What are you known for and what are people saying about you?
I’ve asked this question before but it’s so important I’m going to ask it again. What are you known for? And more importantly, what do you want to be known for?
I’m going to assume you know what branding is. If I asked you what the following businesses stood for, you’d easily be able to answer – Nike, Apple, Google. Apart from recognising their logo or slogan, you could also describe something about what they stand for – the feeling you have about each business. For example, Apple is renowned for its innovation and imagination.
Branding is for people, too.
People have their own personal brand. Easy to identify examples are TV hosts Sonya Kruger, Oprah Winfrey or Sir David Attenborough. Most of us have never met these people yet we can tell you what they stand for and how they are likely to behave in certain situations. That’s the power of personal branding.
What is your personal brand?
What would people say about your personal brand? What do you stand for? What’s important to you? How would people expect you to behave?
What reputation do you have?
If you don’t know what your current branding looks like, go and find out. Talk to the people around you. Talk to your mentors. Talk to people who know you well and people who don’t. Ask them for examples of things you’ve said or done which gave them the impression of you. Gather the information and study it well.
Your personal brand defines you.
Branding is a powerful strategy that we use to influence and manage the way people see you. It requires some proactive effort – it’s something you need to build and shape through your actions. If you don’t take control of your brand – the way you are perceived – others will do it for you. They’ll place layers over your words and actions and make assumptions about your reasons and what drives you. It won’t always be right. In fact, it can be wildly wrong and bring your career to a halt.
Your personal brand will distinguish you from the rest. It helps build trust because your team know what to expect from you. It helps position you as you want to be seen – a leader, an authority, a creative…
But a personal brand must be genuine. It’s driven from deep inside you and shaped by your values and beliefs. You can’t really fake it. It’s part of your life story.
Shaping your personal brand.
We do it with websites. We dither over colours and words and images and titles. We polish everything until it looks and sounds exactly the way we want it to. We are making it reflect our brand, so people get to know and trust us. We rarely do it with our words and behaviours.
If you don’t like the personal brand you are presenting, it’s up to you to change it. I’ve shared some tips on branding in a video for you but let me add a few more ideas, here.
- What do you want to be known for? What is important to you? What really matters not just at work, but in life? Now, if you could put all that into a sentence, how would that read? The more clearly you can define the brand you want, the easier it will be to communicate and embody.
- Use that branding statement to guide your words and actions. Wherever possible, before you act, ask yourself if it’s in alignment with your personal brand. If not, you need to reconsider your brand or your planned actions. Something is not right.
- Pay attention to the comments and feedback you receive from the people around you. Work through and pinpoint the things you like and the things you want to change.
- Think about the words you use and the actions you take which contribute to creating a brand you don’t want. How could you handle certain situations differently or better?
- Use your story. There’s a reason your values are important to you so don’t be afraid to tell your story. Stories matter. They capture attention, spark imagination and help people develop a deeper understanding of the person you are. They get the “why” behind your choices.
If you remember one thing from this post, remember your personal brand must be genuine – it reflects the real you.
Your personal brand is a critical element of your professional future. I’d be honoured to work with you to define and develop a brand which reflects your values, and which becomes the cornerstone of your career. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and take the first step to shape the career you want.