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Mirror Mirror On The Wall…What Brand Message Do You Really Send?

October 3, 2013

In this highly competitive job market, everyone is looking for ways to differentiate themselves. But for those individuals who are already working at a great company, why is it important for you to create your brand? The benefits include: quicker job promotion, enhanced business relationships, greater credibility, and a deeper sense that you are living and working in line with who you really are. Sounds pretty important, right? The reality is very few individuals actually take the time to carve out their brands because they are so busy with the day-to-day duties of their jobs. Also, a lot of people just don’t know how to create and deliver a brand.

Fair enough, not everyone was a marketing major at school. But for those who do take the time to strategically step back and look at what your professional brand really is and what you want it to be, you will be professionally ahead of the pack.

Before I started my Life and Leadership Development firm, Potential Unlimited, I worked for a variety of corporations, including General Motors and UPS. I was hired to help them build and turnaround their brands. I really enjoyed this work and had a lot of success in this area. I decided to translate this expertise into my business by now working with individuals as part of my coaching to help them develop and build their brands to set them up for success. 

I would like to share with you my Top Tips to identifying and building your strong professional brand.

1. Know your values. Your brand at work will reflect who you really are. Take some time now and think about what is most important to you. If you say family is top priority and then you are never home because you work 24/7, then either you are really unhappy as you are living out of line with your values or else there may be other values that trump family. This doesn’t make you a bad person if family is not number one, but just take the time to know what is most important to you. This is where you should put your greatest focus. 

2.Own your brand. This means that you need to stay true to yourself. So if part of your brand is to be a strong, fearless leader, than when you are in the meeting with your superiors and the meeting starts to take a turn away from what you feel is best, you need to speak up.

3. Be consistent. One of the greatest ways to build a strong brand is to continue to execute in a way that is consistent with the brand you’ve laid out for yourself. Consider, every time you walk into a Tim Horton’s coffee shop, you can order from the same menu. You see the same uniforms on the staff and you are greeted in the same manner. Human beings generally like to know what to expect. The more times a customer frequents Tim Horton’s and sees the same type of environment and service, that continues to reinforce that brand in his/her head.

So if part of your brand is to be a caring leader and a co-worker or employee hears you talk about someone else in a negative way, you start to lose your credibility. At some point, that individual may wonder if you may be talking behind their back too so the brand you are building by your actions is not a positive one.

4. Communicate Your Brand. You may think you have a brand, but if you are not telling others about who you are and your areas of expertise, than nobody knows your brand. Consider what would have happened to Pepsi if it didn’t embark on advertising and PR campaigns. Now, I am not suggesting you run a billboard campaign featuring a picture of yourself right outside the doors of your company. What I am talking about here is owning who you are and clearly communicating the expertise you bring to the job. The way you communicate this message will help relay your brand. For instance, if you pride yourself on being a straight shooter, than when talking to your boss about an issue, saying something like “I see your point, but I’m going to tell you exactly what I think. I believe we need to…”and then share the benefits of doing things in the way you suggest.

5. Use metrics. I am a big fan of putting metrics around the work I do. I want to see I am driving value for my clients and it is important for them to see how far they have come. In the case of brand building, I use a 360 tool when coaching my clients that is specifically formulated to measure a variety of dimensions including an executive’s current brand. This tool measures what the executive sees as his/her current brand and what others around them perceive to be the brand.

I find this dose of reality about gaps that exist around perceived and real brand presence to be eye opening and transformational for leaders. At this point, we can then work on how to bridge the gaps to deliver the brand they desire to portray and to live.

Find out more about corporate and executive coaching programs specializing on leadership brand development.

 

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