Successful brands are memorable, distinctive and have a high degree of recognition. They are also based on intangible values that build trust and credibility in the minds of others.
How can you apply the concepts of branding to your own personal career and life?
To find out how strong your personal brand is, answer these 10 questions:
1. WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE AND VISION?
Strong personal brands need a platform on which to be built. Your vision is an external view of what is possible for you to achieve in the world. Your purpose is the internal drive and reason you were put on this planet. Clarity with these two questions will help your personal brand achieve lift off.
2. WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
What are you truly good at? What comes naturally and what is hard work? What is your gift? Find the answers to these, and lead a life of success rather than a tough existence on struggle street.
I will never forget the parting words of my Human Resources Manager when I left the Australian Broadcasting Corporation after joining as a fresh-faced University graduate 12-years earlier. He said, “Tom, you know what you do well? Present!”. Simple, direct and clear. Since that moment, the light bulb inside my head has never shone brighter, and I have built a successful career as a professional public speaker.
3. WHO IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE?
You have to communicate your personal brand to those that matter. Many of you may have heard me tell the story of my experiences as an elite hammer thrower. My message is that you may throw the hammer the furthest, but unless the hammer lands in the marked sector it is not a legal throw. And so, the furthest throw does not necessarily win the competition.
Marketing and personal branding is a lot like that. You can waste a lot of effort, energy and resources (and of course ‘grunting’ if you’re a hammer thrower!) for little result.
Your target market is like that hammer throw sector marked out on the field – aim to land your best throws in that target and you are more likely to beat your competition.
4. WHO ARE YOUR COMPETITORS?
Speaking of competitors, who are they? Who are you really competing against?
In hammer throwing, I found I could beat bigger, stronger athletes by having a better technique, more focus and an ability to perform under pressure situations when it matters most. Life is like that and your personal brand needs to stand up when the heat is on.
5. HOW DO I BEST REACH MY TARGETS?
What is the best strategy to put your brand in front of potential customers, clients or employers? Is it through giving presentations, writing articles or networking? I know from experience and because more than 7,000 marketing, media and management professionals in 15 different countries read ‘Media Motivators’, that my regular eZine works for me. I constantly review comments made about my magazine and take all suggestions and support very seriously, looking for opportunity to improve.
6. IS YOUR BRAND CONSISTENT WITH YOUR PROMISE and VALUES?
Truly great brands deliver on their promise. Do your brand attributes match your promise and does this align with your personal values and what you actually deliver on? Your values, brand and service delivery all have to be aligned.
7. IS YOUR BRAND CLASSY, CONGRUENT AND CLEAR?
Many of you who have seen me speak live or on video may have never noticed that for every speech I’ve done over the past 4 years for a business audience, I have always worn a red tie. Is this because my wife always buys me red ties? No!
My corporate colour is red (in graphic design terms this is known as a PMS and each unique colour has a PMS code) and I want to present a strong, consistent and clear image and presence when in front of an audience. My tie matches my banners, which match my business cards, which match my website, which match my books, which match my ….. you get the drift.
I know a fellow speaker whose colour is purple. By the way, why did I choose red? Power! Lust! Passion! No, my target market is Asia and in Asian culture red is a colour which means prosperity and wealth. My goal is to bring prosperity and wealth to the clients I work with. You may also be aware, the number 8 is also lucky in Asian culture for the same reasons. Hence my telephone number contains as many 8’s as possible, and my business is called ‘8M’!
8. IS YOUR BRAND MEMORABLE?
Strong personal brands are built on stories. Often these are first hand experiences of overcoming hardship, personal challenges or obstacles.
The personal brand of former US President Bill Clinton is a classic example.
The fact his father died when he was young, his mother was a nursing assistant and he was born in Hope, a town of 10,000 people helps put his success and achievement in context. Building on the sense of destiny theme, the black and white image of Clinton as a 19-year old meeting President Kennedy when on a youth leadership camp, captured by a Reuters photographer has been used to great effect to reinforce his personal brand.
What is your ‘signature story’ that is unique, memorable and helps you stand out from the crowd?
9. IS YOUR BRAND TANGIBLE?
Branding helps create an image in the mind of consumers and can help make
intangible ideas, services or values more tangible. Anything that helps your personal brand become more tangible is important. You can feel and touch these things such as business cards, accessories or even the clothes you wear. For example, is your pen you use when meeting a potential client a Mont Blanc or disposable Bic? If the latter, what does this convey about your brand?
10. HOW OFTEN DO YOU REVIEW YOUR PERSONAL BRAND?
Strong personal brands evolve over time. They are modified (I remember my early work – I never wore a red tie!), extended and made stronger while always remaining true and authentic to the person behind them. The best way to do this is to constantly learn and evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Like life itself, a unique and memorable personal brand is a journey rather than a destination.