TheAfter5Edge - Your Own Brand Name!Today I was talking to a friend while she browsed over my blog.  Before long she said:

“You’ve got branding on there.  I’ve been meaning to figure that out – my brand.”

The key word she mentioned here is “my.”  Maybe at the time she didn’t feel like she had a brand, but she knew her brand would belong to her.  And that’s really the final takeaway.  It is your brand.  You own it.  It is all about you.

We are each our own biggest proponent.  That’s not to say those close to you don’t want the best for you, but when you have a goal you are genuinely passionate about, the drive emanating from within will propel you to achieve it.  During that process, you will convince yourself that your efforts will justify your ultimate attainment; and this makes sense.  But sometimes the one you have to convince isn’t you.

So how do you convince someone else?

Branding can help with that.  Branding is all about positioning yourself where you want to be and creating a certain perception.  Which of your assets do you want to highlight?  What characteristics do you want to associate with yourself?  How do you want people to think about you?  How do you want people to react when they see your name? With branding, you get to be in the driver’s seat and in control.  You’re at liberty to create what you want.

Each day we make certain decisions because of branding.  You may choose one pair of shoe over the other because one has a recognizable symbol on it.  Some avoid carrying certain coffee cups in the morning because it is associated with being “cheaper” than another brand.  And ladies, don’t some of you choose certain dresses over others because “who” you’re wearing will be more evident at the event with 500 guests?

The concept of branding is nothing new.  What is new is the heightened need for even the average Joe to be a brand these days.  Your brand is you.  So with everyone being a brand, what makes you stand out?  You need to have the 30-second answer to that question ready at all times. Opportunity may strike in the elevator during the ride from the 2nd floor to the 9th floor.  So you need to be ready before you leave home.

Take some time to connect with yourself.  Write down what makes you unique.  What is your selling proposition?  What is your value-added?  What are your best personal traits?  What competencies do you have that are in line with the position you want?  What quantifiable contributions have you made?  If your answers don’t move you, they won’t move your potential client or your potential boss.

Next, you need to put your brand in practice and make it consistent and convincing.  However you want to be seen, you have to powerfully hold that stance because the results are largely a matter of perception – a perception that you are responsible for.  As a brand, you get to be your own leader.  But remember that leaders without credibility have very few followers so be ready to walk the walk.

In the end you want to honestly believe that your brand is as important as that of Pepsi, Dasani or Nike.  You have to invest in it, protect it and promote it.  Everything you do is a reflection of your brand.  But more so than you doing the pitch all the time, you want to get to the point where your client, colleagues, friends, etc. are telling the story.  Word-of-mouth is still one of the best marketing tools.

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