We hear the term “branding” constantly now- whether it pertains to entrepreneurs, small businesses or large corporations, we are told how important it is to have a strong brand identification. What about you, though, as an individual within a corporate setting…does the idea of branding still apply? The answer is a resounding YES!
We all have a brand already… each of us projects certain energies, behaviors, values, and skills to others, which tells them WHO we are. Branding can be described as the “total experience of someone having a relationship with you” so it is important to manage that experience to reflect your authentic self consistently and in a way that will help you succeed, be noticed, and move in the direction of your career goals .
Personal branding is where WHO you are, WHAT you do, and HOW you do it intersect: it is essentially how you appear to the world. As Tom Peters says in In Search of Excellence,
“When you’re promoting brand YOU, everything you do – and everything you choose not to do – communicates the value and character of your brand.”
So what exactly goes into a personal brand? What you project to others is composed of many things: beliefs, values, attitudes, behaviors, strengths, abilities, etc. Let’s focus on two very important components: values and strengths.
Most of us have a general understanding about our values (those things we value very highly in life (family, achievement, honesty, connection, etc.) but few of us consciously bring those values into play on a regular basis, yet they are often the driving forces in our lives. Becoming conscious of, and actually naming those values is critical in defining and living your personal brand.
Here is a short exercise to help you get clearer on these values:
Imagine you are having a dinner party, to which you can invite five people: any five people you want, dead or alive, famous or not famous, personally known or not. Think about why you would invite them, then extract from those reasons the values you think they uphold. When you have completed this for all five, circle those top five values that resonate with you…these are most likely the top five values you hold dear. Knowing this and consistently making sure that your daily behavior, personal interactions, and decision-making reflects those values is important in broadcasting your personal brand.
The second area of focus is your strengths. This goes beyond just the technical skills we excel in and can encompass character strengths as well. We all benefit from feedback to help us gauge our strengths , and this can be done through formal or informal 360 evaluations , or by taking a validated on- line assessment such as the VIA strengths https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/user/login?destination=node/434
Playing to strengths and relating those strengths to career goals will help promote your personal brand as well.
Once you are clear on the values that drive you, and the strengths that you want to highlight, and you are conscious of living those values and strengths consistently, you can make sure that others will be able to define your personal brand as well, and more easily look to you as someone with high potential in your organization.
The most important thing here to remember is to be authentically you… as Oscar Wilde says: “be Yourself, everyone else is taken.”