Everyone has a brand. You might not think about it in quite those terms most of the time, but when it comes to your professional life and your professional presence, what people see and respond to is a brand.
And as with an organisational or product brand, it’s important to have clarity about your personal brand, how it is perceived, how it can be tweaked, and whether it fits with the career moves you are looking to make.
The concept is perhaps easiest to explain by looking at the four components of any brand, while keeping in mind that effective brands accentuate not just what makes you good, but also what makes you different.
The first component is your “product” – the professional package you have to offer. What is it about your skills, experience, approach, training and vision, and the decisions you have made, that set you apart from all the other lawyers, engineers, accountants or plumbers?
Next are your “values” – not just generic values such as honesty and reliability, but your values specifically in relation to your chosen field and how this makes your “product” so much better. You might be unbelievably well organised or have a totally conscientious and considerate approach to clients that they feel truly valued.
It’s a similar thing with “personality”. Everyone appreciates an engaging style, a sense of humour and an honest nature, but how do you show these and how do they affect what you can deliver? Being seen as irreverent can be a strength or a weakness, depending on the context and how you use it. Is this a personality strength, or a potential flaw if misunderstood?
And finally there are “symbols”, which are important because they leave a lasting impression. When people see a specific image, you want them to think of you and your brand. In terms of a personal brand, “symbols” can be anything from the way you dress or the briefcase that you carry to the sport that you play or the no-for-profit that you support.
Symbols can also be a trap, particularly for young professionals just developing their career. It’s easy to start adopting things you think people associate with your line of work, even though they don’t fit your personality and so are, in fact, counter to the brand you need to develop.
It’s not uncommon for people to change the direction they want their career to take after they’ve taken an honest look at their personal brand and the things that are important to them. I’ve even worked with a few who’ve actually changed their vocation.
Have any questions regarding your personal brand? Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org