I talk with thousands of people each year about their personal brands. Some weeks, the brand discussions are with 100’s of people in large conferences, other weeks it’s with smaller groups in workshops and sometimes its mano a mano — one on one coaching with a single client. Regardless of the size or make up of the group, one question always pops up. That question? “Why do I have to have a ‘brand’?” Sometimes that question is followed up with a huffy mutter… “I’ve done fine without it all these years why do I have to think about this now.”
As I see it, there are five reeeeeally big reasons to focus on clarifying, developing and using your own personal brand. Here are my big five!
1. Others are focused on your brand. They use it to make decisions about you every day. Decisions that matter to you very much. Decisions about whether you will be included in an important task force, or receive a merit raise, be considered for a promotion, a Board seat or selected for separation.
2. People talk about you all the time. They are using snippets of words that describe you to them. These snippets are called branding statements. They may be accurate or may be old news but people use them as shorthand in conversation, performance reviews, talent mapping, introductions, merit reviews, staffing meetings and the list goes on…and on.
3. Brands are shorthand for how people think about you and describe you. These shorthand labels often don’t tell the important part of your story; they tell the part of the story that someone else has decided to tell. Why settle for a “hard worker” brand if you created the strategy and lead the team as well?
4. Repetition makes it real. The words people use over and over again to describe you have a way of hardening. Those oft repeated words create that well known “shorthand” I’ve been talking about. When people think about you over and over again in the same way, they will use the same words to describe you, Voila! A sort of personal “brand” is born—even when the label no longer fits, is out grown or was never quite accurate to begin with.
5. Brands have staying power. The power behind a brand is its consistency. Think McDonald’s, think Coca Cola. The brand is thought of in the same way, counted on to deliver the same experience at the same quality level time after time. For good or bad, personal brands linger too. The “technical genius behind the cash cow product from 1998” is well past due for an update in 2014. That old personal brand may linger, limiting opportunity and painting the “technical genius” as stuck in the past.
My answer to the question “Why do I have to have a brand?” is “everyone must have a personal brand at work.” To not have one is to be invisible at work – not talked about, not considered. To have the right personal brand only helps, it never hurts, your career opportunities.
Karyl Innis is an expert in helping executives around the world reinvent their brands in ways that accelerate their careers. Karyl is the CEO and Founder of The Innis Company, headquartered in Dallas Texas. She is a business leader, author and commentator with an eye for talent and the ability to accelerate the growth of senior leaders. She knows why successful people succeed and when they don’t how to help them You can reach Karyl at [email protected].