If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. -Audre Lorde
Everybody is selling something, whether they realize it or not. Which leads me to the conclusion that everyone has a brand, whether intentionally created or not. I would even argue that the lack of a definable “brand” is still a brand. While, most people can agree that brand recognition is critical to any business success, some of these same individuals fail to link the importance of a brand in their personal lives.
My interest in personal branding was sparked by a new assignment at work that challenges me explore brand recognition and brand management. The main question being whether we as a company have aligned our activities to reflect what we say we offer. (Our Brand) The secondary question being how can we tailor our actions to reflect the brand that we aspire or the one we currently have. (Brand Management) Using these same ideas, I’ve become interested in brand recognition in my personal life. My first conclusion thus far, is that individuals who have a recognizable personal brand are truly the most successful individuals among us. Why? It’s simple, you know what to expect from these individuals and in some instance what NOT to expect from them. Most of us don’t like to deal with fickle people who change everyday. While I totally understand that changing is a part of life, at some point you have to define your brand or one will be made for you.
I became aware of the importance of “branding” over the last few months while I was seeking employment fresh out of law school. The #1 reasons why law firms (besides the shaky economy) are hesitate about hiring new graduates is that they are not sure what they are getting. In other words, most new graduates haven’t created a brand. The truth is, employers don’t want to spend countless dollars on training new graduates, only to find out they can’t do a simple writing assignment or that they really just wanted a job and have no interest in significantly adding to the company. To employers, your resume looks like every other law school resume that they have seen. Therefore, what is the key to getting a job; one that is filled with mutual admiration? It’s simple, create a brand. In other words, offer the employer something that they can’t find on every other law school resume they have received. Finding something unique about yourself or maybe even a specialty that an employer values is the way to get a job. Although, most people say that you should stay “general” so that you can get a job. I beg to differ. At a time where having a J.D. is not unique, why would let’s say “labor and employment firm in Manhattan, hire Law Student A, who has no specialty or no general interest in the area, over Law Student B with the same grades but has demonstrated that this is their brand. Especially when Law Student B wants to eat, breathe and sleep labor and employment law. Any fool can see, your general skills don’t mean much in this economy, especially when competing against individuals who have a recognizable brand.
Branding in your personal life and networking goals are critical as well. When people think of you what is the one word or phrase they will associate with you? (Writer, lawyer, business investor, or great friend, loyal, helper, giver etc.) Also think about the one personal characteristic and/or quality that will be associated with you. (Brilliant, dedicated, communicator etc.) Put those together and you my friend have a brand. Whether good or bad. Surely, if you are not vigilant in defining and “”fine tuning” your own brand, someone else will.
Therefore, Branding is not just for business, it is for everybody. Take the time to really evaluate the brand that you are selling. I sat down and really narrowed down the brand that I am seeking and realized that most of my daily activities are not geared towards building that brand. If personal or business development is important to you, sit down and ask yourself, What is my Brand? For many of you, it will be surprising when you see how long it will take to figure out.
Just A Thought…….