Your Personal Brand
Do you have brand loyalty; are you loyal to a particular brand? For example, I love chia lattes, but only a certain brand that is spicy without being overly sweet. If I cannot get the brand I like, then I will go without and drink water instead. Do you wear a brand, or drive a brand?
Brands are everywhere. We live in a world of brands.
You too are a brand - “Brand You.” Your brand is what you are personally known for. It is what your friends and customers say about you when you are not around. And it could be negative or positive.
You create Brand You every day through your actions. In effect, if you think of You as a company you are its CEO, Director, Manager . . . . Marketer, and Customer Service Department and as such you are responsible for Brand You. It is a brand that is completely separate from the organization you work for or represent.
In the workplace, a customer may take or return a call because of your employer’s brand, because they saw a commercial or heard a positive rumour, or because they are familiar with the company logo. They actually may deal with you personally, but if they continually come back to you despite several other staff being available to help them, it is likely that they are developing loyalty to Brand You.
With all those brands and competition out there, how do you differentiate your personal brand? How can you brand yourself as number one in your industry? How are you going to define your self so that your prospects see you as the best solution for their problems? How can you become the "Starbuck" of coffee or the “MacDonald’s” of fast food? How can you get the brand loyalty of Coke or Pepsis, Apple or Microsoft?
1. Define Your Brand
It all begins with understanding. Defining Brand You is the most important and the first step of what you need to do when going into business or even just promoting yourself. Ask yourself:
1. What is your brand today? What do your friends, family, colleagues, people in general think about you? Are you completely happy with that?
2. What are your core values and beliefs?
3. What do you stand for?
4. What do you want Brand You to represent in the future?
If you cannot define your own brand then you are leaving it up to others including your competition - to define it for you.
To define your brand, think about you. If you don't understand your own brand then you will never be able to position yourself or your company to create their brand
What is it about you that makes you unique? It is not "I am better than the competition" or "I am better than other people." It is what is unique about you as an individual that we are looking for. What have you accomplished that you can share with others? What do you want to be remembered for? Go back to what you think your brand is today and determine if there is a gap between where you want it to be and where it is right now.
2- Create the "Brand You" Statement.
From the above questions you'll gather enough information to create your personal brand statement. Your personal brand statement acts as a promise that you can make to yourself and to your customers. Write a sentence about "You" that summarizes your core values and beliefs that make you stand out from the competition. Here is mine:
My success and my fulfillment come from serving others.
I don't define my success by my work or by the financial return I make. Instead I find true joy in serving other people. Helping them to get what they want. I am a connecter.
So, whatever your statement is, it has to be authentic, true to you, show who you really are. In that way you'll be able to live it and - more importantly - have others believe it. My statement shows that I will feel good just by helping other people. Your statement may include words like driven, focused, giving, influences, helper, strong willed. It does not matter what you write as long as you are honest with yourself.
Brand You will evolve over time as it takes root, and it matures. Don't think of what you write today as your final brand. It is about starting your brand. Try to make it simple, easy to remember and easy for others to communicate it. Make it relevant; make sure you can connect it to whatever you do. Ensure that it is believable because your credibility depends on it. Your brand is what is going to make you different.
3. Building “Brand You”
How do you build Brand You? It starts with your reputation. Do you know what your reputation is? Do you actually know or do you think you know? Does it reflect your personal brand statement? Are your reliable, trustworthy, honest, loyal and consistent? Are you knowledgeable? What are people saying about you?
If you are not sure what your reputation is then you had better start building it. You build your reputation by becoming known in your world. This is essential to your work. Do you interact with people on a daily basis? Do they know your brand? What about people you meet for the first time? People are always watching. It is our nature to observe others and while we do this we subconsciously rate them, deciding if we like them, if we want to get to know them better – all based on our perception of their personal brand.
When you are aware of your brand you are able to take a positive action to start increasing your visibility. Positive actions get you noticed in and outside of your employing organization. Work different hours to meet different people. Join a volunteer organization; write an article or stories for a local newspaper. Maybe even write an Internet blog article. Build your network of people and friends who believe in you, who like you.
Find the people you enjoy being around and when you have created this network of supporters they will tell others about you. This is word of mouth advertising. It is powerful. Pay special attention to people who have a lot of credibility. People with positivecredibility are valued and valuable. They will help spread word of your brand and people will listen. If you position yourself with credible people you will find your brand growing beyond belief.
One thing to keep in mind is that you are always Brand You. It means anything and everything you do thatis associated with Brand You, from how you respond to an email to how you treat a server at a restaurant, will impact on your reputation and impact your brand.
Everything you choose to do or choose not to do will affect your brand in some way. Make sure you stay true to your personal brand by making choices and taking actions that are based on what you want to be. For most people it is not about how much money or power they have that will make them happy in the future.
Now it is time to use the three-step process above to start creating Brand You.
To do: Devote some time now to developing your brand and brand statement as outlinedabove.
Once you have your brand statement and you have started to work on your reputation, it is time to raise your brand awareness. Here are some of the daily steps you can take to make this happen:
1. Always proofread any emails you send. While grammar and spelling are important, pay particular attention to its tone and intention. Could something you have written be misinterpreted by others? Your emails contribute to Brand You.
2. Provide value, whether it’s through your emails, sales calls or when you leave messages. Are you offering information that is valuable to your customers or are you just making a sales call? Customers who receive value are more likely to return your calls and emails.
3. Be on time. Showing up on time and being prepared for a meeting shows that you are not only responsible but that you care about others and their time. If you are consistently late for meetings what does that say about you and the level of respect you have for the people you are meeting? What do you think about others when they are late?
4. If no-one has been designated to take notes during the meeting, make your own and then send them to everyone who had been present at the meeting. Take the time to make sure your notes are easily readable and it is clear what and who will perform actions based on the discussions at the meeting. This not only shows that you were listening to what was being said but gives you the opportunity to reconnect with the people and stay in front of others that were in the meeting.
5. Set yourself up for success. Don’t put yourself in situations where you can’t shine. If you not the best at, say, project management, then don’t lead a project as the end result may damage your reputation, which is your brand.
6. Don’t flaunt success. Reflect on it, go back and think on what was done right and what might have been done better. Think about what past successes and failures led you to this win.
7. Think about the people who have helped you along the way. Recognize them and show them gratitude for their help.
The last piece of the puzzle, the piece that holds everything together, is the integrity of your brand. It is what sees you through both the good times and the bad. It is what keeps people loyal to your personal brand. Maintain your integrity and all the other pieces will stick together and Brand You will rise to the top.