This article is not about making your career or boosting your business. Even though branding has always been considered a business topic – to me it is very personal. It is to believe who you are, what you want from your life and declaring it to the world in a way that the world starts relating to you differently.
Branding is not showcasing you as somebody else. It is also not about wearing expensive clothes and driving expensive cars. It is all about how you want others to see you and relate to you.
Some 10 years earlier, I was involved in a course named “Landmark Education” and that course taught me a lot of things and one of the important ones was to learn how to confront others. We were given a task of taking interviews of people from different areas of our lives. We were given some set of questions that would make us aware of how we are perceived by people in that area of our lives. For example – I took interviews of one of my colleagues, one of my college friends, one of my cousins etc.
What happened while taking those interviews was that I was so very surprised at so many things that people liked and disliked about me. I was very surprised to know who I was for them. Some surprises were pleasant and some were not, but they were all surprises. That was when I realized that if I do not consciously take care of maintaining my image/brand, it will just get built on its own. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I stop being myself and try to put on a false show – it just means that understand the consequences of your actions and take responsibility for them.
That was the first ever time in my life when I truly understand the meaning of “Creating your own brand”.
Who are you seen as? What do your friends talk about you when you are not with them? Is it positive or negative? Are they making fun of you or talking about the great things that you have done? Or do they even talk about you? Are people happy to have you in their group or they simply don’t care? Who are you to them? These are some of the basic questions that your “Brand” answers.
How do you consciously try to create your brand?
Be true to yourself – Never ever put up a false show. It doesn’t work. If you try to be somebody other than yourself, people will see right through you in no time. It doesn’t work. Be your own self.
Be committed – It all depends on how badly you want to create a true brand for yourself. And it is not easy to do this. It takes time, energy, thoughts and a lot of work. Commitment is the key here.
Define your aspirations – Who do you really want to be? How do you see yourself 10, 20 or 30 years from now? Be very precise of your aspirations today, they will keep changing and you will see that change in you if you define it appropriately now.
Understand your strengths – As a culture, we are always asked to focus on our improvements areas. Sometimes so much that we forget what our strengths really are. Always play by your strengths and to do that you need to understand what you are good at.
What are your brand attributes – What is it that you want people should relate to you as? What kind of adjectives you want people to use for you? Once you know what your brand attributes are, you also need to understand why those things are important to you. Again your brand attributes will also change with time.
Once you understand how you want people to relate to you, you need to understand the current situation. Then start working towards creating the image or brand that is line with the attributes you defined earlier.
Working towards creating your brand could include anything – your social media profiles, your display pictures, the topic of your conversations with others, your posts on social media, your attitude towards others, the work that you do etc.
Few years back when I was talking to one of my colleagues in one of the interviews I mentioned earlier, he said that he doesn’t think I am as committed to my work as I ought to be and sometimes he doubts if he can really depend on me. This came as total surprise to me because I never thought of myself as non-committal. At that point of time, I made it a mission to create an image of me that is dependable and committed. It took quite a change of perspective to do that. I started communicating regularly what I was doing and how I was doing a certain task, I started being proactive in meeting small milestones so that big deadlines are never missed. And it worked.
On the personal front, I had an image of being a cry baby. Any argument with any family member used to end in me crying about it. I used to cry in a way that it would force the other person to just close the topic. I got this feedback various times and few years back I took it up to be more mature in my discussions/arguments with my family members. Every time during an argument I felt like crying – I would just tell the person that I am unable to control it and I need a break. That would give me some time to think about the topic and also come in right perspective. And it worked yet again. I managed to change the brand that I had created for myself.
So, think about it. What is your current brand? Are you happy with your brand? If not, then what do you need to do to turn it around?