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The power of personal branding

Karel Mc Intosh

Brand power. The big brands have it, and so do you. Harnessing your personal brand power, and communicating the essence of your brand to those around you can be easily done, as long as you remain focused on doing just that. When constructing a brand, marketers often consider aspects such as values, personality, associations, and the affinity people ultimately have for the brand. When shaping our personal brands, the key is to make the connection between who we say we are to who people think we are.

Branding made simple
Basically, a brand is a name and the qualities that are perceived about and attached to it. For some, a brand may mean quality, performance, and reduced risk. This simplifies the choice process since someone can easily choose that brand based on his or her trust in it. For example, a person may prefer to purchase a Nike sneaker rather than another brand because of the easy recognition of Nike as a high quality sneaker, and that person’s ability to relate to Nike endorsers. How many times have you chosen to purchase a particular brand of food, clothing or vehicle based purely on “a feeling” or because someone in your circle endorses it?

Shaping your brand
A brand image is a set of beliefs about a brand’s attributes and associations. A person’s image of you is built from a variety of sources, including experience, endorsements and tips. Career-wise, you want people to have confidence in you. You want them to recommend you. You want them to endorse your ideas and initiatives. In the business place, people are concerned about function and performance. Your aim is to fill any gaps of uncertainty about your ability and performance, and if there are no gaps to fill, continue to exceed expectations.

Brand personality
Strong brands capture people’s attention, draw them in, orchestrate favourable decisions and create long lasting relationships. Often we’re so caught up in being the consummate professional that we forget to be ourselves. We think we have to be “serious”; we have to be composed. But sometimes, all we need to do is to be natural, smile if you feel like. Laugh. We forget that while the other party is looking at our competence, they’re also concerned with how we relate to others, and whether we can establish relationships with the company’s stakeholders. What helps them to discern these things are our body language and the way we interact. I once sat on an interview panel, and we interviewed someone who was qualified and seemed competent. However, the person came off as being extremely arrogant. Their words and their body language betrayed the ability to adopt a superior stance towards colleagues. We wanted someone who could relate well with others, someone who would not become a source of tension in the workplace. In this case, personality had a lot to do with getting the job.

In shaping our personal brands we’ve got to connect functionality with personality. This can make the difference in getting a job, keeping it and even getting a promotion. Look at the successful people around you. What about them makes them special? What is it that makes everyone gravitate towards them? Why is it that makes people always have something good to say about them? It’s their brand power. This power comes from their efficiency, performance, their personality and the fact that you can trust them to deliver on promises and responsibilities.

Note that it’s not a popularity contest. It’s not about getting every single person in the room to like you. Of course we’d love that, but remember there is only so much we can control.

Physical branding
The reality is that people make assumptions about us based on what we look like. So in branding yourself, you’ve got to also incorporate this element. Depending on your industry, an ultra professional look is required. In some, casual is the order of the day. In either case, if you don’t fit the dress code, people make judgement calls. In the professional environment, if you’re too casual, they may think you’re not professional enough or perhaps don’t have the maturity that you may need to compromise your personal style in order to “fit in”. In a more casual forum, if you look too professional, they may think that you’re “stuck up”. So how do you balance the physical aspect of “brand you” with performance and personality? For some, while they may dislike wearing suits, they may wear artsy jewellery or tailor their look to the office dress code, but still incorporate their personal style.

While we’d like to believe that who we are, and our personality is enough to project a great impression, we also need to remember that some people’s opinion of you also factors the physical. Ever heard the story about an employee who worked great, but who the boss was afraid of sending to meetings with clients because of the employee’s dress code? Well, you don’t want that employee to be you.

Staying focused on brand you
Our values, personality, and the people or things we associate with influence people’s image of us. They affect the affinity people ultimately have for the brand - you. Always remember that the perception people have about you is based on your interaction in the workplace, and sometimes it’s also based on what they hear about you outside of the workplace. Ultimately, the way they perceive you is based on your identity, how you project yourself, and whether you deliver on the brand promise of efficiency and likeability. Brand power. It’s yours, but only if you grab hold of it.

The author is a Trinidad based public relations and communications professional. A social media and technology enthusiast, she is the author of the blog

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