When you think of Coca Cola what comes to mind? The iconic bottle? The taste? What about Apple? Or Amazon? Or Chanel? If products are well-branded then when you think of them, you think of the product, the name, the logo, the product ecosystem–it’s interrelationship with everything in its environment (where it is sold, how it works, what it works with, its price point, its competition), the feelings you have about it and, probably most important, how and what you trust about the product.
Why Should You Care About Your Brand
A brand makes you unique. It sets you apart. When people think of you, you want them to think about how you are different, how you are great, what you do well and why they should turn to you for certain things. You want them to FEEL something and to TRUST you to be reliable in a certain way. It is my experience that most people at work aren’t really good at this. Maybe it is because people don’t actually try to brand themselves. If you have a stand-out personal brand, then people think of you when they want to hire someone, when they want to promote someone, when they want someone for a special assignment. You have a lot of control of how and what people think about you if you pay attention to developing your brand and therefore you have a lot of control of being the option of choice in a lot of situations.
What Do You Want People to Think of When They Think of You?
If you could choose what people think of when they think of you, what would it be?
- What is your image (how do you look?)
- What strengths would they think of?
- What abilities would they think of?
- What personality traits?
- What is your energy level?
- What can you be trusted to do?
- What can you be trusted not to do?
Now, How Does That Compare to How People Perceive You?
This is harder. How we want to be, and be seen, is easier to identify than to really see how others see you. Ask people. Tell your friends and coworkers that you are trying to understand self-branding and ask them to describe your “brand” in 5 words or 10 words. Compare how that fits with what you want. What are the differences? Are there patterns to the hits and misses? Do they think you have the abilities that you want to be seen as having, but not the personality? Or vice versa?
Do you look like your brand? Don’t underestimate the importance of managing your image. You’ve heard the adage, “look like the level you want to be.” Take it a step further. Look like who and what you want to be.
Who do you know who has the kind of “brand” that you want to have? How did that person develop that brand? If someone is seen as a highly skilled technical resource who is reliable with intense projects and deadlines, then what is it that has gone into the development of this “brand.” How many years has this person been working on what kinds of efforts to develop this reputation? What are his abilities and personality traits? How has she demonstrated her reliability? How has s/he been visible? What FEELINGS are associated with this person? How did those feelings get developed?
Look at the executives who you admire. What are their brands? How did they develop them? Why are they the ‘go to’ person in their world? What can you learn from how they have accomplished their brand? How can you copy some of their actions?
Now Start Building the Brand You Want
Based on what you want your brand to be and how others perceive you, create an action plan that builds your brand. Be very proactive about it. Don’t just float through your career taking what you get. Build your brand. Pay careful attention to the ecosystem that surrounds your brand. What kind of environment do you need to showcase your brand? What actions, “buzz,” results, visibility do you need? How are you different from everyone else? How are you going to stand out and be noticed?
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