Your personal brand: a marketable identity
Your personal brand conveys what makes you compelling, memorable and interesting. It’s about how other people – including your employer or potential employer, clients and network – will recognise you and your uniqueness: it will convey to them what makes you tick and what you have to offer. It’s your passport to taking the next well-judged career step because it helps attract that step towards you.
And your personal brand becomes increasingly important the more senior the roles you take on.
Your personal brand is also your compass – a tool to carry with you for the length of your career. Reviewed as you move forward, it will guide you in your decision-making whenever you reach a career turning point: it will remind you of who you are and what you want and need if you’re to be fulfilled and successful.
Products or services which have a clearly defined brand consistently evoke a particular set of characteristics in the mind of the consumer. Innocent Drinks: natural, wholesome products and good, clean fun. Mc Donald’s: fast service, consistent food taste and quality, consistent pricing. Mercedes Benz: engineering, quality, performance, consumer service.
To express your personal brand you need to be able to articulate who you are under a variety of headings, including:
Your passions are the source of the personal energy that invigorates you and inspires others when they’re around you, and they’re key in nurturing an engaged workforce. Recalling when you’ve been in flow – what you were doing, who with and in what circumstances – will help pinpoint where your passions lie.
Your sources of fulfilment
Your sources of fulfilment both create a sense of meaning and are born from a sense of meaning. What makes you feel fully alive and gives you a buzz? You may be surprised to discover that the most worthwhile thing you’ve done this week is relatively simple: a CEO’s act of kindness towards a stranger, an accountant opening up new perspectives on a problem to a trainee, a doctor sharpening a patient’s pencil because there’s no-one else available to do it.
Your values underpin everything you do and every service you deliver: they’re about what’s worth doing and investing time and effort in, what matters and what doesn’t, what makes you indignant or engaged. They convey themselves in your behaviours, how you relate to people, your approach to decision-making, and what you give discretionary effort to. And they’re the foundation of the image you project to the world.
Your experience and achievements
The accomplishments and experience you’ve already accumulated – and the learning you’ve gained from them – add to your credibility and to your bank of wisdom and knowledge, to be transferred and applied to new working environments and your approach to fresh challenges. Packaging them skilfully can make you an attractive prospect.
Your strengths and skills
Your generalised and specialised expertise, your skills and capabilities – and the added value they offer – and the strengths you’ve capitalised on (and indeed knowing how to capitalise on your strengths) are critical to conveying your distinctiveness. This is especially the case where your skills extend beyond the technical to the ‘softer’ skills of knowing how to manage yourself and your emotions, how to manage your relationships and influences, and how to get the most out of others.
Ignore your personal PR at your peril: to capitalise on your personal brand, you need to be aware of what others think of you and say about you, as this helps define your market value, for good or for ill. Knowing what people value about you, where they think you stand out, and contexts in which they see you deliver your best work will not only inform you about your reputation, but will also inform those who have an influence on your career progression.
Your personal vision and your goals
Where are you going, and what compelling results are you going to create? What imprint do you intend to make on your team, your organisation and the wider sector? Whether you want, for example, to create a happier workplace, build an enterprise that offers a unique new product that changes people’s lives, or transform the face of healthcare, what specific goals will deliver your personal vision?
Your thought leadership
Where have you led the field, or transformed that field, with new or distinctive thinking and approaches? In what context have you delivered a new order of results? Where have you courageously gone where no-one has gone before? If you’ve found authentic answers to questions under the sections above, your thought leadership will be congruent with those answers. Its expression can make your brand crystal clear and the potential you offer irresistible.