What Brand Are U?
Business journalism spends lots of time presenting the power of brands.
Let’s just bring up a few names as examples:
Google, HBO, Disney, and Lloyds of London. What imagery and stories do these hallowed brands bring up?
For many, Google is the number one brand representing progress. HBO is the goldplated provider of premium Television content. Disney is magic for families. Lloyds is the supreme protector.
What do people think of when your name comes up?
If there is trouble answering the question, that is a problem.
These are chaotic times. The rate of change is reaching epic proportions and will only grow. We crave brands because they represent certainty. Brands produce faith in others because they are consistent. Well-crafted brands do not try to cater to everyone because they know and understand their consumers.
Virtually all of our individual clients need a personal brand. Yet, that idea is often met with initial resistance. First, many of us never establish a personal brand because whatever that is changes with our mood swings. Our colleagues or employees see one person on a good day and another when we are off. Many people are reluctant to fully define a personal brand because that might wall of professional options. But, we find that state-of-mind ensures we never get the traction with the career or business that we really want.
Years ago, Oprah gave her first and only business interview to Fortune. In the middle of it, the journalist asked what her personal brand was. She responded, “You are responsible for your life.” I assert she is so much more than that but as I sat with the statement, every action she had ever taken made much more sense.
These one-line responses are so limited including the dreaded “elevator pitch.” Ugh!
“Hi! Who are you?”
“Definitely not an accountant. A facilitator of great profit. Average Joe.”
I modified this one to the protect the innocent. But, all that I had to do was go through about twenty profiles to find an elevator pitch listed as part of someone’s heading. Here is what I dislike the most about elevator pitches. Human beings are capable of thinking about something other than themselves a maximum of fifteen seconds. That means that during any type of sales communication the consumer is motivated by one thing – fulfilled expectations. Elevator pitches are one-dimensional and usually generic statements that produce little impact because we are not being respectful enough to find out anything about the person we are talking to. This is when we tell them something that might just matter.
A fully established personal brand embraces how we are wired, how we solve problems, and, our morals, values and ethics. It tells people our unique gifts, and our mission, vision, and purpose. A great personal brand lets others know what motivates us. It is the truth so that we can easily live up to it. All messages are clear. And, it has great impact on others. Why? We only use the parts of that brand that is relevant to the needs and expectations at hand.
For example, if we are discussing apparel design, we might use the portion of our brand that shares our design ethos, our market, and what drives us throughout the development process. If that same person is showing up as a boss, we bring up the portions of the brand that include the types of people that fit into our tribe, how every single person that has worked on our team went on to have an amazing career, and how we sweat the details in being fair.
Highly developed personal brands also become that foundation that helps us maintain consistency on the bad days. Rather than succumbing to our moods, we recognize that by coming in and displaying behavior that doesn’t fit our brand, we not only shoot ourselves in the foot, we shoot everyone in the foot.
I have yet to sell any business in elevators. But my brand? Virtually anyone with an issue about work, who engages with me, is a lucky person indeed. I’ve helped thousands transform their very experience of work, connect with dream jobs, launch successful first-time businesses and reach that one individual who gives them a career turning-point. I’m persistent. If I get shot-down and the pursuit is worthy, I will be back. However, when an organization asks that I lead an executive team through very difficult business issues, I don’t discuss the previous parts of my brand. I talk about my ability to bring about the truth in constructive and actionable ways. The point is, each and every aspect of my brand has been defined and written out, embedded in my psyche so that it is consistent. This means that if I show up to that retreat on the worst day of my life, I am there to bring about the truth in constructive and actionable ways.
Personal brands will take on even great importance as we continue to accelerate change. If we change the story of who we are just to get any job, any opportunity, we will never get what we want.
The days of “just a job” and the pursuit of survival and predictability of swiftly coming to an end. Defining who we are, what we do, how we do it, where we came from, what shaped us, and how other can depend on us is a worthy venture indeed.
After all, in a world of abundance, who wants just anything?
(C) Copyright, 2017, David Harder – (All Rights Reserved)
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