This post is the second in the series 4 Easy Steps To Creating The Brand Called You, and describes the first step in a four step process for creating your personal brand. If you haven't read it yet, you might be interested in reading the introductory post on personal branding.
The first, and probably most difficult order of business when creating a personal brand, is to actually specify what exactly is your brand. This starts with an important distinction: your brand, like consumer brands in the marketplace is not the logo, the packaging or look and feel of a product or service (although these things are important). A brand is a promise of value. It helps to think of a specific example: when you think of the Volvo brand, very often the first word that comes to our minds is safety. Yes, the packaging is nice, they have a recognizable logo and their cars have a fairly consistent look and feel, but their brand is the promise of an extremely safe car. So the question of developing your brand becomes quite simply: what unique value do you promise others? For many, this can be a hard question to answer. To get you working towards an answer, try answering the following questions:
- What do you stand for? What is truly important to you?
- What makes you different? What to you do that is different or unique?
- What are you most proud of?
- What have you done that you could easily brag about?
- What would you like to be famous for?
- What do your colleagues, clients and friends say is your greatest strength?
So the first step in developing your brand is to ask yourself these questions. Better yet, ask yourself and ask others! Write everything down. Don’t worry if there are paragraphs and paragraphs of apparently disjointed themes. Getting everything on paper makes it tangible and manageable.
The next part is easy: put it aside for a few days and simply let is percolate in your subconscious. Our minds have a great way of working things out in the background. There are countless stories of scientists and inventors literally solving big problems in their sleep! They immerse themselves in the problem, and then when they put is aside and sleep, they wake up with the solution. There is probably good reason the advice to “sleep on it” is given out so often: we are subconsciously aware of the power of our subconscious!
Finally, we need to get everything down into an elevator pitch, a description of the promise of value you represent in 15 words or less - that’s one or at most two sentences. Read it over again, and again, and again. Refine it. Does it resonate? It should, and if it is truly “you”, it will. If it doesn’t, sleep on it again or talk it over with a friend. Get your promise of value down to it’s very core. Don’t rush this step, it’s the foundation of your brand that everything else will rest on. If you are still having trouble, consider the following: what for you is a must and not just a should? For example, perhaps you should always create a nice deck of powerpoints and rehearse for any presentations, but you must always, always have accurate data. Your brand is accuracy, and perhaps not so much public speaking.
Sometimes there is nothing like a real world example. People who go to business schools would call it a case study. Let me give you one: Garr Reynolds, the man behind Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery. Honestly, I don’t know how he would articulate his brand, but the promise of value he represents, his brand, is easy for me to articulate and I can do it in three words: make great presentations. What Garr does differently is presentations, particularly how to effectively use powerpoint and other slideware in presentations.
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