I’m With the Brand

Originally published in April 2008 as a Goals Gone Wild newsletter.

A little over a week ago, I had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of goal-oriented artists as the first speaker in an 8-week series, “What’s Your Story?”. I was asked to talk about building a personal brand, and, being a THRIVE! guy, felt compelled to make it sassy. Thus, the title of my talk “Brand Spanking You – Discover Your Personal Brand And Smack It Into Shape”.

The idea for them, and now for you, is to introduce the concept of a personal brand. You might think that brands are only for big businesses or corporations. Wrong. We live in a branded society. Brand-think has entered the mainstream and we’re all infected by it. Heck, without even knowing it, you already have a brand to your colleagues, family and friends. The trick is controlling your brand.

The first step is understanding the brand concept. A brand is not a logo. A brand is the sum total of your experience with someone, something or some company. It’s the warm feeling you get remembering Gramma’s toll house cookies and the squeamish feeling you get dropping your car off for repair at the auto dealer. And everything in between.

Gramma doesn’t usually have a brand problem (unless she’s a cheek pincher), but the auto dealer does. We may love the car (so what if my Hummer gets 8 mpg), but the dealer isn’t the automaker. That’s why smart dealers work so hard to manage your experience. Free coffee, donuts, and wifi are now the standard. Nicely appointed waiting rooms with comfy chairs and cable TV make it as painless as possible.

Now think about the experience you offer to everyone you interact with during the day. Was it toll-house-cookie good, or auto-repair bad? Did you manage their experience or just flip them off on the way to work? (I’m talking to you, Schultz.)

One way to approach your brand is to think of it as You, Perfected™. It used to be that you could only be perfect on paper (hello, resume), but now you can project the idealized you as your brand. The hard part will be living up to your image, but as THRIVE! readers you’re used to lofty goals and wild success. Game on!

Join the Be Team

Sure, the A-team has Mr. T and Face, but the Be Team revolves around you (without Mike Post’s awesome theme song). Here’s how you do it:

Be Bold – Think hard about the image of You, Perfected™ and then take the steps to be that ideal you in real life. Think about your strengths (and weaknesses), your influences, your audience and your mission. Look for the overlap and the areas that reinforce each other. Take time to brainstorm this by writing them down; hopefully you will see a theme. Here’s a worksheet that you might find helpful.PDF.

Be Honest – OK, now the serious reflection begins. It’s great to have big goals (I like big goals, and I cannot lie), but it’s important to ground them in reality. If there’s a huge discrepancy in any of those four areas your personal brand (and ultimately, you) will suffer for it.

Be Consistent – This might be the hardest one of all. If you put it out there, you have to live up to it. That’s also why you have to nail the “Be Honest” section. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Not to your colleagues, your boss, friends or family. Sure, sometimes we all drop the ball. A solid peronal brand can help you recover when you do.

So that’s it, you may now build your personal brand. I know, this may sound a little over-the-top for most people, but, hey, you’re a success seeker. Your personal brand is just another tool for you to use when creating goals, managing your efforts and THRIVE!-ing it out.

Related Links

Brandspanking You – Worksheet [PDF]
A-Team Theme
LeaLea on Self-Branding
Tom Peter’s Brand You 50
Toll House Cookies Recipe

Quotes of the Week

“We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc.”
– Tom Peters

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