'You don't have a brand. You are a brand.' Those were words came out during a conversation with a client recently and have stuck with me for a while. If you're not sure what I mean about brand, I defined it here.
Brands are created by impressions that, over time, create a picture of who we are in the mind of our audience, no matter who they are. Everything we do, say, wear, drive, matters. Our personal brand is not only the professional head shot on a blog or social media profile, but the total effect of everything we put out there. The implications are huge.
Our words matter. Language defines us more than most anything else. Words can be angry, sad, encouraging, proper, kind, blessings, curses, gossip, difficult, hopeful. Our brand is being shaped by the types of words we use.
Our appearance matters. Are we put together, fashionable, unfashionable, country, cosmopolitan, plain, starched, earthy, trendy, hipster, formal, casual? While you might not want to be labeled, people have already labeled you. It's just human nature. We need order and, therefore, we put people in categories. While you might not have thought much about your appearance, others have already put you in a category. Ask a trusted friend. They will tell you.
Our actions matter. No matter what we say and how we dress, what we do will ultimately seal in the minds of others how they see us. There's a trend currently that says "my personal life has nothing to do with my professional performance." I don't think anyone really believes that. If you're a scoundrel in your personal life, people will ultimately, and rightfully, think you're up to no good in your professional life.
Your personal brand is the essence of who you are. Trying to project an imagine that's not true for the sake of building a fictitiously better you is not only exhausting but ultimately futile. I have a better suggestion.
Instead of working hard to create the image, we should strive to become the brand, the person, we are trying so hard to portray. Crazy idea coming from a marketing guy, huh? But in my experience, we can make any claims we want in a marketing campaign, but unless we deliver on the promises, the campaign will fail. So let's spend time in making the "product" what we want it to be and the branding will become a natural outflow of the real deal.
What area of your personal brand you need to focus next?