Branding is everything!!!!!!!
Whether it’s our food/drink, clothing/footwear, gadgets/electronics, jewelry, automobiles or even the places we visit—we tend to have preferences for particular brands. Though some people could not care less about the brand of a shirt, car, watch, perfume/cologne, food item, there is very little that others won’t do, no price too high, to acquire that special brand. Whatever the reasoning, brands represent a seal of quality, instill buyers confidence and can reflect influence, power and status.
But why do brands matter? What do they mean if anything? Why do companies so carefully protect theirs and invest millions in marketing campaigns? I’m sure you all have ideas or answers to those questions so I won’t venture to provide any. The matter I want to focus on is that of personal branding. What’s your brand?
What’s in a name?
The popularity and widespread reach of social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to name a few, fuelled by increased access to the internet worldwide, has heightened our awareness of the importance of branding and managing our own personal brand. Knowingly or unknowingly, we have all become CEOs of our own companies/brands. You are your own brand and that brand represents you entirely. You get to determine what your brand stands for, the feelings, perceptions and experiences people will have with your brand. In my case, I’m the CEO- Head Cook and Bottle Washer of Tameca N. Brown. As are you of your own brand. Therefore, the comments we make, the images/pictures we post, the friends we keep, the things we like/share, the connections we make, the people we follow, the messages we endorse, are all part and parcel of our personal brand. So ask yourself, have you been conscious and deliberate about your brand? What does your brand say about you? How have you portrayed yourself in your varied activities via these media? What perceptions have you created, or are you currently creating.
Are you a Brand Name?
As with items on a supermarket shelf, branding can be the great separator, the distinguishing feature that determines the decisions we make about what to buy. Likewise, you can have two persons with quite similar backgrounds (education, experience, skills and knowledge) but their unique branding can make them dissimilar. How then have you positioned yourself in light of the competition-your competition? That is, the other people within your organization doing similar work or other professionals in your industry, whether they are with another firm or in a different country)? How do you stack up?
For example, take the two entry level employees recently recruited to a company with the same job titles. Employee X is punctual, works hard, seeks to sharpen skills and looks for opportunities to contribute to the team outside of the scope of his job description. On the other hand, employee Y is more relaxed, does enough to get by and willingly helps out when required. More than likely, employee X who has branded himself as reliable, dynamic, energetic, able to work on his own initiative while supporting the team, will be tipped to receive that promotion, be co-opted to other teams or will be selected for other opportunities.
Employers along with managers/ supervisors are always looking for candidates who can add value to their teams, and maximize their company’s brand. As such, they will assess each employee to determine what employee X and Y have brought to the table, and how they have contributed positively, to advancing the company’s goals and objectives. After all, employees are the face of their companies, and usually the customers’ first point of contact. Employees determine to a large extent, if the overall service experience will delight or disgust the customer.
What’s Your Brand?
Do you have mass appeal or any appeal for that matter? Do you have a niche? Do you inspire confidence? All great brands do this. Likewise, it is your record of performance at one company that will influence your upward mobility, or position you to be an asset to the new firm you join. Do you represent quality or quantity? Are you inclined to take on a task and complete it effectively and efficiently within the stated guidelines to produce desired outcomes? Or, are you inclined to take on multiples tasks but not following through and completing any to the desired standards? What would your friends, colleagues, supervisors, professors, and customers say of you? The same is also true for that first impression we create. We communicate our brands with our speech, appearance, dress and mannerisms. We sell ourselves with the resumes we submit for that job application, as well as in how well we prepare for that interview by researching the company.
It is important to note that personal branding is a not one-time event. It is highly advisable that you engage in continuous improvement by seeking feedback about your brand and assess how you can make changes to become better. For some people, rebranding may take them back to the class/training room, a new company, a different country or require that they step out of their comfort zones to pursue a new interest or opportunity. For persons with a damaged brand- all is not lost, but considerable work is required to reestablish credibility. You can rebrand yourself by future actions, changing behaviors and environment if and where possible.
Selling Your Brand
Do we then avoid the internet and social media? Definitely not! Social media networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook have provided us with unprecedented levels of access and exposure that can expand our spheres of influence, enable us connect with fellow professionals all across the globe, gain new friends and keep old ones. Find the one that works for you and use it to benefit and leverage your brand. Depending on your brand marketing plan, choose the one(s) that work for you and be very mindful and consistent with your branding. Remember, once you’ve put something out there, you can’t ever take it back- it is lost to you in the cyberspace. Some people will tell you that, the day is coming when recruitment and dismissal decisions may be made from our activities on social media. For some places, that day is already here. Don’t be careless in how you manage your brand and destroy it. After all, yours efforts to build your brand didn’t start on the first day of the job. It dates back to college and university, the reputation you earned over the years.
I would therefore caution and encourage you to:
Know your brand! Build your brand! Promote your Brand! Hone Your Brand! And most importantly-Protect Your Brand!
Images Courtesy of Google.
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