A BRAND new you!
Personal branding has been an increasingly interesting topic but has taken on new attention since the last half of 2011. I have noticed that there has been an focus on getting people to understand the importance of personal branding. Many times the advice or opinions seem to be conflicting. ‘You need a personal brand to stand out”. “Personal branding leads to unauthentic pursuits of progress” . How do you sift through all of this noise and find out what really makes sense…for you?
First of all before I go any further into the discussion, why don’t we define personal branding in its simplest sense…
“Personal branding is, for some people, a description of the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands. It has been noted that while previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging. ” wikipedia.org
What is a brand, you might ask? A brand according to generally understood definitions of the term is:
- a particular product or a characteristic that serves to identify a particular product
- a trade name or trademark
- a particular kind or variety: he had his own brand of humour
As a verb a brand serves:
“to place indelibly in the memory:”
The next question might be, is my image my brand?
Image is defined as “a mental representation; idea; conception.”
So in effect, your image ultimately becomes your brand. The idea that people have of you can be greatly influenced by how you present yourself, how you “self package” so to speak. Authentically, of course. Let’s look into this a bit further…
SO WHY THE NEED TO STAND OUT?
With a growing population of educated, sophisticated and technologically savvy individuals, access to and sharing of information has become readily available in comparison to decades prior. With technology, all it takes is a click of a button to find out as much as you want about an individual, a company, a product, an event, etc.
With so much competing for our attention, and with our extremely short attention spans…we tend to focus on what sticks. What is memorable. What is unique and different.
So I suppose the real question is…why not stand out?
Carefully packaging yourself through your appearance, behaviour and communication can project an image of you that is memorable, admirable and intriguing. Taking no interest in how you project onto others, how you appear to decision makers and even how you view yourself, has its downfalls. Attending to your image and personal brand can help you to avoid these downfalls.
Is it unauthentic to be strategic in how you put yourself together and how you pursue your success goals? I think not. What it demonstrates is that you care enough about your future, about your career success, about yourself to make a concerted effort to be the best that you can be.
“SUCCESS COMES FROM SELF-PACKAGING”
Steven Covey wrote the ’7 habits of highly effective people’. In this book he compiled a list of 7 tried and tested habits of some of the most successful individuals that he analyzed. I recall reading this book when I was in my early 20′s and having a haha moment. Success comes not only from planning but also from HABIT.
These 7 habits, as summed up in Wikipedia will be aligned with personal branding for the purposes of illustration…
Independence or Self-Mastery
- Habit 1: Be Proactive
Personal branding interpretation: Do not wait until someone tells you that you did not get the job, the contract, the date or some other sought after dream simply because you were not “the right fit”. Take a concerted effort, in advance of your pursuits to identify how you will fit in and authentically pursue your goal by taking care of your own image. Not just how you look on the outside but all three elements appearance, behaviour and communication.
- Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Personal branding interpretation: know where you want to go, who you are and use this knowledge to design an image that will get you there.
- Habit 3: Put First Things First
Personal branding interpretation: plan it all out. It could be saving the funds to get the desired career wardrobe, starting a weight loss routine, rethinking your eating habits and designing a healthy eating plan, taking a public speaking course to overcome your fears, getting over the fear of networking, planning out your social media presence. Each of these is a task that can lead to an improved personal brand. Take them in strides, one step at a time. Realize though that taking care of you first, is the critical step that leads to external success.
The next three have to do with Interdependence (i.e. working with others):
- Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Personal Branding Interpretation: I am not one to try to cut another person down just to get ahead. It’s simply not my nature. There are people who do this and actually believe that it is the only way to move up. You know that ‘I have to be a b#t#h to get what I want’ or the ‘cut throat’ approach or ‘dog eat dog’ mentality? It serves no purpose to behave like this. What you do is leave a bad taste in people’s mouth, come across as untrustworthy and if you have a grain of conscience…will eat away at you when you are sitting by yourself reminiscing about the misery you put other people through.
Having a personal brand image that identifies you as someone who is authentic, collegial, respectful, caring will quickly propel you ahead of those who simply do not get it. Do not dish out what you do not want to be served. It will come back to you on a filthy, rusty platter.
- Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Personal Branding Interpretation: Care. Character. Courtesy. It’s really that simple. Develop a personal brand that allows you to positively influence others. Pay attention to the needs of others and not just your own needs. Show genuine interest in others. In doing so people will naturally be open to sharing with you. What you will discover is that you will have a greater appreciation for others, a more open mind and you will be more approachable thus enhancing your personal brand image.
- Habit 6: Synergize
Personal Branding Interpretation: Do not rely on yourself alone. The key to positive self improvement is learning that we can arrive at our very best by seeking out help from others. Where we are weak, others are strong and vice versa. Whether it be seeking to improve your look, your education, your physical health or getting the most out of your career by working with colleagues, rather than against them, focusing on synergies will maximize your potential.
The Last habit relates to self-rejuvenation:
- Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Personal Branding Interpretation: Keep at it. Don’t just stop at the first attempt but constantly examine yourself to see if you are arriving at the point where your brand is resonating not only with others, but with yourself. Do you leave a positively memorable experience with others when you depart? If the answer is no…then keep at it. If the answer is yes, still…keep at it. Keep fostering your talent, setting goals, taking steps to relate better with others, looking your best, and ultimately…living the most happy, healthy and fulfilled life that you can.
Personal Branding is here to stay folks. Think about what your image says about you. If it communicates anything less than stellar then consider working on your appearance, your behaviour and how you communicate. Your success is in your hands and your brand.