How 3 simple words can change your life

As we enter into 2016, it’s a good time to think about your personal brand. The best place to begin is to start with three simple words. No, I am not talking about “I love you”, even though that may be the objective, I am referring to the three words that people use to describe your personal brand.

What is personal brand?

The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Brand image can apply to a product, service, company, specific store, or to an individual.” Just like products and businesses each of us have our own personal brand that makes us distinctive from others. There are reasons why people remember us, or in some cases, can’t remember us. Just like major brands in the marketplace, the ones that do the best are nurtured and paid attention to overtime.

“We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

– Tom Peters author of The Brand Called You 

Begin with the destination in mind

So how do you focus on your personal brand? Just like any plan, you have to know where you are starting and where you are headed. Start by setting time aside to think through these questions.

What three words would you use to describe you?

______________________     ______________________     ______________________

What three words would others use to describe you today?

Co-workers? ______________________     ______________________     ______________________

Direct reports?  ______________________      ______________________     ______________________

Manager?  ______________________     ______________________     ______________________

Others?  ______________________     ______________________      ______________________

What three words do you want people to use to describe you in the future?

______________________     ______________________     ______________________

Perception vs. reality

If you are unsure what people think, then ask them. Many times there is a perception gap: the difference between how we perceive ourselves and how others really perceive us. Brands are built upon reality and the perception of reality. It is the perception created by past interaction either through personal contact, media, or word of mouth that has the greatest influence on a brand. A brand’s success can be greatly influenced even if the perception is inaccurate. The better you understand the perception gap, the more targeted your efforts can be to fill in the gap and begin to create the brand image you want to convey.

Be realistic

Removing road blocksBrands are built upon truth. And you must believe in the brand image you are conveying as lack of confidence will be
transparent. Your brand must be built upon the truth of who you are, what your strengths are and what you love about your work. Trying to be something that you are not impacts credibility and can further diminish the perception of your brand.

My personal brand is built upon what I learned from Strengths Finder. I am able to build a plan for the future and help coach others to remove the roadblocks along the way.

Own your brand

Developing your desired personal brand image requires action. You have been passively creating your personal brand image. Now is the time to actively control the process. Polish your brand so everyone who comes into contact with you forms the same basic words in their mind when they hear your name. This is the time to consider a favorite quote by Walt Disney, “Everything speaks.” With a critical eye review your online presence, your interactions with colleagues, responses to customers, follow up communication etc. Do they convey the perception you want to create?

Ask for help

The words used to describe my personal brand have evolved. The most impactful changes occurred when I asked for help from those around me. I have been vocal with trusted advisers about the things I want to change about my brand. I asked for them to tell me when my actions do not align with the brand I am trying to create. This helped to remove the blinders and allow me to focus on the actions that can have the biggest impact.

What are the three little words you want others to use to describe you in 2016?

Linda Ruffenach

Customer experience guru, original Whisky Chick, and strong believer that roadblocks are not meant to stop you but to help you find a better path.

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