Branding on the right attributes is the difference between a leader and loser.
Before we called it personal branding, the overarching term for what society thought about you was simply your “reputation.” Of course, that society may have been your middle school classmates who always picked you last for dodge ball teams. Even if you’d practiced over the summer or entered high school one half foot taller, the stain of your poor ball handling (and evasion) skills remained.
Who you are and how you show up
It’s the reason why changing schools is not always a bad thing. You can upgrade your style, inveigle yourself with a better crowd and play on your parent’s guilt by squeezing them for a cooler phone. At that age, we’re acutely aware of what makes up our reputation: looks, friends and possessions.
Per BusinessWeek’s report on reputations of publically traded corporations, branding is responsible for the often-vast difference between book value and market capitalization. “Reputation for being able to deliver growth, attract top talent, and avoid ethical mishaps can account for much of the 30%-to-70% gap (between) … Proctor & Gamble versus Unilever, and Johnson & Johnson versus Pfizer … as seen in price-earnings ratio.”
On a granular and personal branding level, only certain elements of what is collectively called your reputation or brand, matter to people who will pay you, invest in your company or trade for a stake in either. Your actual skill or core competency – what you think your being hired or contracted to do – may be less important than your outside interests or personal creed.
United Technologies Corp (UTX) provides a teachable moment. After Communications Consulting Worldwide expertly dug into UTX’s reputation, the researchers found UTX didn’t need to do a better job communicating about its products or markets. The jump in value would come from messaging about the company’s environmental responsibility, innovation, and employee training.
Hence, a complete overhaul of your personal brand will probably be a waste of time, maybe impossible and come close to clipping a hangnail with a buzz saw. Just pick the three or so qualities that matter most to your market.
If you’re a big head of technology, your communications skills may need work. If you’re a writer, you’re mastery of technology may need work. Everyone needs clear evidence they play well with others, and most of us need to demonstrate empathy, trustworthiness and the ability to get a hard thing done. Almost everyone needs to use the right hair product.
In my business, appearances matter. See if you can discern how I weave that element of my personal brand in the Op-Ed piece I wrote for Marketing Daily last Friday, where I cut into Lane Bryant’s new social community.
Incorporating elements that matter
How do you incorporate the elements that matter into your personal branding or re-branding?
1. Pick a philanthropy or cause that allows you to develop the personal characteristics that make you more valuable than your years or skills.
2. Get mentored by someone who demonstrates the qualities that make people great in your industry.
3. Use the space you take in social media to reveal dimensions about your brand that go unseen by people who just work with you.
Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen.