Many years ago, Tom Peters said:
“To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you…. You’re not defined by your job title and you’re not confined by your job description. Starting today, you are a brand.”
But how do you find, express and articulate your brand? Is it what you wear…what you say…what you stand for?
I’m going to say it has a lot to do with your VAB: your Values, Attitudes and Beliefs. It’s the innate, core “stuff” that’s an inside-out job, that springs from your very soul and manifests itself in how you do what you do. Not just what you do…but how you do it…how you say it…how you express it.
Now the funny thing about a personal brand is that it’s really about building it based on a solid foundation (you), not creating it from scratch.
Your personal brand is really all about you, and you already exist.
It’s not like putting on a suit. You don’t put your brand on in the morning and take it off at night. You live it.
You are authentic.
Oh yes…I can hear the groans over that over-used but in actual fact, most excellent word.
I looked up the word authentic, and here are some of the meanings:
- not false or imitation
- true to one’s own personality, spirit or character
- lack of falsehood or misrepresentation
- innate nature or character
And it’s the last meaning, “innate nature or character” that I believe best describes what authenticity is all about. And what your personal brand is all about.
It’s all about soul…core…heart. You don’t manufacture it. You ARE it.
You shouldn’t need to “become” your brand. You should BE your brand. Everything you do to express that, enhance that and demonstrate that should flow naturally from who you are and what you stand for. In the words of Geil Browning: “Brand you” is the sum of your innate strengths and preferences that are locked into your genes and etched into your brain. It is the way you think and the habits you have, the way your mind processes information and the manner in which you explain your ideas.”
Your personal brand should emanate from who you are: an inside-out manifestation, not an outside-in crafting of a false persona. People can see through a false persona quickly. They know when someone’s as phony as a $3 bill. You can’t fake “real”…at least, not for long. Especially today, with all the platforms and opportunities we engage upon.
When I connect with you, are you one person on facebook, another on linkedin, another on twitter and yet another in real life?
Are you always “you”, or are you an actor on a stage, changing costume and mask depending upon where you are?
Are you consistent? If McDonald’s brand is to provide the exact same hamburger whether you’re in Toledo or Tokyo, are you the same brand regardless of platform? Your brand is what others think of you, but it’s based on who you show them. If you show them someone who puts on a “brand” in the morning and takes it off at night, it’s likely you’ll one day get found out. Does “who you are” meld congruently with what you do?
And of course, you will do things to enhance or project that brand. But that should be easy. It should flow naturally, because being “you” is exactly what you do best. And your image, or brand, isn’t about what you think of yourself. It’s what others think of you. There’s a wonderful phrase of Robin Sharma‘s that goes something like this:
“It’s not important what I say. It’s what you think after I stop talking that’s important.”
To quote from the Harvard Business Review: “No one can be authentic by trying to imitate someone else. You can learn from others’ experiences, but there is no way you can be successful when you are trying to be like them…you need to be who you are.” And we can all take a lesson from Kermit the Frog on that:)
So what are my top 10 tips to Build your Personal Brand?
1.Be consistent in word and deed.
2. Keep your promises.
3. Apologize when you offend, hurt or don’t deliver what someone expected.
4. Stay true to your values, attitudes and beliefs.
5. Know what’s right and wrong for you and don’t cross the line.
6. Acknowledge and learn from mistakes. Don’t make them a second time.
7. Say what you mean and mean what you say, but be sure that the receiver of your message receives it as you meant it.
8. Be sure that everything you emanate is congruent and consistent with brand “you”.
9. It’s “in the eye of the beholder”, so solve others’ problems and be of service. Provide (here comes another over-used but excellent word) value.
10. Love yourself. Be the best you that you can be. In the words of Abraham Maslow: “It looks as if there were a single ultimate goal for mankind, a far goal toward which all persons strive. This is called variously by different authors self-actualization, self-realization, integration, psychological health, individuation, autonomy, creativity, productivity, but they all agree that this amounts to realizing the potentialities of the person, that is to say, becoming fully human, everything that person can be.”