Believe it or not, we’re all brands. You must understand and appreciate what yours is, then manage and nurture it or in some circumstances change it…rapidly.
Let’s talk brands for a second, what are they?
Think about some of the most famous brands – Amazon, Apple, Coca-Cola, Disney, Google, Gucci, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, Nike, Samsung and Uber – they’re all household names, right?
Why is that the case? Is it because they’re known for high-quality goods / services? Do they excel in customer care? Do the brands stand for something that’s important to their customers? Perhaps a brand is synonymous with luxury or it has an exemplary track record for protecting the environment?
Consumers typically associate certain behaviours or levels of quality with brands. In many cases, a brand also conveys the key messages of an organisation’s personality and values. Corporations pay millions each year to clever marketing people to ensure their brands and related slogans carry the right meaning and are associated with other similar brands. Some may also put up a fierce fight to protect their brands from bad publicity as this could risk damaging their wider reputation.
Us mere mortals are no different and like any business or corporation we also have brands. If you want to find out what yours represents, simply ask your closest and most trusted friends what they ‘really’ think about you.
Write down their comments and then carefully look over them. What they’ve done in essence is describe you as if you were a brand.
If the feedback you receive is predominantly positive then this is also most likely to reflect what a stranger will say when describing you. This person will form their opinion of you based on what they hear. But remember, it cuts both ways, meaning if your friends’ assessment of you is negative this may also adversely impact the way those unacquainted to you react in your company.
Building your personal brand at work
How or what do you want to be known for? Do you want to be known as somebody who is dedicated, hardworking, reliable and trustworthy? Is your aim to become the go-to person for expert insight into a complex financial product? Or do you want to be labelled as work shy, unreliable or indeed the office clown? This is where your personal brand plays a pivotal role in career success.
It’s therefore critically important for you to understand and appreciate what your personal brand is at work from an early stage in your professional life as possible. Politely, ask colleagues, team members or even your boss for input. Once you’ve gathered relevant intelligence get to work on strengthening your brand, especially if you’re trying to secure a promotion or pay rise.
Here are my top tips to help you grow your personal brand
- If your colleagues, team or even your boss describe you as hard working – that’s a great start. You want to keep this up. Don’t rest on your laurels, keep working hard as this will sit at the very heart of your brand.
- If on the other hand your colleagues, team or your boss classify you as lacking in the work department get onto this without delay. You don’t want to create a personal brand around this. Ask your colleagues, team and/or boss what more you could be doing.
- If your colleagues, team and/or boss describe you as trustworthy – fantastic. We all want to invest in and work with brands you can trust, right?
- If you get a reputation for being untrustworthy – this is the office equivalent of an atomic bomb! Unfortunately, this one is much harder to overcome. Your mission: find out exactly what event or events led to this opinion of you. Was it because you missed an important deadline? Get to work pronto! Building trust takes time. From now on, take full ownership of tasks that are delegated to you. Make sure it’s delivered on time and what you hand in is top quality – these are the foundation stones of trust in the workplace.
- Get to be known for being dedicated. Your current job may not be what you want to do for the rest of your life. Whilst you’re in the role be dedicated and show this through your actions. Your team are relying on your input. Don’t let them down, your short-term actions are likely to have longer-term benefits, particularly given that your potential new boss will inevitably ask your current boss what his or her opinion is of you.
- Become a brand that stands for innovation. You’re not always going to have the answers but share your thoughts and opinions. Don’t sit around like a lemon in meetings, don’t become an “also ran”. Don’t become obnoxious with your ideas either by constantly trying to impress people. It won’t be long before you get a reputation for being an irritating know it all.
- Your brand should be associated with positivity. Nobody likes to constantly hear the voice of doom or negativity. It’s so easy to point out problems but much harder to resolve them. Become the person who brings forward solutions in a positive can-do manner and not the one who is always highlighting obstacles.
- Your brand is friendly. Leave arrogance and unfriendliness at the door because nobody warms to that. If you come across open and friendly you’re more likely to get on with a wider variety of people. That said, when it comes to your personal brand at work, I’d advise against placing too much value on popularity. The office isn’t a playground so being well-respected is I think a better addition to your brand.
- Become a great listener, and when we say listen, we really mean listen and keeping your mouth shut for five minutes. Who likes a brand that doesn’t listen to their customers and doesn’t take their feedback on board? – that’s right, nobody.
- Your personal brand will constantly change and evolve as you do. You’ll face new challenges and opportunities, how you react to these will directly impact your brand so it’s up to make sure you manage it to the best of your ability.
The above are general guidelines regarding personal brands. Since every brand is very individual, I suggest you spend time thinking about yours. Write down a list of attributes you would like to be known for in your place of work.
Lastly, don’t forget to promote your personal brand. There is little point in building this great brand if no body ever gets to hear about it or gets to know it.
Sanu Miah, founder