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In this issue’s cover story, “In Good Company,” you can read about the popular consumer brands that your clients will encounter the next time they are on a cruise ship, such as Starbucks, Ben and Jerry’s, DreamWorks, Blue Man Group and many others. In addition to these brands, cruise lines are enlisting the services of celebrity chefs as well. Chefs such as Nobu Matsuhisa, Todd English and Jacques Pepin are part of a select group who have crafted personal brands and have cultivated credibility with consumers by carefully managing their reputations.
The success of these chefs’ brands offers a lesson for other professionals, including travel agents. Being aware of the brand associations related to your name, or the name of your business, is crucial in today’s business environment. Travel, in particular, is a field where word of mouth is often cited as the number-one factor that influences vacation decisions. So if your reputation is being compromised, your business is sure to suffer.
Dan Schawbel, an expert in personal branding, and owner of the Personal Branding Blog (PersonalBrandingBlog.com), says branding has become more important today than ever before in history. According to Schawbel, branding is a critical component of a customer’s purchasing decision and, therefore, in a business’ success.
“These days, customer complaints and opinions are online and viewable through a simple search on either Google or through social networks,” he said. “There is no hiding anymore, and transparency and authenticity are the only means to survive and thrive in this new digital kingdom.”
Clearly, based on the money that cruise lines spend on brand-name partnerships, they believe in the power of branding to connect with customers and influence their spending decisions. Take a lesson from the lines and from some of today’s top chefs and make the effort to build and maintain a brand identity for you and your business.