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Everywhere we turn in Singapore, there is a McDonalds outlet and the person next to you is using an Apple smartphone. He may be listening to the newest Rihanna song or wearing the ever popular Havaianas flipflops.
 
Like it or not, we are surrounded by brands everywhere we turn. In fact, we are using brands on a daily basis. All the brands are screaming out to us and sending subtle messages such as “choose me” or “use me” to our minds. Branding means different things to different people. To some, it means the logo. To others, it means the slogan. To yet others, it means the name. 
 
To me, branding is a multi-sensory engagement of the various human senses as it’s all about perception. Yes, that’s my definition as I’ll share in greater detail.
 
I am very privileged to be invited to conduct a 3 hour branding workshop for Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Army Officers Management Centre (AOMC) today.

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Seated in front of me were 28 regular officers and 19 NSFs of different ranks. Akin to a retreat style, the Commanding Officer (CO) opened the workshop and promised his officers an interesting eyeopener ahead.
 
You may ask yourself – what has branding got to do with the individual? To be honest, it has plenty!
 
Just like how corporations and conglomerates have a corporate or business branding, so too must we adopt our own personal branding. We brand ourselves so that people know who they are interacting with. The stronger our brand, the more long-lasting our overall image in the minds and hearts of others.

Recall my definition of branding? 
 
As a business owner, I brand my business so that my existing customers and future customers can identify with it. I brand my business not because I need to, but because I have to. And the best way to brand it through the various human senses…so that you see my brand, hear my brand (through testimonials) and feel my brand. In all, I am connecting with you on an emotional level. 
 
Throughout the workshop, sharings and more sharings led to the participants getting to know one another better. And from what they shared, I helped the participants extract the true value. For example, when a female captain shared about herself being very good with people, I jokingly mentioned that she should consider a posting in human resources. True enough, she revealed she was already working in HR! And when a NSF shared that he cycled to work every morning, I shared that he could be doing this for two reasons – either he was trying hard to save money (as we know NSFs don’t earn a lot each month) and/or he was doing so to adopt a healthier lifestyle by sweating it out in the mornings. He said it was a combination of both.
 
You are what you brand yourself to be. It may be your persona but it is still your branding. Our branding is our image to the world. It is how you carry yourself and how you want others to perceive you.
 
Unlike other workshops when participants came, listened and left without an action plan, I liked it when the CO stepped forward towards the end to get his team to share how they could put today’s learning into concrete action plans – starting with both self and AOMC. 

The branding journey is a never-ending one. Just like how one brand evolves over the years as the business grows, so too must an organization continue to focus on its branding efforts so as to propel itself forward.
 
You know you will never go wrong when you kick out the bland and focus on the brand! So what's your brand strategy? I'll be happy to be part of your branding journey :)


PS: For security reasons, no names can be mentioned and no pictures taken. But here are the testimonials from my satisfied army officers :p

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It is definitely an encouraging sign to see more companies devoting time, effort and resources to health and wellness – a much neglected area in the workforce. With society’s perpetual emphasis on raising productivity amidst an uncertain global economy, companies are fast realizing the key to doing this is boosting worklife balance of their staff. After all, research studies have shown that there is an intricate relationship between happy employees and higher rates of productivity.

So salute I must companies such as Jebsen & Jessen (SEA) Pte Ltd which has gone a step further by taking concrete action to organize a corporate wellness talk for their staff. 
 
Seeing the eager looks on their faces, it was evident that all were going to be healthy lifestyle advocates in their own rights after today’s talk. 

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As an ex-employee for almost seven years, I fully understand how much my health and fitness habits seemed to take an instant backseat, especially with endless meetings, demanding bosses, tight deadlines and never-ending emails. It’s the same routine over and over again, day in day out. I’m cooped up in my little cubicle, typing away furiously on my desktop and being swarmed with all the paperwork. And it is little joke that it’s not an uncommon sight to be sitting all day long. You sit in your cubicle. You also sit during meetings. 

Sitting all day long can only mean bad posture, fresh aches and pains here there everywhere…and of course, not forgetting gaining some extra flesh around the tummy…
 
Sounds bad right? But this is the truth!
 
Following in the right footsteps of Jebsen & Jessen (SEA), the best way is to incorporate a corporate wellness programme in their organisation. I know change is scary to some people but if you see change with fresh perspectives and especially if you know it will uplift your quality of life, you will give it a go.
 
I loved it when the management representative shared that the company encouraged staff to walk to Sheng Siong Hypermarket (which was about two bus stops away) during lunchtime to do their grocery shopping instead of taking public transport or driving there. In fact, walking is one of the best forms of exercise. And if you choose to brisk walk, the benefits are multiplied multifold. 
 
And of course, who can resist taking a break? When quizzed how many types of breaks there were, my new found friends today learnt that the powernap break (to be taken during lunchtime for 10-15 minutes maximum) was going to be their new best friend.

A concept imported from the West, taking a powernap break during lunch not only invigorates and energises us for the rest of the day ahead, it also prevents ALS from setting in. 

I invented the term ALS. It’s called “after lunch syndrome”. ALS always sets in immediately after lunch as the effects of a heavy lunch makes your eyelids heavy and your blood sugar to rise higher than normal. That’s because our foods are normally high in sugar and flour.

But powernaps are to be consumed only for a maximum of 15 minutes. Anything longer than that, it loses its effect and instead will lead to insomnia at night when it’s the rightful time to allow our bodies to rest and recuperate.

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Saving the best for last, everyone was in for a great time when I introduced simple but effective bodyweight exercises. There was no cajoling of the crowd to get my volunteers. The ladies just stood up and came forward! Super sporting…

From the spontaneity and spirit of the crowd today, I know corporate wellness will be off to greater heights at Jebsen & Jessen (SEA).

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