Having worked with so many people on developing their personal brand, there are a number of points which I feel I need to stress. Some of them have already been referred to, but I want to use this final opportunity on this development stream to stress them clearly.
- This can work fast. Once you have your brand in focus, you may well be surprised how quickly it starts to take hold. In fact, you don’t necessarily need to put a huge amount of effort into it, just keep your words in mind.
- Be careful what you wish for. If you’ve selected three words, you have not selected countless others to focus on. For example, if all of your words come out as tough ones, like assertive, determined and forceful, don’t be surprised if people don’t like you. The best set of words moderate excesses and protect you from unwelcome side effects. For instance, determined, engaging and fun.
- Don’t tell anyone. The words you choose should be kept secret if you can. If you are careless with them, you risk others making fun of you, or actually working against you. Just keep reminding yourself of them and let the magic begin to work.
- Keep it real. If you are a cordial, cheerful and friendly sort of person, suddenly changing these to tenacious, challenging and drive is simply not going to work. People will think you’ve been on a course or something! Instead, perhaps change one at a time, give it six months and then step forward a little more. You don’t want to shock people too much with your new brand, do you?
- Use visual reminders. Since I’m advising you don’t share them with others, you cannot write them on a card and place them prominently on your desk. Instead, try to find some visual representation, like a mascot or a collage of different images. Put another way, something that only you know the significance of and is easily passed off as something innocuous to your curious friends.
- Keep them in mind. I cannot stress enough how important this is. If you do this work now and forget about it for a few months, I can almost guarantee you will not have moved forward. You have to make it a habit somehow to keep them prominent in your thinking. I used to carry them on a card in my wallet and habitually referred to the card before meetings and whenever I was embarking on a trip somewhere.
And finally, make sure your personal brand makes you distinctive and valuable where you wish to be successful. There is no competitive advantage in being the same as everyone else. When I do this on workshops and initially ask people to write down three words, I would be quite happy to bet that many people will put down words like professional, trusted, expert. Don’t run with the crowd, stretch and become unique in your branding.