I was recently at a great networking and professional development event in downtown Hartford, CT. Nope, not the “getMotivated tour” with Colin Powell, Steve Forbes and others (even though I heard that was a great event in itself), but another one a day later organized by a few local professional organizations. The main keynote speaker gave a presentation about “Re-Branding Yourself: How Do You Rebrand Yourself in this Current Business Environment?” and it made me think about how many people today don’t realize the importance of how their brand is seen.
If you don’t know or aren’t aware of what I’m talking about, a brand is how another person or organization sees you and the services you provide (or don’t provide). Your “personal brand” is key to the success of whatever you wish to do with your life. How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you don’t have a brand ‘cause we all have one!
According to William Aruda, author of an excellent book on personal branding called Career Distinction, a brand is a “unique promise of value”.
Recently, I witnessed a person introducing someone else at a business function by saying, “John, this is Lisa Smith. She’s our marketing analyst.” What was interesting is that later at the same function I had a chance to have a conversation with Lisa and what I realized is that she didn’t think of herself simply as a marketing analyst and she shouldn’t. During the course of our conversation, I discovered that she was a lot more than a marketing analyst. In fact, she had experience running her own marketing company as well as organizing and running marketing campaigns for multiple clients. That’s more than a marketing analyst usually does.
The reason I share the above story is that Lisa allowed someone else to create her brand. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, first impressions are important. So regardless of how Lisa perceives herself, she has been branded as a marketing analyst in the minds of the person who introduced her and those she was introduced to. The good news is that although Lisa was branded by someone else, she has the option to re-brand herself! Have you ever found yourself in a similar scenario where someone introduces you with a title you did not necessarily expect or want?
If you don’t purposefully create your own brand, others will create your brand for you.
Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to gauge how your brand is being perceived:
- How do people see you when they think about you?
- What is the first thing that comes into a person’s mind when they see your picture?
- What is the first thing that comes into a person’s mind when they meet you?
- What image do people perceive when they hear your name mentioned? Is it negative or positive?
For myself, the above questions help me gauge how my personal brand is seen by others. I’m always looking for ways to improve my own personal brand so I actually pose the above questions to people I know and trust. If you want to know how your brand is seen, ask someone that you trust to tell you what is the first thing that comes to mind when they see you (this doesn’t have to be only someone in your network. For this exercise, someone you trust to give you a sincere and honest opinion may be someone you do not even know. You want sincere feedback about how your brand is seen). If it’s something you did not expect or did not want to hear, then it may be time to start re-branding yourself.
Some Great Examples of Branding
Successful individuals formulate a strategic intent and execute to that intent for market success. Whether your business is in providing a product or service or whether it’s being seen as an expert in a particular nitch.
What comes to mind when you see the pictures below?
For each of the individuals above, what ever comes to mind, you can be sure that the same thing comes to the mind for a large portion of the population in the North America. Why? Because these people have purposefully created their own personal brand and regardless of what your opinion is of them, there image automatically brings their product or service to mind. That’s the power of a strong personal brand!
What does your personal brand tell others about what you do?
What does your personal brand tell others about what you can provide? What do you want your personal brand to say?
Any ideas on how someone can improve or change their personal brand? What are your thoughts?