“Nice car, but aren’t you sponsored by Ford?”  

Six years ago, when I auditioned for the part of the presenter in a series of ads, it  passed through my mind that I might be making a mistake.  

Certainly, it was television exposure. But what if it was the wrong exposure? What if it was the wrong message for someone aspiring to build a reputation in a different industry? What if, in the conflict between two competing transmissions, the stronger transmission won, and I became known as The Ford Guy, then couldn’t undo that perception in people’s minds?   

The excitement of the opportunity won out, and I took the job. I also thoroughly enjoyed the work, along with the attendant thrill of seeing myself on TV, circling a freshly polished Fiesta and enthusing about this month’s special offers.  

But since presenting in those ads (at which point I actually did drive a Ford, purely by coincidence), I have owned an Audi, A BMW and a Merc. And it has now been almost five years since the last ad for the Blue Circle faded into the evening news and disappeared from the airwaves. Yet I’m still asked, with surprising frequency, why I don’t drive a Ford…and worse, I’m still asked on a regular basis if I’m sponsored by them. 

The Strongest Transmission Wins  

Expert-positioning is no more nor less than a game of perceptions. And the strongest perception becomes the enduring legacy.  

Take Bill Cosby. In the story of two competing legacies; that of the fun-loving, kindly old dad, versus that of the man accused of multiple instances of what essentially amounts to rape, only one of these is going to win out in the long-term, and it will be the one with the greatest visceral effect; the one with the strongest transmission.  

If you truly intend to become the greatest in your game, if your goal is genuinely to ‘own’ your industry, the purity and power of the messages you transmit is of critical importance.  

Alliances are Transmissions too:

Are you aligning yourself with an employer or a talent agency or a bureau that insist you propagate their branding above your own? If so, pop quiz: Who is Tom Cruise’s agent? Who is Stephen King’s? Who’s Oprah’s? In fact, who represents any of your heroes in any industry you care to name? Exactly. 

If you want to become iconic, your name should come first. Anything less and you become a commodity; merely one out of a pool of offerings. It is impossible to become ‘an iconic member of…’ Set yourself apart, and own your industry. 

(Read a longer version of this article. Click here