You may not have thought about the idea of a personal brand. But the reality is that you have a personal brand even if you don’t realise it.
What is a Personal Brand?
The concept of a personal brand is attributed to the management thinker Tom Peters in an article he wrote in 1997. So it has been around for a while, but it seems to be getting a higher profile and more focus in the last few years.
You will be familiar with product brands such as Ford, Microsoft and Apple. Each of these brands has characteristics associated with it by consumers. So for instance Apple may be considered as; cutting edge design, cool, intuitive to use and so on. Your personal brand is about the way people around you perceive you and your strengths, skills and attributes. This brand is important mainly in the context of your career but may also be important in other areas of life.
If we think about someone we have all heard of such as Winston Churchill he had a personal brand. He was considered an inspirational leader, with great speaking skills and huge personal gravitas. Your personal brand is about the way you want to be perceived by others and the way they actually perceive you in reality. You may want to be seen as an assertive energetic leader. But if you haven’t got it right you may well be seen instead by those around you as an aggressive person, who doesn’t stop to think or reflect. So it’s important to consider what you want to be known for and to make sure that is how you are perceived.
Creating Your Personal Brand
What are the aspects of you that go together to create a personal brand? Some of the key ones are:
- How you behave in different circumstances with different groups of people. What do you contribute at meetings, how do you deal with your team and peers?
- What is your prevailing attitude – are you an optimist or pessimist by nature?
- Are you an extrovert or introvert?
- Are you authentic and genuine or do you act in different ways to influence different people?
- How do you dress – your dress says a lot about you?
- What’s your body language – for example, do you walk into a room, make eye contact, and smile whilst standing upright? Or do you avoid making eye contact with others and say very little?
All of these things say something about you and what you stand for. There is no right or wrong, but it is important to consider how you want to come across to others. It is critical to build a brand that is based on you and your values. Don’t set out to be somebody you are not.
Your Own Personal Brand
So the start point is to consider what you want your personal brand to be. How do you want to be seen by others? Will this personal brand support or hinder your intended career path?
The next thing to do is to find out how you might be perceived by others around the organisation. Go and ask colleagues for 10 words that describe the way they see you. Check back on your performance reviews – what feedback do you get on you and your strengths and weaknesses? Have you done any personality profiles – how do they match how you see yourself?
When you have a good understanding of your current brand you can consider what you may need to change. Some things such as the way you dress can be easy to change. Changing your attitude to life can be much harder. In our experience as an Executive Coaching Company it is possible to change your personal brand in a way to positively enhance your career. Often some quite small changes can make a huge difference to the way in which you are perceived.
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