Brand you - Latest blog from Jon Lipsey
The concept of branding doesn’t just apply to businesses. It can determine your personal success too, says Jon Lipsey.
I was at a colleague’s leaving drinks the other day when another guy I occasionally used to work with swayed into view (he was pretty well refreshed) and interrupted my conversation. He didn’t say hello, he just jabbed me in the chest a couple of times, screwed up one eye and said, ‘Jon Lipsey. How did I know you’d be wearing a white shirt? And how did I know that you’d have the top two buttons undone?’ He didn’t wait for a reply. He clearly had more work to do at the bar so he lurched off in search of another drink. Shame, really, because I wanted to thank him. Not for butting in, or for poking me in the chest but for proving the power of personal branding.
You see, it’s not just businesses that have brands. People have brands too. I have one, you have one and our drunken finger-jabbing chum has one. That’s because you don’t get to decide whether or not you have a brand; your brand is what you represent in the minds of others. And as the lines between our public and private lives become increasingly blurred, your personal brand needs increasingly careful management if you want it to have a positive effect on your career.
That’s why I wanted to thank our sozzled friend for his shirt observation. To explain, I was at a do with people who write for fitness magazines and nobody who writes for fitness magazines (or any magazine, come to think of it) dresses particularly smartly. So if you do dress smartly then you stand out and get noticed. It sets you apart from everyone else.
This is significant because, if you want to be successful, you can’t be part of the crowd and you can’t be seen to be a commodity. If you’re the same as everyone else then you are in danger of being overlooked, or being thought of as someone who is easily replaceable – either by your employer or, if you’re self-employed, by your clients. If you don’t want that to happen you can start to strengthen your personal brand by taking these three simple steps.
One of the first things you need to do is to work out what you stand for. Identify the four or five key things that you want to be known for. Do you want to be known as a decision maker, a diplomat or as someone with great ideas? Are you going to be renowned for your work ethic or your ability to remain calm under pressure? The mark of a strong brand value is something that genuinely means something to you, something that you’re not willing to compromise on and something that sets you apart from the crowd. A weak brand value is one that’s generic or something that’s a given, such as aiming to be professional. Once you know what your brand values are, make sure you behave in a way that means everyone else picks up on them too.
Your brand values should help to distinguish you from everyone else but if you really want to stand out then you need to find one thing that makes you noticeably different. This is going to be the most pronounced element of your personal brand. It’s going to be the thing that people think of first whenever your name is mentioned. This could be your knowledge of a particular subject, such as bodyweight training, or it could be your peerless negotiation skills. You just need to make sure that you’re the go-to person when a particular quality is required. It could be something sexy but it can also be something simple. I once worked with a guy who had organisational systems that were superior to everyone else and this modest skill allowed him to rise more rapidly than those around him. It was something that everyone noticed and it meant his managers thought he’d respond well to increased responsibility.
There is an art to getting people to notice and remember what you do and say. In their book <Made to Stick>, researchers Dan and Chip Heath looked at how to make ideas memorable. They identified six principles that will help get your message across. They are simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness (describing something in a way that’s easy to visualise), credibility, having an emotional angle and telling stories. You can use any of these tools to help you get your own brand noticed. I guess I used a couple of them when I was describing the incident with the drunken finger jabber. I’d give you an assessment of his personal brand but, you know what? I can’t quite remember his name.
Jon Lipsey is the UK’s leading fitness branding expert. Follow him on twitter @JonLipseyMedia.