The idea that companies needed to brand themselves came about in the mid-1950s. Company branding gave customers something to relate their experience to. Catchy phrases and memorable logos helped build loyalty around everything from cigarettes to soap to cars.
Today, more than ever, companies rely on branding to create a following and evoke visceral feelings around their company. When we think about Dove soap we might start to feel good about ourselves because a major part of their ad campaigns focus on positive self-image, with the tag line “Every Body is Beautiful.” When we think of Coca-Cola, we might hear the release of fizz even with no can around because Coca-Cola has done a good job of including that sound in much of their advertising with the tag line “Taste the Feeling.”
Branding is a powerful tool that companies use. You are no different. The feelings you evoke when people think about you is equally important to the quality of work you produce. Even if a candidate has the talent, employers are looking for are people who align with their company culture and mission. They want to know that who they hire will fit in.
Without even trying, you have a personal brand. People have a perceived notion about who you are, what you stand for and how you make them feel by how you show up. From how you dress to how you speak to the work you have produced, you have a defined personal brand.
There are three major components to your personal brand: your image, your message and your attitude.
People are very visual creatures. We make snap judgements based upon what we see. Before someone speaks we judge their mental abilities, their social status, their knowledge. Do we sometimes get it wrong? Absolutely. Is this something we should be aware of? Most definitely!
The image we project is one of the most important pieces to building our personal brand. To attract quality people into your network you must appear to be a quality prospect. From head to toe, people will glance and make decisions on whether or not someone is worth their time. If what you are wearing says, “I don’t care,” then people will believe you don’t care.
Be aware of the type of people you want to attract and dress accordingly. If your industry is very suit and tie, then be sure you are always polished. If your industry is business casual, then be sure you are professionally casual (but still be neat). If you are unsure of what image your industry accepts, look at leaders within your company. What are they wearing? How do they show up?
The branding of yourself as it relates to your message is a combination of your values and your expressions. How do you express what you stand for? To better understand this, you have to understand your values and default form of expression.
Values vary depending on our upbringing and our experiences throughout life. Religion, social status, family make-up, education level - each of these impact us in different ways. Someone who grew up in the small town of Paris, Texas is going to approach life differently than someone who grew up in the big city of Paris, France.
In this same thread is the delivery – how we express ourselves or deliver our message. Each of us has unique speech patterns. For most of us it is based on where we were born and how we were reared. The delivery of our message is composed mostly by body language and speech pattern. What is your default posture? Do you have certain words that you say often? Are there certain parts of speech that you inflect in a way that is unique?
Maya Angelou said it best, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how made them feel.” The attitude you choose impacts how people feel and that is the most important part of your personal brand. Not how well you are educated, not how much money you have, not the titles you hold, not even where you are from.
Oxford Dictionary defines attitude as “a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.” Think about that. You do not have to say anything for your attitude to be detected. Your attitude shows up in your behavior.
Why is this important? Life is too short and people do not want to add stress to their lives with negativity. Add value to those around you by being amiable. Be a light with your words. Smile. Compliment others. Be kind. Serve. Talk about the bright spots. Acknowledge success. Be a tough-minded optimist. Have a positive attitude. Be the one people want to be around because you make them feel good.
You relate to products because of their quality but you are loyal to a product because of its brand. When people make the decision to build a relationship with you, they are choosing to build a relationship because you not only produce quality work but because you also have a quality brand. Take time today and examine what your personal brand is. What do you stand for? What is it that people think about when they hear your name? How do you make people feel when they see you? If you don’t like your answers, have a trusted mentor help you navigate how to achieve a personal brand that you are proud of or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a consultation.