Archive for May, 2011

Whose brand is it now? Yours?

Earlier in the year, I was fortunate enough to attend an activity of the YNP of Raleigh, the keynote speaker Britt Carter talked about branding and personal branding. And after that a panel of young professional shared their experiences and opinions regarding the matter.

I won’t bore you to death with a definition of branding or definition to personal branding. But instead give you a few insights I gather and expanded regarding the topic. To me, branding it is a game of perception that it is being played whether you like it or not. At work, at the market, at church, in your home any place where individuals are present. Your brand and the perception of the brand becomes a integral part on how the conversation, interactions and attitudes towards you. This in part will control and influence what the outcomes of the interaction will be. If others are playing even if you are not, why would you leave it to them to determine your brand? So here the case is to treat it like is critical part of a product offering called YOU, take charge and controlled. I encourage you to not leave it to chance, because others will exert their influence and controlled for you. How they controlled? Well there are many ways; one of the oldest ways is gossip. Think about this, long time ago there was tribe of cavemen; compose mainly of hunters and gatherers. You may think about what the cavemen believe a member of the tribe is or is not. That will affect how is going to get treated, respected and care of. The only control the caveperson has is how he/she controls their behavior and delivers on the label the cave person want to live for.

Nowadays it gets very complex with the addition of the digital life, pictures, video, tweets, Facebook, social media and other mediums will makes it difficult to control and to manage it. If you can influence what is out in the public domain, how you are perceive and how you behave, you can somewhat maneuver your brand to improve it or sustain it.  Even though people are going to say what they want to say, whether you like it or not, what matters is how you handle the situation and what the brand says about you. But keep in mind that personal branding should not be left to chance or be purely controlled by others that might not have your best interest. Like a Public Relations (PR) team does to companies, celebrities and organizations you have to be your own PR person. Your reputation and authenticity plays a large part in defining the message that your personal brand is delivering.

The reality is that who you are and how you act have the largest impact on your reputation and your personal brand. For example, you are a very reliable, competent and savvy individual. You get to a familiar or new place and during the interactions with people you notice that they rely on you, seek advice, help and perceive you as a trustworthy person. Why? Because what you have created with your action follows you everywhere and it shows on how you project yourself, even to people that does not entirely knows you. Your brand does that for you.

But, do you really know what your personal brand worth is? As a different with products (People decided with money, buying power, the value of the brand to them), personal brand is very hard to determine the actual worth. Since people, in most cases, not necessary pay with currency for your presence, services and time. Also like products, the value is a very individual aspect of the brand, what it means to one person is different to the other. To some they do not even value their personal brand as it is something of no importance until it start to affect their life and then wonder why people treat them they way they are getting treated.

So how much is your branding worth? How would you determine the value of your brand? Part is money; part is happiness, friendship, actions and other factors. There is no formula that I have come across that defines it or establishes the worth of personal brand. But to me it is very important and it is worth a lot, enough that I need to be conscious about it and proactively manage it.

During the YPN activity one of the panelists mentioned a story about a co-worker that after many years of service with a company was laid off. Which during these tough times we all know of someone that was or still is affected by this common situation. The interesting portion of the story that grabbed my attention was that the friend has worked for a company for so long that the company’s branding was part in large part their personal branding. So much of the brand, that there was not much of the individual brand left in their personal brand to make it unique. This is a big problem, because with no personal brand and out of the job the road ahead is going to be a long one. It is because the value of what the person brings out to the workforce was in majority stuck to the previous employer brand. And it will take time, precious time to translate, change and modify the brand. That does not mean that because you work for a company you should not adopt some of the brand as part of yours. You should but, be aware to make it your own. Make sure to add enough of your personal recipe/spice to your brand to make it yours. Think about the values, attributes that your brand is and/or will be that you can take with you no matter where you go. Work and act based on those values and the brand you are trying to build or change. Remember, your brand is yours and you are the one that should control it.

At the YPN activity also they mentioned “to have a Personal Brand advisor is a good practice.” To me that was a very interesting concept, a good practice to have a Personal Brand advisor. Do I need a PR person? Do I hire one? Where do I find one? Why? Do I consider myself a celebrity now? Think about this, we look for mentors, coaches and teachers to help us during our lives, professional career and to improve technical skills, but is not that often that we seek for a person to help us with our personal brand. Or simply to help us figure out what action I can take to control, manage and improve the personal brand. I thought that the statement was a very interesting one. What if I can find an advisor/s that can provide with insights that will help me develop a plan to manage my personal brand. People that can provide me with either their expertise, stories that I can use to improve the control of my brand. Thinking about that this blog is part of my brand, to express thought and enable conversation. Why don’t you find one as well? Giving that we want to improve and retain a good branding strategy, should we all strive to improve it. So what are we waiting for? Whose brand is it now?