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Building Your Brand

November 5, 2019

Every person, every business, and every organization has a brand.

A brand is not a logo. A brand is not even what you tell the world you are.

A brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

It’s the way they feel about you, the way they describe you. It’s how someone would explain who you are and what you do. For the purpose of this post, let’s focus on the personal aspects of building your brand. 

Most of us fall into one of two camps: 

1) There are those trying to build their personal brand and craft their narrative. These people want to be seen in a certain light and focus on how they are perceived by others. When they put too much emphasis on how other people see them, they could be characterized negatively as narcissists. 

2) On the other hand, there are those who say, “I’m not worried about my brand.” People in this camp would say they have no need to waste energy carefully crafting an image to the world. While it may come from a genuine place of humility, this approach carries a huge risk. 

The reality is that we all, every single person reading this, has a personal brand. Personal brands aren’t reserved for celebrities or freelancers or small business owners. Each of us have our own brand. So whatever your contribution to the world, here are three elements to making sure your brand is the best it can be:

1. Authentic: Your personal brand has to be you. Your brand can’t be something you’re not. This might feel self-explanatory, but too many people trip over this first element. If I am trying to build my personal brand (as Kevin), it wouldn’t be as a bodybuilder. For those of you who know me personally, this shouldn’t come as a surprise! A personal brand won’t work if it’s not true. Sure, you might convince a few people that you’re someone you’re not, but that doesn’t work long term. And by the way, this should help silence some of the critics that say building your brand is self-serving or narcissistic.

Good personal brands are simply authentic expressions of who a person is.

2. Compelling: Your personal brand should be interesting to people. When I say interesting, I don’t mean that it’s always exciting or fun, but it’s interesting to people because there’s something about you that’s good for them. If you are ALL about you—what you do, what you have, what products you deliver, what services you provide—no one will care. Most people are self-focused. Therefore, in order for your brand to be compelling, it needs to be about something you offer to the world. I love this movement started by Jeff Henderson of Gwinnett Church, which is all about telling their community what they are for. What a great concept. The most successful brands and businesses are the ones that benefit the world.

3. Discoverable: This element is key. For you and your brand to be successful, the right people need to know where to find you. In today’s world, you might be thinking about the internet, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and social media presence. And these can each be a part of being discoverable. But think more specifically. Do the people who would benefit from what you can offer the world know where they can find you? If your CPA services can help small businesses, do those small businesses know you exist? If someone is looking for a local church in your community, do I know where to find yours? If I need a quick drive-thru healthy meal, do I know where to find your restaurant? If your brand is authentic and compelling but nobody can find you, it’s not helpful. This may mean that you need to attend a networking group, join an organization with like-minded people, or simply tell people where you’re passionate about adding value to others. 

These three elements listed above apply not only to individuals, but to organizations, businesses, and nonprofits. Even the biggest business must have a brand that is authentic, compelling, and discoverable to impact the people they desire to serve.

So whether you are a teacher or the CEO of a large organization, ask yourself these questions this week: 

  • What do people say about me when I’m not in the room? 
  • What do I have to offer the world? 
  • Do the people who need me know where to find me?

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