By pa360, Feb 7 2015 09:26AM
When I think of Winston Churchill the words that immediately spring to mind are courage, determination and resilience. When I think of Nelson Mandela the words that immediately spring to mind are courage, humility and integrity. I could go on, but I'm sure you get where I am going with this. Everyone has a brand. That brand will not necessarily describe everything that person is known for but, for the most part, it will describe their defining characteristics or the things they are best known for.
If you were asked to identify the three defining characteristics of your personal brand which ones would you choose? Would you go for the more commercial traits like 'driven', 'hardworking' and 'outcome-orientated' or something more person-centred like 'compassionate', 'thoughtful' and 'caring'? Alternatively, would you choose more personable and outgoing characteristics like 'influential', 'charming' and 'witty'? Whatever adjectives we use to describe ourselves, I wonder if those descriptors truly capture the essence of who we are, as opposed to how we like to see ourselves and how we would like others to see us.
Most of us consciously project an image, but few consciously think of themselves as a brand. Surely in the context of a person, the term 'brand' smacks of self-indulgence and preening. In any event, brands are commercial constructs best suited for promoting products not people - right? Well, not really.
Everyday we trade on what appears to be our brand, but what in reality is the projection of an image. Take recruitment interviews as a case in point. In such situations we take active steps to project a certain persona to would-be employers. We present as credible, competent, reliable, trustworthy and employable! For the most part, I am sure that these traits accurately describe who we really are. However, I am equally mindful that in some instances they may not. We do exactly the same thing in social settings, when we meet new friends or when we seek out romantic relationships. Projecting an image is part and parcel of how we communicate with each other - but your image is not your brand. The distinction between the two is simple, whilst your brand is who you are, your image is who you are trying to be.
The challenge I am presenting here is that instead of trying to project your image, which is an expense, put the hard miles into building your brand, which is an investment. Develop something sustainable that will go before you and remain long after you.
To the extent that your are aware of your personal brand, you can actively seek to cultivate and harness it. A brand that is cultivated and harnessed will have a much more meaningful impact on one's own life as well as on the lives of others.