Branding is an art and science for marketers. They blend the key attributes of a product, service or company and position them to appeal to a consumer.
Using scientific research, data and analytics, the brand marketer artfully crafts visual and written communications targeting emotions and logic of the intended audience. The ultimate goal is to drive to an action, such as buy or like me.
How does this relate to the branding of YOU? We are all a brand. Seth Godin defines a brand as “…the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. It is how we present ourselves, talk about ourselves and how we are remembered by others. Branding applies to all aspects of life, professional and personal. It is the first and last impression of YOU.
If every encounter in life was a personal moment for YOU to brand yourself, what are the words and actions that repeatedly represent YOU? More importantly, would you want everyone to repeat them over and over again? Will you be remembered as “Have it your way” (Burger King) or “I’m lovin’ it” (McDonalds) or “Avoid the Noid” (Domino’s Pizza)?
Professional branding is critical for your career. The words that others use to describe you, are your brand. You own it. It may be a definition that comes from a collection of interactions or a single opportunity you had to gain respect and credibility in a brief encounter.
There are several ways for you to represent the brand of YOU.
1. Introduction. This is your 90 seconds at a shot of fame. Whatever comes out of your mouth or you share in an email, is your opportunity to make your brand pitch. It is the firm handshake opportunity. Face-to-face, you have an opportunity to say with confidence who you are, what you do and what you represent. It is the YOU moment. In email, it is your invitation to draw someone in to know and learn more. It should be short, to the point and always conclude with a call to action. Think of it as your 140 character tweet about YOU.
2. Social Media. What you post on the Internet is your brand. And, it does live forever. It is how you are represented on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, blogs, and so on. In other words, the brand of YOU is everywhere you put a comment, post or uploaded something to the world wide web! Before you hit send or enter, think how it represents YOU.
3. Your CV. A curriculum vitae (CV) provides a summary of YOU by experience and skills. It is your brand summary. Your CV should clearly articulate your strengths. It is the summary on your LinkedIn profile.
4. The YOU Meme. The one way to control your brand is to have a practiced “meme”. “A meme is an idea that behaves like a virus–that moves through a population, taking hold in each person it infects.” says Malcolm Gladwell. Your branding meme is what others take with them and tell others, over and over again. It is your “viral” message. A meme should delivered in 60-90 seconds and cover all the unique characteristics that you want others to remember about YOU.
The creation, care and management of the brand of YOU is very important. It has tremendous monetary value. You are your best brand PR agent, you are the one to spread the word about YOU. The impression you make in the marketplace will confirm YOU are a good “buy” or confirm why people have no interest in buying what you are selling! How others talk about YOU will affirm what YOU represent.
Take time to think about the qualities of YOU and what YOU represent, then how YOU can position this to others to create actions or get results. Rehearse your meme.
You can always improve on your brand; however, reputation management is a costly proposition if you have a damaged brand. Even a lot of money can’t always repair a brand. We all like brands that represent qualities that are good and positive. Be authentic, truthful and confident. Make sure that your brand represents the real YOU.