“Branding” is the big buzz word in career management these days.  Everywhere you turn, someone is referring to your professional or personal brand.  How many of us truly understand what our “brand” is or what it consists of?

A brand is the promise of the value that people receive when they interact with you. You are communicating a consistent message that conveys the authentic you.  It is important that you lay the foundation and define your brand before anyone else gets the chance to do it for you.  Over time, a brand can change, but the underlying original premise should remain the same.  In order to create your brand, you must start by discovering exactly what it is you bring to the table.  What are your skills?  Who do you know?  What are your areas of expertise?  What do you have to offer of yourself that people may find valuable?  Here are some components of identifying your brand.

  • Networking is part of your brand- It defines your brand when you are not there. People you associate with help to build your brand.  They pay tribute to what you do by promoting your expertise or knowledge. What other people say about you is what defines your brand.  This is known as your reputation.
  • Being a subject matter expert (SME)- Being a subject matter expert contributes to your brand. Tie yourself to something authentically you.  Move beyond your core skills and develop a reputation for being the most knowledgeable person in your field.  Continue your education, volunteer for the tough projects, immerse yourself in your area of expertise and share that knowledge with others through writing or speaking.
  • Your actions tie heavily into your brand- Keeping your actions consistent with your words is key. Your actions reflect your authenticity. Understand your messaging and make sure your actions are not causing you to have a negative reputation. Don’t be paralyzed, be aware.  And make sure to keep your actions in line with your words.
  • Tie yourself to something outside of yourself- Do something to help others and stay true to who you are. Aligning yourself with a volunteer or social project ties in to your authentic self. Giving back selflessly allows you to help others and showcase your expertise. Be selective, though, about how and with whom you associate yourself. Don’t be afraid to turn down opportunities that don’t feel right ot your spirit.  Stay true to who you are.

If you have no clue about your brand, how do you determine what it is?  If you are asking what your brand is or what you stand for, you don’t have one. Or, you may be at the beginning of developing or defining your purpose. “Consumers” of your brand will tell you the truth about yourself.

  • Start by asking at home.  What do your friends and family say about you?
  • What do your colleague say and think about you?
  • Look to your 360 degree feedback & performance reviews.
  • Go to a friend or accountability partner.
  • Ask former employers their opinion. Consistent positive feedback contributes to a positive brand.
  • Positive and negative feedback define your brand. You can set the tone for how you are perceived.
  • Be deliberate and consistent.
  • Focus on what kind of questions people ask you.
  • Examine the types of tasks people give to you.
  • Look at what people are asking you for advice.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham