Branding? What’s your professional image?

Don’t destroy your image as you try to build it. It sounds like common sense, which it is, but it is not common usage. Your image is your brand.

At work (or anywhere else for that matter), I wanted people to like me, so I constantly volunteered for extra tasks, working more than anyone else. While others had 5 tasks for a project, I would take on 10. Go me, team Sheila. I was very productive. I’d get 7 or 8 things done compared to everyone else, but I’m sad to say I did this for a number of years before I realized the damage I was doing to my personal brand.

People don’t stick with a cellular provider that works only 70% of the time. A car is not dependable if one day out of the week it doesn’t start. And, I promise you, mayhem would promptly ensue if my Mac started with 30% of my documents and photos missing,

The same is true for business and your personal brand. In my case, I was an unreliable brand. While my measurement system relied on the number of tasks completed, I missed the true metric of what was promised and what was delivered. Sure, I got eight things done, but what about the two other tasks that I failed to do? Business has two measurements – what got done and what didn’t. This is not like that aptitude test where you answer as many as you can. This is someone waiting to be picked up and left stranded. Sorry you’re still waiting at the airport for me to pick you up, but let me tell you all the other cool stuff I got done today.

Take a moment to think about this. What is your brand? Your brand is based around the problems you solve. For example, WalMart versus Nordstrom. Both solid institutions. Two completely different shopping brands and experiences. WalMart provides basic products at a low cost while Nordstrom provides selected name brand items at a high price point.

Just as a brand has an image and builds loyalty around that image, we have personal brands that are similar. You select the brands based on the experience you want and you develop a certain expectation for the product.  Your image is your brand.

So, how do you go about building your brand?

  • What needs do you fill?
  • For the need you fill – what do people find the most valuable in what you provide? (e.g. I anticipate needs, I can spot trends, etc.) What do you have to offer? What purpose do you fill?
  • How do you prioritize? You can’t be all things to all people. Some things may be more important or more urgent than others.

Do periodic brand/image reviews. Some things will work and some will not. Your goals may change. Just as brands sometimes diversify, there are other times when they tighten up. Few things: find a few people you respect, tell them you are developing your brand. Look at is as going to a trainer saying, I want to run a half marathon, what do I need to do? I’m running 6 miles a day Monday through Friday and  10 miles on Saturday with a day of rest on Sunday. The answer may be “Great! You are on track. Here are some tips, though. Make sure you are getting enough protein and sleep and train lightly the week before the event.”

Beware of  creating something or focusing on areas no one cares about. Think about VCRs. At a certain point in time, thee were very popular, they thing to have. Now, there is a whole generation of people who have no idea what a VCR is. It’s all about DVR and on demand. Don’t be the VCR of your workplace. Whether the feedback is direct or indirect, pay attention to it. Take it in, analyze and use as appropriate. Realize there are times when you may need to revitalize revamp your brand.

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