By Jason Forrest
In April 2012, I had a branding session to discuss everything our company is and isn’t. For a full day, we discussed our values, strengths, and passions. We talked about the unique qualities that separate our brand from others. It’s an important exercise for any business, but it’s important for individuals, too.
Sometimes we see ourselves as honest, and our peers see us as brutally honest. Sometimes we see ourselves as balanced, and our bosses see us as lazy. The hard truth is that the way an individual wants to be seen is often incongruent with how he or she actually is seen. But you can change that by understanding, communicating, re-evaluating, and maintaining your personal brand. Your personal brand is just as important as your company’s brand—but individuals rarely invest as much time in their own brand. And that’s a huge mistake!
Understand Your Brand
The first step is to understand your brand for yourself, which means having a clear vision of who you are and who you want to become. When you have that clarity, people will see it in you. To determine your own brand, begin with clarifying your purpose. Write out your vision of where you’d like to be in one, five, and 10 years. Ask yourself what kind of career you want to have, what you want people to say about you, and what your purpose is as a salesperson, a manager, etc. Determine and record your philosophy on selling, marketing, work, and life. Be introspective first and then communicate that message to everyone around you.
Once you know your brand, determine whether you are communicating and demonstrating it. Consider whether what others say and perceive about you is congruent with what you’d say about yourself. Then make a plan for constantly and consistently communicating your whys to everyone around you—your peers, your employees, and your managers. To build a brand, you have to know why you do what you do and you must be able to communicate that. What is your purpose? What are you trying to accomplish this year, this month, this week? Knowing the answers to these questions is the first step, communicating them is the next step. From there comes maintenance.
Feedback Is Key
To maintain your brand and how you’re perceived, evaluate whether you’re living up to your purpose. But don’t just self-evaluate—make sure you constantly get feedback, as well. To your employees, you might say something like, “Here’s what I’m working on, here’s what I want you to work on, and here’s what I need you to work on.” With your boss, you might ask for suggestions on how you can improve. No matter who you’re communicating with, be sure to talk about how it all connects to the overall purpose so they can connect to your mission. One of my clients, Dana, has a great brand as a hard worker. She comes to her boss and says, “Do you want to sign me up for another quarter?” It’s a way to start the conversation about whether she’s doing the right thing and where she can adjust. She doesn’t wait for feedback. She asks for it.
It’s not enough just to get the feedback; you have to really consider it for it to actually help you. When feedback is delivered poorly, don’t let your ego cloud the message. Look for the truth in it and let it provide objective reality—like a mirror. Ask yourself the tough questions such as, “Is how I’m trying to present myself coming across to others?” If the answer is no, then consider what you need to do to move closer to the ideal you.
Remember, it’s easy to be in line with your brand in one avenue and not in others. For example, maybe your brand comes across in person but not over the phone. But as you get your brand aligned in every area, then people will understand you more and you will be in control of your brand.
All strong brands possess the following:
Having (and demonstrating) a strong brand can have powerful results. In addition to helping you know who you are, it can help you hold yourself accountable. It also can help you stand apart from your competition. Rather than being blown around with the winds of chance, it puts you in control of positioning yourself for the job placements and opportunities you desire.
One of Trainingmagazine’s Top 10 Young Trainers of 2012, Jason Forrest is an expert at creating high-performance sales cultures through complete training programs. He incorporates experiential learning to increase sales, implement cultural accountability, and transform companies into sales organizations. Forrest is a sales trainer, management coach, regularly featured speaker at national conferences and professional association events, member of the National Speakers Association’s Million Dollar Speakers Group, and a published author. His newest book, “Leadership Sales Coaching,” will be available later this year. For more information, visit www.forrestpg.com