I wrote this blog in 2009. Your personal brand is your most valuable asset in an ever-evolving workplace full of transition rocked by our modern economy. Do you have one? Who is your enterprise?
You Are Your Brand
I thought I would begin my first blog post with a discussion on personal branding. The dreaded exercise we’ve had on our “to do” list for years. But have you stopped to think about or consider the value and importance on what a personal brand can mean for your career? If you are in marketing, I’m not sharing with you something you don’t already inherently know. And you know it’s not a difficult exercise for the most part, because you do this everyday in your job for someone else that is not your company. You have to do the work and dig a little within if you do this yourself and there are good resources out there I’ll share in a moment. Or hire someone you can trust to do this for you. The goal is for that person to be able to channel what you think your personal brand is enough for you to be able to quickly differentiate yourself from many that might seem to be the same, or equal in value to you.
In a competitive workplace where layoffs are more common than ever (personal experience I can attest to), the minor amount of time it takes to invest in building your own personal brand is something Enterprise You can transport with you everywhere and anywhere during the course of your career. It’s an investment in YOU.
You Can Easily Build a Brand For Yourself
You can do it! I’ll share with you my story. My first layoff in 2006 was a subtle shock, but not a total surprise. I thought about after spending 6.5 years working for a Fortune 100 company, who was I, and what did I represent outside of the company brand I represented everyday internally to colleagues and externally to customers? It was a big brand (Intel Corporation) and likely a little too arrogantly, I associated myself and who I was professionally with the brand. Yes, even the “bom bom bom bom”! But when I lost my job, I realized that I didn’t know MY brand and who I was outside of that tight association with the mega brand that I became to represent more than myself. During my research on branding, I was especially captivated by the word of Tom Peters (personal branding and marketing guru) and I give him credit for my personal brand transformation inspiration. Tom’s online video (update-sorry video is no longer available but here is a brandyou.pdf doc I downloaded back then that will help) will easily guide you through the exercise and this is an excellent short term investment for your long term career. I pretty much did what he advised to do, and the resulting brand I developed I have decided to carry onward into my career-regardless of where I land. I invested very little in the exercise other than probably about six hours of thought and strategizing, which ended up being very simple in the end. I also invested less than $300 on personal enterprise logo. Finally, I supported this brand by easily purchasing the corresponding URL, Rejuvenate Marketing, and in doing so very quickly and easily created a simple profile that is easy to update and has become a permanent fixture for my enterprise, Jennifer M. Cook.
Here are the seven steps Tom originally recommended that helped me to shape my brand in a few hours. Download the brandyou.pdf to get the detailed steps (kind of necessary for this exercise)
STEP 1: Find Out Who You Are
STEP 2: Create Your Yellow Pages Ad
STEP 3: Put It on a Bumper Sticker
STEP 4: Make Your Calling Card
STEP 5: List Your Projects
STEP 6: Contacts, Contacts, Contacts
STEP 7: Time Is All You Have
Are You Remembered in a Crowd of Many?
Today I was at a networking meeting, in a room of 45 job seekers and very few had a personal brand I could pick up very quickly. There were many business cards, and many phrases, but not much that put a story together quickly. We are all aware that the market today and marketing in particular is very unpredictable. It’s very fair to assume if you are a marketing executive that you will be out searching for a job every 2-3 years if you are lucky. Averages differ based on who you believe, but most recently the buzz is anywhere between 18-23 months. Yikes. That being the case, you have to consider yourself as your own enterprise all the time. Who are you? What colors represent you? How do you want to people to remember you? Do you have a quick phrase that represents what you do (outside of the standard elevator pitch)? How do you stand out in the crowd?
Your Brand Extends Beyond Where You Work
During my layoff the first time around, these were the considerations that I quickly focused my time on, and resulted in establishing who I was as an enterprise. Over time, I’ve found this branding exercise to be invaluable to me. I reinforce it easily with the color of the car I drive, the clothes I wear, the handbag I carry, the accents in my wardrobe. Everything I do and wear represents my personal brand when I need it to in business. Of course, I happened to choose my favorite colors, shades of violet and emerald. So for me, it’s easy to make my brand “pop” when it needs to. I chose what works for me and what “rejuvenates” me daily.
When interviewing, I can tangibly demonstrate through my own enterprise, that I understand what it takes and means to build a personal brand. I do my best to represent my brand. Do you?
If you don’t have a personal brand, I would seriously recommend that you take the time to think about who you are and what you represent. I guarantee you will stand out at some point, either in an interview or business opportunity, amongst the many folks that don’t have one. And, marketing is all about differentiation. You do it every day as a function in your role at your job. Why wouldn’t you do it for yourself?
* 12/13 Since I published this article in 2009, I haven’t had to recraft story. My story is the same, because my brand has survived the test of time and I can continue to build upon it, enhancing it with the contributions I’ve made along the way. It remains the best foundation to tell my story.