This is a great quote and sums it up for me.
“You are a brand whether you like it or not....you’re going to leave some impression in a person’s mind [and] it’s your choice whether you want to actively manage that impression or whether you want them to come to their own conclusions of what they think about you.
Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
This quote was originally designed to convince non-profits to look a their "branding" in the same way corporates do, but it's equally (if not more) relevant to individuals.
As has been researched and stated in great depth, humans make judgements on other humans in a very short space of time. It may not be fair, but it's true. However, we arebecoming slightly better at reassessing our initial instinctive reactions to people (ie "don't judge a book by it's cover") but it's still important that when people go beyond the cover the rest of the contents reflects your authentic self.
When looking at organisational brands, you look at elements like Mission, Values, Personality, Visual Design and Messaging . Mission is essentially Why you exist, whilst Positioning is What you say. Looks pretty good as a framework for humans too. Let's break it down.
- Mission: Why you exist. Yes, you exist because of your parents but what keeps you going? Why do you do your job, why do you involve yourself in the community?
- Values: Your culture driver. What do you stand for? What are your beliefs, principles or ideas that are important to you in your life. Often these are things that you are for or against -- what you believe in and are willing to support and stand up for.
- Personality: Driver of look & tone. Are you an introvert and gain energy from being by yourself, an extrovert who gets it from others? Are you serious, a thinker, a doer, fun-loving.
- Positioning/Messages: What you say. Does what you say (either face to face, on paper or perhaps via social media) match what you believe. Do you position yourself to reflect your expertise, your values, your career or contribution.
- Logo/Visual Design: Beacon, Look & Feel. Interesting one this, especially when it comes to first impressions. What do people think when they look at you? Does your dress code match your values or are you dressing for other's expectations of you. One of the Gen Xers who did our Board Kickstarter Program always wore jeans and a t-shirt but that was his brand. He was in the start-up space, he was cool, hip, trending. Think Todd Sampson.... Do you have a signature look like Steve Jobs?
Personal branding is just as important as organisational branding. Does your social media profile match your CV? Would your colleagues, friends and peers all have good things to say about you and your values?
If you are someone looking to impress clients, influence people, step up your career in any space; your brand matters, just as it does to you when you buy products or services from businesses, or donate to a cause.
Don't hate it, it's there to help.
Paul Smith, co-founder and CEO of Future Directors Institute, helps empower and connect the next generation of board directors. He is Chair of the Jane Goodall Institute Australia and a director of several start-ups. To learn more about the Future Directors Institute and how they are helping hundreds of next generation leaders make an impact in the boardroom, visit www.futuredirectors.com.au