It’s not just a sound-bite worthy sign, symbol, or slogan describing who you are and what you stand for – a brand is defined as “the identity of a specific product, service, or business.” Brands come in many shapes and colors and have evolved to encompass more than identity – a brand affects the personality of a product, company, service… or the value equation of a person.
Branding is usually associated with the power of the purchase. The marketing and advertising industries have tried to corner the brand market to establish and grow their products’ identity, be it goods or services. Make no mistake about it – companies want consumers to define the products and services they sell by associating them with a few words or images and then repeating that messaging or theme over and over. But – like it or not – branding can also tell a story about each of us. It’s how we’re universally known in our communities, from the people we know and what they say about us. Years of conducting reference summaries has taught me that what people say about a former peer, subordinate or supervisor sometimes sounds very similar – sometimes not so much.
We all have our own ‘label’ or theme established by what we do, say, and accomplish in our careers. It’s either notable or hardly noticed. You can establish your value equation through what you do, how you lead and what you accomplish… or not. Your brand is built by what you do, not by what you say you’re going to do (or by pounding your chest and telling others about how great you are or by taking the credit for what others actually did). The truth will surface every time. You see, your brand is already well known by others, and there’s no product marketing available here to make changes or influence others – you get once chance to position what you want people to say about you. And forget about changing or influencing your brand after you leave. It’ll be too late. <YIKES>.
Like it or not, your brand equity (how people will remember you) is usually performance-based. What did you do and why does it matter? You either made a meaningful impact – maybe as a great leader and mentor, super sales executive, a highly technical and smart engineer, etc. – or not. The good news is you don’t have to work too hard after you leave your employer to re-establish your brand. The bad news is that you already have. It’s all about what you did that matters, never what you say you did.
So who are you and what is your brand all about? Your positioning and messaging will be provided by others and your brand will be long lasting – you can be sure it’ll come up every time someone does a reference check on you. What do you think the answer will be from others? Were you noticeable or hardly noticed?