• The HR Architect Tony Wiggins

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Is your personal brand a mansion or a shack ?

Another fabulous article from Alan Hosking – publisher of HR Future magazine (www.hrfuture.net) and a leadership renewal coach for senior execs and Gen Y leaders.

Is your personal brand a mansion or a shack? Some years ago while shopping with my wife for children’s clothes for our youngest, I bumped into a business acquaintance in, of all places, budget clothing store Mr Price. To me it was a pleasant surprise, so my first reaction was to smile and say, “Hello,” and engage in a bit of chit chat.

I didn’t get the chance. My acquaintance’s first reaction to seeing me didn’t allow for the chit chat. She hastily launched into a long and panicky explanation of how she doesn’t normally shop at Mr Price because she doesn’t really buy their clothes but she thought she would just pop in to see what they had.

Yeah, right …

Why did this tall, slim, attractive and successful blonde woman feel the need to stammer and stutter her way through a dodgy apology for being seen in the shop she thought was beneath her?

The answer lies in personal brand. What she was really showing was her embarrassment at being found by someone she knew and, I presume, respected, in a shop which she believed was beneath her status and therefore reflected badly on her personal brand of being successful, classy, discerning and what ever else she saw herself as.

She didn’t seem to realise that, depending on how you looked at it, shopping for children’s clothes at Mr Price actually showed her street smarts as a mother – something that enhanced her personal brand. She was probably there for the same reason we were there – to buy children’s clothes at excellent prices, because that’s one of the best places to buy clothes for little people who outgrow them, sometimes in months. It therefore makes good sense to buy at good prices when you’re not buying for distance. Yet she felt that being seen in this shop would damage her personal brand.

Because we live in a very brand conscious world, to some people the brand of their clothes, accessories, cars and the products they use are important. They simply have to be seen in the “right” brands otherwise they feel they are of no worth. While I don’t have a problem with using good quality and expensive products if you can afford them, it’s just sad if you HAVE to buy these products to make yourself feel important or of some value.

Branding plays a critical role in marketing, so companies spend gazillions on building a brand that is desirable in the hearts and minds of their buyers and potential buyers. Nothing wrong with that. In an increasingly competitive world, you’ve got to find something to attract and retain customers.

Speaking of attracting and retaining, the same applies to employers seeking to attract the best talent to their organisations. That’s why employer branding has become increasingly significant in the workplace. Employers now have to invest in branding themselves in the hearts and minds of their staff to retain their talent.

So if a product’s brand is important in the eyes of customers and an employer’s brand is important in the eyes of its employees, wherein lies the importance of your personal brand?

I’m glad you asked!

Everything you do and say sends messages to those around you. All of these actions and statements – positive or negative – are building your personal brand, whether you want them to or not, whether you’re aware of this or not.

Think about your personal brand. How would you rate it in the eyes of your friends, colleagues, immediate manager, corporate superiors, shareholders and, and, and …? What values do they associate with you? What qualities do they associate with you? What impression do they have of you? If they were asked to describe you, how would they do it? The answers to these questions will provide a description of your personal brand.

Your personal brand will play a role in determining speed and your destinations along your career path. It will determine your success or failure. It therefore makes a lot of sense to decide what you would like to be known as in terms of your personal brand, then, v-e-r-y importantly … Live. Your. Brand.

 

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