How to build your ‘brand’

The following tips were created by Tommy Geary who is an ACC credentialled coach who trained with Ailbhe in 2021. Tommy’s website is here.

1. Understand what a ‘Personal Brand’ is

“You too are a brand.  Whether you know it or not.  Whether you like it or not.” – Marc Ecko

A search on the internet shows the following definition for a Brand – “it is an identifying symbol, mark, logo, name, word, and/or sentence that companies use to distinguish their product from others.”    So, it’s a way of differentiating one product or service from another.  Similarly, your personal brand is what makes you special and unlike others.    It helps you ‘stand out’ and we want to ensure it’s for positive reasons.    Influencing your brand shouldn’t compromise your value system or what makes you, you.   It should however take your purpose, your strengths, your passions and build them into a narrative that is visible to all and leads to a very positive perception about you.    You’ve heard many times that “perception is reality” and it’s never truer than when it’s applied to your career.  So, create your personal brand and separate yourself from your peers.

2. Specify your ‘Destination‘

“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination” – Earl Nightingale

Consider what you want to do and where you want to get to.   Goal setting is a great way to help you on this path.   Think about some long term goals.  They may be about a job you aspire to, a level of seniority you wish to achieve, a legacy you desire to create or even how you want people to perceive you.   Think about an image of yourself 20 years from now.  Where are you?  What are you doing?  Who are you with?   All of this feeds into determining your destination.   Make sure to dream big but to also have a dose of reality so that this can be a stretch but achievable.   Having a clear destination helps to create a purpose for your brand.  Once you know the start point (A) and the destination (B) of your journey, the path from A to B should become clearer.    It should help you map out the steps but also how you need to differentiate yourself so your lofty goals have a much greater chance of happening.   Many people have the dream but very few build and execute the plan behind it.

3. How do you differentiate yourself from others

“To WOW, you must differentiate, which means do something a little unconventional and innovative” – Tony Hsieh

The goldfish image above is what spoke to me most when I first created my personal brand.   I had spent quite a while contemplating what made me different and what I was passionate about – especially from a job perspective.  I realised that I was good at major transformation but also that I enjoyed the fast pace and change that it brought.   It was a recipe for success as it married what I liked doing with what I was good at.   Think about what makes you different.  Is it your strategic ability to predict what’s coming next?    Is it your energy levels that allows you to keep going when everyone else has given up?    Is it inspiring people to do things they didn’t think were possible?   Think about your strengths, skills and experiences and what individual element or combination of items makes you positively different.   Once you’ve figured that out, you need to test it for value.  Is this differentiation appreciated and wanted by key decision makers and does it align with your dream destination?   If not, then go back to the process and dive deeper.   The alignment is key otherwise you’ll be setting off on a journey with no directions and you’ll quickly get lost and not see any results.   Once you land on the right differentiation, consider how you  strengthen it and make it visible to others.

4. Define your ‘Brand’

Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” – Jeff Bezos

The end deliverable from this is a personal brand statement or even an image that captures you and what you stand for.    Getting to that simple sentence or picture requires you to consider many elements.  We’ve already touched on your ‘destination’ and your ‘differentiation,’ but also consider your values, your skills, your achievements and your passions.    Brainstorm your thoughts in each category and whittle the list down to get to your ‘top 5’ in each of the 4 areas.    Now consider your behaviour.  How do you cope in different situations?  Think of obstacles you’ve faced and overcome.  What is this telling you about yourself?   What do you do and say to yourself when no one is watching?   Capture all of these thoughts.  Think also about what senior leaders want from their top performers.  What do they want from you?  Out of all of this, select 3 ‘themes’ that really encapsulate you and what will be valued by those key decision makers.   For me, in my corporate career, I selected Transformation, Inspiring Leadership & Execution.    These were all areas where I had a passion and I believed, a strength.   When I thought about it, I felt that if I truly transformed, that I would have been inspiring people along the way and would have executed flawlessly.   So I focused in on the Transformation element and built a simple and memorable 9 word statement.  The goldfish was ‘my’ image.    So in very simple terms, your personal brand is complete when you have a single statement and a picture.  Each time you look at both of those, the thoughts of what is behind it should come flooding back – your passions, your values, your strengths etc.  You know you’ve ‘nailed it’ when this happens.

5. ‘Live’ your Brand

“You create a credible brand by being true to who you are – Hilary Swachuk

Now that you have a personal brand defined that really resonates with you, you need to ‘live it.’  Consider the actions you will take, every day, that will show people that this is really you.   If ‘execution’ is part of your brand, then you must show up to meetings on time, you need to do what you say you’ll do, you need to be the person others turn to get things done – this can’t be when it suits you, it must be every…single… time.   You can see that what you select has to be ‘in’ you.  It has to be something you are fully bought into and truly committed to.   The great thing is that it will give you tremendous focus.   You will turn your attention to conveying your brand all of the time.  This is what you want people to see and perceive about you.  It takes some time to build it up but ‘from small seeds come giant trees.’  Your leaders will tune in too and will notice the difference.   Finally, when people start telling you how great you are at these things, you know you’re ‘there’!!!

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