There are three steps to creating a brand that resonates with your audience:

  • What’s My Story – what you want others to know about you.
  • Packaging My Story – your consistent message that conveys your brand
  • Telling My Story – courteous, clear, and concise communication.

Last month, I posted “What’s Your Brand,” about the steps to take to clarify, polish, or build your brand. In this step, self-reflection is critical. With life being so busy, we can lose track of who we are and what we bring to the table.

Today. I am writing about the next two steps—packaging and telling your story.

Packaging My Story

The first thing to remember is to think like an entrepreneur and create a portfolio of your offerings and identify who you want to know about what you offer. Since not everyone will be interested, identify your specific audience, and craft your message for them.

When you developed your story, you should have discovered your strengths. Show how you use them to solve problems and strategize how to work around any weaknesses you have identified.

Document, document, document! It is easy to forget accomplishments, compliments from clients, etc. A record of your value will provide the information you need when you ask for a raise or a promotion.

Create a simple marketing plan on how you will let others know your capabilities, such as a resume, status report, blog, social media, etc.

Without communicating your brand effectively, you can miss opportunities.

Here is an example:

A Director position became available that my client was working towards for several years. She had worked diligently with excellent results handling multiple departments, large teams, and challenging customers, and felt she had filled all the qualifications for that role. She thought she had it in the bag because her neighbor, who she knew personally for a long time, had recently become her leader.  She felt he knew her well enough to know what she could do. However, he promoted someone else. She was stunned and extremely disappointed.

At her next meeting with him, she asked him why she did not get the job?  She told him about her experience and results.  Because she had never shared this information with him or anyone, her name did not come up for consideration for the position. When I asked my client why she had not kept people updated on her work and successes, she replied they should know what she is doing.  I said bluntly, only if they are psychic.  Her hard work provided results, but her efforts were mostly invisible.

Other clients told me their leaders should know what they are doing. They won’t know unless you tell them!

The last step is Telling Your Story!

You now have a clear brand and packaged it into a consistent story. In other words, to tell your story, Thoughts, Words, and Actions must be in alignment.

To tell your story effectively, you need to believe in your brand! Fake it until you make it can work in some instances, but believing in yourself is crucial, not only in your work life but in your personal life as well. Become that story!

Practice shameless promotion—this is NOT bragging! People are too busy to notice everything you do. Let them know the facts about what you are doing, either through action or communication.

Be brief and precise when communicating your value. Ask yourself, what would I want to have my “audience” take away? Remind yourself that professionalism and courtesy are the foundation of credibility.

Things to Remember on Personal Branding

  • Branding “I, Inc.” is your story, so tell it well.
  • Not everyone needs to get your message; focus on the right audience.
  • Your brand must be clear and consistent; otherwise, it can confuse your audience.
  • Lose your cool; lose your cred, especially during conflicts. Civility raises your reputation.
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What’s Your Brand?

Nike has the “Swoosh”, which represents speed, movement, power, and motivation, and Evernote, an app that stores your written notes on a laptop, uses the figure of an elephant’s head, because “an elephant never forgets, and you won’t either utilizing this app. (Economics Times, July 24, 2017)

Products aren’t the only entities that have brands. Everyone has a brand, whether you know it or not. The troubling aspect of your brand is that it is not just who you think you are, but also who others think you are due to your words, actions, and body language. Frequently, what you think and what others perceive is different, because, like nature, the brain hates a vacuum. If a person’s perception is unclear, they will fill in the blanks and define your brand for you. In other words, if you don’t control your brand; others will manage it for you.

The critical thing to remember is that people’s perception is your reality, and how well you tell your story will determine how successful you are. The clearer, consistent, and transparent your brand is, the better your colleagues, friends, and the community at large will know and understand who you are and your capabilities.

The first step in perfecting your brand is succinctly communicating what you want others to know about you and the value you bring.

Below are six actions you can take:

  1. Determine what problems you solve. For example, you are the “go-to” person to lead large projects because you can determine and manage all the project’s aspects and align them in the most productive configuration.
  2. Create a list of words you believe describe you, such as patient, good listener, collaborator, analytical.
  3. Ask friends and colleagues for a list of three words that come up for them when they think of your name, even if unfavorable. Do NOT berate them for words you feel do not represent you.  Their honesty is a gift that you can use to work on areas that need to be polished.
  4. I recommend taking the StrengthFinder’s 2.0 Assessment, to determine your top five strengths that are always evident no matter what you do. The online assessment at https://bit.ly/2IpbKcw is available for a nominal fee. If you believe you are a good leader, this assessment will break down what strengths you have that support that belief.
  5. Ask yourself what you like doing. I think that “finding your passion” can be over-rated. Finding what you prefer doing is much more realistic and doable. In every job, there are tasks we enjoy doing, and those we would prefer not performing. In one column, write a list of what you like doing in your job and don’t like doing in another column. Look for opportunities to do more of what you want (so that you become known in those areas), and less of what you don’t like.
  6. Google your digital presence. Are there any instances where you may show up negatively? Check all your social media. Employers and recruiters google candidates as part of their vetting process. You would be surprised what can show up from years before!

Business is so fast-paced that it is easy to forget who you are and how you show up.  By following these six steps, you will be able to shape your story where what you want people to know about you and what they perceive is the same!

Next month, I will write about “Packaging” your story (brand) clearly and consistently, and, lastly,  “Telling” your story so that it is memorable.

You can also go to https://executivepotentialplus.com/publications/ for a copy of “What Are They Thinking, Branding I. Inc.”, rather than waiting for the next installment.

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