In the current pressured environment, let me encourage you to give thought to your brand. In what follows, we look at, first, what is a personal brand, how to be clear about what you want your brand to be and, finally, how to communicate your brand.
1. What is a personal brand?
You see, whether by accident or by intent, most of us have a personal brand. It is simply how people describe us when we’re not around. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: “reputation is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. We have therefore a family brand, a brand with friends and acquaintances as well as, last but not least, a brand at work, our reputation with our colleagues, our focus today.
Our brand is what makes us distinctive, it is those unique features people remember us by. Clearly, it is better to have a positive brand than a bad reputation! So my suggestion to you now is that your brand should not be accidental but rather that you have a say in what your reputation is.
The concept of so-called personal brand, but also self-positioning, self-marketing, to capture a proactive approach to individual branding, as opposed to reputation which is arrived at passively, was first introduced in 1937 in the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. He explains that personal branding involves creating an asset by defining an individual’s body, clothing, physical appearance and areas of knowledge in a way which leads to a uniquely distinguishable, positive, and ideally memorable, impression.
2. Clarifying your brand
So what might your brand at work be? If you would like to control what’s being said about you, the first step is to consider what reputation you would like to have and on what basis.
What do you think of the following questions?
– What unique value do you bring to the table? This should be something that you alone can provide, either a unique twist on something already existing or something completely new. Consider your skills, qualifications and aptitudes. Think broadly about your distinctive capabilities.
– What problems can you solve better than anyone else? Specialization is important in branding.
– What are you deeply passionate about? Pick a topic that you could talk about for hours and hours and hours. Clients and colleagues will sense passion in your voice very quickly.
– What is your purpose? What do you stand for? What would you like to be remembered for by the time your employment with this company comes to an end? Consider what your legacy might be.
Don’t hesitate to ask others for their input: feedback will tell you about your existing reputation – which you may appreciate or want to adjust – as well as give you food for thought for your brand.
Answering these questions will help you connect to what is highly personal to you around your work. Write down what comes to you. Think also about your values, what motivates you, your strengths. Note down all the words which come to your mind. Don’t worry if the list looks long. Once you are done, review your notes, looking for themes, ways to cluster some of the words on the page. That will reduce the list. In a final step, rank-order the remaining words. The top 5 to 10 are what makes you unique, in your own view, in a professional context: you now have the elements of your brand.
When I work with clients on developing their brand at work, we one of two things with the top elements of their wished-for brand that we obtained via the process I just described above.
Option 1: stick to a list of memorable words. I recommend 5-7 words as more will be difficult to remember. I ask the client to think of the antonyms to the top words on his list: that helps crystallise the meaning of those words for then. I also ask for role models that remind the client of those words. The point is to arrive at a group of words which are very personally-resonant.
Option 2: weave a manifesto using the top words on the brand list sheet. The client arrives at a sentence which can represent a statement of intent or a short summary of their work persona. In the latter case, this is also sometimes called an “elevator pitch”.
3. Communicating your brand
Whether it’s a list of memorable words or a sentence which encompass your wished-for brand, being connected to it more consciously will naturally influence your mindset and behaviour at work: you will walk the walk as the idiom goes. But let me encourage to be proactive. Think of your words or your manifesto when you write an important email, a memo for a committee’s attention, a presentation. Each occasion is an opportunity to showcase your brand and to become known for a certain way of doing things, of analysing matters, of solving issues – in line with your brand.
To check that your reputation is developing in a way which aligns with your wished-for brand, continue to ask for feedback. You will then be in a position to address and remedy any gaps.
Be visible in ways which reinforce your brand. In addition to behaviour – which has been the focus of this article – be mindful as well of your appearance so you present a homogenous front. In particular, keep in mind first encounters where folks will inevitably form first impressions.
Author of the “5 Gear Shifts to Accelerate your Career!” report, Alexandra helps ambitious and high-performing professionals tackle their frustration at work so that they resolve a complex problem, find a way out of a difficult situation or achieve a personally-meaningful objective.
As a Career Accelerator, Alexandra works with gifted individuals to obtain the promotion they deserve, orchestrate an in-house move to a different group, succeed fast in a new role as well as get clear about their next job and how to find it.
Alexandra’s clients get to do more interesting work which they enjoy, avoid becoming stuck in one job when in fact they want variety, and learn to lead and work through others if they wish to. That way, they make a greater difference to their firm and, of course, grow their income!
Alexandra will share with you stories and insights from her gratifying but eventful 23-year career in global finance, from Paris to the City of London via New York’s Wall Street which you can use to accelerate your career faster than on your own!