Establishing Your Personal Brand

In my previous post I discussed how building your personal leadership brand can be like your calling card to success. So how are you going to set about building your brand? One activity I have found very useful to use with many people is a short brand building exercise that requires you to first define the brand you want to create for yourself, and then break down the various things you need to do on a consistent basis to establish and build your brand, and protect your brand for as long as you like.

The first step in building your personal brand is to select a list of 5 words that will characterize your brand. For example: trustworthy, professional, reliable, collaborative and sincere. If you’re having difficulty coming up with the list of characteristics, just try to complete the following sentence:
“(Your name) is really known for being _________________.”

If you can come up with a list of 5 words, then you’re well on your way to defining your personal brand. And don’t worry, this list may change several times but that’s okay. The more words you can come up with, the better it is as it will demonstrate just how difficult it can be to establish a personal brand. You just have to make sure to pick the 5 words that best exemplify the brand you want to create for yourself.

Once the list of 5 characteristics has been finalized, the next step is to come up with 4-5 bullet actions that for each characteristic so that by completing those actions, you start to consistently demonstrate to others that you are living that characteristic and hence you will, over time, come to be known for that thing. It may all sounds a bit confusing so let’s look at one example in further detail. If you select “professional” as one of your personal brand characteristics, you may come up with the following actions to externally portray yourself as “professional”:

1. You are punctual and well prepared when you attend meetings.
2. You work hard, complete all tasks on time, and work well in a team.
3. You respect others and never gossip in the workplace.
4. You follow up with others in a timely manner.
5. You consistently provide more than what is expected.

Hopefully the above example will illustrate better how to complete the brand building exercise. Make an attempt to complete 5 action points for each brand characteristics you have chosen for yourself.

An important consideration to keep in mind is that building a personal brand takes time to achieve so get started as soon as possible. Another important consideration is that building your brand is not only about what you do, but how you do it. For example, you may complete your tasks on time and be well prepared for meetings, but if you accomplish this by withholding information from others and hogging resources so others fall behind schedule, well then you’re actually braking your brand, not building it. Remember that personal brand building is about what you do AND how you do it.

Because it takes a long time to build and firmly establish your personal brand, it’s very easy to get off track. So what can you do to stay on course and make sure you’re on your chosen path? This is where your language, both verbal and body language, can be a huge asset. By being more aware of how your communicate with others and consciously trying to do so in a manner that aligns with the personal brand you want to achieve, you will be constantly reinforcing your brand message to yourself and others, and in no time at all, your personal brand will start to take shape and your actions for brand maintenance and protection will become second nature.

A great example of this is how you communicate about your accomplishments. It’s important to feel proud of what you’ve achieved as this reinforces your self-confidence, but if others were also involved in the success do you talk about what “you” did or what “we” did? That is, do you take full credit for the success or do you ensure that others know that the success came about through the efforts of others as well as yourself. This is not meant to be a judgement in any way, just an example to make you think about how your words and actions, your language, can help to reinforce the brand you want to create for yourself.

Just remember, if you want to achieve your goals and succeed in life, you have to be a brand maker, not a brand breaker!