Part 2 of 4: Building Your Brand
If you have prepared properly, you have built personal value beyond your educational background, certifications, acquired skills, and past job experience. Having augmented your abilities with a level of corporate awareness typically found only in senior executive management, you are a now a rare and unique commodity among your comparative peers. We applaud your efforts. Lest we prematurely overexert ourselves with self-congratulation, our journey has only begun and there is much work yet to do.
Value is completely dependent on perception and recognition. Your brilliance is wasted if left undiscovered. Career advancement depends as much on marketing as actual ability. Our latest assignment is to build a personal brand and intelligently market ourselves to create demand for our services. Employment is a business transaction and should be treated as such. The company is willing to pay a price for goods and services delivered which improve their profitability. To acquire the power, status, and pay you deserve, you must create a profile, a reputation, an image, in short, a brand people associate with strong, reliable leadership.
The first impression you will make on the gatekeepers to your next job should not be your resume. The traditional resume concept is a terrible introduction to a prospective employer. An uninspired grocery list of prior jobs, education, skills, and references conveys little about your quality and acumen. We might know something about where you have been and create some positive associations, but this is completely dependent on the reader’s experiences. At best, the resume quickly demonstrates you claim to meet the stated minimum criteria for the job. Creating a brand is about controlling the way you are perceived and forging positive associations the reader will be conditioned to take for granted. How can we accomplish this? Think Different.
To demonstrate the art of personal branding, we do what any inspired thinker does – borrow from the great thinkers of our time. In Anila Wheeler’s transcendent book, Designing Brand Identity, we find nine useful ideals for brand identities. We apply those ideals as a guideline for building and communicating your own personal brand as you begin pursuing the promotion you have earned.
If you do not stand for something you will fall for anything; a leader, a visionary, stands for something. Vision is what you stand for, how you see the world, and where you are going. A clear and communicable vision is a prerequisite of competent leadership. During interactions with colleagues, customers, management, and other professionals, you are portraying your values and priorities while they evaluate you. Be mindful of how your words and actions impact others. If you position yourself as an inspirational and confident figure, others will follow you. With a strong image of yourself, people will want to identify with you and align themselves with your vision. The first statement on your resume should convey your vision and sell the reader on you unique perspective. Your vision is the foundation of your personal brand.
With an established vision, your brand can take on specific meaning. The process of attaching meaning occurs in the listener, reader, or participant. With each interaction, previous conclusions are evaluated against present circumstances and our conception of the person evolves. Miscommunication and contextual misunderstandings undermine our best intentions to convey a particular meaning. Complex and obtuse language are counterproductive. Communicating a consistent and coherent message across all platforms allows you a measure of control over how people understand you and your vision. Developing a clear message with consistent meaning strengthens your brand’s integrity. When writing a resume, concise language employed with precision will demonstrate proficiency while limiting opportunities for misunderstanding. By actively managing the context in which your messages are received and understood, you guarantee the integrity of your brand and what it means to others.
With your vision and meaning you have established a set of expectations; your ability to live up to the billing determines how people view your authenticity. False claims and undue boastfulness will destroy your credibility. In all interactions, strive to remain coherent within the values of your vision and ensure your meaning is accurately conveyed. If people begin to doubt your motives or distrust your words, you have lost the ability to lead and inspire. When writing a resume, avoid overstating your expertise or experience; emphasize positives without egotism. When you make mistakes, own them, take responsibility and become an active participant in the solution. Maintaining the authenticity of your personal brand will guard your reputation against degradation from external sources as well. Build trust and solidify yourself as a genuine, authentic leader.
Style is everything. The U.S. Census estimates there are 6.9 billion people on the planet. Blending in is a great way to go unnoticed, which is a great way to languish in your current job without growth potential. Differentiation is how you draw attention to your brand amid the clamor of people competing for the attention of the movers and shakers. A unique vision is the foundation; clever, creative presentation is the building. A refined vocabulary, appropriate fashion style, soothing delivery, and well-proportioned physical appearance convey your ability to understand and adhere to social norms. Wit, charm, grace, and character give personality and flair to the substance. Cultivate an engaging demeanor and know the social expectations of your current situation. Learn how to break the rules to create intrigue and mystique, instead of recklessness and fear. When crafting a resume, develop an engaging tone and express your creativity with clarity and grace. Differentiate yourself from your peers and create positive attention for your brand.
Everyone has the capacity to be great in short, unsustainable bursts; but you cannot build a brand on disconnected moments of brilliance. With authenticity, you can construct a durable brand, which is analogous with integrity. With your vision, meaning, and authenticity you create great expectations, consistently meeting them establishes durability. Pursue your vision tenaciously. Steadfastly adhere to your principles and demonstrate stability of mind and purpose in all your communications. Your resolve empowers others to trust you. When writing your resume, draw attention to past examples of your durability and integrity. Show up consistently and bring a high level of effort and your brand will be synonymous with stability and integrity.
Consistency in branding does not mean sameness. There are many ways to deliver a message and your creativity can be a powerful inspiration to others. Developing exciting new means of communicating your vision is not without peril, if you grow careless, the message may wander and lose consistency with the larger themes of your vision. Coherence is how individual ideas, words, and actions accord with your prevailing personal brand. Be mindful of how the meaning of individual communications work within your larger context. Coherence can be elusive as we interact with a diverse mix of people in a wide variety of mediums. Give careful consideration to how you are articulating what you stand for in your communications. In your resume, create a philosophical congruence throughout your work history, mapping your intellectual development rather than simply listing a chronological sequence of job titles. Maintaining coherence across disparate platforms will strengthen perceptions of your personal brand and further build confidence and trust in your leadership.
As you build trust in your personal brand, you will gain the leverage to become more flexible. Early on, branding is about establishing a recognizable vision embodied by the coherence of your ideas, words, and actions. Sudden shifts in philosophy will look more like erratic and unpredictable behavior than visionary foresight. As your reputation and brand become more stable, you acquire the social capital to incorporate new ideas and perspectives into your brand. The process should be deliberate and methodical. Showing up to work one day with a dramatic new hair style and radical new fashion sense will spark heightened interest in you, but it would do significant damage to public perception of your stability. In your resume, tactfully deal with sudden and dramatic changes in career, education, and extracurricular activities. Deviate from chronological order if necessary to establish a more coherent philosophical development. Demonstrate flexibility with thoughtful, purposeful, well-reasoned shifts in philosophy.
Loyalty is a highly prized commodity in all facets of business and life. One primary purpose for creating a personal brand is to inspire loyalty among the people you work for, with, and supervise. If you can live up to the ideals of your vision, inspire people with your authenticity and integrity, demonstrate the ability to be flexible and durable, you will build commitment among the people you do business with. Gaining the loyalty of others begins with a demonstration of loyalty to others. In your resume, demonstrate your capacity to be loyal through your experiences with the companies and managers you have worked for. If you can inspire loyalty among people you will have successfully created…
The ultimate goal of establishing a personal brand is to build value. As a recognized, valuable commodity you will become an integral asset to the operations of your business. People will value your leadership skills, vision, creativity, and ability to enhance their own work-life. You will have a solid reputation which extends beyond your immediate social circles and announces your quality well ahead of your arrival. A well-constructed personal brand is the best guarantee of success, growth, and advancement you can acquire. In your resume, value is demonstrated through achievement, awards, recognition, and reputation. Convey them with humility and grace. Your references should be the biggest supporters of your brand, those with the greatest commitment and investment in your success. Building and maintaining value is an ongoing exercise, once you have it, defend it aggressively and passionately. Your personal brand is a reflection of you.
If you have successfully built a brand before you go looking for the promotion you desire, you will have created a substantially positive first impression. Applying for the job will be a formality, announcing your intentions within the required hiring process. The hard part, giving yourself a proper introduction, has already happened. People who respect you will have already sung your praises and given you their endorsement. A powerful brand is an invaluable asset to your career growth and personal development.
+++In Part III we will discuss how to prepare for and ace an interview for a promotion. You are one step closer to getting the job you think you have already been doing. +++ Related Links: The Business Man’s Handbook: How to Earn a Promotion - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4