think of myself as a brand, though I recognise that in part as a foreigner in India, as an entrepreneur and author others may see me as such. And I suppose that with grey hair comes some level of authority!

3. What does one do to go about building a personal brand?
I think it’s requires clarity about what you stand for and represent and finding ways to contribute something to your community from that standpoint. Again advocacy/authority and opinion are important.

4. What are the attributes of a personal brand? And what do people associate your brand with?
I’ve been an entrepreneur for almost 20 years – from before it became fashionable.  I purposefully identify as a migrant. That never has been fashionable!   I am a great believer in the power of migrants and am proud to be one. Migrants do great things and contribute immensely to their host nations (creating value, jobs, paying taxes and sharing skills) – unlike expats who tend not to engage with their hosts in a meaningful way. So, to some extent I’ve made migrant part of my ‘brand’. I advocate for multiculturalism.

Being an author gives some credibility/authority so I’m happy to have that association! It certainly opens new channels for me and changes the tone of conversations. Recently I’ve been actively involved in the ‘future of work’ and the world of open talent/remote work which I think is a defining characteristic of the post-pandemic world, so that’s being incorporated into my ‘brand’ such as it is.  

5. Based on your observations and learning who according to you is a personal brand? What characteristics do you admire about them?
Authenticity, relevance, and charisma. Good content. Consistency.

One of the first people I thought of as personal brands was a British chef and food writer called Keith Floyd. He had built this wonderful persona mainly through books and TV. I still have his book on French cooking which I’ve used for two decades. He died before we had social media, but I can imagine he’d have been magnificent on Twitter.

I would include people like Yuval Noah Harari and Parag Khanna as ‘brands’ with whom I have an affinity. Thinkers and writers and social commentators.

There’s a lady on LinkedIn called Jo Watson who has a brilliant ‘brand’ she’s down to earth, northern, authentic, outspoken (sometimes crude), very funny, and clearly very good at her job which is writing. 

Gary Vaynerchuk is an example of a personal brand where I feel that the brand has taken over the person – I think he spouts a lot of hocus pocus! Salman Khan (Bollywood actor) is an example of personal branding gone bad – lacks authenticity, no charisma, can’t even dance!
6. What steps did you take to build your brand? How do you know it is working?
I use LinkedIn and try and have relevant things to contribute. I try and be consistent and take a long-term view.

7. What challenges did you face while building a personal brand? What techniques did you use?
I’ve never consciously been a brand builder so not really any challenges. I think it’s been an organic process. Partly it comes from knowing yourself and being comfortable in your own skin.

8. During the process of building your own brand, what did you gain in the process? What did you lose?

I guess I’ve gained a network and connections. Can’t think that I’ve lost anything

9. How can someone starting from scratch build a personal brand? What is the first step he or she must take?
Be yourself but perhaps accentuate some aspects that you think have the greatest relevance. Have good content. Develop a consistent tone-of-voice.

10. If you had the opportunity to change something about the way you built your personal brand, what would that be?
Be bolder!

11. With COVID19 and other crises what steps can personal brands take?
My only comment here is that I was determined not to let what had been ten years in the making be destroyed in 10 weeks or 10 months. So, taking a long-term view, recognizing that things won’t be smooth and being able to roll with the punches is important

12. What’s your advice for youngsters (Gen Z and others) who want to consider their personal brands?

I have two teenage children and I’m learning that they’re not really looking for advice from an old manlike me! I think one has to encourage them to find their voices. They’re both Indian and English – not half and half. I encourage them not to feel they need to conform and to try and help them acquire the skills they need to navigate life for themselves on their own terms. Both have a strong desire to make content so I think that’s to be encouraged. Their world is very different to mine!

Liked the interview? Share your comments and feedback.

Watch the video interview on my YouTube channel or read the complete transcript on my blog. Watch more such video interviews by subscribing to my channel.

Look up more such articles on my blog  Missed the earlier episodes? Look them up here: Muqbil Ahmar, Tinu Cherian Abraham, Joseph Fernandez, Christina Daniels,Karthik Srinivasan,Gautam Ghosh, Alexander Michael Gittens, Mubeen Azeez, Itzik Amiel, Mangal D Karnad, Abhijit Bhaduri, Sandeep K Krishnan PhD, Scott Shirai, Sunil Robert, Latha Vijaybaskar PhD, Abha Maryada Banerjee, Dr. Amit Nagpal, Sukanti Ghosh, Amith Prabhu, Dave Carroll, Prof. Deva Rangarajan, Ramesh Thomas, K V Dipu, Chip Helm, Suresh Ramdas, Karthik Nagendra PhD, Jeppe Hansgaard, Raja Karthikeya, Atamjeet Singh Bawa, Vidyadhar Prabhudesai,Patrick Widmann, Dr. Kalpana Gopalan, Cherian Kuruvila and Prachi Shevgaonkar online and share your thoughts.

Keen to get ahead with your personal brand? Here are some resources:

Keen to participate in the ongoing series on Personal BrandingInternal Communications or CSR Communications? Drop me a note at [email protected]

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