If you haven’t yet reflected on that—or if you haven’t done so in some time, you should. Just like a corporation (should) make sure that all of it’s communications and actions align with it’s brand, people should as well. The only way to do that is to be intentional and consistent.
Why is it important to be intentional about a personal brand?
- People will define your brand for you if you don’t define it for yourself. Have you ever heard the story “people will make up their own story when they don’t have enough information to know what the real story is”? If you aren’t intentional about the brand you want to have, people will be forced to create their own one for you based on your actions and words.
- It helps you be intentional in your words and your actions. If you know the brand you want to portray, then you have a guide for decision making. Every time you think about doing or saying something, you can first ask yourself if the action/statement will support or hurt your personal brand. For example, want to be seen as professional and punctual? Then you won’t show up late for PTA meetings, school drop-off, or business meetings.
- It helps you decide where to put your energy. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed with activities, projects, tasks, and volunteer work. Often times, our calendar builds up because we’re not good at saying no. Your personal brand can guide you not only in your words and actions, but where you invest your energy as well. Does your personal brand include growing and developing others? Then you might choose to go to lunch with a recent new hire over going to happy hour with another department. Not only will you not waste additional energy trying to do both, but you could gain emotional energy from the fulfillment you get in mentoring the new hire.
- It helps you in your career. Your personal brand can help drive you to certain projects and experiences at work—and create a self-fulfilling prophecy in your career. If you want to be branded as a cross-functional collaborator, for example, then you might decide to seek out projects that require you to build bridges and relationships between your team and another. Over time, your brand becomes the sum of your efforts—and the opportunities that align with your brand start to seek you out, rather than you seeking them out.
- Last but not least – You’re a role model for your kids. I know, I know. How many times can I say this? But it’s true. Your kids watch everything you do—even when you don’t think they are.
How you can define and demonstrate your personal brand:
- Reflect first on your personal values. This is an important exercise – and one I encourage you to do with your kids (more on this in a future blog post). Values-based decision-making is an important concept to live and demonstrate for your kids. It helps ensure consistency across all areas of your life. Your values should also be the foundation of your personal brand.
- Reflect on how you want to be remembered. Do you want people walking away from an interaction with you saying, “wow, she’s is direct and honest,” or “wow, he is really compassionate”? Write down the phrases you want people to say about you both in your personal and professional lives. Don’t forget to write down what you want your kids to say about you.
- Reflect on the feedback you’ve received in your life—both positive and negative. They tell you something about your current brand. You’ll want to make the list as complete as possible—not only for helping to brainstorm what you want your personal brand to be, but also to help you identify people with whom you might need to re-connect with to re-brand yourself.
- Review the inputs of steps 1 – 3 and create a personal brand statement. This most likely will take many iterations. You want something that is easy to remember so you can mentally refer to it when making decisions. I recommend writing it down on a small business card size so you can carry it with you. (In fact, you could create a business card that has your family values and mission on one side and your personal brand statement on another.)
- Reinforce your brand with everything you do and say. By now you’ve probably figured this section out. Before you take action, seek out a project, or say something, pause and ask yourself: “is what I’m about to say/do reinforcing my personal brand?” If not, figure out the source of the misalignment, and decide how/if you need to adjust. Sometimes, there will be things you have to do (does anyone really like to fill out expense reports, even if their personal brand includes “fiscally responsible”?). The majority of the time, however, you can adjust and/or rephrase
Want more information and other opinions on this topic? Here are a few other resources you can checkout:
- Forbes article
- Entrepreneur blog series on personal brand
- Huffington Post blog post
- Price Waterhouse Cooper Personal Brand Workbook (this is really great if you need help walking through the entire exercise of building your personal brand)
May you become the brand you want to be!