Personal Brand Management – A Marketing 101 Approach

Have you ever intended to define and manage your personal brand? We all have a brand, whether we like it or not. If we don’t make deliberate choices, we leave it to chance. Everyone defines our brand except us! Most people judge and define themselves by their intentions. But others judge us and define us by our actions. Personal brand management keeps the two in sync.

Before becoming an executive coach, I spent 22 years in accounting for the Big 4. At the time, I thought my brand was hardworking, loyal, dedicated, the go-to person. Someone who worked hard and played hard, and wrapped things up with a bow on top! If I was really honest with myself, other people probably saw me as stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated far too often. We may be on the mark 95% of the time, but it’s the other 5% that people unfortunately tend to remember. Brand consistency is key and stressful behaviors are brand detractors.

So how do we become intentional with our personal brand? How do we define our brand, communicate our brand, manage our brand perception, create brand integrity, brand consistency, brand loyalty and all other Marketing 101 concepts? Let’s play with some of the most important:

Definition of the brand

This is probably the most important aspect. It means being intentional in defining what you stand for, what you want to be known for, and how you want to be seen. Just taking the time to define your brand will make you more aware of how you present yourself. Don’t aim low. Don’t define yourself in your mediocrity. Shoot for the best of yourself! Coke doesn’t say it’s sugar water. He said, “Taste the sensation! Who are you when you are on your game? Energized, engaged, fulfilled? This question will likely reveal your strengths, values, and gifts. What do people “feel” when your name appears? Let your brand definition be a little ambitious, be it something to strive for most of the time.

Brand awareness

It’s good to define your brand, but if people don’t know much about you, you’re just a generic product. Do your part to create favorable brand impressions whenever you get the chance. Don’t expect your brand to be known or recognized just on the basis of your hard work. Brand awareness doesn’t have to be boastful or political. Connect, share what’s going on, share great news, be curious about others, and be interesting by being interested!

Brand experience

Are you Tigger or Eeyore? Are you giving energy or are you taking energy? Are you full of ideas or do you enjoy everything? Are you stressing or stress relieving? The brand experience belongs to someone total experience with you. This is how you make others feel.

Brand perception

Your true brand is determined by others’ brand experience with you and the conclusions they draw – the perceptions that are created. This can come both from first hand experience with you and, rightly or wrongly, what they hear from others. Their perception is their reality and their reality becomes your personal brand perception. The good news is, you can handle it.

Brand management

Brand management is all about keeping the definition of your brand aligned with your perception of the brand. In my experience, it’s the detractors of our brand that appear in times of stress, doubt, frustration and exhaustion that create the biggest gap. Just being aware of how other people are experiencing us in these times can go a long way. Brand consistency is the key to managing your brand and creating brand integrity.

Brand consistency

Is there consistency in every encounter and is there consistency in all the messages you send? This can include everything from your product, your clothing, your executive presence, your social media posts, the company you keep, etc.

Brand loyalty

Do these things well and you will create brand loyalty.

Your brand is arguably even more important than your professional achievements. It is a lifelong asset that can be of great value. It’s the “who you are,” the “how your leadership is,” the things you stand for — your values. It’s more than your title, the company you work for, or “what you did”.

The good news is that a large majority of people weren’t deliberate and intentional about their brand and left it to chance! A little effort here will go a long way to make you stand out.

Cathy W. Howerton