This past week, I had a meeting with the brand and creative team at my work. I waltzed into the conference room with coffee in hand and my notebook eager to jot down insights.
I sat down and for 45 mins the team held my attention. They talked about brand voice and standards. Their presentation was stunningly gorgeous and they made the company that I work for come alive. It was an educational meeting and I absorbed all of it.
During the Q&A portion of the meeting, I daringly raised my hand and asked a novice question. I think it’s a good idea to establish the basics, so I asked the team, “What is your definition of branding?”
“A brand is the personality of a company. It is the thoughts and feelings that are left with someone after they have had an interaction with an organization. It is a business’ imprint on the heart of a person.”
Now, that is not verbatim what the team told me. It is my synthesis of their multiple answers as well as their presentation. Not a bad definition, right?
Anyway, this synthesis of branding prompted me to think, “What are the thoughts and feelings that I leave people with?”
I live to make an impact on people, but am I doing it as effectively as I could? And do my actions line up with my stated values?
What even are my values?
All of these questions arose which led me to hammer out some details of my personal brand. Now, keep in mind that I have just articulated these.
Even though my insights are fresh, I would still like to share them with you. It is my hope that you would find value in my personal branding process and even be able to build off it.
It is my belief that one must think strategically when it comes to personal branding.
Here are some tips on how to do that:
1. Articulate Your “Why”
If you have never watched Simon Sinek’s “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” video, then pause reading this article and watch it. It will give you context for this point.
Basically, your “Why” is your mission statement. It is the belief or purpose that drives you to do what you do.
Everyone has a “Why” and it is at the very heart of one’s work. A “Why” is typically birthed out of a personal story or a higher purpose. Nobody really cares what you do, they want to know WHY you do it. That is what gets people excited.
Think about what drives you and then articulate it. Write it down, if you have to. Stick it in your office cube or in your wallet. The point is to determine what you are passionate about and clearly articulate that.
This is your “Why”.
Go here for more tools to use in articulating your “Why”.
2. Articulate Your Values
This is a relatively simple concept as well.
Articulate your values. Articulate the things that you care about.
And please don’t say money… Money is not a value. Money allows us to indulge in our values, whatever those may be. But there is always something deeper than money.
For example, my 5 values are:
Think deeply about these. These are YOUR values! These are the things that you truly care about and will get out of your comfort zone to see realized (it also helps if there’s some form of alliteration to your values ;-)).
Again, write these down and keep them close to you.
3. Leave People With a Feeling
Harkening back to the definition that I introduced, a brand makes someone think or feel something.
In order to be consistent with your personal brand, you are going to want to think of the feelings/thoughts that you will leave people with even before you meet them.
These are the 3 feelings that I want to leave people with:
If my aim is to leave people feeling encouraged, then I am going to say and do things that evoke that response in people.
Whatever feelings/thoughts you identify, be sure that they are true to you and that you act and speak in alignment with them.
Choose feelings or thoughts that you naturally bring about in people and, again, document those.
Thinking through the feelings/thoughts that you want to leave people with will give you a clearer direction in conversations and it will enable you to be a better leader.
It’s good to have goals, right?
Finally, I would like to say “Thank you” for reading this far and taking my suggestions to heart. Feel free to improve on my advice and offer feedback of your own!
I have found that these 3 concepts (Why, Values, and Feelings/Thoughts) tend to be interrelated.
My “Why” will drive my values and I will typically act in alignment with those values to bring about certain feelings/thoughts in other people. They are all related.
Again, it is good to think strategically about who you are, what you stand for, and the impression that you leave on people.