Personal Growth

Two Easy Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

I have been thinking a lot this last week about the idea of one’s personal brand. What is meant by your personal brand? Think about products or services and their brands. Starbucks’ brand is different from Tim Hortons’, though in essence they do the same thing – serve coffee and other refreshments. But most people will tell you that they identify Tim Hortons as Canadian, more “for the people”, caring for kids and somehow connected to hockey! Starbucks is often described as more exclusive, more professional, American and expensive.

Often it is through their brand that businesses or corporations distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. In a competitive environment, people make decisions about purchases or loyalty to organizations based on brand.

Individuals have a personal brand too. Though many might speak of it as reputation, it means the same thing. Your brand is how others perceive you, how they would define what you stand for. It is representative of your values, strengths and character. And in the business world, your brand can become your greatest ally, or your biggest hurdle to overcome.

In the business world, your brand can become your greatest ally or your biggest hurdle to overcome.

I bet you can think of a past experience where a colleague or business associate disappointed you, let you down, or even acted on your behalf or in a way that impacted you without consultation or discussion. Often there is a lesson in the experience for us: always get things in writing; ask to confer before going into a joint meeting with someone; ensure you proofread what will print with your name on it. It also can highlight someone’s brand. Are they an individual you have previously identified as professional and trustworthy? If so, how has the incident changed how you see their brand? And if you reflect that they are behaving according to character, what is it about you that allowed you to ignore what you knew about their brand?

Lance Armstrong is another example of how one’s action can influence their brand. Once put on a pedestal, representative of strength of character, athletic excellence and altruism, Armstrong’s acknowledgment of using performance-enhancing drugs over the course of his career caused him to fall hard and fast. His brand and the brand of his company were forever damaged through actions that were incongruous with his brand.

If we agree that we all have a professional brand, then you need to be intentional about your brand’s creation and maintenance. Two steps to start you off…

Identify your brand

Do you know how you are viewed by others in your business world? Are you the “go-to person”, the “drill sergeant”, the one who knows how to get things done, the “social convener”? Are your values demonstrated through your actions? If you really don’t have a sense of how you show up at work, ask people you trust to give you some feedback. How would they describe you? Sometimes it is helpful to think about the brands of those around you, and then you can see yourself in how you show up in relation to them. Once you have a sense of what your brand is, decide if that is in fact how you want to be perceived.

Act accordingly

If you agree with your brand as it currently stands, you’re set! Be intentional in your actions, ensuring that you consistently show up as you’d like to be seen. But what if you identify that your brand is not in alignment with your values? If you want to change how others see you, spend time thinking about the actions you can take, behaviours you can adopt that will get you in line with the way you want to show up. Then repeat and repeat. Over time your brand will shift to be in line with your actions.

If you’ve had a falling out with a colleague, or been let down by them, it is up to you to decide if and when you might trust them again. And how you decide to handle incidents such as this will influence your own brand. I heard a quote once that said, “Having a personal brand in business isn’t an option, but managing that brand is.”

Having a personal brand in business isn’t an option, but managing that brand is.

Brand is the image built by your choices. Your good choices will build a trustworthy personal brand that supports your good work.

For more FREE RESOURCES on this topic and others, visit our resources page. 


Lana Dunn

Trainer, ACHIEVE Centre for Learning

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