If You went Undercover, What would you find out about your personal brand?
We all know that branding is promotion, creating a compelling logo, ad, or commercial. But that is half the story. A brand is much more than that : It is a promise kept over time.
Furthermore, branding is a perception that people have of a product, service, company, or person. A brand stands for something; it is associated with an idea, an emotion, standard of quality, or a unique concept. Think of Heinz ,Coca Cola, Chanel, Rolex, Lexus, Goldman Sachs.
What Do you think of when your think of a brand?
Think of brands that have powerful positive connotations for you. What characteristics do you perceive? What emotions does the brand evoke? In business, companies put tremendous efforts into building their brand because strong branding results in premium prices ,higher credibility, better reputation, customer loyalty, and ultimately, higher revenues. The same concept applies to people, professionals, managers, and entrepreneurs who must differentiate themselves in crowded work and marketplaces.
The benefits of personal branding are similar:
- increased personal credibility
- better chances for promotion or new, exiting positions
- higher salary potential
- positive reputation
- stronger followership
The crucial question in personal branding is: What are you known for?
In other words, what feelings do you evoke in people so that they positively talk about you, refer you, promote you, and want to do business with you?
A successful, effective, well--recognized brand has the following characteristics:
- Its more than a name.
- It stands for something that has substance, character and identity.
- It is unique and different from anything else out there.
- It is well understood by your target group and clients.
- It attracts people ,clients, projects, to you.
- Its built over years and endures over years. There is consistency.
- It creates loyalty
When a person builds a powerful brand, it gives that person leverage. A strong personal brand builds an aura of trust, inspires confidence, and increases credibility. A strong brand says “You can trust me, like me, and do business with me.”
The biggest branding challenge is what do others think, say, and feel about you?
Let’s take my fictional friend Tendai. He is your typical alpha male: driven, clever, impatient, always in motion. He believes that he is on track to be a CEO of the multi- million dollar company he works for. Tendai is someone who knows how to push himself and others. One of the concerns his employees have about him though is that he is impatient , abrupt, and doesn’t listen well. Whenever one of his staff tells him about an idea, halfway through Tendai interrupts to finish the thought and sentence for him or her. His staff call him “Mr Know it all” These annoying habits have stifled creativity and innovation in his team. They see Tendai as unapproachable, self--centred, not including them in decision--making and because of this, performance is suffering. The Board is beginning to question Tendai’s leadership abilities. To state the obvious: this is not a brand that is going to get Tendai to the CEO’s office .
Three key branding principles
1) Don’t promote, instead position “value”.
Positioning is the art of influencing people’s perceptions. When you project a positive “position” into other people’s mind, it helps you to stand out and get attention in the clutter of information overload. You must create a distinguished perception in other people’s minds. This builds “mindshare” (compared to market share).You accomplish that by being different and somehow better than others.
It doesn’t matter how much we know or what we can do. In business, it’s the perception that we build that influences people’s actions. You want your personal brand to stand for value? Do you create value for other when they do business with you? This value should not be defined by you but by your business associates, colleagues ,staff and customers. Essentially, do you position yourself as a problem solver, a solution provider, a critical thinker who can guide others to solve issues and or help others arrive at conclusions that make sense.
2) Be authentic.
Authenticity is significantly greater than charisma. While being charismatic and dynamic are wonderful traits, being authentic is precisely what the world expects of you. Another big piece of authenticity is congruence. When you have congruence, then what you say, how you think ,and the way you act comes together to make a complete picture of who you are.
The foundation of branding is credibility. If your customers or colleagues don’t believe in the messenger,(you) they won’t believe the message. What makes a person credible?
Essentially, it is their behaviour. Credibility is built when you walk the talk, practice what you preach, put your money where your mouth is and do what you say you will do. These are the everyday phrases people use to define credibility. In other words, there is congruency between words and action.
It is challenging to build a personal brand. Many of us are creatures of habit and those habits may turn out to be really bad for our personal brands. Many executives unconsciously learn bad behaviours as they climb the corporate ladder. Busy live styles and demand careers may leave little room for personal analysis. Some of these behaviours that may be a result of being cooped up too long in the office, analysing figures and reports and not being out in the field, where staff and customers are. The separate elevators to the top floor, the separate underground parking spaces, the closed executive doors to corner offices and the exclusive clubs after work, while being the reward of hard work, may in reality also blind executives to the unacceptable brand images that they have and the bad perceptions that their colleagues, and customers have of them.
For Executive one on one coaching, contact Chipo on firstname.lastname@example.org