Posted by: Christine Donovan | May 10, 2009

The Power of Your Personal Brand, Part 2

The Power of Your Personal Brand, Part 2  — Celebrate your talent, your uniqueness, and market yourself

(continued)

Brand = Emotion

There is nothing more valuable to a business than its brand; savvy businesses know that brand holds the key to the emotions of the customer. Study after study tells us that purchasing decisions are always emotional.

Remember this principle: People buy through emotion, then justify by logic.

Your brand, then, creates an emotional connection to your customer. Brand is the feeling evoked when one thinks of, let’s say – Sears, Mercedes, Kodak, Ritz Carlton – each of these makes an impression on your brain – you feel good or neutral, frustrated or joyful, depending upon your personal experience or what you perceive about that brand.

And there are many powerful personal brands out there that are even better examples. What comes to mind when you think of these “personal brands” — Oprah, Britney Spears, Rachael Ray, Hillary Clinton? Undoubtedly you have an emotional reaction (of some kind) to each of them. The same happens when your name is mentioned!

So what then, is your personal brand? What are the three to five words others use to spontaneously describe you and your business? Do you know? Can you affect others’ perception of you?

Your personal brand represents the real you in the most accurate and positive light…. a light that you have helped create.

Three Ingredients of a Powerful Personal Brand

1. Authenticity

Being real is the mantra of the millennium (although a paradox in the age of cosmetic surgery, Paris Hilton and Enron) And these examples are precisely why people are reticent to trust, to put their faith in another, to give their money, time or emotion. Therefore the person who walks the talk, is transparent, honest about her faults but aware of her talents, is someone we welcome into our lives.

We are so driven to success that many of us (if we admit it) “pretend” to be more successful, knowledgeable and important than we are or ever could be. Think about it: those who DO have admirable qualities but who are also honest about their weaknesses are endearing and trustworthy.

So the first task on the way to a strong personal brand is deciding who you really are. Take an assessment – of your talents, dreams, values, qualities, personality traits, quirks, and yes… your faults. Know what you believe and where you will not cross a line; know your weaknesses better than your critics and make your vulnerability and honesty your strength.

2. Consistency

The Coca Cola brand logo, considered the most recognizable symbol in the world, has remained steady since its appearance in 1886. There have been a few modifications along the way to adapt to the times, but that same red and white swirly logo font has remained familiar and therefore, trustworthy, for 120 years. Trusted brands adapt, but do not change… as Coke found out the hard way in 1985-86 when it introduced the “New Coke,” which was a marketing disaster.

You should be unwavering with your personal brand as well. Mixed signals breed distrust, so decide who you are and be that person 24/7. If you are detail-conscious, then proudly show that quality at all times and don’t get sloppy. If you are knowledgeable, then stay current and don’t become stale. If you are trustworthy, then don’t start showing up late at meetings. No one creates your brand but you!

3. Uniqueness

I used to work at Walt Disney Imagineering, a very creative place that overflowed with some of the world’s quirkiest, most rebellious, most creative minds on the planet. These folks strove to break models of normalcy, to be “different,” but in their quest to be unique, ended up looking and acting the same!

The male “uniform” there was usually a shaved head or pony tail, body or ear piercings, t-shirts sporting political statements, faded baggy jeans or knee-length shorts, etc. A colleague said to me one day… “Have you ever noticed how all the ‘creatives’ look alike?”… and I responded that yes I had. One day a new designer arrived wearing a three-piece suit – and HE turned out to be the unique one!

As you discover the real you, consider what it is that makes you truly unique and distinct. Every human being is distinct from the other – every accountant, lawyer, housewife, computer programmer, etc, each have unique qualities.

Find your uniqueness and carefully weave it into your brand. Be the accountant who is an expert on commercial fishing; the lawyer who sings opera, the realtor who is an award-winning rose breeder. People will remember you, plus you may find some niche markets just by being different.
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Being authentic, consistent and unique are the three keys to a powerful personal brand. Take time to know yourself, your unique gifts and talents, and broadcast those to the world. There will be no stopping you once you know who you truly are!

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