More and more attention is being placed in the career industry on personal, or executive, “branding.” Branding is hardly new in the broader marketplace; it has been going on since the beginning of competition in free markets. Brands are a core part of life in America. We are surrounded by them; our thoughts are influenced by them. We make buying decisions based on them. Marketing departments live and breathe branding because they know it can make or break a company. They also know it’s the best way to command a higher price for their products and services. A company’s brands can be one of its most valuable assets.
If you’re from a marketing background you know this. If you’re from any other function, you probably at the very least appreciated it, as your company’s brand “or lack thereof ” will impact the organization’s success to some degree or another. Some think of a brand as a “promise” a product or service makes to its customers. Others think of it as a “value proposition.” Some would say it’s a reputation, others simply a declaration of what a product stands for. Whatever you think a brand is, and regardless of how much value you ascribe to a brand, you wouldn’t eat a can of soup that didn’t have a label on it; you wouldn’t board an airplane that didn’t have a name on it; you wouldn’t hire an attorney from a firm whose name didn’t come up in a Google search.
The corollary of product branding to personal branding could not be clearer, nor the relevance greater. Except in this case, you’re the brand. Today’s job environment is competitive. It’s a buyer’s market. Talent abounds. Regardless of where you are in your career, establishing or building your personal/executive brand can make you more money, more desirable, more confident. It can help increase your perceived value in the eyes of others. Personal/executive brands are built on what you’ve done, what you know, how you think, how you deliver value, who you know, who you associate with, and ultimately, where and how you present yourself. It’s in your experience base. At its best, it will be captured in a phrase, and should appear any time your name appears, wherever your name appears. Creating your personal brand starts with looking inward, and then expands out to consider the perceptions of others. It must be authentic to who you are, and ideally, appeal to what the marketplace needs so it is relevant, engaging and compelling.
What do people think of when they think of you? What is your value proposition? What do you stand for? Bottom line, what is your brand promise?
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