As a career coach, I get a ringside seat to great brands and so-so brands. But so do you - take your experience as a consumer and think about your favorite brands.
What's their emotional appeal? Are they quirky? Are they innovative? Are they reliable?
The brands that come to my mind: Southwest Airlines is Quirky, Apple is innovative and Maytag is reliable.
Now think about your current or past co-workers. Who among them has a strong personal brand? Why is their brand strong? I'm betting that it's not always the star performers that have strong personal brands - sometimes it's the Steady Eddy who comes to mind, right?
Figuring out your own personal brand is a process - and while it's tempting to jump right into making sure you're communicating a clear personal brand, there's actually another place you can start.
Do a personal brand audit.
But here's the hitch - you have to believe that you have a brand in order to do a brand audit. If you're on the fence about whether or not you're actually a brand, don't bother with an audit. Instead, you should just keep doing what you've been doing and hope that it all works out. And feel free to check back in a few months.
A brand audit is an ideal place to help you get focused and have a more directed approach. Don't over-think it. Remember, above all, a strong personal brand is easy to understand.
"I'm betting that it's not always the star performers that have strong personal brands - sometimes it's the Steady Eddy who comes to mind, right?"
Here's how to get started with a personal brand audit:
1. How would others describe you? Write down as many brand attributes you can come up with - words or phrases that others have used to describe you. Now, if you can't easily come up with 4-5 brand attributes, you need to get some input here. And if you came up with more than 10, you've got some work to do to narrow them down.
2. How easy is it for others to find you? Before I chat with anyone, I Google them. Yes, I'm admitting this. Especially if they're looking for career advice, I figure this is some helpful information for me to know. I'm not saying that recruiters and hiring managers are going to find you this way, but given social media, it's a given that we can find some basic information. It doesn't lend an air of mystery or intrigue about you if we can't find you.
3. What's your network like? Are you active in professional organizations? Do you follow thought leaders? And, not to be Harpy McHarperson about this, but are you using LinkedIn to help you grow your network? A huge network isn't the sign of a healthy network, so don't mistake quantity for quality. Consider your network more broadly - how are you contributing to professional /industry conversations?
4. Are you consistent? Consistency is key when it comes to a personal brand. The burning question to answer is "Is it clear to others what I'm all about?" It's part career story and part "packaging." Being consistent is tricky when you're trying to reinvent yourself - but even in reinvention, your story can be consistent.There can be consistency in how you talk about your experience, skills, and how it fits into your reinvention. Here's a fool-proof way to tell if you're consistent: If you're trying to be all things to all people, you're not consistent. Consistency requires specificity and focus.
How long will this personal brand audit take? Five minutes. If it takes much longer, you're over-thinking it.