"You can pay for school, but you can't buy class" - JAY Z
We all know what a brand is and what it stands for. Apple is known for its quality and innovation, Nike is synonymous with athleticism and durability, and Trader Joes is simply, the greatest place on earth next to Disney World. These brands have cultivated and demonstrated their worth and uniqueness to the market through consistent behaviors that create a positive association with the company and products or services. Through strategic marketing and branding, these companies achieve a competitive advantage in the market. You and the impression you make each time you step into a room is no different. If you were not around to defend yourself, what would someone say that you are known for? How would they describe your overall image? This is your personal brand - a statement that should linger long after you’ve left the room (in a good way).
"If you were not around to defend yourself, what would someone say that you are known for?"
A positive brand statement is strong, concise, and definitive. It should be something that says a little, but a whole lot all at the same time. To be effective, it must be authentic and proven time and time again. And whether you know it or not, your brand is already out there living on its own two feet. While a brand’s quality is fostered through consistency, you may only have one shot to make a first impression whether good, bad, or indifferent — which can be detrimental. And unfortunately, perception can be everything.
"And whether you know it or not, your brand is already out there living on its own two feet."
Perception is built on the image your portray and energy you exude. While you could be the smartest, most confident person ever, a patient, executive, or colleague may not take you seriously if you look like you just rolled out of bed. The “just rolled out of bed” look is complete with unkept hair, chipped/dirty nails, wrinkled and/or tattered clothing, and the half asleep facial expression. Prior to leaving the house, my mom would always advise us to look presentable as you never know who you’ll run into during a quick trip to the grocery store. It could be your first love, mentor, worst enemy, or boss’ boss. It is not about them, it is about you and how you want to be perceived.
"...you never know who you’ll run into during a quick trip to the grocery store."
In taking charge (or reframing) your personal brand, define what you are passionate about and how they translate into your goals. It might be helpful to start by conducting your own SWOT analysis to discover your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Then, take a good look at your wardrobe and write down the words that come to mind. Are those words apart of your brand statement? If not, take a look at our posts about saving, splurging, and getting rid of things that no longer bring you joy.
Here are a few other things to consider depending on your goals.
Are you still figuring out where you want to be and how you plan to get there? Start by mapping out your perfect life using specific terms and the type of person you hope to be. Then, start faking it until you become it. If you think you're pretending to be confident and fabulous, you'll eventually become more comfortable with your talented self.
Do you love medicine? Assess how you would want patients to describe you and what steps you needs to take to foster this reputation. Do you have to actively remember to smile while introducing yourself? Should you ask them how they’d like to be referred to and how their day is going?
Are you on the leadership fast track in your company? In what ways should you exude confidence and competence without seeming obnoxious to those outside of your company or existing network?
This may be uncomfortable at first, but that’s the fun part. We’ll talk about the demise of comfort zones in a later post. We are all unique in what we love and who we want to project, so it is always important to remain true to yourself throughout it all.