You are branded, whether you know it or not. We all are. Every business, company, team and every individual.
When you think of branding, you probably think of marketing or advertising. Branding is all around us, TV, radio, websites, social media, signs and billboards and even on our clothing. The idea behind commercial branding is to make an impression on you that will be remembered consciously, or subconsciously, that will prompt you to take action to enter into a positive transaction. We try to distinguish ourselves, our service or product, as having a greater benefit than other options out there competing in our space. Branding creates opportunities.
The reason branding is so effective is because it allows the consumer to take a peek behind the mask to see what we are all about. Consumers want to know what we stand for, what our mission is and why they should trust us, and most of all, what you are going to do for them.
Branding can be used in many ways. It can be used as an agent of influence to help the world see our “best” side, hoping to keep our “work in progress” side non-visible. It can also be used to connect with people through transparency and authenticity. Regardless of the branding motives, the consumers will always determine effectiveness and always have the last say.
Think about some of the most successful companies like McDonalds, Chick filA, Apple, Disney and Toyota. They generally have great credibility in the eyes of consumers. People become fanatics because of how these brands make them feel and how they make their world just a little better. It is an experience, not just a product.
Not all branding ends up as initially planned. Take Enron for example, when you hear the name, you probably remember the scandal that took the whole company down and many people and associated business’s with it. How about “New Coke”? Back in 1985 they thought they were on to something great only to find out their consumers wanted the “Old Coke” back. They had some damage control to do. I am sure Pepsi got a chuckle.
In one way branding is sharing “who you are”, or at least who you wish for them to think you are. Who you are will largely determine whether they wish to continue with you. This is true with companies, products, services and even individuals. We like to think that what we brand is exactly what others will perceive, but in reality what ever people perceive defines your brand.
Over the past year or so I have been hearing more and more about “personal branding”. This is not a new concept, however it has been popping up more and more lately. There must be something more to it. Personal branding is much like any other branding. It is taking initiative to intentionally build credibility in the eyes of others for the purpose of positioning yourself with opportunity.
For those who are not on the front line of marketing or sales, you too are branding yourself, whether you know it or not. Someone may ask “But I am a restaurant manager, how am I branding myself?” Your customers, employees, peers, your supervisors are continually evaluating “who you are”, and what you represent by what they see in you. This is how we as humans determine level of trust. We do it subconsciously, without even knowing we are doing it. It’s not only what you say about yourself, but more importantly in your actions and behaviors. You won’t always behave according to what you say, but you will always behave according to who you really are.
This brings me to the heart of personal branding. Some would say that your actions will determine “who you are”. I say “who you are” will determine your actions. When we focus on doing things or behaving in ways that are generally not in line with who you really are, you find yourself over time running out of mojo and reverting back to who you really are. This is the reason you don’t generally see the real person is on the first date. In most every case, given time, who they really are comes out. This hold true with new employees and new leaders on the scene. There is such an emphasis on first impressions (and they are important) but not enough emphasis on continued impressions.
We can’t fake it for long. An honest person doesn’t need to remember what they told people. A caring person doesn’t need to pretend to care, and a person with emotional intelligence doesn’t need to hold their anger in. When “who you are” stands out above others as excellence, others will go out of their way to be part of what you are doing. When “who you are”, regardless of what you say stands out negatively, others will go out of their way to avoid you. Who I am will determine my brand.
The effectiveness of any leader is determined by their personal brand. This isn’t always realized by the leader. When a leader justifies himself by his own assessment of his work, or by his intentions or desires, he misses out on one of the most important resources he has… The truth as seen by others. We love to hear others tell us how well we are doing, or how much they like our brand, but when it comes to a hard honest evaluation, most of us too often turn a blind eye. We don’t want to know how our personal brand may be less than what we would like to think.
Protect your personal brand like it is the key to all future opportunities, BECAUSE IT IS!
Your future opportunities are going to be determined by the impression you leave on everyone who crosses paths with you. This is your wake that you leave behind. You will either be a magnet that attracts others to your personal brand, or something less. If you are someone who doesn’t seem to offer the world anything remarkable, don’t be surprised if others don’t seek out your un-remarkableness.
In your workplace, if you are a person who easily shows stress and fails to keep your emotions in check, you are branding yourself. If you believe you are always right and tend to be condescending to people, you are branding yourself. If you continually show up late and take short-cuts, you are branding yourself. If you are more concerned over results than you are people, you are branding yourself. If you fail to take full responsibility for your actions, make excuses and blame others, you are branding yourself, ….likewise if your actions line up with values such as integrity, commitment, personal growth, transparency and kindness, you are branding yourself.
If you are a person who is struggling with your personal brand, or if others are struggling with YOUR personal brand, don’t give up. There is hope. You can learn to improve your brand by first beginning to change what you believe about yourself. You can’t change what others see in you (your brand), until YOU change what you see in you.
You have the ability to brand yourself as a person with the commitment, drive and ability to make an impact in your workplace, your family, in your community. But, if you wan’t to make sure you are displaying a positive impression that will lead to opportunities, you’ll need to be willing to change your perspective. You may benefit from finding a person that has the skills and desire to coach you to become the brand you know you can be, and wish to display to others.
I would be glad to discuss with you the opportunity to help you change your personal brand. You can change “Who you are”.