Monday, March 3, 2014

What's your story? Creating 'You' as a brand

A few months ago I was in a meeting with a client discussing some employee issues they were having. The president of the company was having a hard time with some of the newer hair styling trends, especially the dyed hot pink strips of hair one of his female employees had.

This particular company is a well established company in a service related industry. and this employee was responsible for interfacing with the general public and clients.

In our conversation the president said,  “To some people, Monica, your nails could be concerning and a little 'out there.'” This was during football season, and because I have a strong sense of pride in my alma mater, Boise State, every football season, from August through December, my nails are a combination of royal blue and orange. I will admit that I’ve had a number of comments over the years on my nails during football season, but this one will definitely be remembered.

Like the employee with the dyed pink hair and me with my orange and blue nails, more and more people are trying to create personal brands that merge with their professional lives. Before we jump head on how to create a personal brand, I think it’s important to understand what a personal brand is and why it is important.

A personal brand is what you want others to know about you and how others “see” you.  It relates closely to your reputation – which is the foundation of your personal brand. Your personal brand is as unique to you as corporate brands are to companies like Coca-Cola, Microsoft and others. While there may be individuals we are similar to, our personal brands are for individuality.

We briefly touched in last week’s feature on why personal brands are important, but there’s much more to possibly landing a job after you have been invited to an interview. A well created and maintained personal brand can affect every area of your life. It can travel with you from job to job and beyond the workplace to volunteer commitments and work in the community. Or if you get the crazy idea like me one day to start your own business, personal brands can be the difference between being a successful entrepreneur or one that is scavenging the streets for any business that comes their way.

Creating a personal brand isn’t easy, though. It takes time and an ongoing commitment. To start creating the personal brand you want others to “see” you have to understand who you are first. Who you are is a combination of the roles we hold – for me I am a Christian, wife – (a veteran’s wife, I might add), mother, daughter, friend, college graduate, business owner, and board member, just to name a few. But my roles don’t solely define who I am – my personality, education, the way I dress, my body language, and life experiences also are major contributing factors as well.  Once you have taken the time to clearly analyze who it is you are, think about who and what it is that you want others to see you as.

How would you want them to describe you? What value to you bring that differentiates you from others?  These are important questions to ask from the beginning to create your personal brand. Keep in mind this is a continual process and rebranding yourself is just as important as the initial creation.

Once you have established what your brand is and what you want it to be, you have to launch your brand. A carefully planned and executed launch is just as important as a carefully crafted personal brand.  Next week’s feature will be the final feature on personal branding, and we’ll take a look at “launching” the new you.