“A good pedigree almost always gets you a meeting…”Institutional seed investor
While I took this as a relatively benign statement when he said it to me, the underlying implication about what drives our opinions and behaviors shouldn’t be overlooked.
What he was essentially saying is that where a person studied or worked is a predictor of future success. It’s not the only predictor, of course, but one that is given a lot of weight – not just by him, but all hiring managers. Why else would you take a meeting solely on the basis of a resume?
The question is…why? Why does it matter so much? After all, pedigree is rarely a reflection of an individual’s personal contribution to the success of that company. The reason it matters to us is that we trust and respect the company they worked for or school they attended.
It’s essentially nothing more than a positive affirmation – trust by association.
Six years ago when we introduced Brand Strategy to clients, we literally got laughed out of rooms (“we are a private equity fund looking for a couple of dozen investors, not a consumer products company. Why in the world do we need a brand?”).
But consider what brand actually is. Despite what some may think, brand is not your colors or logo. Those are merely a reflection of your brand. Brand refers to what’s in your DNA; your values. Brand goes to the expectations that people have when interacting with you.
In other words, your brand is your reputation.
So, the questions to ask yourself are:
1) Am I better off walking into a room of people that already know what my firm and I stand for and what they should expect when doing business with me?
2) Who is best positioned to shape those expectations for them – me or the market?
These are obviously meant to be rhetorical. People that are willing to invest the time and effort will eventually figure out who you are (or at least, their version of who you are) whether it matters to you or not.
Brand matters, because in an industry built on trust and relationships why would you ever want to leave something as important as your reputation to chance?