Oprah Winfrey has a personal brand. She has a lot of other stuff too—television networks, property, copyrights, licenses, and that very valuable personal brand of hers. Some say the value of that personal brand is worth a tidy 2.4 billion dollars. So what do you get for that 2.4 billion? The answer is that you get nothing. Her personal brand belongs to her, yours belongs to you. Hers solidifies her reputation, transmits to the world what matters to her, telegraphs what she thinks about and identifies what she is great at doing. Importantly, Oprah’s brand creates future opportunities for her. Her brand does that for her and yours can do that for you.
Oh wait a minute…do you think you have to be rich, powerful, influential, and incredibly well known to have a personal brand? You would be wrong.
Everyone has a personal brand. You may know what yours is, you may not. You may think that it is one thing and it is really another. You may like the brand people bandy about when they speak of you; you may want to change it. You and almost everyone else at work has a personal brand. It comes with the territory.
Is that news to you? I hope not. Today having a “brand” is a career growth necessity. Having a clearly defined personal brand and the ability to talk about whom you are and your very own unique value is essential in today’s workplace. Gone are the days when the “triple T strategy” of time, tenure, and tenacity was enough to cause your career to soar. The old concept of a steady career climb over time, supported by an advocate or two and anchored with a lot of hard work, doesn’t work so well anymore.
Today it’s different than all that. Here’s the News Flash! Today’s successful career strategies are different than those we used when we first started out. Today it is a requirement to be able to tell your own story, advocate for yourself and use your personal brand message widely and consistently. The pace of change, rotating bosses, fickle customers, large numbers of job competitors…all these conditions require that you show up strongly with more and more people. Constantly connecting, reconnecting, and disconnecting requires that you know your personal brand and that you use it often.
It’s not easy to identify the correct few words that sum up who you are in the world of work. Susan Smith, hard worker; Laurie McAdams, legal powerhouse; Karyl Innis, career expert. The preceding are 3 examples of the simplest of personal brands. Two of the examples are “ok “as brand labels go….the hard worker brand is not so “OK”. Hard worker as a brand falls into what I call the “pink ghetto” of personal brands. It is the brand that is used to describe many women, one that many women initially seek. Clearly, it is a descriptive label most often applied to women who work very hard, who may know more than everyone else in the whole company. Yet hard worker isn’t a brand with momentum or power. It doesn’t position its owner for future possibilities. With the brand hard worker, the future is most likely filled with more hard work and not a promotion or independent opportunity.
As a citizen in the world of work, you will be talked about. People will describe you; they will introduce, evaluate and sponsor you by using a succinct description attached to your name. It’s important that the brand attached to you be one that accelerates your career and not one that stalls it. Write it today.