Most of us recognize the influence that corporate brands such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Nike or Starbucks has on our buying decisions. But how much focus do most of us put on the most important brand of all – our own?
According to William Arruda, the personal branding guru, Personal Branding is a revolution in the way we manage our careers or businesses. It's a way of clarifying and communicating what makes you different and special and using those qualities to separate from yourself from your peers so that you can greatly expand your success.
Big companies understand the importance of brands. We can all learn powerful lessons from those that do it well.
In a 1997 Fast Company article, business guru Tom Peters advises individuals to follow the lead of the corporate world and do what they have been doing for years: create your own personal brand. Peters says that no matter what your career title, you are really the CEO of your own personal service company: Me, Incorporated. He says each of us is "a free agent in an economy of free agents" and that we all must establish our own "micro equivalent of the Nike swoosh."
Your personal brand is the firm impression or image that comes to mind when people think about you. It’s a mental picture someone forms about you when your name is mentioned. Whether we like it or not, our actions, words, clothes and behavior makes a statement about who we are and what we offer. To create a lasting impression, one that contributes to reaching your ultimate career and business goals you have to evaluate how your personal brand ranks today. From there you can develop strategies to minimize those things that are detracting from the message you mean to convey.
To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You. – Tom Peters
The first step in the process of creating a brand that is uniquely your own involves understanding your value promise. What are you offering? What are you about? Why should anyone care? It is only after having a clear understanding of your brand that you can begin expressing it to your target audience. It's that simple -- and that hard. And – according to Tom Peters – it is an inescapable truth that we must accept.
According to personal branding experts, your personal brand is the firm impression or fixed image that comes to mind when people think of you. A personal brand is the mental picture that people conjure up when your name is mentioned. Whether in a meeting, a one-to-one communication or a networking event, every exchange creates a lasting impression. Do you know what your presence reveals about you, asks Shelley Hammell, President of Sage Alliance and a local expert in the area of Personal Branding.
Starting today – YOU are a brand!
Peters says that "everyone has a chance to stand out. Everyone has a chance to learn, improve, and build up their skills. Everyone has a chance to be a brand worthy of remark." He suggest asking yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different? Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times.
What qualities or characteristics make you distinctive from your competitors or your peers? What have you done to make yourself stand out this week? What would your people say is your greatest and clearest strength?
Use a feature/benefit model like the big guys do. Every feature they offer in their product or service yields an identifiable and distinguishable benefit for their customer or client. We have to take the same approach when defining and crafting our personal brand.
Put away your biased thinking that a personal brand is unnecessary – if you want to achieve your goals, it’s a must not a luxury. Don’t worry if you think you don’t have what it takes to pull a polished brand statement together. None of that matters. What does matter is that you get started!
“Desire is the Starting Point of All Achievement" – Napoleon Hill
Crafting a brand statement begins with a comprehensive self analysis of where are you today. Consider these questions when crafting a brand statement uniquely your own.
What do you offer? What is the value and benefit in working with brand You? Why should a customer choose your product or service over that of your competitor? What are your strengths? What makes you more qualified for the promotion or new career opportunity than your peers? Do you live by your word, always honoring commitments? Does your client save money by having you on the team? Are you known as someone who anticipates and solves problems before they turn into costly crises? Is personal style – your manner of dress – helping or hurting you? Can you be counted on to deliver results when you say you will?
Assessments Can Help
To create a career roadmap and personal brand to support it, incorporate the use of assessments to help you develop your USP - unique selling proposition. A comprehensive review of your current strengths, interpersonal communication, time management, listening, teamwork, work expectations and organizational skills will help you gain insight and clarity into your talents overall. Better career planning and the development of a strong personal brand will result.
Not all assessments are created equal – be careful! The quality, price and profile feedback you receive and can take action on will vary depending on the type of assessment product you choose. Choose products developed based on solid research like those from Inscape Publishing, the pioneer and leading provider of instrument-based learning systems.
Stand Out Or…
Tom Peters tells us that no matter what we are doing today, there are four things we must measure ourselves against.
First, you've got to be a great teammate and a supportive colleague.
Second, you've got to be an exceptional expert at something that has real value.
Third, you've got to be a broad-gauged visionary -- a leader, a teacher, a farsighted "imagineer."
Fourth, you've got to be a businessperson -- you've got to be obsessed with pragmatic outcomes.
It's this simple Tom says - - You are a brand. YOU are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else.