With a bright new start to 2011, let’s just face a couple of facts. This is the year for making smarter moves when it comes to building an unforgettable personal brand, but there’s one condition: It requires having more fun with your brand.

Why? There’s a new brand landscape out there, all the rules have changed and, well, the timing just feels perfect. Longing to land a spot on the global map? Then this is your year to gulp a few big breaths, break some of the rules, and dare to bring a bigger sense of play around your brand. (Sound appealing?)

These are my three rules (use or break, please) to help you kick-start a My Brand Is Having More Fun campaign in 2011:

Rule #1:  Focus on attitude | what you know is less important than who you are

I remember reading an inspiring article many years ago in Fast Company. It certainly resonated: Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill. (In fact, I wanted to track it down for this piece. It just took me two seconds, of course, on Google. The writer: Peter Carbonara. The date: August 31, 1996.)

In the article, Carbonara explores the idea that you can’t build a great company without great people, and reports on several smart hiring tips from Southwest Airlines, Nucor Steel, and Silicon Graphics. By the way, it’s still a terrific read. Check it out: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/04/hiring.html

Carbonara poses several questions: How can you recognize great people when you see them? How do you separate the winners from the losers, the good hires from the bad hires?

Here’s the answer: What people know is less important than who they are. Hiring is not about finding people with the right experience. It’s about finding people with the right mind-set. These companies hire for attitude and then train for skill.”

So think about this: In 2011, start having more fun when it comes to getting your head around your attitude and mindset. Explore what’s important to you, and why it matters. Be totally clear. Understanding the importance of attitude and mindset when it comes to various kinds of brand encounters – from interviews to negotiation to landing a new client – is going to make you stand head and shoulders above the rest. The fun part is making sure your personality shines through, and your brand communicates, in all its messaging, that you are who you say you are. What could be more exhilarating that that?

Rule #2: If your ship hasn’t come in, then swim out to it

The year 2011 is not the year for feeling (i) sorry for yourself or (ii) it ain’t going to happen or (iii) I can’t swim. This is the year for going after exactly what you’ve been dreaming about.

So think about this: Yes, dream. And then, dream on, some more! Go for it. Have a blast. Get your hands on books like Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos. Because if you ever thought any of this is crazy, your thinking might just turn around. His model for achieving success? “By concentrating on the happiness of those around you, you can dramatically increase your own happiness.”

Rule #3: Be master of serious play

If you’re feeling any brand anxiety, and have that worried look on your face, guess what? You want to lighten up a little. If you’re ambitious, and you want your brand name out there in big lights, you might want to think about enjoying the journey. Certainly there’s hard work involved. But clearly, it’s not meant to be painful! This rule also states that when you, as Master of Serious Play, have a brand with that unmistakable special spark, you’re in the money. (Without it, you’re toast!)

So think about this: It’s time to put a smile on your face and start to relax! If you have no idea how to enjoy the journey, look for some support where you need it. The fun starts when you get to coax out the spirit, power and sass in your brand. It’s just a matter of you being able to tap into it and articulate it. (Believe me, it’s there!)

Are you willing, ready and poised to have more fun with your brand this year?


Mary van de Wiel is best known for her global expertise when it comes to coaxing out the real power in brands to dramatically increase sales. Van is founder and Creative Director of ZingYourBrand.com. She is the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking: A Brand Therapist’s Viewpoint. Follow her on Twitter