As managers we are all generally concerned with being strong brand ambassadors to the companies we work within. However, have you put the same amount of time and proactive behavior into managing your own personal brand? My bet is the resounding answer from our audience is a big fat “Ugh, nope.”
Your brand is your identity. It is how people identify you and identify with you. Your brand represents a promise or guarantee that others can rely upon whenever you are involved with them or anyone else in the community. It needs to be recognizable, promote a high level of goodwill and differentiate you from others. If done correctly it speaks for you when you are not there. It becomes sought after and referenced by others as a great brand to interact with. It lives on beyond you when you are gone. Now that’s brand equity that will bring immediate and long term benefits.
Without direction or foresight your brand is running rampant out there. What this means is everyone who comes into contact with you—at any level, at anytime—has already determined what your brand is WITHOUT you even having a say. Your perception of the person you present to those around you is just that—your perception not necessarily theirs.
Now that you are faced with the ugly truth about your infinite brand possibilities floating out there, let’s share the ways you can start building your personal brand and maintain it with the same fortitude that you’ve been working towards being a better manager. Think with your business brain for a moment as you go through these, then use your gut to determine if what you’ve uncovered fits you. Begin creating your Personal Brand with these Six Questions:
- What is your purpose? Use this tool to find out the “Why” behind why you are here. (This is presented from a business perspective; just flip it to be about you.)
- What are your values? These are the foundation of who you are. This is not a guess, it is a process. This 4 Step Core Value tool should help.
- What is your vision of yourself? Basically, think about who you aspire to be and what you want to be known for. Create your personal vision statement.
- What are your best qualities? You’ve noticed and/or have been told about your strengths. Find yours.
- What value do you bring? Look at the contribution you bring to others. Start with understanding what you value in yourself.
- What do you want to be known for? Your reputation has to start by deciding what exactly you want others to say about you when you are not there. This is a core asset to your brand.
From these discoveries you now can proactively evaluate and reposition the following elements to make your new branded self shine:
- Voice: what you say, how you say it to express yourself (friendly, formal, or conversational tone/delivery)—Sing it.
- Behaviors: match what you do with what upholds the delivery of your brand—Act on it.
- Image: your appearance to uphold the brand your attempt to present can not be understated—Reflect it.
- Personality: how you wrap up your feelings, thoughts and actions to exhibit specific traits—Live it.
- Tagline: establish a single sentence that best embodies your personal brand—Use it.
- Story: piece together various moments in your life that tell the truth behind your brand—Share it.
As you know with company and product brands, consistency breeds credibility. You want others to believe in your personal brand. You want to be memorable in a good way. As a more than two decade marketing expert, I’ve been fascinated by how brands translate into everything from cultures to self. I have also noticed during my years of tenure as a manager and leader, the self brand screams for attention and care. I see the lack of awareness and neglect every where. Imagine where our families, our communities, our workspace, our world would be if we all did a brand strategy on ourselves.
So make one last personal pact with me as a fellow better manager groupie, take the items above, schedule them out, record them for posterity and reference—then hit the GO button. Wait you’re not done yet. Make it a habit to do regular pulse checks to confirm you are being authentic to your brand.
A final request—when you “own” your personal brand and are reaping the endless benefits—don’t forget me when I’m gone. Onward and upward!
By Shiloh Kelly, Vice President of Marketing, Red Book Solutions | 20 years Cross Industry Experience | Corporate Marketing and National Sustainability Lead, BlueLinx |Chief Strategic and Creative Officer, Limelight Advertising | Strategic Marketing Manager, Vail Resorts