La Fontaine once said, “By the work, one knows the workman.” He must have known long ago about the importance of branding.
In today’s competitive marketplace, establishing and maintaining a brand name is essential to your career success. A service or trademark tells people immediately what you do. People will return to those companies or individuals who have an established brand that provides value and on whom they can trust.
In addition to having a brand name, you must develop a strategy to promote it to a targeted audience. The most important element to branding is having a strong sense of self and a clear vision. Your brand is your reputation and also what you are “known for.” A brand is both an intellectual and emotional shorthand that communicates an indelible impression. Think of the more successful brand names and how easily their messages come to mind: Coca Cola: “The Real Thing.” Chevrolet Trucks: “Like a Rock.”
Obviously, you may not reach the audience that these major corporations have, but when your name or company is mentioned, it should create an immediate positive impression for those people who are your customers or coworkers.
That is the power you are going for: instant name recognition from your customers/clients. You do not want them to have to figure out who you are and what you do---you want them to know it instantly by your “branding.” The amazing thing is once you build a brand name, you will no longer need to struggle to find work; in fact, your work will find you.
How do you create a brand? First, you must know who you really are. Second, you must know what you want to become. Experts agree that it takes time—sometimes several years, to develop a brand. It also takes time and energy. To get the process started, you first need to determine what your present message is. You can ask people, “What five words come to mind when you think of me? What do I do best? What do you think I stand for personally/professionally?”
Gather your information and see if it fits with what you are trying to communicate to your customers. If not, make some strategic plans to change your message. Think about what you would like to be known for, if you are not known for it already.
You should also develop an “elevator statement,” which is a simple two-minute response to the question that many people ask: “What do you do?”
I am a __________
Who does __________
They choose me because of __________.
Once you have an idea of your message, ask yourself:
Is it simple?
- Does it come naturally and easily?
- Is the statement believable?
- Does it matter if someone believes you?
In addition to the development of your message, you need to become an expert and have a personal style that stands out from others in your field. What if you are an independent contractor or consultant? How can you develop an effective Brand Me? To do that you have to be extremely focused on what you do that adds value (you cannot be all things to all people), and find ways to actively promote yourself. Think of people like Oprah, Martha Stewart, and Madonna. You know what they are about because of the way they have positioned and marketed themselves to the public.
Remember that everything you do, from giving a formal presentation to answering the telephone, sends a message. How you conduct your business will either reinforce your brand or diffuse it. You want to be sure that what you are offering has substance, but that you also put your personal stamp on it.
The best three ways to build your name brand are:
- Know yourself,
- Choose work that allows you to do your personal best,
- Market, market, market yourself.