When people think of the world’s most powerful brands, Apple, Coca Cola, Microsoft and Virgin often come to mind first. The commercial success enjoyed by these companies is strongly tied to their brand image and reputation.
Yet we can all learn from these global companies and branding is also something that can be applied in the workplace to help people accelerate their careers.
Strong personal branding can be essential for people wanting to climb the corporate ladder. There is also a risk that if they don’t cultivate their own brand, others will do it for them and their perception can become reality. In the race for promotion, presentation and perception having a strong brand image can be important as someone’s track record.
To create a good personal brand people need to think about how they wish to be presented to the world, and the identity they want to project.It involves them considering what is their promise to stakeholders and what can people expect from them. They need to also focus on what makes them stand out from the crowd and different from others in the people in the organisation.
A personal brand is all about what people want to be known for and what people will say about you them when they have left the room. It’s about reputation and people, just like products, have to work hard to make sure they come across to work colleagues, customers and other stakeholders in the best possible way.
Steps to creating your “personal brand”
A common mistake is that people fail to be authentic in their brands. Authenticity is the key.
The most important things to remember are:
- Be honest about your values and ideas
- Promote causes that align with your values
- Be consistent and reinforce words with actions. Stick to core messages
- They need to protect the integrity of ‘brand you’ at all times
An honest assessment of your situation is crucial to understand what you have to offer and the areas that need improvement. Identify the following:
Strengths – Internal characteristics that give you a competitive advantage
Weaknesses – Internal weaknesses that must be improved
Opportunities – External chances that can be exploited in the marketplace.
Threats – External challenges that cannot be controlled, but may be addressed through opportunities
Values and Passion
This is about knowing what really matters to you and what lights you up. Ask yourself the following questions to understand where your values and passions lie:
• What really matters to you?
• What makes you angry?
• What drives you forward?
Defining your brand mantra
This is the heart and soul of your brand. You should create a quick and memorable statement describing who you are, what you have to offer and what makes you unique. Keep it snappy. Between three and five words is enough.
Think about what words others might use to describe you. It is always an interesting exercise to ask a few other people to describe you in three words. You may be surprised by what people already see and it could help form the basis of your brand mantra.
Committing to your brand
Once you have developed your brand and established a clear brand identity, it’s important to maintain it and be consistent. Trust can only be built by staying close to your brand identity. It is important that you present yourself in the same light each time people touch your brand and that your behaviour is consistent with your values, making that visible through all work, activities and actions.
You must commit to your own brand and not doubt it or keep changing it too frequently, as this can confuse people, and may erode your reputation, trust and brand image.
Developing a unique brand and committing to it can be a really positive step in anyone’s career, whatever level, but it is crucial at a senior executive level. Those that take the time to do this will reap the rewards, be more empowered and be more confident in achieving their career goals.