by Paddy Barr, Managing Partner, Barr Performance Coaching and IMI associate
In everyday life we encounter brands, we have our favourite brands, those we avoid, those we tolerate and those for which we have a neutral opinion. In many cases “the brand” values of the product or service we encounter evoke a reaction within us. People tend to create an affinity with a brand. As individuals developing a career we need to be cognisant of our own “brand image”. What would we like to be known for? What do you want to evoke in others when they engage you in person or online through your social media profile or blog/twitter posts?
Why do I need a brand?
In today’s competitive world you may want to stand out from the crowd or differentiate
yourself from the competition. You may want to be known as a subject matter expert in an industry sector or on a chosen topic. Ultimately a strong brand will help you get noticed and noticed for the reasons for which you want to be noticed! If you do not think about your brand you may end up with a “default brand” or be pigeon holed in a manner that is not to your liking.
Developing your brand:
In developing your brand it is important that you are true to yourself and create an authentic brand image. Never be tempted to create a false persona, as this will open the risk of you being exposed as a fraud and in all likelihood induce stress at a later stage. Living a pretence or lie is never easy. Over time people will get to know you and if your brand image is fake they may begin to distrust you.
The first step in creating your brand image will centre on your self-awareness. People connect with people not personas. People like to engage with authentic people who have values, hopes and fears like themselves.
Step 1 Self-awareness & Brand foundation:
Build out your profile by answering the questions below
What are your values?
What do you believe in?
What do you stand for?
What are you truly passionate about?
Where do you get your energy from?
What is it that gives you most satisfaction?
What are your personality traits?
Take the time to carefully consider your answers to the questions above as your answers will form the bedrock of our brand image. Remember to be human, we all have vulnerabilities and needs – there is no need to have a brand that makes you out to be perfect. You want people to be able to relate to you, empathise with you and be inspired by your actions.
Step 2 Your Story
Using the answers to the questions in Step 1 build out your story – what is it about you that you want to convey to others when they meet you or encounter you on line? What do you want to be known for? What do you want others to see and feel when they engage you –either in person or online? NB: you need an “elevator pitch” version of the story.
Step 3 Target audience.
Who is it you want to influence? Take the time to identify the individuals or groups that you feel will be interested in your story. Why will they be interested in what you have to offer? What do you bring to your target audience that will catch their attention? What is it about you that may make it more likely for your target audience to respond or engage positively?
Step 4 Share your draft Brand profile with others
It is important to try to get feedback on your desired brand before you publicise it. Friends
and family can provide feedback but a trusted confidant, mentor or coach will probably give you more valuable feedback. If possible try and get some feedback from someone who does not know you well as their judgement will not be clouded by their historic knowledge of you and will give you an understanding of how a stranger may to react to your brand. Once you have refined your brand following the feedback you are now ready to put yourself out there!
Go do it!
Step 5 Raising your Brand Profile.
Now that you have decided upon your story and your target audience you can take the first steps in raising your brand profile. Think of the best method(s) of engaging your target audience. You may choose to leverage a number of channels simultaneously or consecutively. Essentially you want to choose a medium that will enable you to stand out from the crowd and be compelling to your target audience.
Build a web site – this can hugely enhance your online profile as when
people do search on you or topics related to your brand your website will appear.
Write or contribute to Blogs
YouTube Video & Podcasts
Social media profile (LinkedIn & Facebook) – post relevant content on a regular basis
Write articles for magazines or industry journals
Write articles for newspapers
Be a panelist on radio shows
In person activities:
Speak at conferences
Participation on industry bodies or associations
Attend & speak at networking events
Nominate others for awards or have others nominate you for awards
Tips & Tricks
Profiles & Consistency: Don’t forget in the modern world you may have multiple profiles, an in person profile, a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook profile and a profile you create on twitter or through blog writing. It is important to have consistency in your branding, align your postings and actions to your brand. If you are creating the brand image of a serious business executive it is probably not a good idea to have a profile picture of you taken at a stag/hen night! Use a picture that reinforces your desired brand image. Remember that people who are interested in you will do social media searches.
Professional photo: It is worth investing in a professional photo for your profile picture or
certainly a photo taken deliberately for the purpose with a proper camera as opposed to
cropping one of your holiday snaps or using a selfie.
Stay relevant: Be sure that you keep your brand relevant and up to date – we live in a fast paced world if you are not showing that you are keeping pace with change you run the risk of giving the impression that you are out of touch