The most satisfying thing about this image is that you are probably reading this in Morgan Freeman’s voice. This phenomenon is simply amazing – just by simply seeing someone; your brain makes an association to the most memorable thing about them. There could be anything in the world written on this image, and in your brain it would sound amazing because it is being read by Morgan Freeman……even pancake pie shells.
Branding – it is what we do. We have been branding things since we have tried to remember them and describe them to others – good, bad, funny, sad, happy, even irritating or frustrating. When you experience a great brand event, you tend to tell your friends, you let them know how great a time you had. When you have a bad experience somewhere …… you tell EVERYONE. Thinking about your brand today will keep opportunities coming tomorrow, however, remember that great brands live forever, and terrible brands never die. Names like Gandhi, Socrates, Hitler and Stalin all evoke different feelings, but they are very long lived brands indeed.
There are only a few simple steps (as a matter of fact, only three) you need to be aware of when managing your brand, and if they are applied on a consistent basis you will see the results you want – as long as you are aware of the results and manage them. Think of Coca-Cola and the 1980s and New Coke. The incredible hubris that Coke had by simply introducing a new flavour of Coke came as a staggering surprise – “Where is our old Coke?!” was the cry that rose around the world from their consumers. There was not a “Thank you for giving us New Coke” but instead they clamoured for the old recipe. The real problem was that Coca-Cola forgot the cardinal rule of branding for success – KNOW YOUR EXISTING BRAND.
What do people think of you now? Is it good, bad, or something else? The most important piece of branding is measuring the impact of activities – and that is simply asking what others think of you. After all, the result of branding is an identity, and if you do not like the identity you need to change the perception of others – not a small feat, but not an impossible one either. What others think of you can be found out by just asking them. Ask your friends, co-workers, or people you are around most often what the character traits they see in you are. You may be startled by the results, or you may not. In either result, this is the first step to deciding on how to brand yourself – figuring out what you have already done without conscious effort. Once you have this completed, then the next question to ask yourself is – WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE KNOWN FOR?
Step Two – What Do You Want To Be Known For?
This is really a very crucial step. Taking a moment to decide what your brand is going to be will determine how you answer questions, what projects you take part in, what education you begin to pursue, the people you associate with, and more. This simple question can potentially create a difficult process for you; however, it will also generate fantastic rewards. Having a focus on your reputation will create consistent results, and of course if they are oriented to your future this will create opportunities for you.
What do you want to be known for, what do you want to be seen as, and what do you want to do? What you want to do is not the same as your title, though – do not confuse the two. Helping people for example may be what you want to do, and this can happen almost anywhere – health care, administration, counselling, education, leadership, management and more. Thinking of what you want to do will help you achieve happiness in your activities, and thinking of what you want to be seen as and known for will orient the right people towards you. These three questions will help you to create a strong, vibrant brand that will allow you to do the work that makes you feel great doing. This leads to the next question – WHAT IS GREAT WORK ACCORDING TO ME?
Knowing when you are doing great work is crucial to being successful. One of the things that you can do is to make a list, and then to remind yourself each and every day when you are great, and look for opportunities to do more great work. Much of what we do is not necessarily “great” but needed – and truly not much fun. Doing paperwork and answering email is needed work, and not great work. Talking with a client and helping them to uncover the connections between all the work they have done and assisting them to find the meaning in what they have achieved – that is needed work, but is also some of the greatest work we can do as counsellors.
I made a small list that I have in my desk at work, and I have a list of activities and behaviours that let me be great and the opposite on the other side. This way, I can remember when I am not doing great work, or cannot do great work. For instance, I can do great work with clients when I am actively listening and not being judgmental. However, if I am closed minded and measuring their actions with my own values, I am unable to perform work that I would consider to be great. This list does not have to be long, rather the simpler it is the easier it is to live it each and every day (my list is 5 of each, the great stuff and the anti-great behaviours).
In order for your branding to be effective though, we cannot just concentrate on doing the work that we want to be great at, because it will change according to our role and station, and we need to perform work that is necessary as well. As your brand takes root and creates opportunities for you, the important part is to keep measuring your brand and its effectiveness. Take a moment out to determine who your audience is, and then you talk to them in the right channels for them to hear. Some people will never be in social media, and some will lonely be there, however, the majority of folks will be a little bit of each. There is a difference between you telling people that you have done some great work, and having raving fans that you have created by doing great work with them and they are telling the world. Remember that you were made with two ears and one mouth, so try listening twice as much as you speak.
Your call to action is to decide what you can do to decide what your brand already is, and listen with an honest ear. Whether you use Facebook, LinkedIn, You Tube or simply talk to people directly is up to you. Use the channels that you feel comfortable with, and then decide where the audience you want to interact with is comfortable talking in, and look to engage them. Think of this process like a bank account, where you have to make deposits before you attempt a withdrawal, and the more you deposit the more you will have available to withdraw.
Start your process by finding your values, your current reputation and your future goals. What is it that gets you up in the morning and going to do what you consider great work? Self-disclosure alert again – I hated my job for years, and felt I was in a paycheque prison. There was no way that I had the courage to leave, even though it made me miserable each day to go to work. It affected my marriage and sense of self; however I had no way to get out that I could see because it was just too scary to think of doing something different, the risk was too big. Then – the factory closed. Then – I was introduced to the world of Employment Counselling. Then – I decided this is what I wanted for the rest of my life, and these people had been put in front of me to help me see my personal truth – to have the ability to help other people “just like me” find a way to be happy at work, believe in themselves and create their own greatness; to be able to communicate and help others in a way that is ethical, professiona, and compassionate. My brand is simply helping other people to discover their brand, and then show them how to use it for future career success. What do you want your brand to be?