Apple, Coke, Netflix, Starbucks, Bank of America, Google, Beyoncé. When you hear these names, what comes to mind? Maybe you think about their products and services and how they help you address a particular task or problem. Or, how they make you feel.
By all accounts these aren’t just names of companies or an entertainer, they are well recognized “brands.” That word that is widely used, but not evenly understood or easy to define. Need proof? Ask five friends and/or colleagues and note the variances in their answers.
From the time you wake up until you return back to bed, there probably isn’t a moment of your day that isn’t touched by a brand or several.
Speaking of…let me ask you: What comes to mind when you hear the word “brand?” How does this influence what you do and buy, and how?
I’m going to venture a guess and say that whatever came to mind for you extends beyond the products, services and experiences the companies (or personalities) offer. On some level, you’re buying into their message – aka: what they want to be known for.
Do you ever view yourself and your body of work as a brand?
What Are You Known For?
In my experience, people find it much easier to identify the “brand” of large companies (like Apple) or world renowned entertainers (like Beyoncé). Yet, don’t often think of themselves as a brand.
If this is you, this and the next two posts are for you. Over the coming weeks, I want to make a case for why viewing yourself as a brand is paramount to your professional success. Whether you work as an entrepreneur or employee.
Especially when you consider the ways in which it influences how others perceive you and the talents, gifts, expertise and personality you bring to the table.
Now to be clear, I certainly do not hold myself out as a branding expert. But I do have some pretty strong feelings about branding and its sister, messaging. It’s something I think about often because I have a business that is very much tied to my message. And because of the work I do with my clients. I even have a “definition” of sorts -:)
It is: Knowledge + personality
More precisely, it is when your talents, gifts, expertise and personality coalesce to help you solve problems for other people — as only you can do!
The last part, “as only you can do,” is where the messaging portion comes into play because this speaks to the idea of what it is you want to be known for.
In my case, I have been focusing on and talking about one’s relationship with money almost my entire career. Even back when I worked as a money manager. Keep in mind that this is long before the notion of ’emotions and money’ was as widely embraced as it is today. And I can vividly recall media appearances where the TV or radio host was only interested in talking about the numbers.
Today, there’s little to no resistance to my message. Sure, I still encounter some skeptics. But they pale in comparison to the number of people who are receptive to the idea that behavior and choices play a key role in your experience and relationship with money…as well as your results.
Simple, Complex & Calculating
You want to be heard, seen, valued and acknowledged, right? Of course you do! It’s human nature. But, what do you want people to hear, see, value and appreciate? What do you want them to expect from you? While you can’t control other’s perception completely, you can shape it. Here are four simple questions, with (admittedly) complex answers that can help you:
- What do you want to be known for?
- What’s that problem you’re itching to solve; who do you want calling on you to tackle this problem?
- How do you want to be associated with both the problem and solution?
The by-product of your answers to the above questions represent your brand/your message, and appeals to the values and the desires of the people with whom you’re looking to connect. On a whole, your answers represent your business identity.
And here’s why your business identity matters: You are rarely in the room when important decisions about you are made – like whether you get that promotion or raise or you are granted the new business.
However, what is “in” that room are what others know about you vis a vis the answers you’ve crafted to the four questions above. (And if you just cringed at the word “crafted,” ask yourself why. Because crafted doesn’t mean inauthentic; crafted means strategic and aligned.)
This is Your Asset
Behind every great brand is a core message that conveys why the brand matters — what it stands for and how it compares to its competitors. The same is true for you – whether you work as an entrepreneur or employee. And, it is why I consider your brand/message an asset.
Assets may shift shape and take on a variety of forms, but the one thing they have in common is this: they represent what you own and they pay dividends (also in a variety of forms). This is the lens through which I view my own brand/message. It is the position I’m suggesting you take when it comes to your brand/message.
Your brand/message is your secret sauce! The “as only you can do” point I mentioned earlier is how you distinguish yourself from others who technically do the same thing as you. Similarly, it is how you demonstrate your leadership in your company and industry..
Every interaction you have with your professional peers and colleagues, bosses, board members and clients sends a message about your brand.
It truly puts a spotlight on what you know and how you show up to deliver what you know to uniquely solve a problem for others.
In other words, your brand/message is big damn deal!
Plus the elements of your brand/message are things that can never be taken from you without your permission.
You probably spend a lot of time working to improve the “technical” skills you need to excel at your job. But are you just as purposeful and intentional when it comes to cultivating and refining your brand/message?