A few years ago, I heard a young man speak about his father’s influence on the family. The father established expectations for his children, for them to behave and act a certain way when they left the house. He indicated that the way his son dressed, talked, carried himself (posture), etc., reflected the son directly, but just as importantly, was that his actions and words were a reflection of the family name. The father imparted values that led to the son’s reputation among friends, teachers, parents, coaches, bosses and other influential people in his life. In today’s world, we can take the father’s philosophy to a new level, as social media and other forms of technology are allowing all of us to create our own personal brand.
The concept of a brand is not new. There are products and services that are well known throughout the US, even the world, due to their logos, slogans or packaging. What is noteworthy is the outside image can at times be more alluring than the goods themselves. Think of the latest iPod recently unveiled and the hype that surrounded its launch. Select consumers waited in line for days, just to have the first ones available. At this point, the product and its features were less significant than the concept the iPod represented or the brand Apple has developed for itself.
Like a business, we also have the power to cultivate how others perceive us. We design our résumés to highlight our accomplishments, showing off the best of ourselves. Résumés are often underappreciated by the writer – yes it is a tool to secure an interview. But more importantly, it is a personal branding product completely in our control. Remember, this document that you create, is intended for someone else. You decide which experiences to emphasize, how to showcase your talent, keeping in mind the audience. Each résumé will look slightly different, depending on what aspect of your brand you want to emphasize. When else can you have that much control in determining what others will know and perceive about you?
Another vehicle at our disposal is the internet. Putting information online generates a digital footprint and establishes a virtual presence. It is smart to be intentional with what information we generate, taking the lead on what is portrayed to others. Taking the right steps to control our image is critical in developing a personal brand. Examples of good branding are using Twitter to craft witty commentary that is insightful and relevant. Another is having a savvy LinkedIn public profile, drawing attention to your well written summary. How about creating a YouTube video that goes viral? When you put your name in a search engine, do you appear on the first page, and if so, is it all appropriate? If your name does not show up because you share a common name or your work is not online, think about how you can distinguish yourself and create the presence you want. Taking these efforts now will establish you for your future. Personal branding does not have to be difficult. It is however, very relevant to your success.