Proust said that the real journey of discovery is not to see new lands but to see with new eyes. This week we look at some things that you can do over this festive period to enhance your personal brand.
To make a great brands there are a few simple principles that can guide us
The brand represents the promise behind the brand.
For personal branding you have to ask yourself what you promise? What are the things that you are willing to personally guarantee? What will you go the extra mile for in being know for that.
To define this brand promise it is important to ask some important questions:
- a) What are your goals for the next year?
When looking at your goals for a branding purpose you have to look outside of yourself and start looking at how you want to influence others including your family, community, customers, employees, your organisation and the world at large. By contextualising your goals you start defining a direction in which to channel your energy. Energy that remains locked up inside of you turns into frustration – so start exploring where you want to put it.
- b) What message do you want to deliver in your environment to advance your goals ?
Whatever your goals – there is a message that needs to be delivered to communicate them to those around you. If you see that you need to study to get a new job or a promotion – you need to be practical and look at how you present yourself in the workplace. Do you come across as a go-getter that will take things to the next level or are you communicating a message of despair and not being taken seriously. The worst way to get funding for a course that you want to do is to look incompetent – it is better to show enthusiasm and start working towards positioning a brand message that says – I want to be better at what I am doing (I am already good) but you will have more value from me if I understand this aspect better.
Making a list of characteristics or values that you want to be known for may help. Do research and find the values or characteristics that really matter for you. This will help you create a strong brand that you really believe in.
Write it down in a format such as “I want to be know for (being innovative) so that I (can work on more exciting and challenging projects)” or “I want to be known (as a hard worker) so that I (can ensure that my family is secure at all times)”. You can also define things you want “I want to be know as an MBA graduate so that I can effectively run large organisations”. These statements represent what you are thinking and become affirmations. It is also a powerful reminder of why you are doing something. Ask yourself as well if the characteristic will lead to the result. Does hard work translate into security? If you can think through it – you may see that there are other ways as well. When you are finished a few statements should define the key messages that you want to communicate.
The experience of the brand exceeds the expectation created by the brand promise.
Just having some statements that defines what you want is important but the brand promise must communicate the potential of the brand and deliver more than expected.
If you buy a product and later you find that it is not exactly what was promised – it undermines your confidence in the brand. If you do find a product that exceeds your expectations you start telling other people. This is important as it represents the brand promise.
How do you get closer to being the brand that you want to project? It is going to take work to create that wow factor. Ask yourself in a situation what others expect and deliver more. It is not just about hot air and saying that you will do something – but taking on stretch goals that put your closer to your goals.
If you said that it is important to study, then enrol. If you want to make millions in trading the stock market then start by saving some money and finding out how to open a brokerage account. Acting in the direction of your brand allows you to start creating value. It may also point to things that you need to stop doing – don’t waste time getting into fights about things that are not important to you – but rather direct that energy into things that are.
The brand remains consistent and relevant.
Brands must look at optimising the experience around emotional and functional contact points to ensure that the brand message is communicated and experienced in the desired way.
By being consistent and relevant the brand message re-enforces itself. If you consistently produce good results you get associated with good results. When people talk about you – you must highlight the good results that were produced. When people talk about bad results that you achieved – you must take note, if possible communicate clearly what you will do to turn the situation around and achieve good results. Never fight – because then you get associated with fighting and remember that your objective was to get associated with good results to start with.
A brand creates and advantage that optimises the positioning of the product or service in relationship to other products or services.
This applies as much to you personal brand. You need to ensure that it remains consistent and true to whom you are.
To be consistent means that people can predict what to expect of you.
When this happens you start to be seen in a particular way and this creates visibility. When you become visible you start to be seen and this tends to promote you further. If you always stick to deadlines, then people start saying that that person sticks to deadlines, this changes to this person always gets things done and when looking at promotions the boss compares two potential candidates and when asking around it becomes clear that this person is very particular about deadlines. By taking a small behaviour it created advancement. This works in reverse as well – if you are always absent, people know you as someone who is not there when it promotion time comes – they rather take the person that has a better brand. This positioning differentiates you from others.
The brand leverages all applicable marketing tools and media.
Remember that brands get built in all settings. From the point where you walk into your house, your car, your Facebook page, your Tweets and your blog. What you say informally and formally – each of these elements make up your brand. The association with other brands also shape your brand statement. We all know if you hang out with dodgy people, you become dodgy yourself – so attach yourself to people you want to be like and build your company in the areas you are interested in.
In a digital age it is important to manage your brand identity online very carefully as well. The same principles apply – what do you want to say, what do you want to be known for and how are you using all the services out there to deliver a consistent message of who you are. You cannot be all things to all people and your Facebook friends will find you on Linked-in as well. You need to manage your identity and your brand message on these channels as much as anywhere else. It is also no use not being on these services – as you have better control by being active, rather than shying away.
Brands protect the equity value of organisations over time.
It is much easier to turn around and say – I am this or I am not that when you are known to be something. This is the objective of building a brand. It allows your message to spread without you being there. It makes you stand out in a crowd and be the real you, because you decided that is who you are. As with all things it is important to be the authentic self so that you can get the most out of being yourself.
Personal branding is as much about the tie that you wear and the company that you keep, as it is about who you are inside of you. It is no use just keeping it inside of you and finding ways to express your true identity is important in building a strong and consistent brand that over time will enhance your personal worth.
You can be anything you want to be – as long as you are yourself.