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10
Mar
2012
You - the brand

"Be a yardstick of quality.  Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected." ~ Steve Jobs

"Thoughts become things ... choose the good ones." ~ Unknown

Know yourself and you will win all battles.”  ~ Sun Tzu, philosopher

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One of the first things I often ask coaching clients is if you were to think of yourself as a brand, which brand would you be and why.

Some think it’s a strange question. 

Then I give them an example of a specific well known brand, like Apple, and ask them what they think of or what it means to them.  They say things like cool, innovative, stylish, fun, market leader.  They always have something to say, and in many instances, the words they use are similar.

Other clients respond immediately.  For Niall it’s Oakley, for Rachael it’s Tesco, for Cat it’s Bisto.  They can easily explain why they chose their specific brand and why it is appropriate to them.  Mine is John Lewis.

And the relevance of this?  It’s about raising self awareness, understanding what you are offering and its impact, being authentic and building consistency.  Then using those attributes for power and influence.

Thinking about yourself as a brand helps you to identify the messages you wish to convey about yourself when communicating with others.  Communicating in the widest sense – in the way you dress, your behaviour, tone of voice as well as the words you use.  Ignore your brand at your peril!  Especially when you’re applying for jobs when you need to differentiate yourself from all the other applicants.

Tips for creating your brand

* Consider your own values and skillset and choose the most important ones that you'd like to convey.  Maybe it’s efficiency, ability, reliability, attitude or a positive outlook.

* Think how you can demonstrate these values and skills every day in your interactions with other people.

* Keep them in mind.  Demonstrate them boldly and consistently.

* Ask for feedback about how others perceive you.   I was pleasantly surprised to get some unsolicited feedback recently from a business contact in my network.  I was talking about the attributes of someone I admire and she said “that’s just what you’re like”.  If it’s not exactly what you intend, adjust your actions until there is congruence.

In this (long) article by Tom Peters, business author and speaker, he sets out what it takes to stand out and prosper in the world of work. If your brand is important to you, it is well worth reading.  One of the things he suggests is giving yourself the ‘traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge’ to identify what it is that makes you and what you are offering different.  Take some time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times.  Does it grab you?  If not it’s unlikely to grab anyone else...!

Being true to yourself is one of the keys to happiness.  As Judy Garland said “Always be a first rate version of yourself rather than a second rate version of someone else.”

Finally, I like this approach.  Its context is photography, but to me it says a lot about brand.

"Don't look for your voice too hard.  You won't find it.  You'll have to be quiet.  You have to listen for it.  Just keep shooting and, over time, it will find you.  You'll be drawn towards that which you like and that which speaks to you.  When you start to overthink it, that's when the confusion and anxiety sets in.  Have fun and don't let anyone tell you that you are doing 'it' wrong.  There is no right or wrong.  It's simply what works for you."  Paul Lester Photo


 

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