Identifying Brand YOU
A great way to start identifying your brand, is by paying attention to what’s already evident, for example, how do people describe you? What type of words do they use to describe your traits? If your personality is perceived as positive these words may have been shared openly with you, for example, “You’re always so positive/funny/lively/witty etc.”
If it’s not so positive, it might only be shared behind your back; “Watch out for Mary – she has some terrible moods.” “Don’t tell Ben anything confidential — unless you want it spread across the whole company.” These are the kinds of brand-damaging behaviours that need fixing – urgently!
Just like you, your brand will change and evolve
If you discover something you don’t like you can change it by focusing on it and working at doing things differently. Over time others, perceptions will change. However, it is important to be authentic. It can take strength and courage to be authentic because not everyone will love you. Just remember, provided you’re not offensive — that’s their problem — not yours.
Brand YOU is like your own personal mini culture
An organisations culture is determined by the people who work there. It is made up of the attitudes, beliefs and values, translated into the behaviours of the people in the organisation. In the same way, your personal brand is made up of your attitudes, beliefs and values as expressed through your behaviours and your personality.
These behaviours say something about you
You behaviours will include, how you communicate with others; the way you speak, what you say, your tone of voice, the way you write, your good or poor grammar — even your handwriting says something about you. Your behaviour online (for example on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc) will also form a substantial part of your brand — and because it tends to linger in the ethernet, it becomes more difficult to manage. How many people have you ‘unfriended’ because you got fed up of seeing their negative comments showing up in your feed?
Brand YOU is encompassed in what you do as well as what you don’t do
For example, do you genuinely congratulate friends and colleagues on their successes and tell others how well they’ve done? Or do you feel jealous of their success so meanly refuse to acknowledge or share their achievement?
What are you passionate about?
What excites you? What makes you emotional, fierce? These might be associated with your work or your personal life. What rewarding activities have you been involved in in the past? Who do your admire and why? Examining these diverse aspects of your life can all lead you to discover brand YOU.
Even your surroundings say a great deal about you
What does, your workspace look like? Does it look like the aftermath of a tsunami? Or does everything have a place with everything in it’s place? Neither of these is right or wrong — but they are different. I used to work with an engineer whose office was held together with towering piles of folders and ’stuff’. But he had a phenomenal memory and his super-power was that he could find anything from amongst these files almost instantly.
On the other hand, my office was almost always tidy – but I’d waste time searching for things that I’d filed!
What type of people do you surround yourself with?
Are they positive, upbeat, kind and supportive? Do they take others down or build people up? What do you like and dislike about the crowd you hang out with? Are those things true of you as well? Is that how you want to be perceived? One of the things I’ve found in working with people in developing their brand awareness is that they gradually let go of the unsupportive, negative people in their lives. As they begin to hone in on and develop and own their brand, the separation occurs naturally, with the realisation that they are rising above what would previously have dragged them down.
Branding will include your style of dressing
Even where a uniform is worn, there will be staff who always look crisp and neat, without a hair out of place, and others who wear their uniforms more casually. Perhaps there’s someone who always wears some accessory that makes them stand out. Again, neither of these are right or wrong — just different. When there’s choice about what to wear, the styling and colours you choose say a lot about you. Then there is your personality, your particular strengths, your interests, your individual quirks — all the things that make you, YOU. There’s a lot to consider.
Branding isn’t about changing who you are
While there may be some aspects of your personality or behaviour that you might want to improve or change, branding is about discovering the aspects of you that make you unique, authentic and marketable. Once you know what these are you can ‘sell’ those things.
Sell them to whom?
If you decide to look for another job, a promotion or a new career, it’ll be important to know what sets you apart from the other candidates. Identifying your brand shows a level of self-awareness that many simply don’t have — an important attribute in today’s job market. The ability to write about your brand in your CV and verbalise it in an interview can mean the difference between success and failure. On the other side of the coin, knowing your brand enables you to determine if the job, the environment and the culture of the organisation — and you — are a good fit for each other. There’s no point in taking a job and then finding you’re miserable because you feel like a square peg in a round hole.
If you’re thinking of starting a business or practice of your own, developing your branding will play a critical part in its foundation. It will involve a lot more work than just what’s described above. Your business branding will most likely have a base of your personal branding but will also incorporate an image or logo, and an online presence that will appeal to your target market. This will involve considerable thought and probably some help from experts to get right. If you’re starting a business with other people, you’ll have to create a brand from scratch.
Start with values
Identifying the values of the business you’re starting, is a key process for ensuring everyone is on the same page initially. I wouldn’t like to count the number of businesses that have hit severe problems and not been able to resolve them because this wasn’t done properly right at the beginning, resulting in insurmountable problems later on. Everything you do and say, the way you each behave and the way you conduct business should all speak to your brand. If you don’t know what it is and how it fits into the marketplace, then others won’t have a clue either.
Whether you’re aiming to discover brand YOU or develop a business brand, you’ll have realised by now that it takes a lot of thought, self-awareness, reflection and input to develop something that authentically reflects who you are.