When thinking of a company like Apple, immediately their brand comes to mind: imagination, creativity, design. When thinking of Oprah, immediately things like openness, authenticity, and personal dialogue come to mind. And Nike? Athleticism and victory.
Although those are globally known names and brands, each of us also has a unique brand that we carry with us every day. Our brands are our own personal slogans or words that describe each of us, and what we do. Even if you don’t think you have a brand, you do. It is what people think of you and the work you do regardless of whether you agree with it or not. Your brand is the conversation going on about you while you are not in the room. The question is: do you know what your brand is and are you managing it?
Seeking feedback from trusted peers and mentors about how you are perceived is a good way to find out about your current brand. Once you know how you are perceived, you can take steps to manage that perception. You can choose to build upon the perceived brand or change it. That is the beauty of a personal brand- it’s yours to create.
For example, there was a young leader who wanted to advance his career inside a large corporation. His found out that, although not intentionally, he was branding himself as a “thoughtful, hardworking, and articulate leader.” He wanted his brand to bring up thoughts of a “charismatic, dynamic leader” who was also “hardworking and thoughtful” so he needed to change the current perception. He needed to build and portray his brand as a charismatic, dynamic, thoughtful, hardworking leader.
The best way to do that is to embody your brand. This young man had built his brand by default. He was not conscious of it nor was he trying to come across in any particular way; however, there was still a brand attached to his name and it was based on how he was behaving and how he was perceived by others within his company.
The message here is to be aware that even though you may not think you have a brand, you do. And, if you want to advance and develop your career, it is a piece that should be managed so that you are coming across in the exact way that you want others to perceive you. Be aware of your brand in all that you do. Make an effort to exhibit it at all times. Just like Apple, Oprah and Nike. Everything these organizations do and everything they produce promotes their brand. And, all you do should promote your brand. Promoting it is not difficult if the brand is true to who you authentically desire to be. The young man in the above example needed to practice being more dynamic and charismatic along with being thoughtful and hardworking. Thoughtful and hardworking were his default but dynamic and charismatic were his passion and true to who he wanted to be so that is how he began to brand himself. He began to embody the traits of a dynamic and charismatic leader and he focused on portraying them in all he did. Doing so changed the perception of him, just as he wanted.
What is your brand? Are you aware of it and are you managing it? Are you embodying it in all you do? Hopefully the answer is yes because your personal brand is a very important piece of successful career growth.