Branding is as old as humanity itself.
It was only in the later part of the 20th century that marketers and advertising experts started to understand that they could create a specific perception in the minds of their consumers for specific qualities and attributes of their products, which were so far only labelled with a name but existed as a generic product.
These experts started to call this “perception” a “brand.”
A brand is a story that is always being told.
Personal branding is about uncovering what is true and unique about yourself and letting everyone who matters know about it.
Your name, your brand has its own sphere of influence first with yourself, then with your family, then your community and then the larger society that you live in. Your brand must carry value within your own chosen sphere of influence.
As an individual, you are constantly reinventing yourself through each stage of your life. A brand is perceived by its target audience, based on personal experience, communication and impression.
This determines its success or failure. The same applies to each one of us. How we are perceived in society and with our “target audience” determines how valuable we are or can be. Your personal brand is your professional DNA. It is your professional gene sequence.
Every successful person has painstakingly built his or her own brand name.
Remember that your name is a brand that you truly own. You are unique. As unique as your fingerprint or your retina scan or your gene sequence.
A brand has been registered in your name, through your birth certificate and patented for your persona, through your deeds and investments, even though there may be hundreds of other individuals with the same name as you.
There is no one else in the World like you and therefore you need to invest in yourself, in your environment and in your deeds and actions to get your own brand known and respected. The greater your reach, the greater the investment that would be required by your brand. At the same time, the greater and more prominent your brand is, the more vulnerable will it become in future.
It becomes more and more critical for you to know that every step you take, every statement you make, every tweet you send, every photograph you post, every blog you write, every post you like, make or share, every interpretation you share, every opinion that you give is being read and interpreted by someone. Without you realising the impact of your actions, each action is adding or subtracting from the value of Brand You. Creating, building and developing your personal brand is only in your own hands. Conversely, destroying or diminishing your own brand is also only in your own hands.
What you do with your own brand name could be the difference between being very successful and not so successful. This is as true for personal branding as it is for business branding. Your brand is the essence of your own unique story. The key is reaching deep inside yourself and pulling out the authentic, unique “you” from within your own self.
Otherwise, your brand will just be a façade and you will wonder whether you recognise the person behind the façade. Yourself.
You have the freedom to create the career path that you choose. A path that will link your talent and interests with the position that you deem fit. You must have the ability to move both vertically and horizontally in your career.
Today’s hero can be tomorrow’s zero and vice versa.
Your brand value will wax and wane throughout your life. Your ability to negotiate a large salary increase after a very successful year is much higher than if you have had a bad year and not met your targets.
The value of your own brand is what will give you the valuation that you may be seeking. A well-crafted Brand You could get you that coveted promotion or the next senior job. This brand valuation could also help you to determine what you are capable of earning for yourself because of what value you and your name can add to someone else’s business. This could also be in the form of recognition and acceptance in your society, in your country or in the World.
A movie star can demand huge fees after two successive hit movies but will have to drop prices and maybe even work free after three successive flops! Unless you recognise and accept your own self and your own reality, there is not much you can do about your own brand. So many people in the government or in corporate world, as they progress through their careers assume that their organisation’s brand becomes identified with their own brand. Nothing could be further away from the truth.
When a corporate manager or a government official sends in his or her visiting card for a meeting, it is the name of the company or institution that is recognized and what gets the door opened for the meeting. So many retired government officials and corporate managers are not able to accept that they have lost their own identity after their retirement. They continue to hang on to their identity as a “former Chairman” or a “former Secretary to the Government.” This is a tenuous and weak thread linking them to their perceived identity that people are not willing to let go of and this treaf breaks on the date of superannuation.
Your personal brand building must never have anything to do with narcissism. What you carefully craft into the value of your brand must go well beyond physical appearance and personal ego.
The circle of life will continue, and your personal brand will continue to grow in its stature and value.
Remember the only legacy you will leave behind in the World is your name, Brand You.
The author is an Executive Coach and an Angel Investor. A keen political observer, he is also the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. He is the author of 6 best-selling books, The Brand Called You; Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here – Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.
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