Me Inc. and The Brand Called You

Not only will your personal brand help you to stand out in a crowded marketplace, but a deep, true understanding of your brand can serve as a guiding light, helping you to choose your path when faced with many options.

A couple of weeks ago I posted, “What’s Your Opening Pitch?”; it has proven to be quite popular, garnering the second-most hits of all my posts at this early stage.  Today, LinkedIn alerted me to an article called, “Perfecting Your Personal Pitch: A Case of Self-Branding”, by Jim Sniechowski, PhD.

I thought the article might be of interest to those folks who read my previous post; if you read that post but had some trouble preparing your own pitch, then Mr. Sniechowski’s article includes some helpful tips.  In particular, he lists a number of questions that can help to get you started:

  • How do you want to be seen and known? This question has to do with what you do and who you are as you do what you do.
  • If your Personal Brand were to be written on your tombstone what would you want it to say? In other words, what impact do you want to leave behind?
  • How would your friends and colleagues describe you if they only had between 50 and 100 words? It’s wise to actually ask those you know and trust to do this for you.
  • If you created a personal logo what would it look like?
  • If you purchased a URL to set up a web presence what would it say that would be recognizable by a stranger as your Personal Brand?

Getting strategic for a moment, you might also want to consider the purpose of your personal brand.  If your brand is meant to be a career resource, then put some thought into what you want to be doing in the future and what potential associates or employers will be seeking.

All this talk of pitching and branding also reminded me of an article from a 1997 issue of Fast Company: “The Brand Called You”.  A colleague sent this to me a couple of years ago, after a like-minded discussion about personal branding, cover letters and résumés.  Written by Tom Peters, the article goes beyond personal branding and into related topics including advertising (“your personal visibility campaign”), how to accumulate power and influence to build your brand, and being loyal to yourself.

While some of the article’s references are dated (haha, beepers!), don’t let that distract you from the many useful pieces.  Peters tell us that:

It’s time for me — and you — to take a lesson from the big brands, a lesson that’s true for anyone who’s interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of work.  Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.  It’s that simple — and that hard. And that inescapable. – Tom Peters

I’m in agreement that we each must consider our own personal brand.  Not only will doing so help you to stand out in a crowded marketplace, but a deep, true understanding of your brand can serve as a guiding light, helping you to choose your path when faced with many options.  Which option aligns most with the brand you have carefully cultivated?  Furthermore, which choice will help you to take your brand in a desired direction?

Peters offers his own tips to get you started: “To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or The Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different?”  He recommends challenging yourself to express your brand in 15 words or less, and to take the time to write down your answer and read it to yourself several times.

In my own experience, you’ll know when you get it right – until then, keep trying.  It isn’t a race, and it definitely is worth your effort.  Maybe set it aside for a few days and come back with a fresh outlook.  The most important thing is that your brand be true to you; after all, it is up to you to live up to this brand and to demonstrate the value that it promises, and living something that isn’t real just isn’t sustainable.

The most important thing is that your brand be true to you; after all, it is up to you to live up to this brand and to demonstrate the value that it promises.

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Posted in Advertising, Careers, Marketing

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