In a recent presentation given by Betsy Henning CEO of AHA! - a creative communications firm in Vancouver WA, called “Elements of Branding,” Betsy referred to marketing products and commodities. She noted legendary brands as BMW, Volvo, JetBlue, Oprah Winfrey, to name a few.
The line between branding a commodity or a career is a clear and direct one for which we can adapt the same principles used to brand a car, jet airplane or an entertainer. We are all creating our personal brand each day at work: our reputation, our productivity or our creativity IS our professional brand. Knowing the basic principles of building a brand and putting intentionality behind it is a major element career management. Building value, reputation, relevancy, distinction and a consistent look and feel to your career is wise management for the present and future.
What are the basic elements of building your own professional brand? Your brand is: The the verbal and nonverbal signals that you send. It exists as what is received – Brand isn’t what you say, it is how you are PERCEIVED. What are you sending? What do you want people to receive?
A basic foundation of branding is being Intentional in how you are perceived: your intentions shape perceptions and in that way, your brand equals your reputation, or how you are perceived. At its most basic, brands are promises that create expectations. So, ask yourself, what promise are you making and what expectations are you setting. One way to understand about your current brand is to ask a trusted colleague or mentor. Getting some feedback from your audience is the first step in aligning your career brand with your intentions.
Another way to approach this is to consider that THINK+FEEL = Brand
What you want people to think and feel about you?
THINK – When they think of you, what do you want people to recall? What do you represent? Is your name synonymous with quality, value, efficiency, creativity? Does what people think of you align with your own values?
FEEL – How do you want people to feel about you? How do you want people to feel when they are with you? To understand this, we turn to Emotional Intelligence. "Emotional intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests that ones emotional intelligence is responsible for as much as 80 percent of the "success" in our lives." --From Handle With Care: Emotional Intelligence Activity Book. Understanding how to manage the way people feel about you can make the difference in your success.
How do you affect what people think and feel about you?
The 3 principles to consider are: Look, Sound, Act.
Your Look: Ask yourself (and take a long look in the mirror) Is your look consistent with your intentional brand? What does your look say about you; what are you communicating? What does the look of your work, your desk, written communication and other products you produce say about your professional brand? Are you sending a consistent and intentional message to your boss, co-workers, professional circle, or hiring manager with the look of your work product?
Your Sound: Ask yourself, (and listen carefully), is your sound consistent with your intentional brand? Does your voice mail message, tone of voice, the words you choose, the tone of your emails or texts or other social media consistent with your brand. Is your Facebook and/or Linkedin page consistent with the sound you want to project? Remember, your sound is also the quality of your listening; so do you listen?
Your Act: Ask yourself (be honest), is how you act consistent with your intentional brand? Do you show up on time? Are you courteous and kind to people? Are you generous with ideas? Do you show up and deliver and do you conduct myself with honesty and consistency? What acts are you known for? How do you handle your emotions at work?
Remember, your brand is what OTHERS think of you and you can greatly affect your brand by asking yourself these questions, answering honestly and making the appropriate changes so that your career brand – what people think and feel about you - are authentic and intentional in your daily professional actions at work.