You have something in common with the largest corporations around the globe. They have a brand and so do you. A brand is nothing more than others perceptions. If you polled 500 people about Apple you could articulate their brand by sorting for the most often stated attributes. If we talked to 20 of your coworkers we’d get a good idea of what your personal brand currently stands for.
The idea of having or being a brand is somewhat nebulous for some but, the concept is really important. For most of us there are a lot of people that provide the same services we provide and have the same skills we have. One way to set ourselves apart from average is to understand and leverage our personal brand. Ultimately we want to make sure we come off as credible as we really are.
There are 3 elements of a brand; corporate brand or a personal brand:
1. Message –
For a big business these are the words they use to discribe themselves. They can be a rallying cry for their loyal customers, Nike’s Just Do It. Or Harley Davidson’s American by Birth. Rebel by Choice. Some brands use more descriptive words like – Keeps going and going and going – Energizer.
Likewise your brand message is also the words you say and write about yourself on your LinkedIn profile, in your email correspondence, website if you have one or in person.
2. Look –
Big brands spend tons of energy in refining their brand look all the while staying true to the style of yesterday. Take Coke for example, they have updated their logo many times in the last century but the core elements of the logo are still intact. It’s this super recognizable iconography that sets them apart.
Look also plays a part in your personal brand. It’s how you dress and your physical appearance. The look of your brand also extends to your online presence (social media, website if applicable and email signature). And your personal office space, computer and company vehicle may also say something about your brand.
3. Tone –
Big brands usually refer to this as brand personality. If you had to think of your favorite brands as if they were a person you could probably describe that person. I worked at Crayola for many years and the brand personality for Crayola was creative, colorful, friendly, silly and fun.
Your personality is a big part of your brand’s tone. And so is the way you act, your body language, your verbal language (use or non-use of slang and curse words), your confidence and posture.
Credibility is the key
So why care about message, look and tone? It’s all about credibility. Often people miss out on fully leveraging the three elements of their brand and it damages their credibility. For example: the web designer with an outdated site, the social media expert with 50 Twitter followers or the big company professional who wants to climb the corporate ladder but uses a lot of slang.
The folks on Madison Avenue are busy polishing the corporate giant’s brands right now. And you should be doing that work too for yourself. So when you are reaching out in person, online, through email or on the phone I encourage you to think about the 3 elements: message, look and tone and make sure you are giving the right signals to build your credibility.