I remember the first time I heard that line. I was four years old, sitting in a darkened cinema watching a rerun of Goldfinger (my parents were pretty liberal when it came to things like that, and we knew the manager of the cinema).
For two hours I sat, transfixed as 007 battled the bad guys, got the girl and saved the world. Without knowing it, though, it set the tone for many aspects of my life over the years since then.
Since then, my career as a management consultant working around the globe has thankfully provided me with many opportunities to experience ‘Bond moments’, whether walking into the Casino de Royat (so near, and yet so far) in the south of France past the gaze of tuxedoed security guards and imagining them to be henchmen of some dastardly Bond villain, peering over the edge of volcanoes in Iceland, or driving around Europe in my sports coupe. One of my proudest moments came when, having reached the end of a project, one of the client’s staff turned to her colleague and said "What are we going to do without our James Bond?"
And it has to be said, for a fictional character, Bond is a phenomenally strong personal brand. Walk into a bar anywhere in the world and ask for a "dry martini, shaken not stirred", and the chances are the barman will make the connection to Bond. Omega watches leveraged the Bond connection throughout Pierce Brosnan’s tenure because they knew the Bond brand was as strong as – or even stronger than – theirs. Bond arguably turned Aston Martin into the global brand that it is today.
Pretty much everyone know what Bond stands for: confidence, determination, courage, ingenuity, style. We forget that Bond is educated (Ian Fleming tells us that Bond has a "First in Oriental Languages from Cambridge" – the equivalent of graduating Summa Cum Laude). His vision is no doubt a world that is safe from criminals and terrorists, and he knows only too well his role in making that vision into a reality. His passions are all too clear: fast cars, beautiful women, and adventure.
What can we learn from Bond about personal branding?
First, he uses his name everywhere: Bond, James Bond. He says it with a steady voice, a firm shake of the hand and good eye contact. I’ve often come across people networking who stumble over their own name, look away as they say it, or offer a limp hand. When you introduce yourself imagine you’re Sean Connery delivering the line, only remember to put your own name in!
Second, he lives his brand consistently. You never see him dressed in a faded track suit or ripped jeans, because it’s not his style; he doesn’t have ‘off days’ when he loses his confidence or gives up after the first setback. Whenever we see Bond he is just as we expect him to be. Can that be said of you, all the time?
Third, we get reminded of his brand regularly. The films are released on a fixed schedule, and it fills us with anticipation. One of the things I encourage my clients to do is to set up a communication plan arranged like a calendar: a separate column for each month of the year, and rows corresponding to each of their main target audiences, particularly if there are key individuals they need to communicate to. In each row they then fill in activities they will undertake to get their personal brand in front of that audience, deciding how often is appropriate for that group, and ensuring that no-one is left out of the loop.
Quantum of Solace, the new Bond film, is almost in the theatres, and you know where I’ll be on the opening night…